How To Breed Bearded Collies

How To Breed Bearded Collies

Bearded Collies are wonderful pets with their long coat and charismatic nature, everyone recognizes them bounding towards you. In this free guide, we will explain their history, characteristics, and health concerns generally and overall how to breed Bearded Collies.

You can then be prepared for your bitch’s pregnancy and her birth alongside any complications. When it comes to Bearded Collie breeding, understanding the care and characteristics of the puppies will help towards training and advising their new owners.

Bearded Collies are known for their striking appearance due to their long coat covering them from head to tail. They require a lot of grooming but present a wonderful, and long fur which many owners envy.

Background of Bearded Collie Breeding

The Bearded Collie breed was originally developed for herding in Scotland, hence the thickness of their coat, so they could endure any weather. Now, they are spread worldwide and used as family pets and show dog champions more often. They are actually one of the oldest herding breeds still in use as they can withstand temperatures and environments that the commonly used Border Collie cannot.

Let’s look into the history of the Bearded Collie. From their original purpose of herding to the reasons behind the breed’s decline. Most importantly though, how they became the modern Bearded Collie we love today.

An Old Herding Breed

In the 1500s, a Polish worker traded a variety of lowland sheepdog in Scotland during a sheep purchase due to their high level of skill. These were then crossed with local herding dogs to produce Bearded Collies! These dogs are an ideal farming breed. Their long coats shield them from the cold outside and weather. They have high intelligence, perfect for training to herd livestock and other key tricks. Finally, they have a sharp bark which was used to alert the farmer that something was wrong. The combination of these traits meant they were high demand, but what changed?

Declining in the Early 1900s

From the time of World War One to World War Two, the numbers and popularity of Bearded Collies were declining. It is not known exactly why this is but there are a few theories.

In 1915 the Border Collie was officially named and therefore more efforts were put into place to breeding them. This meant that for the Bearded Collies, another type of herding dog, their popularity began to decline. Their role was slowly replaced because of this new and upcoming breed and across the early to the mid-twentieth century, the name began to be less recognized.

Modern Bearded Collie

The revival of the breed came from a lucky accident, or those partial to it may call it fate. Mrs. G Olive Wilson was accidentally given a Bearded Collie as opposed to the Shetland Sheepdog she requested. She quickly fell in love with the puppy, who she named Jeannie, and decided to search for a male to breed to her. Wilson did this in hopes to re-spark the adoration of the breed in others. She found a male, Bailie (many experts debate over how he was discovered and the spelling of his name), who she bred to her bitch and they formed the ancestors of our now modern-day Bearded Collies.

Bearded Collie History – Bailie of Bothkennar and Jeannie of Bothkennar
Bailie of Bothkennar and Jeannie of Bothkennar

Appearance

Most well-known for their long, beautiful coat, the bearded collie is a gorgeous dog with many wonderful physical traits. They all have long fluffy tails and dark eyes. Their eyes stand out due to the usual white coat surrounding or sometimes blocking them until they are revealed!

Commonly confused with the Old English Sheepdog, these dogs have much straighter fur as opposed to their more coiled coat. These beauties are fluffy softies, and with a little care, they can look very sharp.

Size – A medium-sized dog with a height range of 20 to 22 inches. The males are usually a bit larger. Their weight is said to be 45-55 pounds. This breed has a lot of stamina and is described by the AKC as bouncy in personality. They are strong and agile, a common misconception is they are not because their coat gets in the way.

Coat – Their coat is their stand out feature. This breed’s ears look to be double the length and their tails have are long and require a lot of grooming to maintain. Their body has a long coat that stretches a few inches past their stomach. Their coat covers their feet entirely to give the impression of boots. Be aware that their coat can easily cover their eyes and may need trimming.

Colors – All Bearded Collies come in a combination of white and another color. The four dominant colors are slate, brown, blue, and fawn. The white will be most noticeable on their face, chest, and feet. However, the white does merge in with the coat on all areas of the dog. Some individuals will have more white areas or more white mixture in their coat than others.

Face, Head & Ears – These pups have a very hairy muzzle, but surprisingly, their chin hair is not as long. Their muzzle hair comes down an inch past their chin usually. Similarly, their ears have a long covering of fur which stretches far past their chins. These dogs also have quite noticeably dark eyes. It is argued whether their eyes are dark in color, or whether the light, covering fur around them makes them stand out.

Tail – The tail, when at rest, is low hanging because of the amount of fur that covers it. It can have the base fur drag on the floor, so be prepared to trim this as needed. When they run, the tail can often point upwards and the fur splay out. But regardless of what they are doing, the fur on their tail is always noticeable, especially when they are wagging it.

