Bearded Collies

Scottish Herder is Family Oriented

See that shaggy-haired dog with the extra bounce in his step and a steady, wagging tail? He’s a serious worker when given a job, but would much prefer to spend his time playing with his peeps.

He may be better recognized as “the Shaggy Dog,” and while some don’t realize he’s a bearded collie, this happy-go-lucky pooch knows he’s loved by many families around the globe.

Bearded Collie

The bearded collie’s history is one of happenstance. In the early 1500s, a Scottish shepherd was so impressed by a Polish merchant’s herding dogs that he traded several of his sheep for a few of the dogs and began breeding them with his farm dogs.

These new dogs became known as “bearded collies,” “hairy moved collies,” “highland collies” and “mountain collies.” They were used as herding dogs in Scotland for centuries, working with sheep and cattle for local shepherds in the Scottish Highlands.

Like many dog breeds during World War II, the bearded collie faced near extinction.

Luckily for the breed, in the mid-1900s an English woman named G. Olive Willison, who was expecting to receive a Shetland sheepdog, was accidentally given a bearded collie. She was so impressed by her dog, which she named Jeannie of Bothkennar, that she began looking for a mate so that she could begin her own breeding program.

As the story goes, Mrs. Willison happened to meet a Scottish immigrant while walking on the beach one day. In his company was his dog, whom Mrs. Willison adopted and renamed “Ballie of Botheknnar.” Together, Jeannie and Ballie created the modern line of bearded collies. In fact, the majority of all bearded collies can trace back their lineage to Jeannie and Ballie.

The Bearded Collie Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2005. By this time, the bearded collie had become a popular family dog, although the breed is still used as a working herder in countries including Australia and the United States.

One look at the bearded collie’s shag-like appearance and you might guess this is a dog with a happy-go-lucky attitude.

Known to be playful and lively, the bearded collie is an affectionate companion, preferring the company of its family—and children.

The breed often displays a “bounce” in its step—a move reminiscent of its herding days; bearded collies have an exuberant demeanor along with a healthy amount of high energy.

Don’t mistake this happy pup for a pushover, though; without proper training and obedience, bearded collies can become stubborn and headstrong. The good news: the breed is smart and responds well to training. A natural herder, bearded collies are working dogs that thrive on guidance.

A well-trained, routinely exercised bearded collie will likely stay out of mischief and maintain a calm disposition.

Bearded Collie

The bearded collie is no doubt noticed most for its distinguishable, long and shaggy double coat which drapes the dog’s body, including its chin, hence the nickname “Beardie.”

Bearded collie puppies are born with a coat that is either black, blue, brown or fawn. The dog’s coat will change several times as it matures, developing white or tan markings throughout.

Considered a medium-size dog, the bearded collie weighs on average between 40 and 60 pounds.

In order to keep your bearded collie’s coat manageable and healthy, daily brushing is highly recommended. This will help prevent matting and reduce the amount of shedding.

While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your bearded collie will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.

  • Addison's disease is caused by defective production of hormones called mineral corticoids by the adrenal glands. This disorder results in chronic gastrointestinal problems, weakness and inability to respond to stressful situations.
  • Cruciate ligament rupture (CLR): The cruciate ligament is a major part of the canine knee. Cruciate rupture is one of the most common orthopedic complications seen in dogs. Sometimes called ACL or CCL tear, a ruptured cruciate is often a painful and immobilizing injury.
  • Hypothyroidism is a low production of thyroid hormone that results in hair loss, weight gain, infertility and other chronic metabolic conditions. Thyroid hormone levels should be checked annually in adult dogs or if the dog appears to have any of the symptoms listed.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.