Bearded Collie

  • Overview

    In the thistly underbrush of the Scottish fields, Bearded Collies could be seen bouncing up and down out of the underbrush and around their herds, stopping them in their tracks and watching them from behind the bushes. They are agile, active dogs with an ability to move suddenly and quickly through the field. Bearded Collies can be happy indoors or out, as long as they're in the company of their loving owners. They need plenty of affirmation and their long coats require some effort to keep clean and tidy.

  • Personality

    Bearded Collies are rustic, hard-working dogs with exuberant personalities and a seemingly endless supply of enthusiasm for their owners, their jobs and their lives. They are reliable, trust-worthy dogs who can be counted on to protect and watch over their masters and their masters' flocks. Still, they always love to clown around. Bearded Collies love to receive affirmation and approval from their owners, so they will suppress their independent instincts to please their masters. They are active dogs who need plenty of exercise and love to feel as if their role in the family is important, so give them tasks to complete.

    Indoors, they make themselves busy by watching over their human "flock" and spreading out luxuriously on the couch. They take up a lot of space, so they might not be so happy living in confined spaces. Bearded Collies become rambunctious and restless without preoccupation, so make sure to use firm, consistent training methods to help them learn when they should be on alert and when they can relax. They are smart and inclined to obey once they learn to trust and obey their owners.

  • Coat Care

    Because they each have abundant, gray-toned coats, some people confuse the equally exuberant Bearded Collie for his lively friend the Old English Sheepdog. Don't be fooled, however. Bearded Collies have tails; Sheepdogs don't. Bearded Collies are born with dark coats that gradually gray out as they age so that their coat eventually becomes a shade of gray. They retain shades of their birth color, however, which means that most Bearded Collies have coats in more than one color.

    Their thick double coats are dense and soft to the touch. The harsh, shaggy outer coat parts naturally in the middle and flows to the sides down the body. The close-fitting under coat is soft, furry and thick. The coat is longest underneath their cheeks, muzzle and chin, which gives them their characteristic "beard." Brushing the Bearded Collie is no small task. Brush your exuberant friend daily. To effectively remove mats and prevent future tangles, lift up the coat to brush right from the skin. Brushing just the top coat will create unruly frizz and matting. Each layer needs to be brushed through from top to bottom with a large pin brush. Trim the hair between the pads of the Bearded Collie's feet to prevent it from growing long and uncomfortable or matting together. Their long coats will track mud, water and debris through your house after they romp around outdoors. Expect to bathe these long-haired hairballs at least every 6 to 8 weeks. Bearded Collies can be messy eaters, so brush their beards after they eat or drink unless you don't mind watching them track food and water through your house.

Brushing

To effectively remove mats and prevent future tangles in the Bearded Collie's coat, lift up the coat to brush right from the skin. Brushing just the top coat will create unruly frizz and matting. Each layer needs to be brushed through from top to bottom with a large pin brush. Bearded Collies can be messy eaters, so brush their beards after they eat or drink unless you don't mind watching them track food and water through your house.

Bathing

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but drop coated dogs usually should be bathed more frequently, most commonly every three to eight weeks. The coat should end up fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with drop coats generally require regular hair clipping because they do not shed, so their long hair grows continuously. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of clippers and trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It's a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use clippers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Always leave at least a half-inch of fur to protect the dog from the elements. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Clip with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Drop coated dogs have sensitive ears and long hair that tends to grow into the ear. Their ears need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Small dogs like Shih Tzus and Havanese are prone to developing tear stains around their eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.