Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Who are you calling “shaggy?” Well, if it’s the Bearded Collie, you’d be correct.
These hard-working, fun-loving, humorous pups are known for their long, straight outer coats and their bright inquiring expression. But there’s so much more to them than physical beauty. Bearded Collies are quick-witted, lively and entertaining. They’re happiest when they’re doing something with you.
Whether you’re looking for a family pet, working dog, show dog, or all three, the Bearded Collie is up to the task. Just be forewarned, when one task is over, these hardy dogs, bred to work in the harshest conditions – herding sheep and cattle – will soon be looking for another to complete!
When it comes to the Bearded Collie, there’s no need to curb your enthusiasm, because your Beardie certainly won’t be curbing theirs!
Also Known As…
Beardie. Highland Collie. Mountain Collie. Hairy Mou’ed Collie. “If it isn’t the star of all those Disney ‘Shaggy Dog’ movies, the Bearded Collie!”
One of Britain’s oldest breeds, the origin of the Bearded Collie is a mix of historical fact and legend. They may be the result of a Polish merchant’s visit to Scotland, or an ancient breed from the Roman occupation of Europe in the first Century B.C. No definitive records of the breed’s origins exist.
An indispensable assistant to shepherds in the Scottish Highlands, prized for their ability to work in harsh climates and difficult terrain, Beardies have spent that past few centuries herding cattle at pasture and driving them to market. By the end of the Victorian era, Beardies in Scotland were also being used as show dogs. The first litter of U.S. Beardies was born in 1967.
15 – 17 inches tall for males. 14 – 16 inches tall for females.
The average weight range for Bearded Collies is 40 – 60 pounds.
Outgoing. Resourceful, Confident. The Bearded Collie is in it to win it. These active and affectionate dogs have been working hard for centuries, but they also love to clown around and are always looking for someone to entertain. They are well-rounded, sensible and stable, with a great sense of humor, making them well suited for different roles, be it companion, worker, or show dog, or all of the above!
A Beardie is a total people person (well, dog). Enthusiastic with a bouncy nature, their bright, inquiring expression mirrors their attitude: “What should we do next?”
Intelligence / Trainability
The Bearded Collie is an independent thinker. That’s not to say they can’t be trained. Quite the opposite. Due to their energy and intelligence, Beardies are able to excel at obedience, rally, agility, and other dog sports. They just may not always learn the way you want them to. Repetition can become boring quickly to these active dog’s with over-active minds.
Early obedience training is a must to curb their headstrong predisposition. They also naturally love to herd and chase, so training is required to direct these instincts appropriately.
Beardies make for active, lively companions and therefore need a good amount of space to live and play in. Apartment life is not recommended for these dogs who want to work to make you happy. They need space to run and people to interact with. Confinement and/or boredom can lead to nuisance barking. They are also great escaped artists, so any outside play area or yard must be secure.
Good For Families And Kids?
Needless to say, Bearded Collies make excellent family companions. Great with (older) kids, Beardies are boisterous playmates, and will spend hours running around with children (and adults!). They are good humored and fun to be around. And above all else, they thrive on human companionship.
Keep in mind, a Beardie’s zest for life can perhaps be a bit too much for very young children, who can be overrun by the breed’s energy. Also, Beardies may nip at the feet of small children to herd them like sheep (which may also be useful!). But with training, socialization, and consistency, this shouldn’t be an issue!
The average life expectancy for Bearded Collies is 12 – 14 years.
While Bearded Collies are generally a healthy breed, there are certain conditions and issues to be aware of and discuss with your veterinarian, including food and/or contact allergies, hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, as well as eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and persistent pupillary membrane (PPM). Also, 2-3% of Bearded Collies are affected by an inherited disease known as hyperadrenocorticism (or Addison’s Disease), which involves insufficient hormone production by the adrenal cortex.
Some Beardies can also have reactions to monthly heartworm preventatives, so discuss options with your veterinarian.
A Beardie wants to do something with you. While that can sometimes include snuggling on the couch, more than often they’ll want to do something! A Beardie needs to work. Whether that be herding in the pasture, or putting on a show for you. If you don’t give them a job or they will ask for one, meaning nuisance barking, chewing and digging habits can result from insufficient exercise. Beardies require at least an hour of running exercise each day, on top of walks and playtime.
Friendly With… (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Bearded Collies are not a dog reactive breed, and usually get along good with other dogs, and other animals in general. While they make great watchdogs, barking to let you know someone is approaching, they are certainly not guard dogs. They are way too friendly for that. They’ll end up smothering the person with love once they draw near.
While Beardies are generally great with family pets, especially if raised with them, it is always a good idea to supervise when introducing smaller animals to any herding breed. Also, an impromptu game of “chase the cat” is always on the table.
Coat & Grooming
The Bearded Collie has a beautiful coat with a purpose: protection from the harsh Scottish weather. This double coat features a shaggy outer coat that is flat and strong, and a furry undercoat that is soft. Colors can be brown, black, blue, or fawn, with or without white markings.
Coats require a weekly brushing to remove tangles and mats and to reduce shedding. Once a year, Beardies will shed heavily for a couple of weeks, at which point more frequent brushing if required. Like any dog, keeping nails short and brushing their teeth 2-3 times a week is also recommended to avoid other health issues.
Toys Bearded Collies Would Like Best
Beardies love to play with their people, so interactive toys are a must for daily fun. Frisbees or other Fetch Toys, such as BARK’s “Lady Liberty Ball” or “The Best Balls Ever,” are always a hit for outdoor playtime. But Beardies require indoor excitement as well.
Check out our “What Are The Best Toys For Smart Dogs?” post for some other great recommendations!
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Feeding your Beardie (or any dog) the freshest whole food diet you can afford (trying to eliminate fillers, grains, or inflammatory proteins such as chicken), will go a long way to stave off any allergic skin conditions that can lead to infections, as well as keep them at a healthy weight so as not to put strain on their hips.
Coconut oil and locally-sourced, season-appropriate honey can also help to prevent those common yeast or bacterial infections of the ear which are usually secondary to allergic seasonal atopy, atopic dermatitis or cutaneous adverse food reactions.
These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Beardie with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
If your Bearded Collie spends a lot of time chasing after tennis balls – or if they just enjoy a good lie down (who doesn’t?) – it’s probably a good idea to get them a comfortable bed.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the meatiest of Pibbles! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. It offers the best therapeutic support for your Bearded Collie. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Bearded Collie Of Your Dreams
- The Bearded Collie Club of America Rescue was implemented by the BCCA in the 1980s to rescue, and find homes for, lost and/or abandoned Beardies. BCCA members support the effort by transporting, fostering, and networking. Affiliate clubs throughout the U.S. participate in their local areas.
- Adoptable Bearded Collies on Petfinder.
Notable Instagram Bearded Collies
Want to watch a beautiful 3-year-old Beardie frolic through the German countryside? Me too! Come follow this gorgeous girl as she enjoys the sun, snow, and sand.
Try to find a picture of Maya where she’s not smiling with her tongue out. It’s not easy to do! This happy rescue pup is sending furry love and positive vibes from Mexico.
You won’t believe the expressiveness of this sweet pup’s eyes. Daisy has no trouble communicating what she’s thinking and feeling. No captions needed!
***Looking for a gift to blow your pup’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂
Featured Image via SarahDevinKaufman/Instagram