The Bearded Collie or Beardie is classified under the Pastoral Group of the Kennel Club of UK and is one of the herding breeds of dogs we know today. They were originally used for herding livestock in the Highlands of Scotland.
The physical features of the Bearded Collie is characterized by a proportionally sized head-to-body ratio with a flat skull, moderate stop, full and strong muzzle and a large, squarish black nose. The large round eyes are set widely apart, portraying an affectionate breed. Hanging ears covered in long hair and set level with the eyes adds to the gentle appearance. The head is supported by a strong and slightly arched neck which in turn is supported by a level back lined body with well-sprung ribs, deep chest and strong loins. Straight and vertical front legs covered with shaggy hair compliment the powerful and muscular hind legs with well-bent stifles and low hocks. All four legs are cushioned with well-padded soles. The hairy tail is normally carried low when standing but may be raised slightly when in motion or excited. A supple and powerful gait displays agility and elegance even when moving in any speed.
Long double coat covers the whole body with colours that come in either black, blue, brown or fawn which typically lightens as the dog matures. A mature black Bearded Collie may show a colour of any shade of gray, a brown Beardie from chocolate to sandy, while blue and fawn coloured dogs become lighter. Eye rims, nose, and lip colour pigmentation follows coat colour.
A male Beardie can stand between 53 – 56 cm while females are typically between 51 – 52 cm tall at the withers. Ideal weight is between 18 – 27 kg.
The history and origin of the Bearded Collie is somewhat a mix of fact and myth. According to certain accounts, the breed traces its roots back to Scotland in the early 1500s. A captain of a Polish ship named Kazimierz Grabski reportedly arrived in Scotland to trade sheep with grain and brought along with him six Polish Lowland Shepherds to help move the sheep. A local Scottish shepherd was so amazed at the herding ability of these Polish sheepdogs that he offered to trade two ewes and a ram for one male and two female dogs. These sheepdogs were then crossbred with local herding dogs such as the Old English Sheepdogs and the Magyar Komondor which became the foundation of the Bearded Collie. The resulting breed displayed long hairs on the chin that resemble a beard, hence the name “Bearded”.
The Bearded Collie is described as an exuberant, active, affectionate and highly intelligent breed that displays an impression of soft curiosity, humorous but agile. It is a natural herder and sometimes a barker but it is not a suitable breed for a guard dog. It will greet strangers with excitement and a lot of barking but will generally give a warm reception.
The Bearded Collie is a quick learner making it a highly trainable breed, although this ability to learn fast also enables it to learn bad habits just as quick if not properly trained and socialized. A kind and persistent training will make the Beardie a very suitable house pet. Training a Bearded Collie requires someone who is calm but firm and consistent. A display of authority is a must when training this dog because it has a tendency to be self-willed and obstinate.
The long thick coat requires a great deal of attention from a dedicated owner. Brushing should be done every day or every other day at the least but total grooming should be done at least once a week. The coat should be sprayed with water before brushing. Brush each layer of the coat meticulously with a steel pin brush to prevent matting. The hairs between the soles of the feet should be trimmed on a regular basis to prevent the dog from slipping. The Bearded Collie is an average shedder.
Like most sheepdogs, the Bearded Collie is a healthy breed in general. However, like most other breeds similar to its size, it is not without a problem. Minor health issues include:
Addison’s disease, the insufficient production of glucocorticoids and/or mineralocoritoids in the adrenal cortex
The Beardie is a fast-growing breed so it is important that the dog receive good nutrition during the puppy months. Do not overfeed or give supplement as this can cause bone problems later.
It is an active breed that requires a good amount of exercise, both physical and mental. An hour of nice jog along the neighbourhood or a very long walk on lead is the ideal exercise. On a fenced yard, an hour of hearty play session on a daily basis will satisfy its exercise requirement. If left alone with nothing to do, a Bearded Collie can display mischievous behaviour.
The Bearded Collie is suitable for an apartment life or to a family with a large house and a moderately sized backyard. It is a devoted breed, showing no signs of shyness or aggression and can get along quite well with children and other animals due to its affectionate, playful and lively nature. Care must be taken when there are small children in the house because the Beardie enjoys rough play and can easily knock small kids down.