Meet the sheepdog clown. The Bearded Collie. A very enthusiastic, hardy, exuberant, active, energetic, reliable, bright, and trustworthy companion. His friends just call him "Beardie" because of the long hair that hangs down from the chin and looks kind of like a beard.
This breed of dog has a very comical bouncy nature. Apparently, the rumor is that when these dogs worked in thick undergrowth in Scotland they would bounce up to see where the sheep were. If you watch them herding sheep you will also see this characteristic bouncing behavior as a method of intimidating the sheep.
For most people, the Bearded Collie is not for them. This is a very energetic dog that has very long hair that needs considerable care on a daily basis. They are also known for tracking dirt all through the house as all kinds of debris will stick to their hair (especially the paws). They also tend to get bored quite easily and once they are bored they will make their own adventures usually by destroying the house.
Being a very energetic dog they do make great playmates for children. The Beardie will spend hours playing and running with children of all ages. Just keep in mind that these are very rambunctious dogs and you will need to keep a constant vigil when children are involved.
Another characteristic of the Bearded Collie is that they are outgoing, affectionate dogs that are independent and stubborn at times. For these dogs you must provide constant Obedience training. It is very important that you acquire and maintain the role of pack leader with these dogs. But also keep the training fun with rewards for some positive reinforcement.
These are herding dogs and as such they make excellent watchdogs because of their alertness. When these dogs were on the farm one of their duties was to protect the livestock. And when they become alerted to a situation they will start to bark very enthusiastically. This can be an annoyance to your neighbors as they tend to bark like this when they become excited as well.
Beardies tend to love all other animals. No matter what species the other animal is your Bearded Collie will include it in ins family flock. They are also not typically aggressive towards other dogs and will do quite well at the dog park.
If you are looking at getting into competitions or agility sports then this is probably the dog for you. That is, as long as you can maintain control of your Beardie.
Bearded Collie FAQs
- Does the Bearded Collie adapt well to apartment living?
- A good apartment dog is one that is quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the residents of the apartment complex. The Bearded Collie falls in the middle here. Sometimes you end up with a high-strung dog that has lots of energy and other times you will get one that is fairly laid back. If you can, observe the dog for a couple of days before getting it to see how much energy he had. For more information see our List of Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living.
- Are Bearded Collies good dogs for novice owners?
- This breed of dog is quite resilient about the mistakes that its human companion makes. For this reason they are an excellent choice for the first-time pet owner as they will have you trained in no time flat.
- Does the Bearded Collie have a low sensitivity level?
- When it comes to sensitivity level the Bearded Collie is a dog that couldn't care less about being disciplined. For more information see our List of Dogs That Have A Low Sensitivity Level.
- Does the Bearded Collie tolerate being left alone?
- Some dogs are perfectly happy being left alone for several hours. Others go into a frenzy with separation anxiety. The Bearded Collie suffers from separation anxiety and does not do well if left alone for extended periods of time. For these dogs it is best to enroll them into a doggy daycare program or hire a dog sitter while you are away. If a family member can be home at all times then this would be the preferable approach. For more information see our List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited To Be Alone.
- Does the Bearded Collie tolerate cold weather well?
- Generally speaking, any dog that has a good thick coat is a dog that can tolerate cold weather well. Some dog breeds tend to thrive in cold weather. The Bearded Collie does quite well in a colder climate than other dogs. Just make sure that you provide a place for the dog to go to get out of the wind. I do not recommend that you keep the dog outside as a living arrangement.
- Does the Bearded Collie tolerate hot weather well?
- The general rule here is that the thicker and heavier the coat on the dog, the less he will be able to tolerate hot weather. The Bearded Collie has a fairly thick and heavy coat, but they tend to tolerate hot weather better than most other dogs. Just be sure that you provide a place for the dog to go and cool down if he needs it. And provide plenty of cold water when the weather gets hot.
- Is the Bearded Collie affectionate with all family members?
- Some dogs have a one person only love affair with their masters. Others will go around from family member to family member just to get the affection they crave. The Bearded Collie is an affection-getter. He will absolutely love each member of the family equally which makes him quite kid friendly too.
- Is the Bearded Collie a kid friendly dog?
- Some dogs love kids and some just hate them. The Bearded Collie on the other hand is a dog that loves kids. But this is only to a point. When the dog has had enough playing with the kids he will wander off to a quiet corner all by himself so he can relax and rest. So be sure to provide a nice, cool, quiet place for the dog to retreat to when he wants some alone time. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together. For more information see our List of Kid Friendly Dogs.
