The bearded collie, unlike the rest of the collies, has abundant and long fur on the face. The bushy and very extensive eyebrows frame her eyes. And, the hairs that fall from its snout together with those on its chin give it that typical “bearded” appearance that gives the breed its name. Its is an excellent working dog, without any trace of shyness or aggressiveness. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Bearded Collie.
Characteristics of the Bearded Collie breed
Among its main characteristics, the movement of the bearded collie stands out, which is elastic, lively and very agile. Used to doing many kilometers with the herd, it has power and speed in the race, and great balance and reach in the jump.
All collies have a marked melancholic background, and the bearded, despite its initially cheerful and mischievous appearance, also hides a personality with a high degree of sentimentality.
Let’s see how are their physical characteristics, character and behaviour :
Physical characteristics of the Bearded Collie
- General Appearance: Energetic and vigorous in appearance, somewhat longer than tall, with strong bones, good musculature and solid build.
- Size and size: Medium / Large.
- Height at the withers: 53-56 cm (Male) and 51-53 cm (Female).
- Weight: 25-30 kg (Male) and 20-25 kg (Female).
- Body: The figure of this dog is rectangular, since the length of the body is greater than the height at the withers, which is about 54 cm in males, and about 52 cm in females. Likewise, it is a solid and compact animal, in which its abundant and dense fur stands out. It is rectangular and compact in structure. His back is straight.
- Head: It is of a proportionate size to the body, with a wide, square and flat skull. The muzzle is similar in length to that of the skull and the stop is not very pronounced. The skull is broad, flattened and square.
- Muzzle: Strong, measures the same as the distance between the stop and the occiput.
- Nose: It is large and square, solid in color, without blemishes, and harmonizes with the color of the hair in the specimens with blue and brown tones.
- Eyes: The same tone as the hair color, they are set quite far apart and are large, but not protruding, with a sweet and affectionate look. The eyebrows are not long enough to completely hide the eyes.
- Ears: They are drooping and of medium size. When alert, the dog raises the base of the ears slightly to the top of the skull, making the skull appear wider.
- Naso-frontal depression (stop): Moderate
- Jaws: The jaws are robust, strong and endowed with large white teeth. The teeth are healthy and complete, and the bite is usually scissor , although some specimens have a pincer bite .
- Neck: Moderately long, muscular and slightly arched.
- Chest: Deep and broad, well developed at the level of the heart, with well sprung ribs.
- Forelegs: Straight and vertical well, have good bones and are covered with coarse hair. The shoulders are well tilted back. Forearms and arms are flexible and strong.
- Hind limbs: Very muscular, upright and with good poise. The legs are sturdy but flexible. His knees are well bent and his hocks are lowered.
- Feet: Oval in shape and with strong pads, the toes are arched and close together, well covered with hair, even in the spaces between the pads.
- Tail: Set low, it does not usually form any kinks or kinks. It is long, since the last vertebra reaches the tip of the hock, and is covered with abundant hair. The dog carries it low and with the tip curved up when walking or standing, but can extend it in quick movements. He never wears it on the back.
- Hair: It is double-layered. The internal one is made up of soft, woolly and dense hair, while the external one is straight, rough, strong, hard and without curls, although sometimes it adopts a slight wave. The coat is long and dense, so that the dog is provided with a protective coat that enhances its silhouette without hiding the natural lines of the body. The muzzle, from the nose, is covered with thinning hair that is slightly longer on the sides, which barely covers the lips. And from the cheeks, the lower lips and under the chin, the hair progressively increases its length towards the chest, forming the typical beard that gives the breed its name.
- Skin: It is well attached to the body.
- Color: The shades under which the bearded collie can appear are slate gray, reddish fawn, black, blue, all shades of gray, brown and sand, with or without white spots. Some specimens have white spots on the muzzle, head, tail tip, forechest, limbs and feet, and sometimes around the neck. Others have faint tan spots on the eyebrows, inside the ears, on the cheeks, below the tailbone and on the forelimbs, where the white color mixes with the main color.
- Movement: The dog advances with an elastic, gathered and very wide movement, that is, it covers a good piece of land with minimal effort.
Character of the Bearded Collie
What character has the bearded collie? Ungainly in appearance, compact but agile, and as if moving by chance, the bearded collie is a cheerful and sentimental dog with a special sense of humour.
The bearded collie loves human company. It goes out of its way for its own and is always happy, jovial and eager to start a new activity.
