Bearded Collie

Playful Bearded Collie

Fans of the Bearded Collie agree that those who aren't familiar with this dog breed simply have to get acquainted with it. And those who have experienced how a Bearded Collie bolts across meadows with its flowing fur, how it rolls around full of energy and joy and how it attentively and observantly takes into account its owners wishes become simply addicted to this original dog breed and its unique charm.

Characteristics

Bearded Collies are very lively, active and self-assured dogs. Despite their strong temperament, they show no signs of aggression or a nervous disposition. In contrast, Bearded Collies are considered sensitive and highly attentive. Thanks to their high level of intelligence and well-honed powers of observation, they seem to know exactly how they are expected to behave and want to please their people. Even though this characteristic isn't listed in the FCI's official breed standard, Bearded Collies can be described as very adaptable dogs clearly oriented towards people. They carry out the tasks that life – and their owners – demand of them with dedication but without neglecting their natural personality. Their cheerful nature seems unshakeable and they often bark during play to express their zest for life.

However, they don't particularly like loud, shrill noises, so some noise-sensitive Beardies prefer to curl up in a quiet corner during heavy storms. This behaviour even gives Bearded Collies the name “trembling wool balls”, but this is unfair. They may be sensitive, but they are no weaklings and even if they are frightened by loud noises, this doesn't mean that they are unsettled or mentally thrown off balance. Amongst the descendants of the Scottish herder, Bearded Collies are the only ones proficient in both guarding and herding cattle, as well as watching over and protecting the animals. Up to this day, this breed has proven its innate attentiveness, but Bearded Collies always remain calm, composed and don't show any excessive severity in their reactions.

Even during their training, they reject strictness and harsh orders. Hence, always take a calm and gentle approach if you want to rear them successfully. Gentle Bearded Collies nowadays express their thanks as perfect companions for families or single people, as they loyally accompany the people in their life.

Appearance

There's no question that a Bearded Collie will bring guaranteed joy into your home – but of course a bit of dirt on the paws too for good measure. Little sticks or grains of sand get tangled in the long coat during leisurely strolls in the great outdoors. Thankfully however, the dirt doesn't stay in for long due to the Bearded Collie's flat, very hard hairs. Sand and forest soil mainly fall out of their own accord, whilst branches and leaves can largely be easily removed by hand or with a comb.

Under the long top hair – flat according to the standard, although a slight wave can be permitted – the body is covered with a soft, furry undercoat. Despite their full-bodied, shaggy hair, Bearded Collies don't appear plump. According to the FCI's official breed standard, the hair should on one hand be thick and long enough to offer sufficient protection, but it cannot obscure the natural body shape. The strong, sporty physique should still be recognisable under the full coat. As a former herding dog, the Bearded Collie is a slim, active dog that shows good height with everything else proving unwieldy. Male dogs are around 53 to 56cm in height. At 51 to 53cm, bitches are slightly smaller.

There is little fur around the bridge of the nose, but it is much longer at the cheeks and chin, forming the typical beard. After all, this characteristic hair growth gives the breed the name Bearded Collie, or Beardie for short.

The Bearded Collie is highly diverse in terms of colouring. The base colours of puppies at birth are black-and-white, brown-and-white, blue- or fawn-and-white, whilst adult dogs  range from slate grey, ruddy, fawn, black and blue to all shades of grey, brown and sand. Beardies partly have white markings that can appear as a blaze on the face, muzzle, chest, legs, paws and the tip of the tail.

History

There is little information about the origin of the Bearded Collie. They supposedly descend from the shaggy shepherd dogs from Eastern Europe and Asia that came to England as early as the 15th century with sheep and cattle purchased in their country of origin. In Scotland, the dogs were used to tend and herd cattle. In contrast to most shepherd dogs, Bearded Collies were suitable for patrolling and protecting the cattle from predators and rustlers, hence some shepherds handed them sole responsibility for the herd. Indeed, they appeared so reliable that there were even stories of dogs that were sent alone from the cattle market in London back to Scotland.

Apart from that, however, there isn't much to find out about this dog breed. This may be due to the fact that the original owners of Bearded Collies were primarily shepherds, who due to their lack of education kept almost no records about their dogs. At the beginning of the 20th century and in the subsequent turmoil of the First and Second World War, there was almost no trace to be found of the hard-working Bearded Collie. The breed was only rediscovered by chance in 1944. At that time, the English dog breeder Mrs. G. O. Willison requested a Shetland puppy, but from the box emerged a brown-and-white puppy that the breeder at first thought was a mongrel. Four months later, an old shepherd recognised that the supposed mongrel was actually a Bearded Collie. Mrs. Willison was so taken by her new dog's lovable nature that she helped the breed make its comeback. She tirelessly sought out a scarce supply of Bearded Collies amongst British shepherds so that she could form a new breeding base. At the same time, she convinced her breeder colleagues of the charm of the rediscovered dog breed and encouraged them to get involved with breeding Bearded Collies.

Breed

Nowadays in Germany, the dogs are bred at the Bearded Collie Club e.V. The BCCD is the first club in Germany that is exclusively dedicated to this dog breed. Renowned dog breeders regularly undergo further training and offer precise guidance to young breeders. Thankfully, most of the BCCD's breeders stay away from the “modern Bearded Collie”. These so-called Show Beardies came about in the course of aesthetic breeding, which downgraded the Bearded Collie to a well-groomed and eye-catching exhibition dog. These overbred dogs had unnaturally long fur and truly suffered with such a heavy coat. Concentrating on appearance also involved changes in the dogs' nature. Modern Bearded Collies were overly anxious or even aggressive.

Nowadays, sensible breeders are dedicated to the “old type” of Bearded Collies, which is less associated with beauty contests and prizes and more with keeping a robust, healthy, intelligent and active family dog.

Grooming and Housing

What's more, the old type's medium-long hair is much easier to groom than the Show Beardie's “fashionably long” coat and loses nothing in aesthetic terms. The fur is of course still long enough for dirt to get caught up in it, but Bearded Collies moult less than their short-haired pals. Thanks to the hair's flat and coarse structure, regular brushing every one or two weeks is sufficient.

Keeping an active and adventurous Bearded Collie entertained proves more time-consuming than grooming. Dogs of this breed love long walks that give them the chance to move around freely without constraints. If their people have the right attitude towards training dogs, they can also learn little tricks and have fun with Dog Dancing. Agility or Treibball also bring real joy to all true Beardies. Along with motion games, these intelligent dogs adore brainteasers such as intelligence games and think-tasks.

Bearded Collies are considered easily trainable; they don't tolerate severity but nevertheless need consistent training. If you devote yourself to a Bearded Collie, you will be rewarded with a very grateful, lovable and charming dog. Their docile nature helps them get along well with other animals, but their people remain number one for them. The many fans of the Bearded Collie agree on one thing: Once you're familiar with the Beardie, you'll never forget it.

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