So you have read everything you can find about the Bearded Collie. You
have decided you want a puppy (don't forget rescue). Now you want to locate
a Breeder. How do you find a Breeder and then, how do you decide if that
Breeder is right for you. Of course you want to find the most healthy
and best temperament Beardie you can. Maybe you even want to consider
showing in conformation or participate in obedience, agility, herding
or some other sport. You understand by now that Pet Store Beardies will
likely not meet standards and have a greater probability of genetic problems
(even inherited autoimune disease) You also are not buying the puppy for
someone else or on impulse (such as holidays or just liking the looks
in a dog magazine) as you have done your homework. You have the money
to by a Beardie and to pay all those costs to keep it healthy, trained
and well groomed.
A few words of advice first. AKC registered is not certifying a dog,
it just means it is registered because paperwork has been filled out and
the sire and dam are listed on that paperwork are also registered - that's
all it means. Unethical breeders, commercial breeders and puppy mills
can have those registrations available to them. Championship bloodline
does not necessarily mean the puppy will be healthy - How many Champions
in the bloodline and what sort or research was done before breeding is
the question. Rarely do the better breeders breed anything but Champions
with Champions. But it is of course done, especially if a non Champion
is known to produce exceptional puppies. The main thing is the breeding
are selective to improve on traits of each - to better the breed.
A good breeder is very knowledgeable about the breed. They are also knowledgeable
about all the little things you will need to learn: obedience, house training,
"why do Beardies do that?" And they will do whatever it takes
to be responsible to try to insure their puppies will have a good home
and stand behind their breeding.
Remember, you never save money by buying a Bargain Beardie. The initial
cost might be a couple of hundred dollars less, but you will pay through
temperament problems or health problems which can cost much more. Also
remember, if cost is your main objective you are likely going to be turned
down by a good breeder. A healthy dog with a good temperament should be
your main objective. Besides that, Beardies have a fairly high cost of
living due to the need for a a good diet, grooming and regular vet visits.
If you can't afford the initial cost of a Beardie then how are you going
to afford the ownership costs?
Where do I find a Breeder?
There are several places to start your search for a breeder.
- Check the BCCA Web Site (don't
worry, we will list these links at the bottom of the page as well) and
look in the Everything Beardie Section. Look at Breeder Listings, and
also check out the Litter Listings. Check the BCCA Web site and look
in the Regional Clubs Section - then click on the logo and go to their
web site and see if they list breeders. Not all BCCA breeders list on
the BCCA web site.
- Look at Hobo's BeardieLinks
and check the Personal Listings. Many Breeders have web pages listed
- If you are not in the US, and didn't find a Breeder in your country
in the Personal Pages links, then try the Beardie Links information
section and locate a club near you. It is all there right on this site
(even the regional clubs in the US are in the information section).
- Join one of the Email lists - you will find them listed in the Beardie
links Information Section. We recommend the BeardieList.
Just post a message that you are looking for a puppy and where you are
located, and ask for private replies.
- Many of the Breeders you will contact will tell you they have a waiting
list, but they may also tell you about litters they know of if you ask.
Of course there is competition among Breeders, but they also have many
- Ask your veterinarian (vet) And if you don't have one you should establish
that before bringing a puppy home.
- Other Bearded Collie owners are a good source for referral. But don't
totally rely upon them, you may already know more than they do about
the subject as you are taking the time to research the breed.
Notice we didn't say go to a pet store or look in the paper. We already
have warned you against pet stores. But you should know that good breeders
usually rely upon word of mouth referrals and have waiting lists. They
almost never advertise in the papers. They may list their litters on their
Internet web page, and often with their national or regional breed club
website , but never in Internet classifieds.
How do I know if a Breeder is Reputable?
By Definition reputation comes from others being able to vouch for them.
Your object is to find a reputable breeder. You want to avoid someone
who happens to have a pair of Beardies and decide to give themselves a
Kennel Name or "backyard" "weekend" types.
- Most national club member Breeders are reputable. Of course there
may be degrees of reputation! But, for example, those who list themselves
on the BCCA Breeder Listings have signed an ethics agreement.
- Word of mouth may be the best source of information to you. If you
have made friends in the Beardie community, many will have an opinion.
Then again, can you trust everyone's opinion? probably not, there is
So you have to satisfy yourself. Ask questions, go to the breeders you
have selected. See what they are like for yourself.
What should I look for when visiting the Breeder?
- The first thing you want to notice is how they treat their own Beardies
This may not be the way you would treat them as a pet owner, after all
they have a lot more Beardies than you would.
- Look at where the Beardies live, what kind of conditions and shelter
provided. See how they act when people approach them. Often just meeting
the Dam (mother) of the litter is enough to indicate what her puppies
will be like. Children learn their manners from mom after all. If the
Sire (father) is available, check him out too. At this point you are
looking at temperament.
