Getting To Know You – Bearded Collie

The American Kennel Club describes the Bearded Collie as “smart, bouncy, charismatic” and “boisterous”.  Though at first glance, you may think you’re looking at an Old English Sheepdog, this is a breed unto itself.  Bearded Collies, also known as Beardies, hail from Scotland.  They were developed to herd sheep and cattle in any weather and different terrains.  They are hardy dogs with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.  As with most members of the AKC’s herding group, Beardies have high energy and need a lot of daily exercise.  They also require a fair amount of human companionship, along with a job to do.  If not given one, they may make it their “job” to become destructive.  The AKC uses the term “rambunctious” to describe their comedic behavior, and their desire to share an “uptempo lifestyle”.  Thusly, those who prefer a more leisurely lifestyle may want to look for a less energetic breed to share their time with. 

Beardies are one of the oldest herding breeds, dating back to the 1500s.  It is believed that this all-around farm dog descended from some Polish Lowland Sheepdogs that stayed behind in Scotland and bred with the local herding dogs.  This intelligent breed has been an all-around farm dog.  Bred to work and guard livestock, it has an alarming bark that may not be welcome in all living environments.  They have a characteristic bounce which they developed in order to leap high in the air to spot their stock when working in deep cover.  They are athletic and versatile.  It is not uncommon to see them excelling in organized sports such as agility, rally, competitive obedience, and of course, herding.  One must keep in mind that this breed was developed to be an independent thinker, so they can be willful.

Male and female Beardies range in weight from 40 to 60 pounds.  Males are approximately 22 inches tall at the withers, while females are 20 inches at the withers.  They have long straight, double coats that require a fair amount of care.  The breed standard has a full paragraph on color as it changes from birth to adulthood.  “All Bearded Collies are born either black, blue, brown or fawn, with or without white markings. With maturity, the coat color may lighten, so that a born black may become any shade of gray from black to slate to silver, a born brown from chocolate to sandy. Blues and fawns also show shades from dark to light. Where white occurs, it only appears on the foreface as a blaze, on the skull, on the tip of the tail, on the chest, legs and feet and around the neck. The white hair does not grow on the body behind the shoulder nor on the face to surround the eyes. Tan markings occasionally appear and are acceptable on the eyebrows, inside the ears, on the cheeks, under the root of the tail, and on the legs where the white joins the main color.”  To summarize this description, any shade of grey or chocolate, with white markings, is acceptable.

For more information on this exuberant breed, go to the Bearded Collie Club of America at https://beardedcollieclub.us.