Other Names: Highland Collie, Mountain Collie, Beardie
Country Of Origin: Scotland
Dog Group: Working
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Maintenance Level: Moderate
Temperament: Intelligent, alert, confident
Recommended For: Families, working owners, couples, single owners
Good For First-Time Owner: Yes
Good With Children: Yes
Good With Other Animals: Yes
Good With Strangers: Yes
Good For Apartments: No
Exercise Requirements: Daily walking
Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes
Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes
Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes
The Bearded Collie is a medium-sized dog that originates from Scotland.
It was bred to herd sheep, but has long been a popular family pet.
Bearded Collies are great with children, and are known to be very playful.
The breed is very intelligent and has keen problem-solving abilities. However, their intelligence also means they can be quite stubborn if not trained properly.
Beardies have a long, shaggy coat that needs regular attention to keep it looking fresh and healthy.
Color: Blue, brown, black, fawn and white, blue and white
Height: Males – 20-22 inches, Females – 20-21 inches
Weight: 40-60lbs (both males and females)
Personality and Temperament:
Because they were bred to herd sheep, Bearded Collies are naturally intelligent and independent.
They’re still regularly used as working dogs, particularly in the UK, but have also long been kept as companion animals because of their great personality.
Bearded Collies are very friendly, and make good family pets.
Bearded Collies are great with kids too, and enjoy playing games with them. What’s more, the breed is quite hardy, meaning they can withstand children playing with them more than other breeds.
Bearded Collies should always be introduced to children as early as possible to ensure a successful relationship.
Beardies are also very good with other animals, sometimes being too friendly. They love playing with other dogs, and might decide to start herding smaller pets.
One of the advantages of owning a herding dog is that they have no hunting instinct, meaning there’s much less risk of having them around other animals.
Although their herding instinct is very strong, this usually only results in funny situations.
Bearded Collies are very energetic dogs, and so need plenty of daily exercise. Between 1 and 2 hours every day should really be the minimum, and the dog will inevitably want to play too.
Owners should ideally provide them with at least one walk a day, or several smaller ones.
Due to their size and energy levels, Beardies aren’t suitable for keeping in an apartment.
More than anything, they’re just too energetic, and need access to plenty of land.
Keeping a Beardie in an apartment will mean much more exercise, and the cramped environment could result in the dog becoming depressed.
However, Bearded Collies do make a good choice for first-time owners because they’re reasonably low maintenance.
The only big drawbacks are exercise and grooming needs, but if a new owner is happy to commit to these, then a Beardie will make an excellent first dog. After all, their great personalities easily make everything else worthwhile.
Beardies were bred for use in the Scottish Highlands, meaning they’re much better adapted to cold climates than hot.
Their coat is long and thick, which mean there is much more chance of them overheating in warm weather.
To combat this, however, many owners simply cut their coat very short. Even so, it’s recommended to not keep a Bearded Collie anywhere too hot.
The breed is very easy to train, and they can pick up basic commands with ease. In their working life, it’s common for them to not even be told a command, which shows the level of their intelligence.
As a general rule, Beardies can be quite strong-willed, and when combined with their intelligence and independence, this can result in them sometimes ignoring commands.
Owners should begin training at a young age, and it should be done with a firm but fair hand.
This will also be a good opportunity to introduce them to new people and dogs too, because even though Bearded Collies are good with strangers, it can help to socialize them from a young age to minimize the risk of adverse behaviors developing.
Bearded Collies have a long, shaggy coat that’s very prone to knotting and catching debris.
Owners should brush them daily with a comb to help remove knots. Providing you keep on top of this, it really shouldn’t be a difficult job.
This should be combined with a weekly brushing using a brush, comb, or pin rake to help pull out loose and dead hairs.
Bearded Collies do shed, but not as much as other breeds. The Bearded Collie’s long coat means that some hair they shed will get caught up, which is why you need plenty of grooming.
Because they shed, Bearded Collies aren’t a hypoallergenic breed. Shedding around the house can be minimized with regular grooming.
Similarly, Bearded Collies should be given reasonably regular baths; once every two or three weeks should be enough.
This is mainly to help keep their coat in a good condition, but it also helps to wash out any smells or dirt they might have picked up.
It’s worth doing this with a specialty longhaired dog shampoo though, as this will help you to control knots and tangles.
Beardies also need their ears checking regularly for wax and debris, and should be cleaned once a week to reduce the risk of infection.
Owners should also trim their nails whenever necessary, but this will depend on how much exercise the dog gets.
Also, be sure to brush their teeth several times a week because Beardies are at risk of tooth decay and other dental issues.
Common Diseases and Conditions:
Generally, Bearded Collies are a healthy breed and suffer from few genetic conditions.
Hip dysplasia is reasonably common, as it is in many purebred breeds. They’re also prone to ear and eye infections because of their long coats, but these are easy to prevent, and providing they’re spotted early enough, are very easy to cure too.
One interesting condition that Beardies suffer from is hypoadrenocorticism, also known as Addison’s disease.
Simply put, this is a condition in which the adrenal cortex doesn’t produce enough of particular hormones.
It affects around 2-3.5% of Beardies, and symptoms include lethargy, bowel issues, and intolerance of stress.
Addison’s disease unfortunately isn’t curable, and can end up being fatal in some cases.
However, vets are able to test for the condition quite easily, and dogs can be put on medication to improve their quality of life.
There is some debate over the exact origins of the Bearded Collie.
One common myth is that a 16th-century Polish farmer traveled to Scotland to trade for sheep.
The shepherd he traded with was so impressed by his sheepdogs that he bought some.
It’s believed that these Polish Lowland Sheepdogs were then bred with local dogs to produce the Beardie.
The modern Bearded Collie as we know it is believed to originate in 1944, when a Scottish woman accidentally received a Beardie instead of a Shetland Sheepdog.
She was so in love with the dog that she found it a breeding partner to establish the line.
It’s believed that almost all modern Bearded Collies come from this breeding pair – Jeannie and Ballie – with there only be one or two other official bloodlines.
Although Beardies aren’t the most popular breed in the world, this tiny gene pool has obvious complications when it comes to genetic conditions.
This hasn’t yet come to light though because the breed is essentially still so new.
Beardies are still kept as working dogs, particularly in their native Scotland, but are also known as good family pets.
Their popularity took off somewhat after a Beardie won Best in Show at Crufts in 1989.
The American Kennel Club ranks the Bearded Collie as 117 out of 175 breeds in terms of popularity.
The American Kennel Club first recognized the Beardie in 1974, when it was added to the Miscellaneous class.
It was then upgraded to the Working class in 1977, and the Herding group in 1983.
Bearded Collie Facts & Figures:
Did You Know?
- Nana, the dog in Peter Pan was played by a Bearded Collie in the original James Barrie play. However, the dog was actually meant to be a St. Bernard’s, which is what the Disney animated film uses.
- The Beardie can trace its lineage all the way back to the Magyar Komondor, a breed of sheepdog from Central Europe.
- Beardies have been spotted in paintings dating from 1771 in a portrait of the Duke of Buccleigh, painted by Gainsborough.
- Bearded Collies are sometimes known as Bouncing Beardies, which is believed to have come from the fact that they needed to jump in the undergrowth to spot sheep.
- Bearded Collies are a popular sight in a wide range of competitions. Their intelligence and speed make them great in obedience and agility trials, and they’re often shown too.
- Beardie puppies are all born dark colored, and it’s not until they reach around 12 months that their coat begins to lighten. This usually means that owners don’t know what color dog they’re getting until long after adoption.