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Bearded Collie

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The Bearded Collie is a medium to large purebred from the United Kingdom, bred originally by the Scotts to be a sheepdog and to help with cattle too. Today it does well as a show dog, a working dog and as a companion. It can compete in areas such as rally, agility, obedience and other such dog sports as well as herding, tracking and performing tricks. When the original play version of Peter Pan was performed the part of Nana, the beloved dog, was actually played by a Bearded Collie. Today it is still considered to be a rare breed in North America.

The Bearded Collie at A Glance
Name Bearded Collie
Other names Highland Collie, Mountain Collie, Argle Bargle, Hairy Mou'ed Collie
Nicknames Beardie
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 55 pounds
Average height 20 to 22 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Harsh, rough, long
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, tricolor, tan, brown, blue, white, grey
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 124th by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent – above average
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle warm weather but nothing too hot
Tolerance to cold Very good – can handle cold climates just not extremes
Shedding Average – will be some hair around the home to clean up
Drooling Low – not prone to slobber or drool
Obesity High – prone to weight gain so measure its food and make sure its gets enough exercise
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – needs a lot of care
Barking Frequent – will need to train to control it
Exercise needs Quite active – needs active owners
Trainability Moderately easy to train
Friendliness Excellent with socialization
Good first dog Very good – first time owners could be fine but be prepared for its stubborn side
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization
Good with strangers Very good with socialization
Good apartment dog Moderate – best in a larger home with a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – not good left alone for long periods
Health issues Somewhat healthy breed – some issues include hypothyroidism, allergies, eye problems and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic care and pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $535 a year for basic training, license, grooming, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1140 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,250
Rescue organizations Several including Bearded Collie Club of America Rescue, Great Lakes Bearded Collie Club Rescue and B.O.N.E Bearded Collie Rescue
Biting Statistics None Reported

The Bearded Collie's Beginnings

The Bearded Collie was bred in Britain, specifically Scotland, as a herding dog for both sheep and cattle. It is believed the beginnings of the breed go as far back as the 1500s when a sea captain from Poland traded polish dogs with a Scottish shepherd for a ram and ewe. The shepherd took those dogs and bred them with other local dogs (possibly the Komondor and Old English Sheepdog) and the result was the Bearded Collie.

For hundreds of years the breed was used in Scotland and was also called the Highland Collie, the Hairy Moved Collie and the Highland Sheepdog. The name Bearded Collie refers to the long hairs on its chin that look like a beard, and the word Collie is Scottish for a herding dog. For many years it was bred just for its working ability so records of its breeding were not kept. There are paintings of early Bearded Collies by Reynolds and by Gainsborough in the late 1700s, and a written description of it can be found in 1818 in 'Live Stock Journal'.

By the end of the Victorian age this was a popular breed for farmers and as a show dog but no breed standard or club had yet been formed. It continued to be popular and do fairly well up until the world wars. As happened with many dog breeds after the second world war it almost became extinct.

New Lease on Life

Thankfully a Mrs Willison had a pair and was able to successfully breed them eventually leading to their rescue. The female she had was meant to have been a Shetland Sheepdog but she got a Beardie instead. She kept the dog and then one day when walking her along a beach she met a male Beardie called David and his owner. The owner was moving and could not take the dog with him. Mrs Willison took David and had her breeding pair.

In 1955 Mrs Willison was played a strong role in the formation of the Bearded Collie Club and in 1959 the Kennel Club recognized the breed. It was also in the late 1950s that the breed came over to the US but its popularity did not really take off and the first American litter was not born until 1967. Finally two years later the Bearded Collie Club of America was formed. In 1977 the AKC recognized the breed and today it is ranked 124th in popularity.

The Dog You See Today

The Bearded Collie is a medium to large dog weighing 40 to 55 pounds and standing 20 to 22 inches tall. It has a lean and long body, a tail it keeps low unless it is excited and a double coat that hangs naturally from either side and is rough, long, harsh and shaggy. Common colors are blue, white, black, tricolor, brown, grey and tan. Some puppies are born with a fading gene so its coat will change color as it matures. Their head is large, and broad and they have a short but strong muzzle. Its nose is squared, large and black and its eyes are set far apart. It has ears that hang down, are medium sized and have long hair on them. It also has long facial hair on its cheeks and its chin, hence the name.

The Inner Bearded Collie



Beardies are an alert breed so make a fine watchdog that will bark to let you know of anyone breaking in. It is not an especially protective dog though so may not act to defend you or the home. It is suitable for new owners as it is quite trainable but you should be prepared for a stubborn side sometimes. It is an energetic dog, it loves to play, is intelligent, can be independent, is very sensitive and does bark frequently so training it stop on a command will be necessary.

This is a cheerful dog full of good humor, affectionate and loving with its family and a dog who loves to be around people. It does not like to be left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety. It is also important it is kept busy, physically and mentally as if it is bored it does become restless, destructive and loud. Even when stable some Beardies are more rambunctious than others, but they do tend to be dogs that jump up in greeting so that is something to address with training too. From some poor lines there can be dogs that are overly timid so socialization will be essential.

This enthusiastic and bouncy dog is always wagging its tail. It can be clownish and that may entertain you, or at times it might frustrate you! It needs to be included in family events and activities and an owner able to keep up with its energy and love of life.

Living with a Bearded Collie

What will training look like?

