An inquisitive expression and a long, straight outer coat are the defining characteristics of the charismatic Bearded Collie, a working dog with roots in Scotland. The collie earned the name ‘Bearded’ because of the long hair that grows around their muzzle and hangs down towards their chest to form a full beard. This rugged herding dog is a hard worker who loves to keep the flock in line or, when there’s no flock to tend, play outside for hours on end. They have a bounding quality in motion that enhances a genuinely cheerful demeanor.
Beardies adore their families and are enthusiastic companions. Walks? Herding? Fetch? Bearded Collies are always game. Bred to make decisions on their own while herding, they can be independent minded. But their eagerness to please and their devotion to their families outweigh their willful streak. Bearded Collies are well known for their affection towards the children of their pack.
The Bearded Collie is also called the Highland Collie, the Mountain Collie, and is nicknamed Beardie.
Bearded Collies have a double coat with a long, shaggy outer coat that is predominantly straight and harsh. A soft wave is acceptable, according to the breed standard. The undercoat is soft and furry. Overall, the coat provides protection from rough terrain and bad weather. The coat on the cheeks and chin grows long towards the chest to form a distinctive beard. The coat colors are black, blue, brown, or fawn, and may have white markings. Often the coat lightens with age.
Average Height: 20-22 inches
Average Weight: 45-55 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Bearded Collies are robust dogs who are clearly built for long days on the farm. Their long, rough coat protects them from the elements and gives them a shaggy, unfussy appearance. They are muscular and square in build, and their movements are agile and confident. The breed is known for the expression in their large brown eyes—a look that is at once gentle, affectionate, alert, and curious.
One of Britain’s oldest breeds, Bearded Collies likely descended from central European herding dogs brought to Scotland centuries ago. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs and Komondorok are among their ancestors. They worked as versatile farm dogs in the Scottish Highlands, where they guarded and herded flocks of sheep, and also drove them to market. They were beloved by farmers for their strong work ethic, as well as their amiable natures, but at some point, they grew in popularity among the aristocracy as well. Like many European breeds, Beardie stock suffered during World War I, but fans of the breed brought it back from the brink after the war. Bearded Collies came to the US in the 1950s, and breeding programs launched in the 1960s. The American Kennel Club first recognized Beardies in the Working Group in 1977, and, in 1983, moved them to the newly formed Herding Group.
AKC Breed Category
Bearded Collies are social, enthusiastic companions, always eager to join in when there’s work or a game of catch in the offing. They are smart and train quickly when the activities are interesting and challenging. Problem behaviors, such as nuisance barking and digging, emerge only when they are bored. With attentive training and exercise, Beardies are amiable, playful, and self-assured.
Are Bearded Collies Good with Kids? Bearded Collies love having kids as playmates, and tolerate exuberant hugs and attention. Beardies are too rambunctious to live with small children.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Bearded Collies Good with Other Pets? When socialized with them from an early age, Bearded Collies enjoy the company of dogs and cats.
Bearded Collies are not highly protective.
Are Bearded Collies Good Guard Dogs? Bearded Collies are watchful and alert the homestead to the arrival of visitors—welcome or otherwise. They are not aggressive, however, so guard dog is not in their skill set.
Beardies are zestful dogs with energy to spare. They can play and herd all day, with only the occasional rest break.
- Need plenty of room to run in an enclosed area
- Get into mischief when bored
- Can be stubborn
- Will attempt to escape the yard if left alone too long
- Prone to nuisance barking
- May react to common heartworm preventative medication
Bearded Collies adore their families and should live indoors with them. They are boisterous, so keep breakables above dog level. They shed throughout the year, and extra when they blow their coats twice per year, so keep the vacuum handy.
Beardies should spend a large portion of their day outdoors exercising, working, and playing. They benefit from having a large, enclosed yard where they can run around and play. Ensure it is secured, as the breed is prone to finding escape routes and wandering.
A healthy Bearded Collie requires more than an hour of physical activity each day to remain healthy and to prevent problem behavior. They are adept at most dog sports and agility training.
Like most herding dogs, Bearded Collies have the stamina for long days spent minding the flock or playing.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: While Bearded Collies are always on the go, they aren't known for their running prowess. Still, a healthy Beardie can run with you for a mile or two, before they'll likely get bored and want to do something else.
- Hiking Miles: A half-day hike is perfect for Bearded Collies.
Generally, this breed requires about 1½ to 2 cups of good quality dry dog food each day given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Beardie’s activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Bearded Collie.
Bearded Collies don’t tolerate spending time alone with ease. They become bored easily and turn quickly to destructive and nuisance behavior, such as chewing, digging, and barking. By crate training your Beardie, you can probably steal an hour or two away, but beyond that is asking for trouble.
Health and Grooming
The Bearded Collie’s long, shag coat requires a quick daily brushing to remove dirt and prevent tangles, and a more thorough grooming session once a week. A bath once a month, or whenever they get dirty, will keep their coat clean and healthy. Wash your Bearded Collie’s ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your Beardie’s teeth several days a week, and trim their nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Bearded Collies may be prone to some breed-specific health conditions, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Colonic disease
- Von Willebrand's disease
- Eye problems, including cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Bearded Collie by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Bearded Collies are smart, but they are also stubborn and independent-minded, so basic obedience can take some time. Keep lessons fun, short, and consistent, and your Beardie will learn the basics quickly.
Bearded Collies benefit from advanced training that keeps them active and challenged. While they excel in all dog sports, they enjoy showing off their herding skills most of all.
Sporting Dog Training
Beardies are herding dogs, not sporting dogs.
No. Bearded Collies have a double coat that sheds and, as a result, leaves pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies.
You may have a Bearded Collie who is happy to swim with you—and you may not. Like people, dogs have unique likes and dislikes. If you have a Beardie who likes the water, remember, their coats get heavy when wet, so always keep swim sessions short and watch him closely.