It interacts very well with children, but it is not advisable to let them play alone with them, in fact, it is easily excitable and it is possible that its shepherd character arises and that, when playing, it tries to control children or other animals more small grazing them with small bites and pushes.
The yipping, as this practice is known, is a habitual behaviour in herding breeds, particularly in collecting and drive the cattle
This habit, although not dangerous, is very annoying and can cause certain disorders, so it must be corrected from the moment it manifests itself for the first time if it is not to become a habitual behaviour.
However, this is not a rough dog, and if it is well behaved and properly controlled, it is ideal as a companion to any member of the family. This, coupled with the unique beauty of their coat, have made the breed one of the favourites in therapy dog programs.
Children, the elderly and the sick find in the bearded collie an ideal, happy and fun dog, to which, in addition, they can lavish basic care such as brushing its rich mane with the assurance that the animal will be delighted with it.
It has been precisely this spectacular and beautiful coat that is responsible for the fact that this breed has acquired great relevance as a “public dog”, and today it has become common to see it star in advertising campaigns and even participate in numerous films.
In fact, today the breed has become basically a companion dog, accustomed as it is to living with people, in the country or in the city, as one more member of the family.
Even so, it must never be forgotten that it is a tireless working dog, so it must be continually supplied with new tasks and distractions if it does not want to end up living with a noisy and destructive dog.
Due to its active and versatile nature, this breed stands out in dog sports such as agility or flyball, in which it can unleash all the adrenaline it carries in its body, evolving with the dexterity, ability and speed that the disciplines require.
In addition, it is an aesthetic pleasure to see such a beautiful animal working efficiently and against the clock, as if these sports modalities had been created with the breed in mind.
It also stands out in obedience, a modality in which it is necessary to be able to stimulate the dog to obtain an adequate and stable response.
In this sport, it is not only important that the animal does what is expected of it, but especially how it does it; Cleanliness and precision are necessary in the execution of the different exercises and it is precisely this last requirement that is the most difficult to teach a bearded collie.
Although it adapts perfectly to any type of life (as long as the possibility of practicing a lot of exercise and enjoying adequate recreation is guaranteed), this is an ideal dog for families who live in the country or who have easy access to open spaces. .
It can get used to living in an apartment and, if it is physically and mentally satisfied, it will be a very calm dog inside the house, clean, easy and quiet, but it will always enjoy more having a small territory that he can consider its own.
As a good shepherd dog, it is more suitable for sporty, active families who like to do different activities in which they can integrate their dog.
All this does not mean that you cannot live in the city, even in a small apartment, but access to large areas in which to play and move freely is an essential necessity for your good mental health.
In addition, the quality and beauty of its coat have made the bearded collie one of the most successful dogs on the scene of dog shows, and it is very common to see it occupy the highest positions in various international events.
It is framed by the different cynological organizations in the group of herding breeds, but many of them are so strictly functional that they do not exactly stand out for their aesthetics, which gives this breed a singular advantage in beauty shows.
- Energy: High level. As a shepherd dog, it is very active and needs regular exercise to be in good shape.
- Temperament: Active, friendly, cheerful, balanced and sociable. It is an excellent working dog, without a trace of shyness or aggressiveness.
- Adaptability: High. You can live in the city or in the country as long as the necessary exercise is guaranteed. You tend to bark excessively.
- Sociability: Very high. It enjoys the company of family and especially children, but is not very patient with other dogs.
- Health: Good. Mild tendency to some hereditary diseases of the breed.
- Longevity: High. It can live between 12 and 14 years on average in good condition.
- Utility: Very versatile. Due to its good character, it adapts perfectly to various activities: shepherd dog, guard dog, companion dog, or disciplines such as obedience and agility.
The bearded collie, in short, is the ideal dog to satisfy people who not only enjoy the physical qualities of their dog, but also enjoy the possession of an animal of great beauty. Thus, with their care, attention and affection, they can contribute to making your pet stand out from the other specimens of their breed.
Bearded Collie Puppies
If the bearded gets bored, it can become a very harmful animal, because when it has nothing to do, it alone knows how to find the occupation that most entertains it.
People of a sedentary nature or who are not willing to dedicate a significant part of their time to developing different activities in the company of their pet should discard this dog as an object of their desires.
Sometimes, when you are faced with a media breed that becomes fashionable due to factors that escape the merely scientific and that are framed by criteria as subjective as aesthetic appeal, dogs can end up becoming victims of their own success and end up living with unsuitable families.