- Are Bearded Collies dog friendly?
- Some dogs will enjoy the company of other dogs while others are true loners and do not approve of having other dogs nearby. The Bearded Collie is a true pack dog and loves the company of other dogs. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
- Are Bearded Collies friendly towards strangers?
- A dog that is stranger friendly will greet new people with a wagging tail. But remember that no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
- Do Bearded Collies shed a lot?
- There is no steadfast rule as to how thick or full a dog's coat has to be for the to shed a lot. The Bearded Collie is a dog with a full, thick coat and he sheds quite a bit.
- Are Bearded Collies dogs that have a high drooling potential?
- Some dogs literally flood the floor with drool at all hours of the day and night. Others do it just during feeding time. The Bearded Collie is not a big drooler but may show an increased salivation process when your prepare it meals.
- Is the Bearded Collie a hard dog to groom?
- Some dogs are really easy to groom while others take a lot of work. The Bearded Collie requires at least one twenty minute grooming session per day and one forty minute grooming session per week.
- Does the Bearded Collie have good general health overall?
- Today there are many dogs that are prone to genetic health problems because of the poor breeding practices of the past. The Bearded Collie is no exception because there are a few conditions this breed suffers from (see below).
- Does the Bearded Collie gain weight easily?
- All dogs have the potential to gain weight. Some more than others. The Bearded Collie can gain weight rather quickly if they are not maintained on a good diet and are given the necessary amount of exercise.
- How big is the Bearded Collie?
- Dogs come in all sizes from the tiniest teacup variety to the tallest Great Dane. When choosing a dog it is necessary to take into consideration how much space the dog will need and how much space you currently have in your home. Although the Bearded Collie is fairly large he is still considered to be a medium-sized dog.
- Is the Bearded Collie an easy dog to train?
- Some dogs are just really intelligent (21 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds of 2016) and can be trained quite easily. Others learn quickly because they enjoy the interaction they get from their pet parent. The Bearded Collie really enjoys the interaction between pet parent and dog. For this reason they learn quite quickly and are always eager to please.
- Is the Bearded Collie an intelligent dog?
- Dogs that were bred as working dogs are dogs that need to use their heads to get the job done without too much intervention from their owner. The Bearded was a farmer's helper and because of such farm work they have developed a fairly high level of intelligence.
- Is the Bearded Collie a mouthy dog?
- In this respect mouthiness refers to a dog's tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite. Something that is common during puppyhood of all breeds. The Bearded Collie is a middle-of-the-road dog when it comes to being mouthy. However, you can easily train these dogs to be less mouthy during play. Another way to handle mouthy dogs is to use fillable dog toys and fill them with their favorite treats and let them chew on that. Try peanut butter and watch your dog be entertained for hours trying to get all the peanut butter out.
- Do Bearded Collies have a high prey drive?
- Dogs that were bred to hunt have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Farm dogs were often trained to accomplish this on command to help protect the farm animals. The Bearded Collie may or may not want to chase other animals. This all depends on whether the dog was brought up with other animals or not. However, when walking your dog it is best to keep him on a leash so that he doesn't suddenly get to urge to go after the squirrel across the road running into traffic.
- Do Bearded Collies have a tendency to bark or howl?
- Some breeds seem to like the sound of their own voice. The Bearded Collie will usually only bark when a stranger approaches the home to alert you of the newcomer. Otherwise, these dogs are relatively quiet.
- Does the Bearded Collie have a high wanderlust potential?
- Some dogs just love to explore and will do so every chance they get. This breed of dog is no exception. For this reason owners should have a fenced-in backyard for the dog to play in. Make sure that the fence is high enough so that the dog will not jump over it (at least six feet high) and that it goes underground by at least three feet so the dog will not dig its way underneath before you catch it trying to do so.
- Does the Bearded Collie have a high energy level?
- High-energy dogs will always want to play a game with you. The Bearded Collie has a fairly good amount of energy. However, when he has had enough and needs a break he will usually wander away to find a place to take a nap.
- Does the Bearded Collie have a high intensity level?
- Some dogs tend to put everything into whatever they are doing. They will not stop until the job is done. Bearded Collies tend to be quite vigorous in whatever they are doing. For this reason you need to train the dog into calming down a bit so that he won't pull you all over the place when you go for your daily walks.
- Do Bearded Collies need a lot of exercise?
