Bearded Collie

Table of Contents

bearded collie portrait
Meet the Bearded Collie: a canine connoisseur's delight! These lovable, energetic furballs are known for their distinctive, shaggy coats and boundless enthusiasm. What sets them apart from other breeds? It's the perfect blend of intelligence, playfulness, and sheer doggy charisma that makes them a favorite amongst dog enthusiasts.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Bearded Collie is an ideal fit for active individuals or families who love the outdoors. This energetic, shaggy-coated breed thrives on exercise and social interaction. If you’re drawn to charismatic, friendly, and a tad independent dogs with a flair for fun, the Bearded Collie could be your perfect companion!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBearded Collie
OTHER NAMESBeardie, Highland Collie, Mountain Collie, Hairy Mou’ed Collie
ORIGINScotland
BREED GROUPHerding Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT20-22 inches
WEIGHT40-55 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK124th
bearded collie lying outdoors
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Appearance

The Bearded Collie, affectionately known as the “Beardie,” is a medium-sized dog with a distinct appearance that exudes both elegance and athleticism. Their well-proportioned body, combined with their sturdy build and nimble gait, showcases their herding heritage and ability to navigate rugged terrain with ease.

When it comes to height, male Beardies typically stand between 21 and 22 inches at the shoulder, while females range from 20 to 21 inches. As for weight, males usually tip the scales at 45 to 55 pounds, and females weigh in at 40 to 50 pounds.

Their well-muscled body, coupled with strong, straight legs and compact, oval-shaped feet, allows for agility and endurance. The tail is long and set low with an upward curve at the end. When the Beardie is in motion or alert, the tail is carried high with a slight curve, showcasing their lively spirit.

The Bearded Collie’s head is in proportion to the rest of its body, with a broad, flat skull and a defined stop. The muzzle is strong and equal in length to the skull, ending in a large, square-shaped nose. Their ears are medium-sized and set high on the head, hanging close to the cheeks with a slight lift at the base.

The Beardie’s eyes are set wide apart and come in shades of brown that harmonize with their coat color. Their expressive eyes exude warmth, intelligence, and curiosity. The overall expression is one of grace, strength, and boundless energy, making them an unmistakable and captivating breed in both appearance and personality.

One of the most striking features of the Bearded Collie is their luxurious, double-layered coat. The outer coat is long, straight, and harsh to the touch, while the undercoat is soft, furry, and close-fitting. This weather-resistant coat protects them from the elements and requires regular grooming to prevent matting.

Beardies come in an array of colors, including black, blue, brown, and fawn, often with white markings on the face, chest, legs, and tail tip. As they mature, their coat color may lighten, giving them a unique, ever-changing appearance.

bearded collie oh a grassy hill
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Temperament

Imagine having a friend who’s always up for a laugh, who’s curious about everything, and whose energy is infectious. That’s what it’s like to have a Bearded Collie in your life. These dogs are the life and soul of any gathering, with personalities that are as lively and fluffy as their coats.

Meet a Beardie, and the first thing you’ll notice is their zest for life. They’re intelligent and quick-witted, with an independent streak that sometimes borders on stubbornness. But it’s this stubbornness, coupled with their playful nature, that makes them so endearing. They’re the kind of dogs that make you laugh out loud at their antics.

Beardies are also incredibly sociable. They’ve never met a stranger they didn’t like and are always ready to make new friends. Their friendly disposition extends to other animals too, making them perfect companions in homes with other pets.

One of the most charming things about Beardies is their confidence. They’re resourceful dogs who aren’t afraid to explore their surroundings or take on new challenges. It’s almost like they see life as one big adventure and they’re eager to embark on it.

Despite their adventurous spirit, Beardies are also very affectionate. They love their families deeply and form strong bonds with them. They’re not the type of dogs to sit quietly in a corner. Instead, they want to be in the thick of the action, involved in whatever their family is doing.

However, they do have an independent streak. Sometimes, they can be a bit headstrong, which requires an owner who’s patient and understanding. But with the right approach, this trait can be channeled positively, adding to their unique charm.

In a nutshell, having a Bearded Collie is like having a whirlwind of joy in your life. They’re smart, playful, friendly, and full of life. Their cheerful personalities and loyalty to their families make them more than just pets; they’re companions, confidantes, and sources of endless entertainment. With a Beardie in your life, every day is a new adventure.

bearded collie walking on the beach
Photo: Anolis01/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The Bearded Collie thrives in an environment that caters to their energetic and social nature. They are highly adaptable dogs, but they do best in a home with ample space for them to romp and play.

A house with a large, securely fenced yard is ideal, as it allows them the freedom to explore and expend their energy safely. However, with proper exercise and mental stimulation, Beardies can also adapt to living in smaller spaces, such as apartments or homes without yards.

