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What is a Beardie?

The Bearded Collie is a Scottish herding dog with a long, shaggy coat and an exuberant, intelligent personality. Nowadays the majority of Bearded Collies are pets or show dogs, but they are also still used for herding on farms in Britain, as their style of working is particularly suited to cattle and hill sheep.

Beardies can be found in a wide selection of coat lengths and colour shades, with white collie markings which also vary considerably. The result of this is that Beardies tend to be very individual in appearance, no two looking exactly the same. The two basic colours are black and brown, with their accompanying dilutes (blue and fawn) making four possible birth colours. These colours go through a paling phase from late puppyhood to early adulthood before the final, darker adult coat comes through. In the case of browns in particular it can be very difficult to predict the final adult colour, although the colour at the tips of the ears gives a good indication, as the ears do not pale along with the rest of the coat.

The dog underneath the coat has a very well-constructed and natural body shape, longer than it is high, with deep, long ribs and good angulation creating a real athlete, well able to go for miles over the hills or participate in agility, whatever may be required. The coat should be fairly harsh, with plenty of undercoat. The skull is broad and flat. One of the most attractive features of the Beardie is the wise, kindly expression.

Temperamentally, Beardies are most appealing to those who like an intelligent, responsive and energetic dog. They like human company, and can become difficult and destructive if left alone all day, as they like to have things to do. Generally they like children very much and love to play, but one should remember that they are herding dogs that will chase and nip when excited, so play with young children should always be supervised..Barking is an important part of this breed's working style with stock, so they will tend to express extremes of emotion this way. Beardies usually live peacefully with other breeds and species, although first introductions may be fairly lively if their herding instincts are aroused!

They are very trainable and obliging when handled correctly, but do not respond well to harsh or confused training regimes, being sensitive to human mood and behaviour. Firm, confident and kind, reward-based training with clear communication will produce a very engaging and amenable companion. Most Beardies love participating in agility, obedience and herding and are always glad of a chance to work in partnership with their humans. Their boisterous, optimistic attitude and tendency to use "lateral thinking" ensure that they will always be rewarding and interesting (if not entirely predictable!) to work with. A sense of humour is a necessary attribute for a Beardie owner!

The Bearded Collie is a fairly healthy breed. There is a very low incedence of hip dysplasia and only occasional problems with autoimmune disorders in comparison with a large number of other breeds. The shaggy coat can create skin problems if not groomed regularly or if not dried off in wet weather, especially on the feet. Average life expectancy is about 14 years.