Bearded Collie (Beardie): Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A close-up of a Bearded Collie

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The Bearded Collie is a medium-sized herding breed from Scotland with a sturdy body, floppy ears, and bearded facial hair as part of its coarse, shaggy coat. Affectionately referred to as "Beardies," these Collies are highly energetic, intelligent working dogs that were originally bred to herd sheep in Scotland.

Recognizable by their long, thick, shaggy coats that form a beard at the muzzle, Bearded Collies can come in a variety of colors. You may see older Bearded Collies with white markings, but the breed is never born with them. Rather, white markings develop over time due to a gene that causes their fur to fade. Because of these unique coats and the breed's intelligence, Bearded Collies make excellent show dogs. They are also popular family pets for owners that can keep up with their grooming and exercise needs.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 21 to 22 inches (males); 20 to 21 inches (females)

Weight: 45 to 55 pounds

Coat: Double coat with straight, coarse, shaggy outercoat and soft undercoat

Coat Color: Black, blue, brown, or fawn; Commonly fades to white or silver markings as the dog ages

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Temperament: Intelligent, alert, friendly, energetic, bright

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Scotland

Characteristics of the Bearded Collie

Bearded Collies are bright, loyal dogs that love to be part of a family. This breed is known for having a spunky and playful personality that is especially evident through its signature "Beardie bounce," as these dogs jump up and down on their front feet when excited. Their bouncy nature carries over to their temperament with people and other animals, often enthusiastic to make new friends. While they make great family dogs for kids, Bearded Collies are still a herding breed, and they require plenty of physical and mental stimulation each day to stay happy. This breed is a great choice for active owners who spend plenty of time with their dogs and can tolerate stray fur around the house from their long, shaggy coats.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium to High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Bearded Collie

Although the Bearded Collie is one of the oldest breeds in Europe, its name has changed over time. These dogs have also been known as the Highland Collie or Mountain Collie. Because farmers have bred herding dogs for centuries, the exact origin of Bearded Collies is unknown, but it's believed to date back to 1500s Scotland. Shaggy, long-haired working dogs were depicted in two pieces of artwork from the 1770s, which are considered the first visual depictions of the Bearded Collie.

Today's Bearded Collies were developed by G.O. Willison, who began breeding them for dog shows after World War II. She's also credited in helping develop the Bearded Collie Club in Britain, which propelled the breed to popularity around Europe.

Bearded Collies arrived in the United States sometime during the late 1950s, but the first litter of puppies wasn't born until 1967. In 1969, the Bearded Collie Club of America was formed, and the breed was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1977.

Bearded Collie Care

Since it was originally bred to work in cold, harsh climates, the Bearded Collie's exercise and grooming needs make it fairly high-maintenance in standard homes (especially for first-time dog owners). These dogs will find ways to make their own fun if not entertained regularly, so their families should be prepared for consistent and ongoing training to raise a well-behaved Bearded Collie.

Exercise

Bearded Collies are fairly slow to mature, and they often won't reach their adult size until they're two to three years old—but don't let their smaller stature fool you. Like other working breeds, they are athletic and muscular. Owners need to provide one to two hours per day of exercise in the form of walks, runs, bike rides, hikes, agility training, or other high-energy activities.

Although a Bearded Collie may be comfortable in an apartment with plenty of exercise outside the house, this breed is better suited for a single-family home with a large yard to run around. Additionally, families with busy schedules or those who are away from the house often might not be best for a Bearded Collie—they need a lot of attention to thrive.

Grooming

Because Bearded Collies have long, thick, shaggy coats with a softer undercoat, they require about 30 minutes of weekly brushing with a bristle or pin brush. Routine grooming will help prevent tangles and mats to keep your Beardie's coat shiny and healthy. Any tangles should first be sprayed with detangling spray and gently combed out with the owner's fingers, then brushed to smooth the hair. Removing tangles with only a brush can worsen them or harm your dog's coat and skin.

Bearded Collies shed heavily for two to four weeks every year, so you'll probably want to increase the frequency of grooming during this time. This can help prevent stray fur around the house.

