The original shaggy dogs with cute looks, breaded collies ooze charm and are incredibly friendly. But they were originally bred as working dogs and so require plenty of exercise. They will reward owners with playfulness, loyalty and affection. Kids love them and they love kids back. Potential owners should bear in mind that these dogs require a copious amount of grooming and constant stimulation.
Which breed group is the bearded collie in?
Breed group: Pastoral
Bearded collie breed history
Records of similar dogs date back to the 16th century. They were prized for their herding skills in both Scotland and the North of England and were known as highland collies. The precise origins of the breed are unclear, but it is likely that dogs which arrived with invading armies were crossed with native farm dogs. The bearded collie’s ancestors may have included the briard.
Beardies were bred to herd livestock in mountainous regions and to bring the animals down to the low country. They became less popular in the 20th century when border collies emerged as the dog of choice for farmers. The breed may have disappeared completely after World War II if it wasn’t for the efforts of one Mrs Williamson, an enthusiast who began a new breeding programme. The bearded collie was recognised by The Kennel Club in 1959.
When a bearded collie won Best in Show at Crufts in 1989, the breed gained valuable publicity around the world. Bearded collies remain working dogs but are also popular as pets and show dogs.
Bearded collie breed characteristics
The shaggy coat of the bearded collie conceals a lean and athletic body. These dogs boast strong muzzles, square noses and eyes which are set wide apart. They possess quizzical expressions which enhance their considerable appeal and they benefit from impressive intelligence. Their ears lift when the dogs are alert but droop when the dogs are relaxed.
Bearded collies are muscular with well-developed thighs and powerful back legs. Their feet are oval in shape and their toes are arched. Tails are set low and carried low with a curve at the tip. These dogs have soft undercoats and coarser, shaggy topcoats which may be slightly wavy. Coasts can be a variety of colours including black, brown, blue, bicolour and tricolour. Most bearded collies feature white markings to their faces, tips of their tails, legs and feet.
Confident, alert and friendly, bearded collies are working dogs which like to be kept occupied. They are friendly dogs with plenty of energy and may become destructive when bored. These dogs excel at agility and obedience competitions and are easy to train. Females tend to be more wilful than males and require a firmer approach to training which should always be reward-based.
- Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Height: up to 56cm
- Weight: up to 27kg
- Shaggy coats
- Variety of colours
- Strong muzzle
- Square nose
- Eyes set wide apart
- Tail carried low
Health issues with the bearded collie
Bearded collies are robust dogs which tend to enjoy comparatively long lives but they are prone to the following conditions:
- Hip dysplasia
- Collie eye anomaly (CEA)
- Addison's disease
- Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (SLO)
- Haemolytic anaemia
- Skin issues
What is the bearded collie bred for?
The bearded collie was originally bred as a working dog to find and herd livestock in the highlands.
What sort of owners does the bearded collie suit?
Friendly and loyal, bearded collies are excellent family pets which will get on with everyone. They are good with children and love to play. But they are easily bored and very energetic. They are best suited to owners who have a generous amount of time available to entertain and exercise them. They require regular grooming and should not be left home alone. As beardies like to chase anything that moves, they may take off after joggers, bicycles and other animals when they are out and about. They would certainly be excellent choices for active people who enjoy a good run themselves.