- This is a working dog that has a fair amount of energy. As such you should provide at least two twenty minute periods each day of vigorous exercise. Enrolling your dog in doggy sports and agility classes are a great way to spend some of that energy.
- Is the Bearded Collie a playful dog?
- Dogs come in all shapes and sizes as well as personalities. The Bearded Collie is one of those dogs that are perpetual puppies. He will always want to play a game with you and other family members.
Bearded Collie Highlights
The following highlights should be kept in mind if you are planning on getting a Bearded Collie:
- Beardies don't like to be confined and may become nuisance barkers if frequently left alone.
- Beardies require about an hour of exercise daily in a fenced area where they can run.
- Beardies can be headstrong, so obedience training is a must. Start early!
- Bearded Collies will bark to let you know when people are approaching, but they are not guard dogs of any kind. They are more like watchdogs in this respect.
- A bored Beardie is an excellent escape artist!
- The Bearded Collie coat requires weekly brushing, more during their annual shedding season.
- Some Beardies can react to monthly heartworm preventive. Discuss this with your veterinarian to decide whether a daily preventive is a better choice.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
History of the Bearded Collie
The exact origin of the Bearded Collie is unknown but it is one of the oldest dog breeds in Britain. It is also known by many names such as the Highland Collie, the Mountain Collie, and even the Hairy Mou'ed Collie. The farmers who helped to develop this dog didn't keep any records but it is believed that some Polish Lowland Sheepdogs were crossed with local sheepdogs.
It is believed that a painting that was painted by Gainsborough in 1771 portrays some dogs that look very much like Bearded Collies. And as early as 1818 the Live Stock Journal contained a description of this breed. By the end of the Victorian era this dog was very popular as a working and show dog but there was no breed club and no official standard for the breed.
The modern Bearded Collie was developed by Mrs. G.O. Willison who bred these dogs for show after World War II. She was also very instrumental on forming the Bearded Collie Club in Britain in 1955.
It wasn't until 1959 when the Kennel Club recognized this breed and granted it the rights to show for Challenge Certificates and Championships. This is when the popularity of this breed skyrocketed.
Bearded Collies first appeared in the United States in the late 1950s but were not used as breeding stock. The first litter didn't appear until 1967.
In 1969 the interest of this breed was high enough that the Bearded Collie Club of America was formed.
In 1977 the Bearded Collie was listed on the Working Group list of the American Kennel Club and then moved to the Herding Group when that group was established in 1983.
Size of the Bearded Collie
A typical male Bearded Collie stands 21 to 22 inched (53.34 to 55.88 cm) at the shoulder while females measure 20 to 21 inches (50.8 to 53.34 cm) at the shoulder. The weight of these dogs range from 45 to 55 pounds (20.41 to 24.95 kg).
Personality of the Bearded Collie
These dogs are smart, resourceful, and confident in their behavior. They are also fun-loving and energetic and a joy to be around. He is also an independent thinker which can make him difficult to train. But aside from that he makes an excellent playmate for children because of his sense of humor.
When choosing a Beardie puppy, remember that temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.
Another thing to look for is temperament which varies amongst individual dogs. Here you will find a wide range of personalities from the sweet and quiet to the loud and enthusiastic. Try and choose a dog that fits with your own personality and lifestyle.
It is important that while you are choosing a dog from a breeder you should meet one of the parents to ensure that the parent also has the temperament that you desire your puppy to have. This will help to give you an indication as to what the puppy will be like when it grows up.
Health Considerations in the Bearded Collie
Generally, the Bearded Collie is a healthy animal. But, like all breeds of dogs, there are some diseases and conditions that these dogs are prone to. This doesn't mean that all Bearded Collies will get or show signs of these conditions but it is important that potential owners know about them.
Many dogs today have allergies. Most of the time these allergies are food based and can be treated by eliminating foods that cause reactions. But sometimes a dog will also develop contact allergies which are allergies that cause a reaction when the animal brushed against something that it is sensitive to. And just like humans, some dogs suffer from inhalant allergies such as pollen and dust. These types of allergies are usually treated with medications depending on the severity of the allergy and the cause.
Hip Dysplasia is another condition that may afflict these dogs. This is a condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs will show considerable pain with this condition but some dogs may not show any discomfort at all. This is often an inherited condition and your breeder will be able to give you information as well as show you paperwork of what types of testing the parents and puppies have gone through to determine whether the animal is susceptible to hip dysplasia.
