Breed Group: Herding
Temperament and Behavior
Bearded Collies are bouncy, fun-loving, high-energy, intelligent dogs originally bred to herd livestock. They love to play with the entire family and are exceptional with children. Curious, independent thinkers, Bearded Collies may test the limits set by their owners much as a small child might. They accept strangers and most other pets. But even when well socialized they may find cats a little too tempting to herd. Their activity level is above average both inside and outdoors and they love to play. This helps them get the above average amount of exercise they need. They frequently use their voice. As a result, they make an above average watchdog. But their bark is more of a welcome than a warning. So do not rely on him to provide the services of a guard dog. As with most dogs in the herding group, Bearded Collies have above average intelligence. As a result, they are not a dog to leave in the backyard ignored. They relish bounding after a ball, jogging, playing catch with a frisbee, or learning new tricks that they can play on their two-legged friends. If not provided with an outlet for their energy and intelligence, they become bored and will invent their own entertainment which is unlikely to be what you would choose for them. Perhaps their biggest disadvantage is they are “messy” dogs. Their “beard” seems to soak up as much water as they drink. Then they deposit it in your lap along with the ball they hope you will throw. Upon returning from a romp outside, it seems as if they bring in half the great outdoors tangled in their coat. If your house has to be immaculate, this is not the right dog breed for you.
Physical CharacteristicsBearded Collies are sturdy medium-sized working dogs. They stand about 21 inches high at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds. They have a thick a double coat that keeps them warm in cold weather which they prefer over heat and humidity. Keeping their coat clean, which can harbor all manner of debris and parasites, requires a real commitment to grooming. As an alternative, their coat can be clipped short.
Trainer's NotesIt is important to provide a Bearded Collie with extra socialization as a puppy to offset a tendency toward shyness. It is strongly recommended this is coupled with obedience training. Although quite intelligent with a significant capacity to learn, they are not an easy breed to train. Repetition bores them. Independent thinkers, they can either be headstrong or outwit their training partner. Positive training methods using games, play, praise, and/or food, works well. Sensitive dogs, an angry or frustrated trainer can cause them to shut down. A calm, patient trainer will be much more successful. They excel in herding competitions, obedience, and agility. Even with their above average need for socialization, their training challenges, and grooming requirements, they are a reasonable choice for first-time dog owners provided they are dedicated to the care of the dog.
HealthBearded Collies are generally a reasonably healthy breed. About 10% suffer from a heart condition known as SAS and about 6% suffer from hip dysplasia. Other conditions that affect the breed include PRA, a condition that causes blindness, Cataracts, Hypothyroidism, plus allergies and skin conditions that may be related. Bearded Collies live an average of between 12 and 14 years and tend to remain quite active until late in life.
PopularityBearded Collies are ranked the 104th most popular breed with about 400 dogs registered by the American Kennel Club each year. This makes them rare enough that finding breeders can be a challenge and when you do, the breeder can be selective about who buys their puppies. But the breed is common enough to have their own rescue organization.
Breed HistoryBearded Collies were developed in Scotland specifically to work more independently of shepherds than other herding dogs that were available. Their ancestry is obscure, but probably rooted in herding dogs brought to Scotland from Poland as early as the 1500s. The Kennel Club of Great Britain recognized the breed in 1959 but it was not until 1977 the AKC recognized the breed.
Additional InformationThose willing to spend the time and effort to socialize, train, and groom a Bearded Collie will be rewarded with an active loving pet. Anyone with one not willing to do so will most likely end up a shy, fearful, matted, neglected mess. Notable owners of the breed include Bo Derrek and Tony Dow who played Wally Cleaver on the TV series Leave It to Beaver. To find out more, contact the AKC National Breed Club which is the Bearded Collie Club of America.