Bearded Collie

45-55 lbs
Mou’ed Collie, Mountain Collie, Highland Collie

The Bearded Collie — or Beardies as they're more affectionately known — is one of those supremely talented dog breeds that seems to excel at everything they do.

Once upon a time, they were prodigious sheep herders in the Scottish highlands, before they became successful contestants at dog shows. Today, however, they’re more likely to be a family pet and most Bearded Collie parents will tell you they’re pretty good at this new role, too.

In this introduction to the Bearded Collie, you’ll find out that:

  • This is generally a healthy dog breed, but can suffer from joint and eye issues
  • You'll need to give a Bearded Collie at least an hour's physical activity a day
  • It's thought that the Bearded Collie descends from the Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  • Beardies are usually good with small children and other pets

Bearded Collie Breed Overview

What is a Bearded Collie? Well, they’re a type of sheepdog, much like the Border Collie or Rough Collie. However, as the name suggests, they tend to be a bit hairier than others — not just on the muzzle, but all over.

There are several attributes associated with Collies in general and they’re true of Bearded Collies, too. First of all, these dogs have a massive amount of energy — remember, they used to work on the farm all day.

Secondly, this stamina is matched by a fierce intelligence that makes training quite easy. That said, it also means their brains need constant stimulation to fend off boredom.

And lastly, the Bearded Collie is no different to other Collies in that they’re remarkably loyal animals. They love being the center of attention and are generous with their affection, too.

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purpose Purpose
Sheep Herding
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry
Magyar Komondor

Bearded Collie Health

Sketch of Bearded Collie
Average Size
Male Bearded Collie size stats
Height: 21-22 inches Weight: 45-55 lbs
Female Bearded Collie size stats
Height: 20-21 inches Weight: 45-55 lbs

Bearded Collie Breed History

The Bearded Collie bears resemblance to some other British sheepdog breeds, particularly the Old English Sheepdog. However, most experts agree that they have Central European ancestry, perhaps from the Magyar Komondor (or Polish Lowland Sheepdog).

It’s a lot less clear how these dogs found their way to Scotland, but once they were there, they would have been bred with local dogs and the Bearded Collie would have emerged as a distinct variety. A 1771 portrait painted by Thomas Gainsborough of the Duke of Buccleuch cradling what looks to be a Bearded Collie suggests this process was well underway at this point.

The Bearded Collie dog was prized for their ability to herd sheep and cattle in Scotland’s unforgiving climate, but during the Victorian years, the breed’s flowing locks became a common sight on the dog show circuit.

In 1912, the first breed standards were set by a Scottish kennel club, but, despite this recognition, numbers of Bearded Collies plummeted in the first half of the 20th century and the breed was potentially heading towards extinction.

Thankfully, they were saved from this fate by one Mrs. G.O. Willison, who was mistakenly given a Bearded Collie puppy instead of a Shetland Sheepdog by a breeder. She called this dog Jeannie and was immediately taken by her, so much so that she searched high and low for a mate. She also set up an organization dedicated to the preservation of the breed, which was the forerunner to the Bearded Collie Club that’s still active to this day. 

Willison’s hard work was rewarded when the Royal Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1959. The American Kennel Club (AKC) followed suit in 1976. In 2022, the AKC found that Beardies were the 122nd most popular breed in the States — sure, still a little obscure, but thankfully at no risk of disappearing any more.

Bearded Collie Breed Appearance

The first thing that’s almost certain to draw your attention to the Bearded Collie is their long, shaggy coat. This covers their entire body and hides their muscular frame. The most common colors are blue, fawn, brown or black.

A Bearded Collie’s head is in proportion to the rest of his body, with a full muzzle and a nose that’s square in shape. They have large eyes that are the same tone as the coat and arched brows that give this breed a friendly expression.

Medium-sized ears hang loosely and are covered in long hair.

Similar Breeds to a Bearded Collie

Bearded Collies are a wonderful dog, but they might not be the perfect breed for you. Or, it may be difficult to find an available Bearded Collie puppy at the right time. Don’t worry — there are a few similar breeds to this one, including: 

Bearded Collie Breed Maintenance

One of the questions on prospective parents’ lips is sure to be: do Bearded Collies shed? The answer is, very much, yes, with a particularly heavy period of shedding to be expected once a year. Parents should brush their Beardies every day to prevent excessive fur loss and keep their coat clean and unmatted.

There are a number of other tasks that parents need to keep on top of, including regularly trimming nails, brushing teeth and cleaning ears to ensure that wax and debris don’t build up and lead to an infection

Then there’s the matter of exercise. As already mentioned, the Bearded Collie has energy to burn and as such, could do with around an hour’s activity a day. This can take the form of long walks or play sessions. Ideally, a Beardie needs a backyard to run around every so often, too.