- Then see how the Breeder treats their Beardies Admittedly many times
this is a business to the Breeder. But in the case of Bearded Collie
Breeders, you will find that most adore their Beardies They may tell
you stories about them, their own ancestors, and the other Beardies
- Does the Breeder have all sorts of photos of their Beardies? Lots
of memorabilia (Beardie Statues, drawings and so forth)? This gives
you an idea of how much they are into the breed.
- What are they feeding their Beardies? If It is canned dog food, and
not high quality food, then you might want to say thanks and leave.
- Is the Breeder AKC and BCCA affiliated (or other top club in your
country)? if you get some phony answer about some other club - walk
- Is the breeder anxious to answer all of your questions?
- Does the Breeder ask you all sorts of questions? This one is very
important. A good Breeder will interview you to make sure you are a
good fit for their beloved puppy. They will ask about how you came to
look for a Bearded Collie? Why do you want one? What is your home like?
Do you have a fenced yard and how high and type of the fence? Do you
have children and how old? Any older people in the house and how are
they doing? Do you have other pets, or did you, and if It was in the
past what happened to them? Do you travel much, is there someone home
most of the time? If you read the other sections on this site you would
by now know exactly why these questions are asked.
- If you can, take along someone knowledgeable in bearded collies as
your friend, or at least someone with dog experience. You may be able
to reserve a puppy during the visit. If you are showing, you may want
the Beardie that is outgoing. Never take the one who is shy or stays
away from the other puppies. For a pet you want the middle of the road
puppy, the one who is interested in you, but not too forward or too
laid back. Puppy should look and feel healthy, not too fat, or skinny
(sometimes the cute rolly polly ones are not the ones to take. Their
body should be filled out and firm. Eyes and nose should be free of
discharges. Try to watch them playing, walking running and bouncing.
Back should be level, legs strong and feet normal (not flat or splayed)
What questions should I ask the Breeder?
- How long have you been breeding Bearded Collies?
- How many litters do you have each year? (How many in the past?) If
this is a first litter, ask them what makes them knowledgeable in Breeding
dogs, more particularly Bearded Collies. Do they have help? Are they
affiliated with another breeder who would give references? red flags
go up if the breeder either is new, or excessively breeds.
- If the answer to the above seems to be a large number of dogs bred
each year, be careful. You could try asking if they ever sell to pet
stores or brokers or so called "kennel Clubs" but likely you
might offend if they are a reputable breeder - so may want to ask others
or even check with the AKC. What is excessive .. difficult to say. But
one to a few litters a year is normal. If it is a large number of litters
you would have to ask yourself (or the breeder) how they can give that
personal socialization that puppies need. Besides that, how will they
give you all that personal attention if they have 100s of puppy owners?
In fact, you may have to wait for a puppy, by getting on a waiting list.
Responsible breeders do not always have puppies available. A couple
of litters per year is typical, and some breeders only have a litter
every few years.
- How many litters has the mom had and when were they? A bitch (female
dog) should never be bred more than once a year, less frequently is
advisable. Also, they can be bred too many times in a lifetime. Dad,
of course, can have hundreds of litters.
- Can you provide references that I can contact? - Self explanatory.
- Are they a member of the Bearded Collie Club of America and also any
regional clubs? The answer should be yes (or if in another country they
should indicate the top dog club for the Breed). The follow up question
can be tactfully put. Have you signed their ethics agreement as you
Have heard that BCCA member breeders have signed such an agreement?
If so .. can you see it?
- What sort of club activities are they involved with (at what level?),
Good Breeders are out to better the breed and often do this through
participation in the National or Local club.
- What do you feed them? This one should produce a long lesson in what
they eat as puppies, teenagers, adults and even seniors.
- How do you socialize the puppies in their first few weeks? You are
trying to find out if they Have been handled often and how.
- Also, Have the pups been introduced to a crate? This helpful but not
absolutely necessary. They probably Have been in a penned in area (hopefully
indoors) where they Have learned to socialize with mom and siblings.
- How old will puppy be when if I get one? This is usually between 9
and 12 weeks. Pups need mom for awhile, but if they stay too long It
can also be more difficult to adjust to their new home.
- Can you talk to their vet? Good one - most Breeders should say certainly.
And you should be able to talk to the vet that vaccinated them and checked
them over before you take one home. Maybe also later check with your
vet and see if they know the Breeder's vet reputation. Ask if the Breeder
can recommend a vet knowledgeable in Beardies that you might use - this
serves a double purpose as you can also ask that vet about the Breeder.
- Have the puppies all had their vaccinations and health check up? Can
you see the records? Note this is a good way of getting the vets name
as you read the document.
- How do they go about researching what Dam (mom) and Sire (dad) they
choose to breed? You should get a lengthy answer about how they research
the pedigree for temperament, quality and health.
- What are the health problems of the breed? you of course already have
an idea of that through your research, but this will let you know how
up front the breeder is with you. You are not buying a used car after
- Do they OFA (hip) test and CERF (eye) the Sire and Dam and can you
see the official results? Likewise, are they familiar with other offspring
of the Sire and Dam and if they had this test done? Usually they should
be able to tell you without looking at the records about these tests
for not only the Sire and Dam but their siblings and that of Grandma
and Grandpa too! Basically, they should have 3 or 4 generations of Hip
results. Hip tests can be OFA Penn-Hip or possibly GDC. Eye test are
usually CERF but ACVO is also used. As a practical matter, this may
not be the case but is highly desirable.
