Pet Road Tests > Dogs
Breed: Bearded Collie
Temperament: bouncy, active
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Recommended for: devotees
Dumpage rate: low
The Bearded Collie is an ancient Scottish breed of herding dog. It is said to have evolved from Polish Lowland Sheepdogs (Polski Owczarek Nizinny) which bred with the native sheep herding dogs of the British Isles early in the1500s. It is not a common breed, only recently being accepted for registration (1965 in the UK and 1972 in Australia).
Bearded Collies are often mistaken for Old English Sheepdogs, and while they may look similar to the layman, an expert can pick many differences. Beardies are smaller and thinner than Old English and have tails, whereas the Old English are docked.
Beardies are medium-sized dogs with long shaggy coats and a distinctive beard formed by hair growing over the cheeks, lower lips and under the chin.
Bitches stand 51-53cm (20-21") with dogs 53-56cm (21-22"). They usually weigh around 23kg (50lb).
As adults, they range in colour from black, grey, blue, brown to reddish fawn, with or without white markings. Puppies take about three years to develop a full coat, which may lighten with maturity.
They are described as being active, lively, affectionate, alert and great family pets, but not a good guard breed. They are usually very exuberant when meeting a new person, but settle down once the newcomer has been won over. Beardies take two to three years to mature, so be prepared for typical puppy activity during this time. Owners also say that as barking was an important part of their working dog skills, they can become problem barkers if they feel neglected.
The Bearded Collie is a very sound breed, without any of the bone problems or heart conditions of many other pedigree dogs. Their ears are hanging and covered with long hair, and should be checked weekly and kept clean to prevent infection. A lifespan of 12-15 years is expected.
Litters usually consist of 8-9 puppies and bitches usually have no trouble whelping. Caesareans are rare. Pet puppies cost from $550, while show dogs cost around $750, depending on quality.
This is a breed which is happy living indoors with the family. However they shed hair on furniture all year round and more heavily at the end of winter. The worst time for shedding is a period of about three months when they lose their puppy coat.
This is not a breed for inner-city living unless the owner is very committed to long walks every day.
Breeder Kate Miller says that Bearded Collies are for devoted owners, prepared to spend the necessary time grooming and exercising their dogs.
The long coat of the Beardie requires regular brushing to prevent tangling and matting. Grooming takes approximately a half to one hour, and most owners do this several times a week. At certain times (for example during the puppy shed) extra grooming is needed.
Some pet owners find it easier to have their Beardies clipped once a year.
Sufficient daily exercise is vital. These dogs love going for long walks, or playing repetitive games such as catching and retrieving balls. Beardies should not be left on their own for long periods of time, otherwise they can become frustrated and entertain themselves by digging, barking or even jumping over high fences.
In Scotland Beardies are still used as working dogs, but in Australia they are primarily kept as family pets and companions. They are used for obedience and agility, and also make good therapy dogs in nursing homes and hospitals.
Bearded Collies were bred to work alone. Therefore they are independent thinkers with strong wills and sensitivity which can make them a challenge to train. While not as quick to learn as say a Border Collie, they do have above average working intelligence.
According to Australian National Kennel Council figures there are about 110 registered dogs throughout the country. This represents a drop in numbers over the past ten years, so unfortunately the popularity of the Bearded Collie is declining.
We filmed our story at Greenvale Reservoir Park, VIC. For more information please phone Parks Victoria Information Line on 13 1963.
To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations. The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 - Fax: (02) 6241 1129.
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190
Phone: (08) 8349 4797
Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864
Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
Copyright CTC Productions 1999