Complete Guide To The Bearded Collie: Care, Grooming, Health and More

The Bearded Collie is a clever, charismatic family dog. As emotionally intelligent as they are quick-witted, they’re the daily dose of affection you’ve been looking for.

Most people probably mistake the Bearded Collie for the Old English Sheepdog, but they are distinctly different in many ways. I know I originally had problems differentiating the two before I became a veterinarian, but the ensuing years and putting my hands on these dogs really helped me understand who they are. The Bearded Collie is a smaller, leaner dog that truly is a crazy athlete under all that hair.

How Big Do Bearded Collies Get?

Male21-22″ at the shoulder50-55 lbs
Female20-21″ at the shoulder45-50 lbs

Bearded Collies average 45-55 pounds with billowy coats that make them seem larger than they are. You won’t know they’re long and lean until you see them soaking wet. A shaggy beard gives them a soft, contemplative expression that belies their bubbly personality.

What Do Bearded Collies Look Like?

Colors include varying shades of:

• Black
• Blue
• Brown
• Fawn

White markings are common on the face, chest and legs but rarely on the body. Hair is straight with a rough feel and a tousled, bedhead look.

The Beardie’s ears are long but not heavy, and their pleading eyes match the color of their coat. Long tails are slightly curved and hair-covered — in motion, they can sweep off a surface in seconds. Depending on their cut, Bearded Collies are easily mistaken for sheepdogs.

What Is The Personality Of A Bearded Collie?

Beardies have as much personality as hair. Few breeds can compete with their charm. Energetic, they can be a handful, but you can’t help but appreciate their enthusiasm.

Daily exercise is a must for this spirited breed, but they’re happy with any activity as long as you’re a part of it. Excellent with children, they thrive on companionship and are loyal to a fault.

Bred to herd, Beardies enjoy canine athletics, including rally and agility events. Intelligent, they have a reputation for being strong-willed — confident, if you ask them — so early obedience training is essential for good manners.

What Are The Grooming Requirements Of A Bearded Collie?

Bearded Collies have thick, weather-resistant double coats — a dense wooly layer to keep them warm and a sturdy, mid-length top coat that deflects wind and moisture. They shed year-round and seasonally, but grooming is straightforward and keeps it in check. It takes commitment, but it’s worth it.

Daily brushing with a slicker removes dirt and debris. Weekly combing with a pin rake or steel comb thins the undercoat and removes knots. Anti-tangle spray helps prevent mats.

Bearded Collies require more bathing than similar breeds because their beards are a magnet for food and saliva. A shampoo every 6-8 weeks keeps them fresh. If the long hair gets frustrating, a short puppy cut is adorable and easier to maintain.

Bath time is the perfect opportunity to clean a Beardie’s ears. If you bathe your own dog, you need to make sure you clean their ears afterwards with a commercial dog ear cleaner. I’m not a fan of putting cotton balls in dogs’ ears to help prevent water from entering the canal. You risk losing a cotton ball and causing more problems. Just stay away from the ears as best you can and clean the ears afterwards.

The Bearded Collie’s nails should be trimmed regularly. With long hair, owners may not notice overgrowth. Check them every two weeks and trim them as needed with a clipper or rotary tool to prevent breakage and discomfort.

What Are The Exercise Needs Of A Bearded Collie?

The Bearded Collie is a dog that craves activity and interaction. These dogs were born to herd and they retain that need for heavy activity to this day. If your family is active and outdoorsy, a Beareded Collie is perfect.

If you want to sit at home and watch Netflix, a Bearded Collie is not the best dog.

What Dog Food Is Best For Bearded Collies?

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Best Puppy Food For Bearded Collies:

Best Adult Food For Bearded Collies:

With their long coat, it can difficult for an inexperienced owner to tell when their Bearded Collie is overweight. Ask your veterinarian to show you how you feel the ribs and back to determine if they’re too big/thin.

How Long Do Bearded Collies Live?

12-14 years according to the AKC

What Health Concerns Do Bearded Collies Have?

This dog is a generally healthy one. The breed has no particular conditions to watch out for based on my experience and even the health statistics kept by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). This group records any abnormal testing for any individual dog and tabulates them by breed.

Dental Disease and obesity are preventable so make sure you keep a close watch on these areas. Your veterinarian can help you if these areas become a struggle.

Orthopedic issues are, of course, possible but this particular breed hasn’t been bred to the point where hip and elbow dysplasia is a real concern.

Where Can I Learn More About Bearded Collies?

Bearded Collie Club of America (BCCA)

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Bearded Collie?

Breeder Listings From the BCCA

AKC Puppy Page

Looking for a Rescue? The BCCA keeps a large list of regional rescue coordinators that would be my first stop if I’m looking for a rescued Bearded Collie.

Interesting Facts About Bearded Collies

Every breed has its lore, but the Bearded Collie is a bit of a mystery.

Here’s what we know.

• They Hail From England

Historians know little about Bearded Collies before the 1800s. Theories once held they were an ancient breed, predating the Roman occupation of Britain. Today, it seems more likely that their ancestors were of Central European lineage — no definitive records are available, but most breeders believe they resulted from pairings between the Polish Lowland Sheepdog and English or Scottish Sheepdog.

They’re Smart and Simple to Train

Bearded Collies rank 34th on the list of most intelligent breeds. Though stubborn at times, they can learn dozens of commands with minimal repetition. They’re regular winners at obedience, agility, and rally events and are among Hollywood producers’ favorite canine actors.

Recent appearances include the 2006 Tim Allen comedy, The Shaggy Dog, and the action film Agent Cody Banks. Television credits include The Brady Bunch and the 1960s comedy, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies.

• The Dog of Many Colors

Bearded Collies are born dark, lightening in shade beginning at eight weeks old due to a fading gene. Brown dogs, for example, will turn a chocolate shade as they mature. The process slows and reverses slightly a year later, though few dogs will return to their original color.

• They’re Good Watchdogs But Poor Guard Dogs

Herders, Bearded Collies are always on alert for trouble — but there’s a difference between telling you about intruders and stopping them. Beardies will bark to let you know when someone’s in your space, but they’re too friendly to be threatening. Chasing away insurance salesman will be up to you.

• You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down

Like so many European breeds, Bearded Collie populations were decimated by two world wars — just a handful of devoted breeders managed to salvage the stock. The delay, however, caused a lag in breed awareness and popularity in the US. Beardies weren’t recognized by the AKC until the mid-1970s.

Everyone is Family

Bearded Collies have adopted ducks, cuddled with cats and mothered hens. Kindhearted and happy-go-lucky, if they’re accustomed to other species as puppies, they’ll call anyone family.

• The Beardie Bounce

The Bearded Collie has a sense of humor — their antics are always entertaining. But their unique four-legged leap, known as the Beardie Bounce, actually has a purpose — only by jumping high can these herders visualize a flock of sheep. Bearded Collie Clubs across America now gather to pay homage to the feat in annual events called Beardie Bounces.

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