The Bearded Collie has been employed for many years as a herder and drover .The origins of this delightful breed stretch back many centuries and are speculative. It is believed the ancestor to the Bearded Collie as we know it today was the Highland Collie which was introduced to the shores of Great Britain by pastoral tribes migrating from Eastern Europe. It is documented that a Polish shipmaster sailed to Scotland in 1514 trading grain for sheep and to assist him was accompanied by 6 Polish Sheepdogs. The Scottish shepherds were so impressed with the dogs they traded prize rams for 3 of the dogs. These dogs were then crossed with the Highland Collie to form the foundations of the Bearded Collie as we know it today. Further speculation documents the introduction of various other pastoral breeds from migrating tribes including the Russian Owtchaka, the French Chien de Berger de la Brice or the old Welsh Gray. The Old English Sheepdog is also suspected as being a relative.
In the book "The Complete Bearded Collie" by Joyce Collis ( Beagold) and Pat Jones (Wellknowe) you will find a comprehensive history of how the Bearded Collie was recognized and popularised by Russell Grieg MRCVS in 1912 when he formed the original Bearded Collie Club in Edinburgh. Unfortunately the First World War interrupted his plans and it wasn't until the 1930's that we saw Mrs. Cameron Miller breeding and exhibiting however when she died the breed disappeared until Mrs. G. O. Willison registered Jeannie of Bothkennar in 1948 and Baillie of Bothkennar in 1949.
Most ardent followers of the Bearded Collie will know the story of Jeannie and Mrs. Willisons importance in the history of the breed which has been documented many times. We are without doubt indebted to this lady and her famous Bothkennar kennels for the continuation of this beautiful breed.
A Versatile Breed
If you are looking for a dog with versatility the Bearded Collie will easily fulfill your quest. Beardies are biddable , intelligent and agile and have been taking part in all aspects of our lives for many years. From a lovable family friend to a working member of a team they can be found working sheep and cattle, taking part in obedience, herding trials, agility, search and rescue, therapy dogs and many more disciplines. However , if you are thinking of a Beardie as purely a member of the family please consider that this dog was originally bred to work and to work independently which means this dog has a brain! He will not take kindly to being cooped up with little exercise for the mind and body.
Alert, lively, self confident and active! Bearded Collies are generally regarded as clowns and difficult to train , usually by people who are not familiar with the breed. Yes, they can be comedians and they are full of fun so they do need company, exercise and training from the moment you bring them home or you will find your sweet little puppy has transformed into an unruly monster who will have the art of manipulation finely tuned in no time! If you choose a Beardie be prepared to put in some time and effort and you will have the perfect companion.
Bearded Collies enjoy family life and will not react favourably to long hours alone .
One of the attractions of the Bearded Collie is the coat which comes in many colours and when freshly groomed and bathed can look spectacular . However, this look is short lived and most owners of the breed learn to live with a more natural tousled look.
Bearded Collie puppies are born black, brown, blue and fawn and they can also have tri coloured markings . They have a greying gene which makes watching the coat changes very interesting as they grow and develop. They also have a double coat, soft furry undercoat and harsh waterproof outer coat. The coat will lighten through the puppy phase and then darken until they are 3 years old when they should have a full mature coat which generally reflects the colour they were born.
Needless to say the coat of the Bearded Collie will demand a certain amount of your time to prevent matting . In general a thorough groom once a week and a bath every 6-8 weeks will serve to keep it in good condition. If you are not able to manage this it is advisable to find a good professional groomer to help otherwise your dog will need to be clipped as the care of the coat is essential in maintaining good health.
Further information on coat colour can be found on the British Bearded Collie Connexions site.
The Bearded Collie is no couch potato so be prepared to ensure he has sufficient exercise to keep his mind and body fit and active . The amount and type of exercise will depend on your lifestyle and where you live but you will need to ensure he has access to somewhere safe for free running.
Bearded Collies are a medium sized dog so do not require vast amounts of food to ensure weight maintenance however it is advisable to research the type of food you feed your dog as "we are what we eat " and cheap poor brands will not keep your loyal companion in tip top condition.
There are many different types of food available and you would be wise to explore options with the breeder of your puppy who will have some experience of what suits them best.