Examine your Bearded Collie's ears once a week, gently cleaning them with ear solution and a cotton pad if dirt and debris are present. Avoid cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate inner-ear structures. If your Beardie's ears are excessively dirty, red, inflamed, or smell funny, contact your vet immediately to treat the possible ear infection.

Training

Since Bearded Collies are extremely intelligent, high-energy dogs, ongoing obedience training is a must. Basic lessons can begin when puppies are eight weeks old. Bearded Collies have minds of their own—and can be stubborn—so starting early will help your dog learn appropriate behaviors. These lessons should be interesting to stimulate your dog's mind. Positive reinforcement with treats or playtime as rewards can keep your Beardie engaged.

This breed's energy level makes it ideal for active households with large outdoor spaces for running or playing fetch. Bearded Collies are excellent with children—and can make perfect playmates for high-energy kids—but it's important to teach young kids how to approach and handle the dog. Like any breed, kids shouldn't be left unsupervised with Beardies at playtime.

Common Health Problems

Bearded Collies are generally healthy dogs, but like all purebreds, they can be susceptible to inherited health issues. Responsible breeders will test parent dogs for genetic conditions before breeding to avoid passing problems down to puppies.

Some conditions that might affect Bearded Collies include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This inheritable condition is characterized by joint weakness, stiffness, and pain caused by a malformation in your dog's hips. Although it's largely hereditary, hip dysplasia can also be caused by rapid growth or injury.
  • Hypothyroidism: Obesity, lethargy, and irregular heat cycles may signal hypothyroidism, a condition that affects the thyroid gland and its hormone production. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medications.
  • Allergies: Many dogs have allergies to food, products like dog shampoo and flea treatments, or environmental allergens like dust and pollen. If your dog experiences symptoms like itchy eyes or skin, coughing, sneezing, or excessive drooling, your veterinarian can test for allergies.

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your Bearded Collie about 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dog food each day. These active dogs do best on diets high in protein, but specific nutrient needs can vary depending on their age, activity level, and metabolism.

Like all dog breeds, Bearded Collies can become overweight or obese if they're overfed and under-exercised. If you're not sure how much to feed your Bearded Collie or which food is best, talk to your veterinarian to determine a healthy meal plan. Very active dogs can have a few extra treats, but overall, they should be given in moderation.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Bearded Collie

If you want to adopt a Bearded Collie, check your local animal shelter or look for a Bearded Collie rescue organization in your state. If this specific breed isn't available, they may be able to recommend another shelter or rescue organization with similar dogs waiting for their forever homes.

When adopting a puppy from a breeder, it's essential to do your research. Responsible breeders do not produce new litters often and perform the necessary medical tests on both parents. Prospective adopters should be allowed to meet these parents and see that the dogs are kept in a comfortable, safe indoor location. Puppies typically cost between $1,500 and $2,500, but prices may vary based on pedigree and availability.

To start your search, check out these resources for breed-specific rescues, the national breed club, and the AKC:

Bearded Collie Overview

Pros
  • Highly intelligent, loyal, and loving

  • Kid- and pet-friendly

  • Great companion for active owners

Cons
  • High energy and exercise requirements

  • Not suitable for apartment living

  • Requires frequent grooming

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you love Bearded Collies, you might also like these similar breeds:

There are plenty of different dog breeds out there that can join your family. With a little research, you can find your next best friend!

FAQ
  • Are Bearded Collies Good Pets?

    Bearded Collies are well-known for being great pets in active households. These dogs love spending time with their owners and playing with children or other pets; however, their energy level comes with high exercise needs.

  • Do Bearded Collies Shed a Lot?

    Because of their long, shaggy coats, Bearded Collies shed plenty of fur around the house. Thankfully, owners can usually minimize shedding with regular grooming and de-shedding brushes.

  • Are Bearded Collies High-Maintenance?

    As a herding breed with long fur, the Bearded Collie can be considered a high-maintenance dog. Beardies need extensive exercise for up to two hours each day, and they also require weekly grooming care to prevent mats and tangles in their coats.