Bearded Collie

Bearded CollieBearded Collie

Sheep dogs, somewhat similar in type to the Bearded Collie we know today, have been known for centuries in the rough and rocky terrain of the Scottish Highlands and Border Region of Scotland with England. However, the Bearded Collie we know today is a relatively modern pure breed only recognised by the Kennel Club UK) in 1959.

History of the Bearded Collie

Bearded Collie c 1977Bearded Collie c 1977

Sometimes called the 'Highland Collie' has an obvious connection to the English Sheepdog. Like the Old English Sheepdog, he was also a multi-purpose sheepdog who could not only work cattle, but also mixed flocks of domesticated animals. The Bearded Collie would also guard sheep if necessary and also drive them to market.

Bearded Collie c 1905Bearded Collie c 1905

The Bearded Collie was first recognised as a pure breed in 1912 when J Russel Greig CBE, PhD, MRCVS, FRSE founded the Bearded Collie Society of Edinburgh. But this collapsed after World War One. Then it was not until 1955 that the Bearded Collie Club of Britain was established and the modern Breed Standard was drawn up. Finally in 1959 the Bearded Collie received Kennel Club (UK) recognition[1].

History of Bearded Collies in Australia

Year Book 1978Year Book 1978

1968 also saw the first Bearded Collies arrive in Australia when Ab and Val Aumann brought in Hopsack of Tambora, Edenborough Star Trek and Rushmoor Loyal Crusader from UK[2]. The latter two produced the first litter born here, with Fetlara Lanark becoming our first home-bred Champion, campaigned to title by Howard Smith before being exported to NZ in 1979. Then Dynenooks Diplomat was imported by Graham Kerr, and Keith and Bette Higgins also brought Penreens Annie Laurie into NSW and Calderin Leal into the ACT[10]. This last named dog put Bearded Collies on the map here by wining 11 Best in Shows and 33 Best in Group.

Ch Calderin Leal (Imp UK) is featured on the cover of the 1978 Year Book (pictured). This pocket-sized book was amazing for its time! Produced by the Bearded Collie Social Club of South Australia, it contains photos of all major winners of Bearded Collie Clubs and Royal Shows, plus 3-generation pedigrees. Within one decade, the Bearded Collie was firmly established in Australia based on the best British lines.

Comparison between the Old English Sheepdog and the Bearded Collie

Old English Sheepdog Bearded Collie
Old English SheepdogOld English Sheepdog Bearded CollieBearded Collie
Body proportions A profusely coated strong, thick-set, muscular, able-bodied dog, compact but with great symmetry, free of legginess. A lean active dog with a body longer than high in an approximate proportion of 5-4, measured from point of chest to point of buttock.
Topline Standing slightly lower at the shoulder than the loin Straight
Tail A natural bob-tail can occur. Alternatively the tail may be docked where laws permit. If undocked, it is well feathered with an abundant, hard-textured coat. Sufficiently long to reach the point of the hock, the tail should be set and carried low and never over the back.

The double coat of the Old English should be profuse. The outer coat has crisp, strong but harsh hair, which is neither straight nor curly. But the slight wave enables it to stand away from the body when the extremely dense, waterproof, woolly undercoat is not removed by grooming. The correct coat texture and profusion should be considered above length.

The double coat has an outer coat consisting of flat, harsh, strong and shaggy hair, free from woolliness and curl, and an undercoat which is soft, furry and close. This provides protection and enhances the shape of the dog, but it should never obscure the natural lines of the body or be trimmed in any way.
Old English SheepdogOld English Sheepdog Bearded ColliesBearded Collies

The head should be in balance with the size of the dog. The skull is capacious which means it encloses a large cavity to house plenty of brains. The shape of the skull is square, that means the distance from stop to the pronounced occiput equals the width between the ears through to the front of the skull. It is important that the brows are also pronounced as this holds the head coat up and away from the eyes, enabling the dog to see through it.

The head must be in proportion with the size of the dog. The skull should be broad, flat and square, with the distance between the moderate stop and the occiput being equal to the width between the ears.

Stop Well defined Moderate
Foreface The strong muzzle forms parallel head planes with the skull. The muzzle which is strong, wide and deep but slightly shorter in length than the skull. The muzzle has parallel sides with a deep, well developed underjaw which, together with nose and the upper jaw look cut off (truncated) when viewed from the side. The nose must be large and black.

The strong muzzle should be equal in length to the distance from the moderate stop to the occiput. The colour of the large, square nose normally follows the coat colour in blues and browns, but otherwise is generally black. The pigmentation of lips and eye rims should follow nose colour and be of a solid colour without spots or patches.
Mouth Normal scissors bite with sound, strong teeth but a level bite acceptable. Normal scissors bite with sound, strong teeth but a level bite acceptable.
Eyes The eyes are set wide apart with dark or wall eyes (or one of each) preferred. The large eyes are set wide apart under arched eyebrows, their colour toning with that of the coat.
Ears The ears are small, moderately coated and carried flat to side of head. The ears of medium size and droop down beside the skull but never carried above it.
Old English Sheepdog at a trotOld English Sheepdog at a trot Bearded CollieBearded Collie
Neck The well coated neck should be fairly long, with a graceful arch showing the strength and muscling which support its substantial head. The neck is of moderate length.
Legs The sloping shoulders are close at the withers and the forelegs are perfectly straight, with plenty of bone and well coated with hair all around them. The sloping shoulders are close at the withers, and should form a right angle with the humerus. The forelegs straight and vertical, with good bone, flexible pasterns, and covered with shaggy hair.
Feet The round feet are small with well arched toes and thick pads. The oval feet are well padded have close arched toes and are well covered with hair including between the pads.

The body is rather short but very compact. The brisket is deep and the ribs are well sprung making a capacious or large cavity to enclose the lungs. The topline appears higher than the withers because the loin is very wide and the hindquarters round because of the musculation. Also, the coat in this areas is denser, thicker and longer than on any other part of the body. The hocks are well let down.

The body has a level topline and deep chest and long, well sprung ribs. The loins should be strong and the hindquarters have well muscled first and second thighs. The stifles are well bent and the hocks are low, forming a right angle to the ground in normal stance, just behind a line vertically below the point of the buttock.
Colour Any shade of grey, grizzle, blue or blue merle, with or without white markings but perfectly clear of any brown or sable. Slate grey, reddish fawn, black, blue, all shades of grey, brown and sandy. There may be white markings on the foreface and/or a blaze on the skull. There may also be white the tip of the tail, on the chest, legs and feet but not above the hocks. Also a white collar must extend behind the shoulder. Slight tan markings are acceptable.
Old English Sheepdogs AmblingOld English Sheepdogs Ambling Bearded CollieBearded Collie
Gait When walking or trotting the Old English can exhibit a characteristic ambling or pacing movement, or move in normal trotting gait. The movement is supple, smooth and long reaching and covering the ground with the minimum of effort.
Size Over a minimum of 56 cms (22 ins) for dogs, slightly less for bitches. Ideally 53-56 cms (21-22 ins) for dogs and 51-53 cms (20-21 ins) for bitches

References and Further Reading

[1] 'The Bearded Collie Origins and History' National Dog Special Lift-out Supplement, National Dog Newspaper Edited by Frances Sefton, Windsor NSW, April 1979 Page 21

[2] Original Registrations sited in archives of the VCA Library.