Description & History

The ancestry of the Bearded Collie or Beard - also known as the Highlands Collie or Mountain Collie - is possibly shared with other breeds which are shaggy in appearance. Sheepdogs from the Border counties and from Wales, also ancient breeds from continental Europe such as the Briard and the smallest of the French sheepdogs, the Pyrenean Shepherd Dog, could all be the breed's forebears.

In the past, Bearded Collies were used by drovers and by flockmasters and farmers for working with sheep and herding cattle. The word Collie which forms part of the breed's name indicated this. The Collie's job is to work with any type of stock, whereas the sheepdog is used solely for working with sheep. The Beardie, which was often used to locate and bring the flock down from mountainous regions to the lowland or moorland areas, was also a first rate cattle dog.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the Bearded Collie began to lose its popularity in favour of the Border Collie, and by the end of the Second World War was almost extinct.

The breed's revival was due to Mrs Willison who in 1944 acquired a bitch from Scotland and later a dog from Devon; these two animals enabled her to re-establish the breed.

Luckily, the breed has not lost its working ability, and still works on farms and smallholdings in different parts of the British Isles. It is also a popular pet and very successful show dog. The Kennel Club granted the breed championship status in 1959.

The Beardie should preferably live in the country. It has boundless energy and stamina, and should be allowed plenty of free exercise everyday.

Rosamund Walters.



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