With a body that is longer than it is high at a ratio of five to four, the Bearded Collie is the longest bodied of the herding breeds (with the exception of the Corgis which have shorter legs). The length of back comes not from the loin, but from the length of the ribcage, and the angulation of shoulder and rear, as well as the backward-slanted ribbing. This ensures a level, firm but supple topline with no energy wasted on rolling or twisting.
In a survey of Bearded Collie breeder-judges and parent club-approved mentors conducted years ago, respondents were asked to name up to six vital characteristics of a good Beardie. Good movement, good reach and drive, and temperament were indicated as being important, but right behind those qualities was the necessity of a 5 to 4 proportion of length to height. A Bearded Collie should never be square or cobby.
This isn’t a surprise to anyone familiar with the breed, but judges can be fooled by a dog that is too short on leg. One of the first things a judge notices about a dog entering his or her ring is its overall shape and silhouette, and shorter legs can give a Beardie the impression of having proper proportions. Such a dog might not show as much daylight under its body as a dog with longer legs, but those longer legs allow the dog its quick turns and jumps, and the ability to do blind outruns with hill sheep and cattle. Fluffed up bit of hair at one end, the odd “snip” of hair here and there – clever grooming may also deceive the person who fails to get their hands on the dog.
Image: “The Four Amigos” Watercolor Painting by Jean Haines is available at Stockbridge Art Gallery