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  • Temperament: Smart, Bouncy, Charismatic
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 126 of 194
  • Height: 21-22 inches (male), 20-21 inches (female)
  • Weight: 45-55 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Bearded Collie standing facing forward in three-quarter view
Bearded Collie head facing left
Bearded Collie lying down in three-quarter view
Bearded Collie coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bearded Collie is a medium sized dog with a medium length coat that follows the natural lines of the body and allows plenty of daylight under the body. The body is long and lean, and, though strongly made, does not appear heavy. A bright inquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed. The Bearded Collie should be shown in a natural stance.

HEAD

The head is in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is broad and flat; the stop is moderate; the cheeks are well filled beneath the eyes; the muzzle is strong and full; the foreface is equal in length to the distance between the stop and occiput. The nose is large and squarish. A snipy muzzle is to be penalized. (See Color section for pigmentation.) Eyes – The eyes are large, expressive, soft and affectionate, but not round nor protruding, and are set widely apart. The eyebrows are arched to the sides to frame the eyes and are long enough to blend smoothly into the coat on the sides of the head. (See Color section for eye color.) Ears – The ears are medium sized, hanging and covered with long hair. They are set level with the eyes. When the dog is alert, the ears have a slight lift at the base. Teeth – The teeth are strong and white, meeting in a scissors bite. Full dentition is desirable.

BODY

The body is longer than it is high in an approximate ratio of 5 to 4, length measured from point of chest to point of buttocks, height measured at the highest point of the withers. The length of the back comes from the length of the ribcage and not that of the loin. The back is level. The ribs are well sprung from the spine but are flat at the sides. The chest is deep, reaching at least to the elbows. The loins are strong. The level back line blends smoothly into the curve of the rump. A flat croup or a steep croup is to be severely penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are well laid back at an angle of approximately 45 degrees; a line drawn from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the forward point of articulation approximates a right angle with a line from the forward point of articulation to the point of the elbow. The tops of the shoulder blades lie in against the withers, but they slope outwards from there sufficiently to accommodate the desired spring of ribs. The legs are straight and vertical, with substantial, but not heavy, bone and are covered with shaggy hair all around. The pasterns are flexible without weakness.

COAT

The coat is double with the undercoat soft, furry and close. The outercoat is flat, harsh, strong and shaggy, free from wooliness and curl, although a slight wave is permissible. The coat falls naturally to either side but must never be artificially parted. The length and density of the hair are sufficient to provide a protective coat and to enhance the shape of the dog, but not so profuse as to obscure the natural lines of the body. The dog should be shown as naturally as is consistent with good grooming but the coat must not be trimmed in any way. On the head, the bridge of the nose is sparsely covered with hair which is slightly longer on the sides to cover the lips. From the cheeks, the lower lips and under the chin, the coat increases in length towards the chest, forming the typical beard. An excessively long, silky coat or one which has been trimmed in any way must be severely penalized.

HINDQUARTERS

The hind legs are powerful and muscular at the thighs with well bent stifles. The hocks are low. In normal stance, the bones below the hocks are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear; the hind feet fall just behind a perpendicular line from the point of buttocks when viewed from the side. The legs are covered with shaggy hair all around. Tail– The tail is set low and is long enough for the end of the bone to reach at least the point of the hocks. It is normally carried low with an upward swirl at the tip while the dog is standing. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail may be raised but is never carried beyond a vertical line. The tail is covered with abundant hair.

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bearded collie illustration

About the Bearded Collie

Standing 20 to 22 inches at the shoulder and covered head to tail in a shaggy double coat, Beardies bear a passing resemblance to another British favorite, the Old English Sheepdog. Beneath the coats, Beardies are the more lean and angular of the two. The lavish facial hair shouldn’t obscure the characteristic expression: a dreamy, faraway gaze.
These rambunctious comics can be a handful—but mostly, Beardies are approximately 50 pounds of heart, energy, and laughter. Well-socialized Beardies will get on nicely with other animals and kids. They bore easily, and training must be kept interesting. Outdoorsy families looking for a sturdy dog to share an uptempo lifestyle will never find a more affectionate and amusing sidekick.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Bearded Collie

Find a Puppy: Bearded Collie

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Care

NUTRITION

The Bearded Collie should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Beardie grooming regimen consists of two parts. The first is a daily brushing to remove tangles and foreign matter, which shouldn’t take more than five or ten minutes, assuming the dog hasn’t gotten into something messy. The second part is a weekly session with a pin rake, brush, comb, and possibly anti-tangle spray to remove dead hair and return the coat to pristine condition. This generally takes a half-hour to an hour. As with all breeds, the Beardie’s nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Daily Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The Bearded Collie is an energetic, boisterous breed that requires a fair amount of outdoor exercise. Unlike many of their owners, Beardies are happy to run and play outside no matter what the weather. They need some sort of activity every day, whether playing ball; a long walk, run, or hike; or just playing in a large, fenced-in yard or other area with a companion, human or canine. And, of course, being bred to herd sheep, Beardies love to participate in athletic events such as herdingrallyagility, and obedience competitions. A busy Beardie is a happy Beardie.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

As with all dogs, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of seven weeks and four months will help him develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. Puppy training classes serve as part of the socialization process and help the owner learn to recognize and avert certain undesired behaviors that may be developing. Like many other Herding breeds, the Beardie was bred to work out in the field on his own without any direction from people. This independent (some would say stubborn) streak can make training a challenge, but patient owners will eventually succeed in winning over their Beardies using positive reinforcement – and lots of treats.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Outgoing

HEALTH

The Beardie is a sturdy breed, and responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and eye problems. As with all breeds, a Beardie’s ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax, and the teeth brushed daily.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie
Bearded Collie

History

Originally known by such names as the Highland Collie and Mountain Collie, Bearded Collies for centuries earned their feed on the Scottish Highlands as rugged herding and droving dogs prized by shepherds for the ability to do a hard day’s work amid Scotland’s raw climate and hilly terrain. Beardies were expected to help control cattle at pasture and drive the herd to market.

