Bearded Collie

"The Ultimate Shaggy Dog"

Photo of Bearded Collie


Although long used by Scottish shepherds for herding, and as nannies and family companions, they came to the public eye in the mid-1900s. Originally, good herding dogs were bred indiscriminately from both local and foreign dogs, but types soon developed according to climate, terrain and individual owner preference. Most Scottish herding dogs were termed “collies,” perhaps after the coaley sheep. Beardies were cherished as independent thinkers, sometimes electing to disobey a person for the greater good (e.g., ignoring a command to roust a ewe and lamb from a briar patch). When the breed jumped joyfully into mainstream life, it quickly gained attention from those who liked the Beardie's shaggy look and joie de vivre. Today's Beardies retain their ancestors' herding instinct and that independent streak.


Social creatures, Beardies bounce happily to greet anyone in their presence. This could mean hugs, chin licks and muddy paw prints for a guest. Their devotees love the breed's enthusiasm, but it's not easy to curb that enthusiasm. Beardies are curious and easily distracted from a task at hand, perhaps deciding to join a child in the next yard rather than go fetch the paper. Some are sound-sensitive so pups should be exposed to household or environmental noises with a calm approach. Many retain a tendency to gather, and in lieu of sheep, herd what's at hand – people or other pets. Left to his own devices, the Beardie is liable to make his own entertainment, which might include decorating a house with a roll of toilet paper. Beardies usually enjoy the company of other dogs. Owners often arrange “Beardie bounces,” with as many 40 or 50 running together in joyfulabandon.


Long-bodied and deceptively lean, they are solid muscle. Their long coat is beautiful when kept with care and gives a ragamuffin appearance in between grooming sessions. Unkempt, the coat will become a tangled mess which can be uncomfortable to the dog as well as unsightly to people. The coat has a natural part which begins appearing in puppyhood. The dog's beard, moustache and veil of hair give him a winsome look, as does his name. Beardies are found in black, blue, brown or fawn, usually with white markings. Their coat has a unique fading factor and begins to lighten when they are puppies, then darkens again in adulthood.


Beardies are eager to tackle new and interesting challenges, but they can become bored easily. Thus a trainer has to stay one step and one thought ahead of them. Basic commands help establish control and a more peaceful household. Frequent praise and play breaks help make a training session more appealing so they won't lose interest. They were born to do agility – jumps, tunnels, what fun!

Grooming & Care

Regular grooming sessions are a must. When brushed properly at least once a week, shedding can be kept to a minimum. Tangles should be removed as soon as possible, or they can cause discomfort as well as damage to the coat. Buyers should ask for a grooming demonstration. A grooming session is best done with the dog lying down in order to brush to the roots of the hair. The groomer should brush out the coat starting with the tummy area and working up a few inches at a time, then doing a repeat performance on the other side. Finally the head, beard and moustache are brushed.

Health Concerns

Ask whether parents are certified free of hip and eye problems. Hypothyroidism appears in the breed, as well as some auto-immune disease.

Famous Bearded Collie

Jeannie, the first registered Bearded Collie, appeared on shampoo bottles in the UK for many years.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level Very Active
Schedule Full-time (but no overtime)
Personal Style Easygoing and casual
Training Style Consistent, Positive, Creative and fun
Home Fenced yard or access to one
Children Older kids
Experience Not necessary
Quick Facts
Size Medium
Grooming High-maintenance - needs daily grooming
Exercise High - needs to walk every day, plus some running and play
Training Learns well but bores easily
Temperment Affectionate, Friendly, Enthusiastic
Challenges Not for the neat freak; have a tendency to jump up without corrective instruction, highly inquisitive, so training is necessary.
Height 20 to 22 inches
Weight 40 to 60 pounds
Life 12 to 14 years
Home Alone Fine as a trained adult
With Kids Fine with older kids
With Strangers Friendly
Availability Rare and may have a waiting list

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