Climate Adaptability

In terms of climate adaptability, the Bearded Collie’s double coat provides protection against both cold and moderate heat. They can tolerate colder temperatures quite well, thanks to their dense undercoat that insulates them from the chill.

However, during hot weather, it’s essential to provide them with shade, fresh water, and limit their exposure to direct sunlight to prevent overheating. Regular grooming is crucial to maintain their coat’s health and effectiveness in protecting them from the elements.

Ideal Owner

Bearded Collies require pet parents who are willing to invest time and effort into providing consistent training, mental enrichment, and physical activity. These dogs excel when engaged in activities that challenge both their body and mind, such as agility, herding trials, obedience training, or even doggy playdates.

The ideal owner for a Bearded Collie is someone who appreciates their intelligence, spirited nature, and desire to be an active participant in family life.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, the Bearded Collie is generally sociable and friendly. They tend to get along well with other dogs and can even coexist harmoniously with cats or smaller animals when properly introduced and socialized. Their herding instincts may drive them to “round up” smaller pets, so supervision and training are necessary to ensure harmonious interactions.

bearded collie's face up close
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Grooming

The Bearded Collie’s luxurious double coat requires consistent grooming to keep it healthy and tangle-free. While they may not shed as much as some other breeds, their long, flowing coat is prone to matting, and regular maintenance is crucial to prevent this.

Coat Care

To maintain the Bearded Collie’s coat, it’s essential to brush and comb it several times a week. A slicker brush and a long-toothed metal comb are ideal tools for this task. Start by brushing the coat with the slicker brush to remove any loose hair and debris. Follow this by using the comb to work through any tangles or mats, being gentle and patient to avoid causing discomfort to your Beardie.

When grooming your Bearded Collie, be sure to pay special attention to areas that are more prone to matting, such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the belly. It’s also essential to groom the hair between their paw pads, as excess fur in this area can lead to discomfort and potential injury.

Bathing your Bearded Collie should be done as needed, usually every 4-6 weeks, or when they become particularly dirty or smelly. Use a gentle dog shampoo and be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue from their thick coat.

After bathing, towel-dry your Beardie as much as possible, then use a hairdryer on a low heat setting to dry their coat completely. This process can take some time due to the density of their fur, so patience is key. Brushing your Beardie’s coat while drying can help prevent tangles and keep it looking its best.

Dental Care

In addition to coat care, dental hygiene is an important aspect of grooming for Bearded Collies. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth with canine toothpaste and toothbrush can help prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath.

Ideally, you should aim to brush your Beardie’s teeth at least two to three times a week. Providing dental chews and toys can also help maintain good oral health.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is another essential component of grooming for Bearded Collies. Their nails should be trimmed every 3-4 weeks, depending on their growth rate. Long nails can cause discomfort and affect your dog’s gait, so it’s important to keep them well-maintained.

Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder to trim your Beardie’s nails, being careful not to cut into the quick, which can cause pain and bleeding.

Ear Care

Lastly, don’t forget to check and clean your Bearded Collie’s ears regularly, ideally once a week. Use a gentle ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls to clean the outer ear, being careful not to insert anything into the ear canal. Regular ear cleaning can help prevent infections and maintain your dog’s overall ear health.

bearded collie running in an open field
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Exercise

The Bearded Collie is an energetic and athletic breed that requires regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. As a herding dog, they possess a natural drive to work and a seemingly endless supply of energy. Meeting their exercise needs is crucial to preventing boredom and potential behavioral issues.

Exercise Amount & Types

Bearded Collies typically require at least one hour of exercise per day, which can be divided into multiple sessions. This exercise should include a mix of activities that engage both their body and mind, such as brisk walks, off-leash playtime, and mentally stimulating games like fetch or hide-and-seek.

When exercising your Bearded Collie, provide them with opportunities to explore and burn off energy in a controlled and safe environment. A securely fenced yard or a visit to a local dog park can provide the perfect setting for off-leash play and socialization with other dogs.

It’s important to remember that Bearded Collies are intelligent dogs that thrive on variety and challenge. Mixing up their exercise routine with different activities can help keep them engaged and motivated. Introduce new games, vary your walking routes, or consider enrolling your Beardie in a dog sport or training class to expand their horizons.

Dog Sports

In addition to daily walks and playtime, Bearded Collies can benefit from participating in more structured activities. They excel in various dog sports, such as agility, obedience, rally, herding trials, and even canine freestyle dance. These activities not only provide physical exercise but also offer mental stimulation by challenging your Beardie’s problem-solving skills and ability to follow commands.

