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This long haired herding dog has had many names over the years including Old welsh Grey Sheepdog, Loch Collie, Hairy Moued Collie and Highland Collie. These days, more often than not, they are simply known as the 'Beardie'.
Bearded Collies are thought to originate from the early 1600's as a herding breed. The theory is that they are descended from herding dogs brought to the UK from Poland and Eastern Europe which were then bred with the local herding dogs. They were bred purely for their functionality as working animals with little thought to how they looked, but over the years a beautiful long haired dog emerged with the stamina and working drive of the herding dogs of which shepherds required.
It is widely agreed that the breed as it is known today began to take shape in the late 1800's when a DJ Thompson Grey described them in a book, with the Bearded Collie Society of Scotland being formed in1 912. Due to the intervention of World War I, interest in the Beardie declined, but in the 1930's a lady called Mrs Cameron Miller increased the profile of the breed perhaps saving this beautiful dog from near extinction.
Average height to withers: Males and females between 20-22 inches, with males being slightly larger than females.
Average weight: 18-27 kg for both males and females.
As the name suggests, the body of the Bearded Collie is covered in long, weatherproof hair including its chin! The Bearded Collie is a medium-sized, strong working - herding type dog with a long and lean, well proportioned body. The head is large, broad and flat with medium-sized ears hang close to the head which are, of course, covered with long hair. The eyes are wide set and are in tone with the coat colour but usually brown or darker. The tail is carried low but will wag wildly and is carried quite high when excited.
The shaggy, waterproof coat is double, and covers the entire body heavily. Beardie pups are born black, blue, brown or fawn, with or without white markings and often lighten, first fading to a light gray or cream as the dog matures. The colour of the coat alters though adult hood before it settles on its final colour.
The Bearded Collie is often described as a happy-go-lucky dog breed and given its propensity for tail wagging and high spirited play it's not difficult to see why! They are affectionate, playful, fun, loyal and lively and can be great around children, but left unexercised or unstimulated can become unhappy and withdrawn. As dogs who genuinely love people, they are at their happiest when they are with their family and benefit greatly from a regular - at least twice daily- walks and play sessions. Known for their naturally high spirits and bounce, the Bearded Collie is exuberant and also vary trainable. Due to its herding heritage this dog will try to herd anything in sight including children and other animals. Obedience training is necessary to limit this innate behaviour as much as possible.
Due to its high energy and stamina, this dog does very well at some canine sports such as agility. This breed can be a very well rounded dog and a much loved family member when they have firm, confident leadership and it should be noted that the female Beardie is often more headstrong and independent than the male.
Healthy Bearded Collies live to between 12-14 years old and are generally considered a very healthy breed. The main issues faced by Beardie owners is a condition called Addison's disease. Addison's disease is a condition in which a dog's adrenal gland does not produce a sufficient amount of either cortisol or aldosterone. This can cause many serious health complications, and has a high probability of being misdiagnosed as another disease. This is because the symptoms of Addison's disease in dogs are relatively general, including fatigue, diarrhoea, sweating, and muscle pain. After diagnosis, the treatment options for Addison's disease are very effective, though will require your dog to take medication for the rest of their life.
External parasites can also be an issue with this breed because of its long, luxurious coat and will require regular maintenance of the coat to maintain its health.
Be prepared for the daily grooming that the coat of this breed requires! The coat will get easily tangled so must be dealt with every day to maintain the coat health. Making sure their coats are tangle free not only means your pet looks great but it also means their skin is kept nice and healthy too. On top of this, you'll find they don't pick up as may twigs and other debris in their coats when you're out on a walk.
Learning how to groom your dog so they start to look forward to it, helps build a strong bond between you both. It also gives the owner a chance to inspect for signs of flea or tick infestation. It is essential that a regular treatment is applied to control this. View our advice and tips article on grooming your Bearded Collie for more information.
It's also a good idea to take your pet to a grooming parlour at least three times a year to have their coats professionally clipped or stripped which is especially true in the spring so when the weather warms up, your dog is a lot more comfortable.
The Beardie will require regular, twice daily walks as a minimum due to its high energy, high drive and high stamina nature. You will not be able to give this dog to much exercise!