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Bearded Collie Club - Beardie Health

A short introduction to Bearded Collie health issues

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Health and the Bearded Collie

Thankfully Beardies are a relatively healthy breed. Most live to around 13 - 14 years of age, although some live considerably longer. At present, there is no evidence in the UK to suggest that Beardies are particularly prone to specific health problems but there are inevitably some health problems that occur within the breed.

Good breeders will always do their utmost to ensure that they breed from healthy stock thus giving puppies the best start in life, so do ensure that you always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder who should be able to answer any concerns you may have.

The following health information is for guidance.

Hip Dysplasia

Responsible breeders ensure that both parents of prospective puppies have been hip-scored before breeding from them. A hip score is a measure of evidence of hip dysplasia (abnormal development) and dogs with hip dysplasia can go on to develop arthritis and other problems with their hind legs at a young age. You can learn more about this condition on the Hip Dysplasia page.

Eye Testing

Unlike some of the other Collie breeds, Bearded Collies in the UK are not generally affected by inherited eye disease. Nonetheless, many breeders choose to eye-test their dogs as a precautionary measure, using the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheep Dog Society (BVA/KC/ISDS) Eye Scheme. In 2012 one of these precautionary eye tests led to a case of Collie Eye Anomaly, also called Choroidal Hypoplasia (CEA/CH), being confirmed in a UK Bearded Collie. There is more information about the condition on the CEA page. Fortunately, the genetic defect which causes the condition appears to be rare, and efforts are being made to eradicate it from the breed.

However, there is no room for complacency - other inherited eye conditions can occur, and more Bearded Collies are being imported from abroad where occasional eye problems have arisen. A simple eye test can pick these up before they become endemic in the breed. It is therefore recommended that breeders eye-test their dogs before they breed from them, and ideally again when the dog is older, to detect any inherited eye conditions with a late age of onset. Eye testing for dogs of all ages is offered by the Bearded Collie Club and other clubs at selected events. To read the vets' comments from these sessions, see Eye Testing.

Auto-immune Diseases

Auto-immune diseases such as Addisons disease, haemolytic anaemia and thrombocytopaenia can occur in Bearded Collies as in many other breeds. Such conditions can be serious and life-threatening and usually present in young to middle-aged dogs. It is difficult to say whether Beardies have a higher than average incidence of such auto-immune conditions as comparative statistics are scanty. These diseases are complex and it is thought that several genes, together with environmental influences, may determine whether or not a dog is affected by an auto-immune condition. As yet there are no genetic tests available to determine susceptibility to these conditions and it is unlikely that a simple genetic test will ever be able to tell us unequivocally whether or not a dog will be affected. That said, breeders are trying to learn more about these diseases and are supporting research into identifying the genes concerned. Dogs affected by auto-immune disease should not be bred from.

If you are concerned about auto-immune disease or have a Beardie that has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease the following contact may be able to help:

Jo Tucker: Tel 020 8368 9148   E-mail

Jo set up CIMDA (Canine Immune Mediated Disease Awareness) for all those whose dogs (of any breed) have been diagnosed with an auto-immune condition. CIMDA offers help, advice and support for those owners. Jo is very knowledgeable, is always willing to help with her expertise and guidance.

You can find a range of useful articles on auto-immune conditions on the international Bearded Collie Open Health Registry website, BeaCon.

Health Screening Tests

The Kennel Club's Health Test Results Finder provides the results of official health screening tests for any KC-registered dog, and is part of the wider Mate Select service. Beardies have three officially-recorded health tests: the KC/BVA Hip Dysplasia test, the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye test (ophthalmic examination), and the Optigen DNA screening test for CEA/CH.

You can find the results for any dog by entering its registered name or registration number, or (for dogs which have qualified for entry into the stud book) its stud book number.

Long-Term Breed Health

The long-term health of the breed is influenced by factors relating to the Bearded Collie population as a whole, as well as the health of individuals within the breed. For more information on this topic, see our Long-term Breed Health page.

Breed Health Co-ordinator

With effect from January 2015, the Breed Health Co-ordinator for Bearded Collies is Elizabeth Ayrton. Elizabeth's role is to facilitate the communication and collection of data on breed health, so if you have a health related question, or want to contribute any breed health information, please email her.

Last updated: 17 June 2015