This leads them to develop harmful behaviors that, in the long run, are detrimental to the fame of their own race; Indeed, the usual tendency is to place a negative emphasis on the behavior of the animal and not on the faulty handling that man may have made of it.
This is undoubtedly the greatest danger facing a breed like the bearded collie today.
Education and training of the Bearded Collie
This breed is characterized by being as fun as it is easy to train. It is a balanced, lively and playful dog, very active and self-confident and with a natural propensity for work, where it stands out above all for the joy it puts in carrying out any task that is entrusted to it .
Despite such good qualities, it can sometimes be very stubborn and show a natural tendency to disperse, since it is always aware of everything that happens around them.
This peculiarity, that of falling into dispersion, is a consequence of their extreme curiosity and their natural tendency to control everything that happens within their range; Therefore, it is very important that the breed’s training begins very early, at puppy age, and that it is immediately introduced into a target routine of work or tasks, which will prevent its special temperament from leading to destructive behaviours.
Likewise, as important or more than the early consolidation of these routines is that the dog’s owner is able to include variations and new elements that always keep the dog’s curiosity and interest aroused, thereby preventing the animal from becoming apprentice of everything and master of nothing.
However, it is not always possible, or even desirable, to embark a bearded collie on a whole different range of jobs just to keep them mentally busy if in the long run you are not going to be able to involve the dog in the performance. of those various learned tasks. It is a task that should not be attempted at any cost .
The trick, then, is to pose a new challenge each time so that, even when the dog is doing only one type of work, it is equally inviting and enriching.
Thus, the dog will feel that its capacities are growing and it will remain constantly attentive and busy with the task that is imposed on it.
If a comparison could be made between the habitual behaviour of the bearded collie and that of human beings, it would be said that the former is like a hyperactive child : it loves to be always busy and it is not easy for him to settle for just doing one thing in a way repetitive.
The breed is characterized, as is the case with other members of the Collie family, by its physical and mental speed, its extraordinary memory and its speed of movements, essential qualities for a dog whose task, originally, was to accompany the herds from the Scottish Highlands.
In this work it was able to respond both to the demands of its pastor and to the attacks of its dangerous enemies. It is also a tireless dog, capable of spending long hours doing the most varied jobs non-stop.
But the only way to prevent that same speed, combined with his natural curiosity, from becoming an excuse to move from one thing to another without finishing anything it has to do is to keep the bearded’s senses always alert in the process. framework of the task that has been entrusted to you.
The bearded collie is not only fully involved with its tasks, but also with the members of the human family with which it lives. Thus, it responds in an extraordinary way to training whenever it is based on positive reinforcement, since it is a breed reluctant to follow the orders of an owner or trainer that is too strict.
For many years there has been the idea that the dog was an animal inferior to man and that it had to be subdued in order to obtain its best performance from him, but, fortunately, these coercive training methods are increasingly a thing of the past.
In negative training, the dog was punished whenever it acted against what was desired, thus triggering a contrary reaction that led it to do what it was not punished for.
This training can be very dangerous with the bearded collie, since sometimes the only thing that is achieved is to encourage fear and promote nervous behavior.
But, luckily, today it has been shown that the dog is a hardworking and malleable animal by nature, and that it finds more pleasure in feeling useful and serving man than in anything else, therefore, the best way to take advantage This breed is establishing guidelines for collaboration with the animal and rewarding its achievements, while correcting its mistakes, but always in a fair and balanced way.
Thus, even though it is a dog that can be ideal for a novice owner, if the owner of a bearded collie wants to get the maximum performance out of his dog and is somewhat inexperienced in training techniques, it may be advisable to go to the services from a professional trainer. Or that you look for a club or an association where you can work in the company of people with more experience and thus be able to benefit from the knowledge of others.
As an extraordinarily intuitive animal that it is, the bearded immediately understands what is wanted of them and the processes of the tasks that it must develop, that is why it does not accept unfair corrections or ambiguous and erroneous orders.
It is a special shepherd dog, since it offers its loyalty and obedience to whoever it wants and who it considers as its leader, but, unlike other breeds, it does not do so unconditionally, but rather questions the ability of its master and, especially , its integrity, fairness and courage as the leader of the pack.
Therefore, if you want to get the best out of this dog, it is necessary to work in a fair and congruent way , having very clear the objectives that are sought with each job and each order, and placing a greater emphasis on rewarding the evolution of the animal than on reprimand their failures.