Exercise Precautions

As with any dog, it’s crucial to monitor your Bearded Collie’s physical condition and adjust their exercise routine accordingly. Keep an eye on their weight, energy levels, and overall health to ensure they’re getting the right amount of exercise to meet their needs.

bearded collie on an agility course
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Training

Training a Bearded Collie can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, thanks to their intelligence, eagerness to please, and natural affinity for learning. However, it’s essential to approach training with patience and consistency, as this breed is known for its independent and occasionally stubborn nature.

Positive Reinforcement

Bearded Collies are highly trainable dogs, but their intelligence can sometimes work against them if they become bored or disinterested during training sessions.

To keep your Beardie engaged, make sure to use positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, or playtime, to reward their progress and maintain their motivation. This approach not only strengthens the bond between you and your dog but also fosters a positive attitude toward learning.

Consistency

Consistency is key when training a Bearded Collie. Establish clear rules and boundaries from the outset, and ensure all family members adhere to them. Inconsistency in training can lead to confusion and may encourage undesirable behaviors.

Socialization

Since Bearded Collies have a strong herding instinct, early socialization is crucial to help them develop into well-rounded, confident dogs. Expose your Beardie to a variety of people, animals, and environments from a young age to teach them appropriate behavior and reduce the likelihood of nervousness or aggression.

Patience & Persistence

When training a Bearded Collie, it’s important to be patient and persistent. They may display a stubborn streak at times, but with gentle guidance and positive reinforcement, most Beardies will eventually come around. Keep training sessions short, fun, and engaging to maintain their interest and enthusiasm.

bearded collie running in a park
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Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining the health and vitality of your Bearded Collie. When choosing the right food for your Beardie, it’s important to select high-quality options that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the necessary nutritional requirements for your dog’s age, size, and activity level.

Bearded Collies can be fed various types of dog food, including dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet. Each type has its pros and cons, so it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best option for your individual dog. Factors to consider include your Beardie’s age, weight, activity level, and any specific dietary needs or sensitivities.

The amount you feed your Bearded Collie will depend on their size, age, and activity level. Generally, puppies require more frequent meals to support their growth and development. It’s common to feed puppies three to four times a day, gradually reducing the number of meals as they grow.

Adult Bearded Collies typically do well with two meals per day, while seniors may require adjustments to their diet based on their changing nutritional needs and activity levels.

As a guideline, always refer to the feeding recommendations on the dog food packaging and adjust accordingly based on your dog’s unique needs.

Regularly monitoring your Beardie’s weight and body condition can help you determine if any adjustments to their diet are necessary. If you’re unsure about the appropriate amount to feed your dog, consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice.

Treats

Treats can be a valuable training tool and a tasty way to reward your Bearded Collie for good behavior. However, it’s essential to use treats in moderation, as excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and account for them in your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Finally, providing your Bearded Collie with fresh water is crucial for their overall health. Ensure they have access to clean water at all times, and regularly clean their water bowl to prevent bacterial growth.

bearded collie on snow
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Health

The Bearded Collie is a generally healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, a well-balanced diet, and proper exercise can help ensure your Beardie stays in good health throughout their life.

Here are common health issues associated with Bearded Collies:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. Responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, but it’s essential to monitor your dog for signs of discomfort and consult with your veterinarian if you notice any issues.

Hypothyroidism: Bearded Collies can be prone to hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, resulting in weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems. This condition can be managed through medication and regular monitoring of hormone levels by your veterinarian.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye condition that causes gradual degeneration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. Regular eye exams can help identify PRA early, and responsible breeding practices can help minimize the risk of this condition in future generations.

Allergies: Bearded Collies can be prone to various allergies, including environmental, food, and contact allergies. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and skin irritation. Identifying and managing the allergens, sometimes through dietary changes or medication, can help keep your Beardie comfortable and symptom-free.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): CEA is a congenital eye disorder that affects the development of the eye’s choroid, potentially leading to vision loss. Regular eye exams can help detect CEA early, and responsible breeding practices can help minimize the risk of this condition in future generations.

In addition to knowing these common health issues, regular veterinary check-ups and preventive care, such as vaccinations and parasite control, are essential for maintaining your Bearded Collie’s overall health. By staying vigilant about your dog’s health and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure your Beardie enjoys a long, happy, and healthy life.

two bearded collies sitting in a garden
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History

The Bearded Collie is a herding dog breed with a rich history dating back several centuries. Originating in Scotland, the breed is believed to have descended from the Polish Lowland Sheepdog and the Komondor, which were brought to Britain by traders and shepherds during the 16th century. These dogs were then crossed with local Scottish herding breeds, resulting in the distinct Bearded Collie we know today.

Bearded Collies were bred primarily for their herding abilities, working alongside Scottish shepherds to manage flocks of sheep in the rugged highlands.

