Get to Know the Bearded Collie: The Bouncing and Bubbly Scot

Move over, Lassie, there's another Collie in town!


This shaggy dog doesn’t look like a Collie to most people. But the Bearded Collie is as deserving of the name as any of the others who share it. And he’s one of the best-kept secrets of the herding dog world!

He probably originated from Central European breeds such as the Komondor or Polish Lowland Sheepdog, maybe tracing back to the 16th century. At that time a Polish merchant brought six Polish Lowland Sheepdogs to move some sheep he’d just made a trade for in Scotland. The dogs so impressed the Scots that they traded sheep for several of them, and those dogs were bred to native Scottish dogs to produce the Bearded Collie. However, hard evidence of the modern Bearded Collie can’t be found until the early 19th century.

More interesting things about the Bearded Collie

  • The Bearded Collie may be confused with the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, but the latter is smaller. He may also be confused with the Old English Sheepdog, but the latter has frizzier hair and is always gray with white trim.
  • The Bearded Collie can be any shade of gray or chocolate, usually with white trim.
  • Often called “Beardies,” the breed is also known as the Highland Collie, the Mountain Collie or the Hairy Mou’ed Collie.
  • They were used to herd sheep and cattle in Scotland.

  • A 1771 Gainsborough portrait of the Duke of Buccleuch contains the oldest known picture of a Beardie.
  • The AKC recognized the breed in 1983.
  • The Beardie is known for its exuberant personality, which it displays as “the Beardie bounce.” The bounce may have originated when it herded in deep grass and had to bounce up and down to spot the sheep.

  • Media appearances include major roles in the television series Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and in the 1996 version of The Shaggy Dog.
  • A Beardie played the role of Nana in the original play version of Peter Pan.
  • Some people claim Tiger, the Brady Bunch dog, was a Beardie, but it’s confusing. The original Tiger was probably a mix. That dog was killed mid-series and was replaced by a dog identified as a Bearded Collie. That same Beardie then appeared in the sci-fi classic A Boy and His Dog.
  • Owners include Bo Derek and Tony Dow.

  • A Beardie named Potterdale Classic at Moonhill won Best in Show at Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, in 1989.
  • The Bearded Collie is in the AKC Herding group.
  • The Beardie is the 117th most popular AKC breed, down from 96th a decade ago

Do you own a Bearded Collie? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too!

About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

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