Bearded Collie feeding
The bearded collie needs a high-quality, protein-rich diet to keep its muscles in tune and satisfy its energy levels. Likewise, it must also include a high contribution of fatty acids, which are responsible for providing your hair with the appropriate texture and quality.
On the other hand, it is very important to know the origin of the fats that make up the diet. At present, many of the processed foods on the market already have extraordinary contributions of omega 3 and 6 acids from high-quality fish fats and the oils of some seeds, such as borage or wheat germ.
These components, which help to keep the hair healthy and nourished, are necessary if the animal is to display all its splendid beauty. But not all diets are suitable for all dogs, so the individual response of each animal to a certain dietary pattern must be taken into account before choosing the one that is best for them.
Bearded Collie breed health
In general, the specimens of this breed enjoy very good health. The characteristic diseases of the Collie family occur with a lower incidence in this breed than in other varieties.
It is also a long-lived dog, as it can live for more than 14 years without major problems, provided it has received good care, a healthy and balanced diet and the vet’s instructions have been followed.
It is true that, because of its peculiar coat, some skin pathologies can appear, but a regular brushing practiced thoroughly and a suitable hygiene help to keep it away from them.
A particularity of this collie with respect to the others is that it is the only one that has drooping ears, a characteristic that forces them to take extreme care of their ears. As the ear canal is blocked and therefore does not enjoy adequate ventilation, the dog may end up developing otitis or other auditory conditions .
But these are very easy to avoid if you maintain a good routine of inspection and cleaning; Both can be carried out both by the veterinarian and by the owner himself, always using, of course, the correct technique.
You also have to be very careful with cleaning the eyes, since they are generally semi-covered or surrounded by long and strong hair, an aspect in which it also differs from other collies, which have very short hair on their faces.
Bearded Collie care
As the bearded collie’s coat is one of its characteristics most valued by fans of this breed, it is convenient that the animal always shows a splendid appearance.
To do this, a few basic cosmetic care is enough. The biggest drawback of this breed’s coat is its tendency to knot.
Bearded Collie hair care
But with minimal hygienic and aesthetic care, especially brushing the coat, the bearded collie looks splendid, adopting the typical furry and cute appearance that has made it so famous all over the world.
The dog must be brushed to avoid the appearance of compact knots. You can also take advantage of the moment before the bath to trim its nails and clean its ears and eyes.
The bearded collie should be bathed with a neutral pH shampoo that does not harm the skin or alter the tactile characteristics of the coat. First all the hair is wet, then it is soaped with the chosen shampoo and left to act for a few minutes, massaging it well so that the product penetrates to the dense undercoat.
The use of conditioners is a controversial issue, there are those who bet not to do it, in order not to alter the rough and goat feel of the coat, but there are those who do, to guarantee the uniform length of the hair and keep it clean and free of knots .
Ideally, this would be a middle ground, so that an abundant and well-cared for coat can be maintained and, at the same time, the distinctive texture of the breed. In any case, if any conditioning product is applied, proceed in the same way as with soaping.
Before drying the dog, it must be rinsed with plenty of water, making sure that no traces of soap or conditioner are retained in the dense undercoat, as this could generate some cumbersome dermatitis to cure and aesthetically disastrous.
At first, the bearded will remove much of the wash water by itself by shaking it vigorously. Then you have to drain it well and remove the most superficial moisture with a towel; It is also very useful to apply paper to wet hair, as it is much more absorbent than cotton in towels.
If conditioners are not used, to preserve the hydration of the hair it is recommended to use a powerful cold air ejector, and not to abuse hot air dryers, which dry much more.
It begins with the inner layer, helping with the free hand for this work, and finally, and always in the natural direction of hair growth, the outer layer is dried with the help of the card. As the hair dries, the air flow can be reduced to work the coat more comfortably.
To conveniently brush the bearded collie, the following tools are used: long-bristle brush, bristle brush (natural or synthetic), soft card, metal comb and undercoat rake. First, the undercoat is gently raked well, without pulling it off, opening the outer hair with the hands.
To facilitate the work and avoid hair breakage, you can apply plain water or some conditioner with a spray. The legs, head and tail are then brushed using the metal bristle brush and the comb.
Then the operation is repeated with the body hair, first with the bristle brush and then with the card. Finally, there is a final brushing with the bristle brush to bring out all the natural shine of the coat.
The use of the scissors is restricted to cleaning and rounding the hands and feet. Using pinking scissors, the excess interdigital hair is trimmed and, if desired, the hands and feet are shaped. You can touch up the dog’s fringes, but without giving the impression of being artificially sculpted.