Their long, thick double coat protected them from harsh weather conditions, while their agility and intelligence made them highly effective at navigating the challenging terrain. The name “Bearded Collie” is derived from their distinctive facial hair, which forms a beard-like appearance around their muzzle.

Despite their long history in Scotland, Bearded Collies remained relatively unknown outside the region until the 20th century.

In the early 1900s, the breed faced the risk of extinction, as industrialization and changes in farming practices led to a decline in their numbers. However, dedicated breed enthusiasts worked tirelessly to preserve and promote the Bearded Collie, ensuring its survival and eventual growth in popularity.

The Bearded Collie’s striking appearance and charming personality eventually caught the attention of dog lovers around the world. The breed gained recognition in popular culture through various film and television appearances, such as the role of “Nana” in the 1997 adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and the character “Ambrosius” in the 1986 fantasy film “Labyrinth.”

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Bearded Collie as a member of the Herding Group in 1976, further solidifying its status as a distinguished breed. Today, the Bearded Collie enjoys a devoted following of enthusiasts who appreciate its unique combination of beauty, intelligence, and athleticism.

While their popularity as companions has grown, Bearded Collies continue to excel in their original role as herding dogs. Many Beardies still work on farms, while others participate in herding trials and other dog sports that showcase their exceptional abilities and instincts. The breed’s versatility and adaptability have also made it a popular choice for activities such as agility, obedience, rally, and therapy work.

The Bearded Collie’s history is a testament to the breed’s resilience, adaptability, and enduring appeal. From its humble beginnings as a hardworking herding dog in the Scottish highlands to its current status as a beloved companion and versatile athlete, the Bearded Collie continues to captivate the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Bearded Collie in the United States is the Bearded Collie Club of America (BCCA). Founded in 1969, the BCCA is dedicated to promoting the welfare, health, and responsible breeding of Bearded Collies, as well as providing education and support to Beardie owners and enthusiasts.

Visit the BCCA’s webpage to know find out more about the club, events, resources, and more.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Bearded Collie’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

bearded collie puppies playing in the garden
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Acquiring

Thinking of bringing a Bearded Collie into your life? Start by preparing a cozy bed, balanced food, stimulating toys, grooming tools for their long coat, and identifying a trustworthy vet.

If buying is your preference, it’s essential to select a reputable breeder to ensure a healthy, well-socialized pup. But why not consider rescue? Many Beardies are in shelters waiting to brighten up a loving home with their playful spirit. The American Kennel Club and the Bearded Collie Club of America can assist you on this enriching path.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re gaining more than a pet. You’re inviting an active, sociable companion into your life. With a Bearded Collie, every day is an adventure filled with laughter, love, and that irresistible ‘Beardie Bounce’!

FAQs

Are Bearded Collies good pets?

Yes, Bearded Collies make excellent pets for the right family. They are friendly, intelligent, and energetic dogs that thrive on human companionship. However, they require regular exercise, mental stimulation, and grooming, so they may not be suitable for families with a sedentary lifestyle or limited time for dog care.

Are Bearded Collies expensive?

The cost of a Bearded Collie can vary depending on factors such as the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, and the region in which you live. Prices can range from $800 to $2,000 or more. Keep in mind that the initial cost of purchasing a Beardie is just one aspect of pet ownership, and ongoing costs for food, grooming, veterinary care, and other expenses should also be considered.

Are Bearded Collies rare?

While Bearded Collies are not as common as some other dog breeds, they have a dedicated following of enthusiasts and breeders. Their popularity has been growing steadily over the years, thanks to their striking appearance, friendly nature, and versatility in various activities.

Do Bearded Collies bark a lot?

Bearded Collies can be vocal dogs, and they may bark to communicate or express their excitement. However, excessive barking can often be managed through consistent training, proper exercise, and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and frustration.

How do I groom my Bearded Collie?

Bearded Collies have a long, thick double coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain its appearance. Grooming tasks include daily brushing, occasional bathing, and trimming around the ears, feet, and sanitary areas. Regular nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are also important aspects of maintaining your Beardie’s overall health and well-being.

Are Bearded Collies hypoallergenic?

No, Bearded Collies are not considered hypoallergenic. They have a long, thick double coat that sheds moderately, which can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. Regular grooming can help minimize shedding, but it’s essential to spend time with Beardies before committing to ownership if you suffer from allergies.

Can Bearded Collies live in apartments?

While Bearded Collies can adapt to various living situations, they may not be the best choice for apartment living due to their size, energy levels, and exercise requirements. They are better suited to homes with yards where they can run and play freely. If you do choose to keep a Beardie in an apartment, be prepared to provide ample daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

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