Bearded Collies

Beardies, as they’re known by people who love them, are famous for their patented "Beardie bounce." They’ve been described as having Michael Jordan hang time. But beneath their shaggy cuteness and sweet nature lies an independent, athletic dog with a high energy level and an inquiring mind. Like all dogs, Beardies are individuals and come in a range of temperaments, from low-key to lively. Here’s what you need to know if you are interested in sharing your home with a Bearded Collie.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Beardie is boisterous and ebullient, silly but smart. He loves people, but he's not for everyone. Grooming requirements and a sometimes stubborn temperament are just a couple of factors you should be aware of.

He has a loud bark and is an excellent watchdog, but he is by no means a guard dog. The Beardie is a good friend to children, but he may be too rambunctious in the presence of small children. He is a better choice for families with older children who can stand up to his bouncy nature.

Purchase a Beardie puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Continue socializing your Beardie by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. This should be fun for both of you. The Beardie loves being the center of attention.

Begin training as soon as you bring your Beardie puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size, because he'll soon reach his mature weight of 45 to 55 pounds. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, and be patient. The Beardie can be independent and stubborn, but he learns quickly and will respond to kind, firm, consistent training. Being smart and athletic, he does well in such dog sports as agility, herding, obedience and rally.

While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. A Beardie should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them. Chaining a Beardie out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel, it can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.

The glory of the Bearded Collie is his coat. The most difficult part of caring for a Beardie is also his coat. Expect to spend an hour per week keeping it groomed. Grooming a puppy takes very little time at all, but you want to start early so he can become accustomed to sitting still while you work on his coat. On the plus side, they don't shed much, except for a two- to three-month period when their puppy coat is coming out and their adult coat is coming in.

Along with time devoted to coat care, be prepared for dirt, mud and debris tracked in on the dog's furry feet. You'll also need to keep the ears clean and dry to prevent infections, trim the nails regularly, and brush the teeth to prevent doggy breath and periodontal disease.

Health Issues Common to Bearded Collies

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Bearded Collies have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, autoimmune hypothyroidism and Addison's disease. Not every Bearded Collie will get all or even any of these conditions, but knowing about them beforehand will help you in your search for a breeder.

The Bearded Collie Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Bearded Collie to achieve CHIC certification, he must have OFA certification for hips, an OFA clearance for autoimmune thyroiditis and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. An OFA clearance for elbow dysplasia is optional. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC's website to see if a breeder's dogs have these certifications.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Elbow Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$4,000
Follicular Dysplasia High $200-$500

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Bearded Collie Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. A list of breeders can be found on the website of the Bearded Collie Club of America.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Bearded Collies aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Bearded Collie can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Bearded Collie to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Bearded Collies

Pet insurance for Bearded Collies costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Beardies are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Bearded Collies are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Beardie is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.