Anatomy of a Bearded Collie
Anatomy of a Bearded Collie

Temperament

This breed is the definition of carefree with their bouncy nature and lively attitude. The ‘Beardie bounce‘ is a leap they do to show happiness, a jump of intense joy that is breed-specific. Their stamina and energy are renowned and were selectively bred into them for the use in farming. This breed, therefore, requires long walks and stimulation. Play with your Bearded Collie regularly and make sure you have a garden to let them out to run in. Furthermore, their intelligence is very high. This makes them great for training. However, their high energy levels combined with high intelligence means if their needs are not satisfied, they may be destructive.

A Good-Natured Breed

One of the best traits you can advertise when Bearded Collie breeding is their good nature. These dogs are patient, sweet and wonderful family dogs. They are incredibly loving and playful which is ideal for children. They are not known for aggression so they are good among younger children too. Furthermore, with their high intelligence, you have the opportunity to train them. This can be a great way to burn off excess energy, bond, and make sure they are behaving well. Furthermore, this can be an activity to do as a family. Children can learn boundaries and the dog can understand the word no.

Destructive Tendencies

Due to their high intelligence and increased energy levels, this breed can have destructive tendencies as well as stubbornness. If they are not being stimulated enough, they may turn their excess energy levels towards gnawing, digging or ripping furniture or carpeting. This can be expensive and a difficult habit to break depending on your work shifts. Furthermore, although they are trainable, it does not mean that this will be a process that will be accomplished in a day. Similarly, they are known to be quite stubborn. This can complicate training as well as they may not listen to you when is required.

Popularity

This breed is ultimately a lovely family dog. They are compassionate and sweet with all age ranges. The only concern with this breed is their energy near younger children, but with their high intelligence, you can train them to behave appropriately when expected. These are brilliant dogs that are caring and loving to all people. Furthermore, they can be trained to be good guard dogs. They have a strong bark that can deter any robbers. However, the bark can become annoying so be prepared and train for them to bark under certain circumstances.

These individuals are also very adaptable. They are a good breed for agility due to their farming origins, and for pet therapy because of their sweet nature. You can take this breed to shows for judgment of their coat or their agility skills. Because of their design for work on a farm, they are quick on their feet and not clumsy, which is perfect for the trials involved in agility shows. As for their gentle personality, this makes them the ideal pet for pet therapy. This may mean during a therapy session of a vulnerable individual they are brought in for comfort. they will cuddle the individual and react based on their enhanced empathy.

Bearded Collies as herding dogs
Bearded Collies are, deep down, bred to be herding dogs.

Health Issues When Breeding Bearded Collies

The Bearded Collie is generally a healthy breed, they do not suffer severely from too many health problems. However, we still need to cover all the potential health risks so you can provide for all the individuals in your care, whether that be your new pup or a new litter and recovering mother. Understanding the symptoms allows you to make the most informed decision about when to take them to the vets.

Lifespan

A Bearded Collie lives on average from 12 to 15 years. This is in line with the average amongst all dog breeds. Therefore, this is a long time commitment.

Furthermore, they are a high-energy breed, this means you are dedicated to exercising them the required amount daily until they are no longer here. They usually require an hour-long walk a day and further time for training and play. You will also have to account for grooming time as this breed needs a lot of effort put into their coat. If you can provide this, they are a very rewarding breed to own.

Although Bearded Collies do not prominently suffer from health issues, like any dog, they are still at risk. Moreover, some health risks are more common than others, here is the list of the ailments that affect Bearded Collies more commonly than others.

Colonic Disease

This is not a specific disease, but one that covers all abdominal diseases which affect the bowel. Bearded Collies are more susceptible to Colonic diseases including Colitis, a general upset stomach, and diarrhea. Colitis is where the inflammation affects the large intestine, this causes issues with digestion and defecation. Often your Bearded Collie will have diarrhea because of the inflammation alongside blood and mucus in their stool. Furthermore, because of the inflammation, your pup may also have a sensitive abdomen and not want you to touch them there. It has a few causes, but most commonly it is caused by their diet or stress.

Treatment of this is usually a change in your dog’s diet or being prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. However, if parasites or bacteria are the cause of your dog’s colonic distress, the specific parasite will need to be identified through stool samples. Then the appropriate treatment can be given to kill off the affecting parasites.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is where the hip socket does not form correctly in the womb, the puppy is thereby affected with possible pain and irregularity in their movements. This is usually diagnosed just before they turn a year old and is a defect during formation and growth. Depending on the severity, it can be monitored or prescribed physiotherapy. This may be with a physio as swimming can often strengthen muscles where they need to without the pain of putting weight on limbs. Another option is to ask your vet to prescribe anti-inflammatories for the surrounding muscle and ligaments. Alternatively, they can prescribe pain killers to deal with the inflammation.