- Have you thyroid tested the Sire and Dam? Puppies? This test is useful,
but not always available.
- Were the Sire and Dam tested with pre breeding tests before the breeding.
This is particularly important for the Dam who may Have an infection
or other condition that could affect the puppies.
- Can you see the vet records for the dam and sire? this is a tough
one because the breeder might not own both dogs - but should have obtained
a copy. If not a copy, then some sort of statement that tests were performed.
One thing that you might be able to get from actually seeing the records
is the frequency of vet visits. If you feel uncomfortable with this,
then speaking with the Breeder's vet should give you the answers.
- What sort of instructions will you get with your new Beardie (sort
of a Beardie Operating Manual). Will they be written? Many breeders
Have written guidelines or even a book for you. Others may recommend
books. A reputable Breeder will also offer to be available whenever
you call to ask questions and get advice - forever.
- Will they later give you grooming tips or maybe a lesson? It may surprise
you that many breeders will offer to groom your Beardie at least one
time and show you how to do It
- What sort of papers are you going to sign (and are they going to sign?)
This is a multiple question. See below:
- You want the answer that the breeder will provide a written health
guarantee. No one wants to actually Have to use this guarantee as
It should refund or replacement your Beardie if any heredity or
congenital defect is found in your Beardie? Many will guarantee
for several years (3 to 5) - some for life. The replacement should
be of equal quality. In most cases you need not return the original
dog who most likely has become your best friend.
You also want to know if there is a CO-ownership agreement. Meaning
the Breeder will be part owner of your Beardie. The answer is yes
in most cases. But you want to be able to take your time and read
the agreement before returning for your puppy when It is ready to
go home with you. Sometimes portions are negotiable - but rarely.
This sometimes relates to the following. Also, a good breeder should
be willing to assist you in placing the dog if you ever have to
give it up. Many will insist on it.
- If It is to be a show quality, what are you committing to and
what is the Breeder committing to? For example, do you Have to show
the dog? If so do you Have to handle It or will the breeder handle
It for you? Handlers can be expensive, and many breeders handle
for a slight charge or none at all. Do you Have to commit to showing
It until It gets a championship (or if It is not winning can you
stop)? You should get the full registration AKC papers with your
- If It is a pet, then will you get a limited registration (which
says you can not show)? Also, are you signing that you will Have
the dog spayed/neutered - and I hope the answer is yes. There is
absolutely no good reason you should not alter the dog if It is
not going to show. But, who performs or pays for the alteration
(usually the buyer)?You will receive your limited registration only
after proof of alteration (which comes when the dog is old enough)
- What sort of show career have the Dam and Sire had? Maybe this isn't
important to you. But breeders prove the "conformation" to
the breed standard through these shows. It is sort of like a second
opinion. If you see listings on National Breed sites you will notice
the CH in front of the Beardie's name - and this should be given by
the AKC in the United States - not some off the wall club. Of course,
sometimes the sire or dam has proven itself through producing champions
instead of getting one themselves - check this also.
- What kind of pet will my Beardie be? Obviously the Breeder has said
"I breed for temperament and hope for a couple show quality"
It is the standard statement. But asking about what to expect should
bring out all sorts of pleasant stories and you can learn a lot about
the breeder. Ask about what each puppy is like, its personality and
temperament. You should get a quick answer but a complete one (surely
they have paid attention to each pup - you get the idea of the question)
I don't think It has to be a requirement, but good breeders will offer
to give you items to go with your Beardie This includes a toy with mom's
scent, a supply of puppy food, and sometimes a small collar.
Now the final question you Have to ask yourself - do you still want
a Beardie from this Breeder? When answering this question you should
also answering that you like and trust the breeder and will feel comfortable
visiting their home again should any problems or questions come up. But
during your conversations your breeder will be telling you the reasons
you may not want to own a Bearded Collie as well - such as all the grooming.
If they did not do that, or find out If you already knew that, then they
would not Have shown you they are interested in where their puppy is placed.
So now I ask you, honestly, is your family ready for a Beardie?
And I mean everyone in your family. Are you ready for any kind
of a dog? I caution you that If your kids are set on another breed that
this one may never satisfy them - It may become "your dog" and
not the families dog. You should already Have made sure this is right
for You and your family, before You visit any breeder.
Repeat of the links we promised
BCCA Web Site - look in Everything
Beardie for litter and Breeders, Regional Clubs for more contacts, and
read the articles. Be sure to read the BCCA Public Education Initiative
- the personal page area has just about any Breeder with a Website, the
information area has clubs in the US and International and more places
for information on the breed - also a direct link to the yahoo.groups
where the following list resides.
page that explains the list and tells You how to sign up. Also member
links so You can keep track of members. Or You can just go sign-up at
You Have to join yahoo first (free).