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Bearded Collie Frequently Asked Questions

How to Choose a Breeder

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 there.
  • 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 friends.
  • 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 always competition

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 away.
  • 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 all.
  • 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 show puppy.
    • 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

Hobo's BeardieLinks - 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.

BeardieList.- 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).


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