Origin stories vary. It was once believed that the Beardie is an ancient breed, predating the Roman conquest of Britain in the first century b.c. These days, the prevailing theory is that Beardies are descended from Central European stock, notably Polish Lowland Sheepdogs and Komondorok, brought to Scotland in the 1500s. As with most breeds utilized mostly by peasants and shepherds of the distant past, no definitive records of the Beardie’s creation have come down to us.

We do catch glimpses of the breed in paintings of the 1700s, a golden age of British portraiture. Such masters as Reynolds and Gainsborough included dogs recognizable as Beardies in portraits of well-heeled Scottish clients. This indicates that somewhere along the way the humble shepherd’s dog became a fashionable ornament of high society.

By the early 1800s the look and demeanor of the breed as we know it was set. In Victorian times they were popular on the Scottish show circuit, but the disruptions of World War I decimated the population of Beardies and other popular breeds. But you can’t keep a good breed down. Britain’s devoted breeders rebuilt the Beardie population in the years between the two world wars. The first litter of U.S. Beardies was born in 1967, the breed entered the AKC Stud Book 10 years later, and it was a charter member of the AKC Herding Group, formed in 1983.

Did You Know?

The Beardie is also known as the Highland Collie, the Mountain Collie, or the Hairy Mou’ed Collie.
Current theory holds that the Beardie developed from the Magyar Komondor of Central Europe.
The earliest known pictures of Beardies are a 1771 Gainsborough portrait of the Duke of Buccleigh and a 1772 Reynolds portrait of that peer’s wife and daughter accompanied by two dogs.
At the end of the Victorian Era, Beardies were fairly popular in southern Scotland, used as both working and show dogs.
The Beardie qualified for the Miscellaneous AKC class in 1974, was accepted to the AKC stud book in 1976, became eligible for the Working Group in 1977, and became part of the Herding Group when i…

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bearded Collie is a medium sized dog with a medium length coat that follows the natural lines of the body and allows plenty of daylight under the body. The body is long and lean, and, though strongly made, does not appear heavy. A bright inquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed. The Bearded Collie should be shown in a natural stance.

HEAD

The head is in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is broad and flat; the stop is moderate; the cheeks are well filled beneath the eyes; the muzzle is strong and full; the foreface is equal in length to the distance between the stop and occiput. The nose is large and squarish. A snipy muzzle is to be penalized. (See Color section for pigmentation.) Eyes – The eyes are large, expressive, soft and affectionate, but not round nor protruding, and are set widely apart. The eyebrows are arched to the sides to frame the eyes and are long enough to blend smoothly into the coat on the sides of the head. (See Color section for eye color.) Ears – The ears are medium sized, hanging and covered with long hair. They are set level with the eyes. When the dog is alert, the ears have a slight lift at the base. Teeth – The teeth are strong and white, meeting in a scissors bite. Full dentition is desirable.

BODY

The body is longer than it is high in an approximate ratio of 5 to 4, length measured from point of chest to point of buttocks, height measured at the highest point of the withers. The length of the back comes from the length of the ribcage and not that of the loin. The back is level. The ribs are well sprung from the spine but are flat at the sides. The chest is deep, reaching at least to the elbows. The loins are strong. The level back line blends smoothly into the curve of the rump. A flat croup or a steep croup is to be severely penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are well laid back at an angle of approximately 45 degrees; a line drawn from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the forward point of articulation approximates a right angle with a line from the forward point of articulation to the point of the elbow. The tops of the shoulder blades lie in against the withers, but they slope outwards from there sufficiently to accommodate the desired spring of ribs. The legs are straight and vertical, with substantial, but not heavy, bone and are covered with shaggy hair all around. The pasterns are flexible without weakness.

COAT

The coat is double with the undercoat soft, furry and close. The outercoat is flat, harsh, strong and shaggy, free from wooliness and curl, although a slight wave is permissible. The coat falls naturally to either side but must never be artificially parted. The length and density of the hair are sufficient to provide a protective coat and to enhance the shape of the dog, but not so profuse as to obscure the natural lines of the body. The dog should be shown as naturally as is consistent with good grooming but the coat must not be trimmed in any way. On the head, the bridge of the nose is sparsely covered with hair which is slightly longer on the sides to cover the lips. From the cheeks, the lower lips and under the chin, the coat increases in length towards the chest, forming the typical beard. An excessively long, silky coat or one which has been trimmed in any way must be severely penalized.

HINDQUARTERS

The hind legs are powerful and muscular at the thighs with well bent stifles. The hocks are low. In normal stance, the bones below the hocks are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear; the hind feet fall just behind a perpendicular line from the point of buttocks when viewed from the side. The legs are covered with shaggy hair all around. Tail– The tail is set low and is long enough for the end of the bone to reach at least the point of the hocks. It is normally carried low with an upward swirl at the tip while the dog is standing. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail may be raised but is never carried beyond a vertical line. The tail is covered with abundant hair.

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bearded collie illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLUE Check Mark For Standard Color 037
BROWN Check Mark For Standard Color 061
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
BLACK & BROWN 009
BLACK & TAN 018
BLACK & WHITE 019
BLACK BROWN & WHITE 022
BLUE & TAN 044
BLUE & WHITE 045
BLUE GRAY & WHITE 049
BROWN & WHITE 063
GRAY 100
GRAY & WHITE 105
LIVER & WHITE 125
RED & BROWN 143
WHITE 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
BLACK MARKINGS 002
FAWN MARKINGS 008
TAN MARKINGS 012

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