If the dysplasia in your Bearded Collie is severe, it may call for surgery to alter the shape of the socket or bone to make movement much smoother. This is because the rubbing of bone and socket can lead to arthritis which can progressively get more painful and lead to major difficulty with walking.

Hypoadrenocorticism

Hypoadrenocorticism, also known as addison’s disease, is very rare but Bearded Collies are one of the few breeds affected by this disease. It occurs when your dog’s body is not able to produce either enough glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids or both of them combined. This results in the body not being able to function normally in many important areas. These include the gastrointestinal system, hormone balance, weight fluctuation, your dog’s emotional state, and many other areas.

It is very difficult to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms and variance of time it affects your dog. The symptoms can be dormant for days, months or years. Occasionally, the disease will affect your dog and then disappear, only to affect them after again after a while. Therefore, your vet may not initially suspect the disease. Furthermore, with a wide range of symptoms and because of its rarity, it is not the first disease that vets will believe to be affecting your dog. Your dog may initially present gastrointestinal issues and therefore your vet will check their diet and stress levels first.

Pemphigus

This is a type of autoimmune disease that affects your dog by attacking the connections between their skin cells. There are three different affecting kinds of the disease and their symptoms are slightly different as well. These can be diagnosed through observation of the body and skin biopsy. Treatment is through immunosuppressant drugs and is usually long term.

Pemphigus foliaceus will be identifiable through hair loss, scabbing and open sores all around the head and face. This is the most common of the three forms. Pemphigus erythematosus has similar side effects to Pemphigus fbut is a milder form. They are also located on the head and face. Pemphigus vulgaris has the most severe side effects, it causes blisters that rupture to leave painful ulcers. Initially, these will be targeted to the edge of the eyes and lips. Over time though, these will spread around the body.

Epilepsy

There are different forms and causes for epilepsy, what are identifiable are seizures. A seizure is the loss of control in your dog’s body, their limbs may twitch and their body will spasm. This will take place for a few seconds or minutes. During a seizure, your dog will not be aware it is happening and will not feel pain, so do not worry. A seizure occurs because of irregular electrical brain activity. Some have found a hereditary basis for epilepsy, that is to say, there are genetic routes. But many scientists debate the true cause of the condition.

Unfortunately, epilepsy cannot be cured but treated and controlled. Your dog will usually be prescribed anti-epileptic drugs which can stop seizures or reduce the length or severity of them. This all depends on how your dog reacts and the severity of their epilepsy. The aim is to minimize discomfort and seizures whilst not adding more difficult side effects.

Other

Here are a few other general conditions your Bearded Collie may suffer from. Usually, with old age, your dog may develop Cataracts. This is a cloudy layer covering your dog’s eyes, this can be seen on one or both. In severe cases, they may need a quick surgery to remove them, but in mild cases, your dog does not need treatment.

Another eye disease that you should be aware of is Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This is where the rods in your dog’s retina begin to degenerate, and without treatment, it can lead to total blindness. Placing your dog on anti-oxidant supplements can help prevent the degeneration from further escalating.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane is where a young puppy after birth will have strands remaining in their eyes. These are remaining blood vessels from when they were in the womb. These will naturally leave your pup’s eyes after four to five weeks.

How To Breed Bearded Collies

If you are considering breeding Bearded Collies, you will be pleased to know that they do not have regular birthing problems. There can be difficulties during mating because of their thick coat, but usually, you do not have too much to worry about other than what is expected.

Litter Size

The average litter size for Bearded Collies ranges from six to eight puppies. However, the breed’s puppy count has a huge range. A Bearded Collie bitch may produce a litter with 4 to 12 pups.

Because of this wide range, you need to be prepared for a large litter and make sure you have the time and finances for this possible scenario to crop up. You also need to be sure that if your bitch has a small litter, you will still be stable financially.

bearded collie puppy count
Bearded Collies can have large litters, so be prepared to cope with up to 12 puppies!

Birthing Problems

There are in fact no specific birth problems or dystocia to this breed! But with any birth, there are always worries and risks you need to be aware of. This may include problems with passing the placenta and the chance a puppy has the cord wrapped around their throat.

It is very unlikely in this breed that a Bearded Collie will require a C-section. However, if there are ever any problems you should contact your vet immediately. Monitor your bitch for unexpected pain or behavior and if anything unusual occurs, this usually requires the help of a professional. Be particularly attentive during labor.

Pricing

The average price of a Bearded Collie puppy ranges from $1,500 to $2,000. The larger the litter, the better the income, so this can be quite fruitful with this breed especially if you train your dogs as herding dogs and go on to sell them to professional shepherds and farmers.

