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Independent, strong, and agile, the Bearded Collie is an active working breed. But these long-haired dogs are also softies with their families and love playing with other pets and children.
The Bearded Collie (also called the Highland Collie and Mountain Collie) hails from Scotland. Once considered an ancient breed, Beardies may have actually descended from Central European breeds—such as the Komondor and Polish Lowland Sheepdogs—that arrived in Scotland in the 1500s.
Known to spend long hours working cattle in the pasture and driving them to market, these herding and droving dogs have a strong work ethic. As a result, Bearded Collies were particularly popular among farming families throughout history. But upper classes also owned the breed. In fact, Reynolds, Gainsborough, and other artists featured Bearded Collies in portraits of their well-to-do clients.
The population of Bearded Collies fell after World War I. Fortunately, devoted British breeders have since helped restore their numbers. Despite the Beardie's prevalence and popularity in Europe, the United States did not record its first litter of the breed until 1967.
Medium-sized dogs, Bearded Collies have long, lean bodies, medium-length coats, and bright, enquiring expressions.
The Bearded Collie has a double coat. The undercoat is soft, furry, and close, whereas the outer coat is flat, harsh, strong, shaggy, and free from wooliness and curl. Beardies' coats part and fall to either side of their bodies, but they should not be artificially parted.
The Bearded Collie's name comes from the longer, beard-like hair on the cheeks, lower lips, and chin. In competitions, these dogs must be shown naturally—no trimming of their coats is allowed.
Bearded Collies come in four colors: black, blue, brown, or fawn with or without white markings. The breed standard allows tan markings below the base of the tail, on the eyebrows, cheeks, or legs (where white joins the main color), or inside the ears. Puppies are often darker, and their coats may lighten as they mature into adulthood.
Bearded Collies are long and lean with level backs, deep chests, well-sprung ribs, and powerful, muscular hindquarters. The breed also has a strong, full muzzle and medium-sized, hair-covered ears that hang down.
The Beardie's large, wide-set eyes have an expressive, soft, and affectionate gaze with pigmentation corresponding to the coat colors. (Black Bearded Collies have black eye rims, noses, and lips. Blue Bearded Collies have pigmentation in a blue-grey color. And so on.)
Bearded Collies were bred to work and appreciate having jobs to do. These outgoing, active dogs willingly lead the way on hikes, runs, and other fast-paced outings.
Beardies also typically get along with other pets and children. But because of their strong herding tendencies, they may try to corral kids or herd other animals.
Bearded Collies require a high-quality, age-appropriate (e.g., puppy, adult, senior) diet. Dog foods formulated for active breeds are a good option.
Like all dogs, Bearded Collies can become overweight if allowed to eat as much as they want. Measuring out your dog's meals and limiting treats to no more than 10% of their daily calories can help keep your Beardie fit and trim.
It takes effort to keep the Bearded Collie's coat at its best. Daily brushing helps remove any dirt and debris that these dogs might have picked up outdoors and prevents painful mats from forming. A weekly session with a pin rake and some detangling spray helps remove dead hair and leaves a Beardie's coat looking pristine.
Trimming nails, cleaning ears, and brushing teeth should also be part of every dog's grooming routine, regardless of breed.
Bearded Collies love to be on the move and enjoy regular walks, hikes, trips to the dog park, and games in the backyard. Natural athletic prowess means the Bearded Collie also excels at dog sports—including rally, agility, competitive obedience, and herding.
Mental stimulation is important, too. Puzzle toys and games like hide-and-seek can keep your pup's mind engaged.
Bearded Collies love spending time with their owners. And that means yours will likely see training as a bonding experience. Beardies benefit from a consistent (but varied) training routine. These intelligent dogs get bored easily. Switching up activities and adding challenges keeps them engaged.
The Bearded Collie can also be stubborn. So, patience and consistency are key. Focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based training and avoid harsh commands.
The Bearded Collie is a social breed. But providing positive interactions with unfamiliar people, pets, and places early in life will foster their outgoing natures.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is an eye disease where the layer in the eye supplying blood and nutrients to the retina is thinner than normal, resulting in visual defects in more severely affected dogs. CEA is most commonly found in breeds of herding descent.
Knowing if your Bearded Collie is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup's lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed 26 July 2020 by Laura Inman, DVM