Other conditions which may afflict the Bearded Collie are:
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is an abnormally low level of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease may be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles. The dog's fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication, which must continue throughout the dog's life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don't make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable breeders have their dogs' eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease.
- Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM): Persistent Pupillary Membranes are strands of tissue in the eye, remnants of the fetal membrane that nourished the lenses of the eyes before birth. They normally disappear by the time a puppy is 4 or 5 weeks old, but sometimes they persist. The strands can stretch from iris to iris, iris to lens, or cornea to iris, and sometimes they are found in the anterior (front) chamber of the eye. For many dogs, the strands do not cause any problems and generally they break down by 8 weeks of age. If the strands do not break down, they can lead to cataracts or cause corneal opacities. Eye drops prescribed by your veterinarian can help break them down.
Care of the Bearded Collie
Bearded Collies are indoor/outdoor dogs. These dogs like to be around people. He also requires access to a fenced in yard. They do not, however, make good apartment dogs because of the amount of exercise they need. Typically two half-hour exercise sessions per day are required.
Obedience training is an absolute must for these dogs. Learning needs to be fun or these dogs will just become stubborn. Give them positive reinforcement in the form of food rewards, play, and praise.
Bearded Collies do not like abusive or harsh conditions. They will become very disobedient and destructive in such conditions.
Early training is the key with these dogs. If they are started at an early age in a training regimen they will develop into a well-rounded and obedient dog.
Feeding Your Bearded Collie
The recommended daily amount to feed the adult dogs is between 1.5 to 2 cups. Puppies will require 3 to 4 cups of high-quality food per day.
Keep in mind that each dog is an individual and as such their feeding requirements will vary. The major factors that determine how much to feed your dog include his size, age, build, energy level, and metabolism. Regardless of the actual amount of food that you feed them it should always be the highest quality that you can afford. The better the quality the less your dog will eat.
Coat Color and Grooming Your Bearded Collie
The coat of the Bearded Collie consists of a flat, harsh, strong, shaggy outer coat with a soft, almost downy-like, undercoat. There is also long hair on the cheeks, lower lips, and under the chin forming his beard.
Bearded Collie puppies are born black, blue, brown, or fawn. They may or may not have white markings as puppies.
Some puppies carry a certain gene which causes their coat to lighten as they get older but will then darken a bit by the time they are about one and a half years of age. Puppies without this fading gene tend to remain the color they were when they were born.
The coat of the Beardie requires constant care. A daily twenty minute quick brushing with a full one hour weekly brushing is recommended. When brushing it is recommended to spray the coat with a conditioning spray to reduce static electricity and to keep the hairs from breaking. Gently work out any tangles with your fingers before passing a comb through them. And anti-tangle spray may help in this respect.
Bathing should only be done as needed. Their hair is rather fragile and bathing too often will strip it of its essential oils.
At about 9 to 18 months of age, the Bearded Collie puppy will begin to lose his soft puppy coat. At this point you should increase the amount of brushings until the adult coat is fully formed.
Once a year your Beardie will shed very heavily. When this happens you should brush your dog more often to prevent tangles and a profusion of hair around the house.
Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Beardie's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Nails should be trimmed regularly to keep them short. Your Beardie's nails may need to be trimmed weekly or only monthly; each dog is different. If you can hear the nails clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the dog's feet in good condition and keep your legs from getting scratched when your bouncy Beardie enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and Other Pets
Bearded Collies are gentle animals when they are around people. Especially children. With all the energy that these dogs have they will make excellent playmates for kids and will also most likely outlast them as well. But as with any dog it is well advised that there should be adult supervision during all interactions between dog and child. It is also the responsibility of parents and other adults to teach the child how to behave when around dogs so as to not create a dangerous situation.
Bearded Collies do get along well with other animals. Especially cats and dogs. The best advice here is to introduce your puppy to other animals starting at a very young age. They can however be possessive of their toys.
Beardies are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs often end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. Other Beardies end up in rescue because their owners have divorced or died. Contact the rescue organization for more information about available dogs and adoption requirements.
- Bearded Collie Club of America Rescue
- B.O.N.E. Bearded Collie Rescue
- National Capitol Bearded Collie Club
- Bearded Collie Club of Central Florida
- Chicagoland Bearded Collie Club Rescue
- Great Lakes Bearded Collie Club Rescue
- Carolinas Bearded Collie Club Rescue
- Texas Beardie Rescue
Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about Beardies.
Bearded Collie Puppy Pics
Bearded Collie Puppy Pics