A boisterous and charismatic droving dog from Scotland. Updated 2022.
Bearded Collie Dogs originated in Scotland. They are energetic and lively, and happy to play outdoors in any weather, come rain, hail, sleet or shine.
This breed has a natural exuberance and energy. They are very lively, and love romping around a large backyard or out in the countryside. Of course, some individual dogs are more active than others, but in general they are more boisterous than most other breeds.
The "Beardie" is very sociable, and will want to welcome just about everyone it meets by jumping up at them. While this is done in a friendly manner, for a lot of people it's anti-social, and so your Beardie needs to taught from a young age NOT to jump up. It's cute when they are a puppy, but when they weigh 50lbs it's another matter.
The sociable side to their nature also means that they do not get on well if left alone for long periods of time. Like many breeds, they will become bored, and wander around looking for something to chew or dig or play with. They need some sort of company and interaction to keep them happy, even if it's another pet.
As a herding breed at heart, they still retain the inherent urge to round things up, whether it's children or other animals. This means that they may chase other animals and children, to try to herd them, nipping at ankles and barking. This rowdy behavior should be minimized as a puppy during training.
Their intelligence and high energy means they love being outdoors, with something to do. They do not do well in warm and hot weather, and so are better suited to hiking than running. They do well in dog trials involving herding, agility and obedience.
Like a number of breeds, the exact origins of the Bearded Collie are shrouded in the mists of time. However it is now generally accepted that these dogs are descended from the same original stock as the Komondor and Polish Lowland Sheepdogs, brought to Scotland around the 16th century.
Bearded Collies were bred to work with cattle in the Scottish Highlands, in a tough, cold, wet and difficult environment. They were used to herd the cattle and then to help drive them to market when required.
In the 1700's, dogs that look very like the modern-day Bearded Collie were depicted by famous painters such as Gainsborough and Reynolds. The breed gradually became more popular, particularly in Scotland. During the reign of Queen Victoria they were a common sight in Scottish dog shows.
Most modern day versions of the Bearded Collie are descended from 2 dogs in Scotland, and just 2 other bloodlines, after WW2. The breed numbers declined during the 2 World Wars, like all dog breeds, but popularity returned again in the second half of the 20th century. The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1977.
While there are still some working Bearded Collies, herding sheep and cattle, most are now family pets. They are popular due to their happy outgoing nature, enthusiasm for life and energy. They are good with children.
Height; 21 to 22 inches (male) and 20 to 21 inches (female
Weight; 45lbs to 55lbs
Life Span; 10 to 13 years
Black, Blue (grey) with white markings.
As an intelligent and smart breed, you might expect Bearded Collie dogs to be easy to train. Unfortunately this is not always true. As herding and droving dogs they had to make their own decisions about how to keep a herd of unruly cattle together.
This means the "Beardie" has a mind of it's own, and a streak of independence, no matter how friendly and willing to please they might be. So you can expect your Collie to be a little resistant to training!
The best method is to start young, and have short sessions of training (say 5 minutes) several times a day. You have to be consistent with your commands and rewards, including lots of praise for the correct response. Keeping the sessions short should help to prevent boredom and distraction setting in; and repeating the sessions several times a day will reinforce the lessons.
Early socialization (from 8-10 weeks) is also important, exposing the puppy to strange and new sights, sounds and smells. At this stage they are likely to try to jump up when greeting someone. As cute as this may be for a puppy, it becomes a nuisance when the dog is older, and the best plan is to discourage jumping up from the very first day. And continue to discourage it. Otherwise, down the line, you will have a 50lb lump of dog jumping all over your guests and family!
We have a page on the 7 best dog training books; I recommend you take a look.
Bearded Collie dogs are so friendly that they will exuberantly welcome any visitors. However they are so excitable that they will usually bark loudly too, so you will know that you have a guest, whether welcome or not!
As such, the "Beardie" makes an average watchdog. They were bred for herding and droving, NOT as livestock guardian dogs, and so they do not have the suspicion of strangers nor the urge to protect their "flock" like typical shepherd dogs.
And they will almost certainly not try to intimidate an intruder or face off against an unwanted guest. If you need extra protection, I suggest you look for another breed.
Bearded Collie dogs need a lot of grooming, owing to that long coat. Some owners trim the dog's coat to keep it shorter, like when it was a puppy. This is especially useful around the head and the mouth. That "beard" seems to collect just about everything, from food to dirt to anything the dog has been smelling!
While the "puppy look" trim means your Bearded Collie does not look like a typical example of the breed, it DOES reduce the grooming requirements substantially. BUT even with a trimmed coat, the "Beardie" will still shed hairs.
Either way, your dog will need a 5-minute brushing every day to remove loose hairs and any bits and pieces that have become tangled in the coat, AND to prevent tangling of the coat itself. Then, once a week you should spend about 30 minutes with a comb and a brush to work through the deeper coat, again to prevent tangles from building up.
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This is a relatively sturdy and hardy breed with few issues that are breed-specific. However, responsible breeders will get checks for;
Some authorities also look for problems with Addison's disease, which is an auto-immune disease affecting the adrenal glands. Symptoms vary, but lethargy is almost always present.
In the film "The Shaggy Dog" (2006), the dog is played by a Bearded Collie. They are seldom seen in films, as the Old English Sheepdog breed is normally preferred.
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