The Bearded Collie is moderately easy to train as it is intelligent, and is inclined usually to listen though it can have an independent side that slows things a little and turns it into a more gradual process. Beardies can think for themselves and while they may move from A to B as you have asked, they might not do it the way you want them to! Avoid being overly long and repetitive in your sessions as it will become bored and get harder to work with. Be firm and in control, keep to the rules and be consistent but also be fair and positive. Praise it, encourage it and offer it treats for motivation rather than scolding it. Some are more manipulative than others in trying to get its own way.

Socialization is very important for all dogs. Start socialization early, as soon as you have the puppy home so that it can get used to and learn the acceptable ways to respond to different places, sounds, people and so on. Seeing as there can be Beardies who are overly timid that socialization also gives it more confidence.

How active is the Bearded Collie?

This is an active dog and so is best not living in an apartment, it should have access to a yard too. Daily exercise is important at least a couple of long walks a day, along with play opportunities, off leash time and perhaps even some doggy sports. This means the best owners for this breed are ones who love to be active, will be happy to be out at least a couple of times a day and are happy to train and have the Beardie running with them when jogging, hiking or cycling for example. This is not a dog that will be happy being confined all day every day, it comes from a background of being outdoors in the elements. Do not neglect its mental needs, its mind will need to be kept active also, think training, doing tasks, puzzle toys and such.

Caring for the Bearded Collie

Grooming needs


The Bearded Collie has long hair and is a high maintenance dog with regards to its grooming. It needs regular brushing to keep it tangle free and to remove burrs and debris it may pick up when out. It also sheds a moderate amount so there will be hair around the home to clean up. The regular brushing will help with that but there is no doubt keeping their coat long means more work in terms of grooming. Should you go for a puppy cut so that there are less tangles to deal with this will reduce how often you need to brush but it does still need some care. Give it a brush it each day and you can reduce how long you need to spend on it, just make sure you dampen the coat before you start, you should not comb it dry.

Only give it a bath when it really needs one to avoid drying out its skin. It will need to be trimmed a few times a year at a professional groomers. Its beard means it makes a mess when it eats or drinks and will need wiping as a result. This is not a dog to have if you like things clean and tidy all the time, it drips over the floor and so on. Check its ears once a week for infection and give those a wipe clean then too. Do not insert anything into their ears. Their teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week and have its nails clipped when they get too long. Some dogs wear them down naturally with their outdoor activity, but some trimming may be needed. If you are not familiar with this have a vet or expert show you how. There are blood vessels and nerves in dog nails so cutting through those will hurt your dog and cause them to bleed. Have a professional groomer or vet take care of it for you if you prefer.

Feeding Time

Feeding the Bearded Collie will mean it eating 1½ to 2½ cups of dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. Use a good quality dog food as it is much more nutritious for them. How much you will feed your dog exactly will depend on its size, build, metabolism, health and level of activity.

How is the Bearded Collie with children and other animals?

The energy, happiness and good humor of this breed means they are great with children. They will play together, run together, get up to mischief together and such. With younger children supervision will be needed just because they could get knocked over when the Beardie gets too rowdy. It is affectionate towards them too. As it is a herding dog though it may try to herd other pets and children and that will need to be trained to stop it. It will chase smaller strange animals but can get along with other pets if raised with them and with socialization. It is possessive of its things though so may over react should another pet try to take say one of their toys. It gets along well usually with other dogs, it is not a super dominant dog aggressive breed.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Bearded Collies have a life span of 12 to 14 years and are a fairly healthy dog breed. There are a mixture of serious and less serious health issues they might be prone to though and that includes parasites, cancer, hypothyroidism, skin problems, eye problems, PPM, hip dysplasia, cerebrovascular, kidney problems and Addison's disease.

Biting Statistics


In reports that look at dog attacks leading to bodily harm over 35 years in the US and Canada the Bearded Collie is not mentioned. In general this is not a dog likely to attack a person or even another dog. However any dog, no matter breed or size, can have a bad day, be startled or teased, hurt or feeling threatened can lash out. There are certain things a good owner can do to lessen the chances of an off day. Make sure you get a dog you can properly care for, make sure it has at least basic level obedience training and make sure it is well exercised and socialized.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Beared Collie puppy's average cost at the moment is $1250 for a pet quality dog from a good breeder. If you are looking for a show dog you will need to look for top breeders and that can set you back several thousands of dollars. There are of course dogs at rescues and shelters that need new homes, so if you are willing to possibly have an older dog rather than a puppy this could be another option. Costs of adoption tend to be $50 to $400. Make sure you take the time to find a breeder worthy of being trusted rather than rushing into it and using dodgy places supplied by puppy mills, backyard breeders or pet stores.

Once a decision has been made on where you are getting a puppy or dog from you will need to get some things for it. Collar and leash, bowls, crate and such will cost about $200. When you have it home you need to take it to a vet for a check up, shots, micro-chipping, spaying or neutering, blood tests and deworming. This will cost about $270.

There are also ongoing costs when you are a responsible pet owner. Your dog needs to be fed, so a good quality dry dog food and dog treats are going to cost about $145. Medical basic needs like flea and tick prevention, physical exams, vaccinations and then pet insurance are going to cost about $460 a year. Then there are more miscellaneous costs like a license, basic training, grooming, miscellaneous items and toys for about $535 a year. This gives an annual estimated cost of $1140.


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Bearded Collies are very energetic, lively, playful, happy and social dogs. As long as you are ready for that energy in you home and are prepared to offer it exercise and mental stimulation this is a great family dog. Do not let it get bored as it will start to bark more, become destructive and difficult to control. It needs a confident and firm owner who does not mind a shaggy dog that needs a lot of grooming. Be warned this is a rare dog, the price for that reason is higher than some more popular breeds and there are waiting lists at the better breeders.

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