GROUP 5 - WORKING DOGS
According to legend, a Polish merchant taking grain to Scotland in exchange for sheep had six Polish Lowland Sheepdogs with him to move the sheep. The Scottish shepherd was so impressed with their ability that he traded a fine horn ram and two ewes in exchange for a pair of the dogs. They were bred with local dogs and two types of Beardies evolved. Those working along the border between England and Scotland were larger and had a long slate-coloured coat with straight, harsh hair. Those working in the Highlands were slightly smaller with a shorter, wavy coat, usually brown.
The Bearded Collie is active and light on its feet with movement that appears graceful, free and effortless. Its bright, enquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed, along with its shaggy, harsh coat. Males stand 53 to 56 centimetres at the withers; bitches 51 to 53 cms.
Essentially a working dog, the Bearded Collie was originally bred for its ability to stand up to harsh conditions and herd even the toughest sheep.
The Bearded Collie has a strong sense of humour and craves approval. Slow to mature, the Bearded Collie is a class clown with a youthful disposition. Beardies thrive on human company and enjoy being involved in activities with the family.
Thanks to its energy and intelligence, the breed excels in agility, flyball and herding, although its independent spirit can make it a challenge to train in obedience.
Underneath the coat, this breed boasts a well-constructed, athletic shape with a good spring of ribs and angulation. The skull is broad and flat, with strong muzzle and moderate stop. Eyes are oval, large and bright; ears are drooping, set on low, all contributing to the characteristic bright, enquiring expression.
Movement should be ground-covering with good reach and drive. Its natural exuberance means it bounces and clowns around, but given the time to settle it displays a lovely, easy, fluid action.
Beardies are born in four possible birth colours: black and brown with dilutes; blue and fawn, with or without white markings. As it grows its body coat ‘greys out’ and lightens before darkening again to match its ears and tail, which remain relatively dark. Adult coats can range from black, dark slate, steel blue, silvery blue, rich chocolate, reddish brown, fawn to sandy.
Beardies are excellent pets for those who make the effort to tackle their high energy level and grooming needs. It does shed, but a thorough brushing once a week should keep its coat in good condition and prevent matting.
A well-fenced yard is essential to keep a Beardie secure and regular walks maintain its physical and mental health.
A loyal and family-friendly dog, the Beardie becomes a valuable member of the household.
The breed responds well to firm, confident and consistent instruction but its boisterous attitude and tendency for lateral thinking make it not entirely predictable. A solid sense of humour is an absolute must for anyone considering a Beardie. Bearded Collies are excellent pets for those who make the effort to tackle their high energy levels and grooming needs.
With an average life expectancy of about 13 years, the Bearded Collie is a fairly healthy breed with very few hereditary problems. It does occasionally experience some auto-immune diseases, however, there is no testing available at present for this. Owners are encouraged to carry out whatever screening they can, including x-raying the hips and eye testing. It is important to note that Bearded Collies are not afflicted with the eye diseases that Collie (Rough) and (Smooth) and Border Collies are.
Words: Lynda Brandt on behalf of The Bearded Collie Club (NSW)
Photo supplied by Lynda Brandt
Now you know a little about the Bearded Collie you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Bearded Collie and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.