However, the price is influenced by pedigree, registering, genetic line and the breeder’s reputation. In order to gain the largest amount of income, you would need to make sure both the bitch and stud are registered in order to allow for the pups to be registered.

Furthermore, a traceable genetic lineage for three branches is usually required for registering pups, although this differs from club to club. Furthermore, as a breeder, you will need a good reputation as someone true to their word, knowledgeable and caring. Backyard breeders will not be able to sell puppies for the same prices or will have extreme difficulty.

The potential buyers that are usually interested in this breed are families with larger houses. Make sure that the families coming to you realize the commitment of this breed. This will include regular walking, time to train them and grooming time daily.

Keeping Bearded Collies Active

This breed has a lot of energy, without proper exercise and enrichment, they can very quickly gain weight and display negative traits. Breeders and owners alike need to be aware of the high energy of the Bearded Collie so they can provide what they need to be happy and healthy. So what are the negative consequences of not providing the proper exercise to this breed? Well, they have an easy tendency to gain weight. This can lead to further health problems such as an increased deterioration if they have hip dysplasia and a higher probability of getting diabetes.

Furthermore, they can become destructive in your household and even nippy to you and others. It is not meant out of aggression, but frustration due to the individual not being provided what they need. Walk them daily for an average of an hour, some of the time should be off the lead. As for enrichment, play with them daily and get them involved in some training, it will calm them and also increase the bond between you and them.

Bearded Collie Dogs – FAQs

We have summarised the breed and things you need to be aware of both generally and with birth. You may still have some questions regarding the Bearded Collie though, let us answer them now.

A quick video recap of the Bearded Collie breed.

How much grooming do Bearded Collies need?

In order to keep Bearded Collies clean, tidy, and knot-free, they require a lot of grooming. For show standard, the Collie should have a professional grooming appointment every other week. However, regardless of whether they are pets or show standards, you should keep a regular grooming schedule for their coat. Give their coat a little check daily for knots and debris. Often though, it is recommended to brush their coat fully once a week.

Get puppies used to grooming and bathing from a young age. But make sure only to do so past the age of a few weeks as this is when puppies are able to regulate their own body temperatures. A basic list of grooming equipment you require for a grown Bearded Collie can be a wide selection of brushes, combs, scissors, shampoos, and conditioners. Start off by visiting bearded Collie groomers and grooming websites like this to see the full inventory.

Are Bearded Collies hypoallergenic?

The Bearded Collie breed does not have a hypoallergenic coat. This breed will shed a lot and can quickly clog a hoover. This is one of the reasons they require such high coat maintenance with cleaning and brushing. Do not consider shaving your dog to make them hypoallergenic. Firstly, this does not work, so it is pointless. But more importantly, it can irritate your dog’s skin. This method can lead to irritation, sensitivity, and dandruff.

If you are not interested in keeping your Bearded Collie’s coat up to show standard, you can go to a groomer and ask if there are any thinning or trimming techniques they recommend. They will be able to tell you the most beneficial method of care and prepare you for any changes in their coat through radical alterations and therefore why it is unnecessary.

Are Bearded Collies obedient?

The Bearded Collie is one of the most obedient breeds of dog that exist, however, this is only so if you put in the effort to train them. With their adaptability and training potential, they can be brilliant pets, great in obedience shows, and wonderful working dogs.

You need to make sure, if you want a well trained Bearded Collie, that training begins with them as early as possible. This breed can also be quite stubborn so you need to make sure you put in the work as early as possible. If you can train them at minimum, a few hours a week, within a month this will have a huge effect. However, if you want to use this breed as a working dog or an obedience pup, you need to be putting in a lot more hours for training. Usually one to a few a day.

Bearded Collie vs Old English Sheepdog

These two breeds are commonly mistaken for one another because of their bouncy attitudes and shaggy coats. So what are the differences between the breeds? Firstly, the Old English Sheepdog is a lot more muscular than the agile frame of the Bearded Collie.

Their coats also differ surprisingly! The Old English Sheepdog has a rougher coat with more areas of white and blended white. On their heads, the Bearded Collie has a middle parting that splits the fur on their face over their eyebrows in particular. This is because the fur moves from the center of their face outwards, so the fur follows the line of their eyebrows and follows their muzzle outwards like facial hair. The Old English Sheepdog has fur which grows from the back to the front. Although the Bearded Collie can regularly have fur that covers their eyes slightly, the Old English Sheepdog will have fur that wholeheartedly covers their eyes without trimming.

This breed is high energy, high intelligence and incredibly sweet-natured. They are a lovely dog to own and will adore all members of the family. If you are willing to put in the work, they can even be phenomenal show dogs and working dogs. They are a pleasure to breed and own, so why not try?