Origins & 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.
Personality & Temperament Bred to be independent, the shaggy coated Bearded Collie can be willful but are always friendly. They have a characteristic expression: a dreamy, faraway gaze. These rambunctious comics can be a handful but mostly, Beardies are full 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.
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 herding, rally, agility, and obedience competitions. A busy Beardie is a happy Beardie.
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.