History of the Bearded Collie Breed
Also called the hairy Mou'ed collie, the mountain collie, or the Highland collie, the bearded collie is one the oldest breeds originated in Great Britain. Some experts claim that the bearded collie was around to witness the Romans invading Britain. But most agree that this herding dog descended from the Magyar Komondor (or lowland Polish sheepdog) of Central Europe. Documents show that two lowland Polish sheepdogs ended up in Scotland in 1514 - brought there by Polish traders. Even though a breed looking much like the bearded collie is depicted in art pieces from the 18th century, real evidence of this dog isn't found until the early 1800s when a written description of the breed was published. A 1771 portrait of the Duke of Buccleigh done by Gainsborough features one of the earliest known pictures of a bearded collie. This breed was used to herd sheep and drive off cattle for many miles without tiring over cold, rough terrain in Scotland. It was after the Victorian era that the bearded collie also became popular as a show dog. Originally, there were two different types of the bearded collie: the border strain that featured a brown and white, slightly-wavy coat and the Highland strain that had a gray and white coat. But these two types were since interbred, and eventually they were merged into just one breed. It was after World War I that the bearded collie was used and bred only for purposes of work, and owners were not likely to give them up because the dogs were so valuable to them. However, a handful of breeders interested in showing the bearded collie were eventually successful in bringing the breed to England and later to the United States. The bearded collie was close to extinction during the early part of the twentieth century. It was Mrs. G. O. Willison, the owner of Bothkennar Kennels, who is credited with saving the breed. She began breeding the bearded collie as show dogs, and she was also responsible for establishing the Bearded Collie Club in Britain in 1955. In the late 1950s, this breed was first introduced to America, but at the time, none of these dogs were bred. The first litter of bearded collies was born in the United States in 1967; and by July 1969, the Bearded Collie Club of America was formed. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1977. While the bearded collie is still a hard-working herder, it has gained more popularity as a show dog and a competitor in herding trials.
Size and Appearance of the Bearded Collie Breed
A medium-size dog with a strong but lean body, the bearded collie is a study in strength and agility. The straight front legs are covered with shaggy hair, and they feature substantial bone. The hindquarters are also shaggy with powerful, muscular thighs. The oval-shaped feet have well-padded soles and arched toes. The head is proportionate to the size of the dog, and it features a strong, full muzzle and a large, square-like nose. The large eyes of this dog offer a soft and affectionate expression. The arched eyebrows frame the eyes of this breed. The loose-hanging ears are medium in size and are covered in long hair. The strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite. The slightly-arched neck blends nicely into the shoulders of the bearded collie. The low set tail is covered with a lot of hair, and it is usually carried low with an upward curve at the end. When in action, the tail may be raised, and the swirl may be more pronounced. The gait of the breed is best described as powerful, flexible, and free. The double coat consists of a soft, close undercoat and a flat, shaggy outer coat that is rather harsh to the touch. The coat of this breed falls to either side of the body forming a natural part. The beard is formed from an increase in length of the hair from the cheeks, the lower lips and under the chin. The color of the bearded collie coat comes in several varieties, including: black, blue, brown or fawn, all with or without some white markings. Sometimes the coat will lighten as the dog ages.
Bearded Collie Temperament
Described as a boisterous, playful dog, the bearded collie is a lively, energetic breed. While it is intelligent and independent, it is usually obedient, and it has a sense of humor. This breed likes to be with children, but it may be too outgoing for smaller children. It also has a tendency to herd. This breed generally gets along well with other pets in the household. The bearded collie may bark, but it generally isn't considered to be a good watchdog. This breed loves to spend time with its family, and it shouldn't be left to its own accord for long periods of time with nothing to do. Overall, male dogs tend to be more outgoing than females.
Bearded Collie Recommended Maintenance
The long, shaggy coat of the bearded collie needs a fair share of grooming. Daily brushing is suggested to keep the coat looking its best. Try lightly misting the coat with water before brushing to aid in grooming. Be sure to check for matting on a regular basis and tease out any mats before they get out of hand. More attention should be paid to grooming when the dog is shedding. Check the eyes, ears, and paws on a daily basis. Use dry shampoo or bathe this dog as necessary. Closely check for ticks, as they can be difficult to find in the thick undercoat of this breed. The bearded collie is considered to be an average shedder. Daily exercise is a must for this active dog. Very long walks and vigorous play is suggested. This breed is not a good choice for apartment dwelling. An average-sized yard is highly recommended, and this dog needs a chance to run and play off the leash on a regular basis.
Bearded Collie Health
Life span: 12 - 14 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: CHD, epilepsy, colonic disease, pemphigus
Occasionally seen: CHD, aortic stenosis, PRA, PPM, cataract, vWD
Suggested tests: hip, (eye), (cardiac)