Bearded Collie Health Risks

The Bearded Collie is considered to be a relatively healthy breed, with the Royal Kennel Club placing them in the lowest category of risk when it comes to inherited health conditions.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Bearded Collie is completely immune from hereditary diseases and parents wishing to bring one of the dogs into their lives should only deal with responsible breeders that carry out tests on their animals — don’t be afraid to ask for proof of these.

Joint Problems

Much like other athletic canines, Bearded Collies can sometimes be struck down by genetic joint conditions that inhibit their movement. Two of the most common are Elbow and Hip Dysplasia.

These occur when either the elbow or hip joint fails to develop correctly, leading to the bone moving with friction against the socket. This causes limping and pain.

As fairly common health conditions, vets have several options when it comes to treating Elbow or Hip Dysplasia. Sometimes, mild cases can be soothed with weight loss and medication, but more serious instances might need physiotherapy or surgery.

Eye conditions

There are a few eye disorders that can occur during the Bearded Collie lifespan, including Corneal Dystrophy and Progressive Retinal Atrophy

The first of these is usually mild and involves the clouding over of the eyes. The latter often involves the same symptom, but can progress to sight loss. Both aren’t treatable, so the best form of defense is breeders carrying out genetic testing before allowing animals to reproduce.

For many years, it was thought that Bearded Collies weren’t affected by Collie Eye Anomaly. However, recent testing has found the gene responsible for the condition in Bearded Collies, although it’s thought that the prevalence of the disorder is much lower in the breed.

Collie Eye Anomaly (or Defect) normally develops before a dog reaches 12 weeks old and cases range in severity. Many pets with the condition will be barely affected, but an unfortunate few will go blind. As with many eye conditions, it’s not treatable and responsible breeders should take affected dogs out of their breeding pool.


The Bearded Collie is also more prone to developing Pemphigus. This is an autoimmune skin disease that tends to affect middle-aged dogs. Parents will see surface-level symptoms, such as skin redness, blisters, scabs or hair loss. At the same time, dogs might also be lethargic, depressed or lacking an appetite.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for this disease and a vet can only attempt to keep it in remission. This can often be done with topical steroids or nonsteroidal immunosuppressive drugs. Although a dog with Pemphigus will require regular monitoring, they can expect to lead a normal life as long as the disease is in remission.

The best way to spot diseases at an early stage is regular testing — this is one of the major perks of a wellness plan for your dog

What to Feed a Bearded Collie

As a particularly athletic dog, the Bearded Collie has a large appetite and it’s important that parents serve them a top-quality diet. This should be high in protein to help with muscle growth and repair, as well as full of the recommended vitamins and minerals for their stage of life.

Avoid products that are heavy on bulky filler ingredients, as these can contribute towards obesity. We would recommend skipping those that feature anonymous meat derivatives or byproducts, too.

Depending on how physically active your Bearded Collie is, you may want to consider our recommendations for the best dog food for working breeds or the best food for canine athletes. We’ve got some tips on choosing the best dog food here.

If you need a little help finding the right recipe for your Bearded Collie, our partner Dog Food Advisor can assist — here’s their list of the best dog food around

Bearded Collie Temperament

The Bearded Collie retains the mix of intelligence and energy that first drew Scottish farmers to the dog. This means Beardies are easy to train and are obedient, too. They get along well with small children and other pets in the household, although they might try to herd them.

They love spending time with their family and don’t deal well with being left alone for long periods with nothing to do. Parents might have to use their imagination to find ways to keep them entertained.

There’s not a huge difference between male and female Bearded Collies, although the former does tend to be a bit more outgoing than the latter.

Top Bearded Collie Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Bearded Collie breeders of 2024.
Top Bearded Collie breeder Pawpaw Bearded Collies
Pawpaw Bearded Collies
Williamsville, New York
Top Bearded Collie breeder Sebring Bearded Collies
Sebring Bearded Collies
Bakersfield, California
Top Bearded Collie breeder After Dark Beardies
After Dark Beardies
Goodrich, Michigan
Top Bearded Collie breeder Ragtyme Beardies
Ragtyme Beardies
Elizabeth, Colorado
Top Bearded Collie breeder Mik-Ren Kennels
Mik-Ren Kennels
Loveland, Colorado
Top Bearded Collie breeder Moonstone Beardies
Moonstone Beardies
Gainesville, Virginia
Top Bearded Collie breeder Travistar Bearded Collies
Travistar Bearded Collies
Mchenry, Illinois
Top Bearded Collie breeder Arlin Bearded Collies
Arlin Bearded Collies
Lake Villa, Illinois
Top Bearded Collie breeder Ragtyme
Elizabeth, Colorado
Top Bearded Collie breeder Tailwind Bearded Collies
Tailwind Bearded Collies
Buckeye Lake, Ohio

Bearded Collie Owner Experiences

8 Years
The Bearded Collie I walked was very friendly and happy. I could tell he didn't want to walk for very long.
6 years, 3 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd