Windheath Bearded Collies

 

The Bearded Collie

Meggie standing in front of greenery.

The Bearded Collie originated in Scotland as a tireless sheep herder, bred to work long hours and to think for himself how best to get the job done. This has implications in a home environment. You have a high energy, active companion who needs regular exercise each day and need something to do. If you don't give a beardie something to do, they will find something - and it is usually something that you do not want!

Beardies are intelligent and quick to learn but need to have training The training must be fun - and consistency is important. It is very easy for a Beardie to learn the "wrong" things. Being a sensitive breed, any training program should use positive training methods - there is no place for harsh training methods with a Beardie. Beardies like to please their owners, but are not blindly obedient. Beardies are very good at being manipulative to get their own way with their owners (after all, whose heart does not melt when confronted with those soft, pleading, Beardie eyes...). A Beardie owner has to stay one step ahead of their Beardie... many a beardie owner tells of being outsmarted by their beardie!

Beardies are a very social breed and want to be part of family life. Beardies do not do well isolated in a yard or an outside kennel.

Bearded Collies have a long outer coat with a shorted, soft undercoat. This means that grooming is a must for a Beardie. Anyone who owns a Beardie must enjoy grooming a dog at least once per week or be prepared to take the Beardie to the groomer regularly (every 1 to 2 weeks!). Some people think that they will just cut the coat. My position on this is : if you want a short coated dog, don't get a Beardie!

Having a Bearded Collie in your life is a wonderful experience, but the owner must be prepared - and Beardies are not for everyone,

A Bit of History

The bearded collie is one of the oldest of the Scottish herding breeds. Mrs. G. O. Willison in her book "The Bearded Collie" recounts a story of a Polish ship landing in Scotland in the 16th century to pick up a shipment of sheep. The ships owner had brought some Polish Lowland Shepherd Dogs with him which he used to separate the sheep he wished to buy from the rest of the flock. The Scottish shepherd was so impressed with the efficient herders that he offered to exchange a good horned ram for a pair of dogs. The deal was made. These dogs, inter-bred with the local Highland Collies, became the foundation stock of today's Beardies.

Major James C. Logan in his article “The Bearded Collie Origins and Early History (appearing in Moorhouse, K. Suzanne. 1990. Talking about ...beardies. ) says "The safest thing that can be said about the origins of the Bearded Collie is that they are lost in the mists of antiquity. This is a breed which has evolved naturally over the centuries and not one created in the relatively recent past, such as the Golden Retriever and the Doberman, whose pedigrees can be traced right back to the original stud books. "

There have been working dogs with shaggy coats and hairy faces in Scotland and in other parts of Europe for many centuries. In Scotland they were known under names such as Scotch Sheepdog, Mountain Collie, Highland Collie, or Hairy Mou'ed Collie, and probably had many equally distinctive names in other lands. Major Logan feels it would be very hard to claim a specific specimen or place as the dog or country of origin for the breed we have come to identify as Beardies. He further states that “To describe the Polish Lowland Sheepdog as the ‘ancestor of the Bearded Collie’ is quite unjustified; at the very most it may have contributed a small part to the ancestry of the Beardie.”

Major Logan reminds us that most theories about the ancestry of the Bearded Collie are “sheer speculation” and that: "All that can really be said is that over the years a longhaired, hairy-faced dog developed in Scotland, valued for its hardiness and its ability to work sheep and cattle. Little or no attempt was made to fix type until late in the 19th century, working ability being the only criteria."

In her article The Beginnings of the Beardie in Canada Alice Bixler writes:

"While researching material for the 1988 CKC Centennial, I came across an interesting item in the December, 1919, issue of Kennel & Bench magazine, the forerunner of Dogs in Canada. In an article, Dogs of the Empire, the author Freeman Lloyd wrote:

'It would appear that the bearded sheepdogs or shepherd dogs of Scotland were earlier known in Canada than the finer-bred black and tan collies from north of the Tweed. As before written, Scotsmen are great colonists and are wont to travel to the ends of the earth. After settling down, they send to the old land for well-bred horses, cattle, dogs, other animals and birds of the domesticated kinds. About 30 to 40 years ago, there were no other cattle dogs than bearded collies used about at slaughter houses in the east end of Montreal. These dogs were in common use by the French-Canadian drovers. The dogs were blue and blue-grey in colour. They were described to me by Robert Ross of Montreal who knew them well. 'They were just the blue of the Skye Terrier, with a white or pepper-and salt grizzle shade running all through it.' In Britain, such dogs were called Highland Collies.'

That would place Beardies in this country since the 1880's. What happened to those early dogs in unknown. When they were no longer required as drovers, it's likely their numbers dwindled. Certainly there were people who immigrated from England and Scotland who brought their shaggy companions along. But there was no record of their existence, no driving force to unite the breed and put it in the spotlight of public awareness."

Major James C. Logan further writes: "...the leading figure in the breed was Bailie James Dalgliesh. Among his dogs...Ellwyn Ken was exported to Canada in 1913. He was not the first Beardie in that country as the 'Collie Folio' of September 1910 refers to two Beardies being benched at a show in Calgary." These two Beardies are thought to have been exported by British breeder and enthusiast, Bailie Dalgliesh.

Bearded Collies did not really take "hold" in Canada until 1968 when Carol Gold returned from living in England and brought a Bearded Collie with her. She then worked diligently to interest others in the breed. This she did. The Bearded Collie Club of Canada was founded in March 1970 and the breed received official recognition for registration by the Canadian Kennel Club on August 19, 1970.

From the hills of Scotland in the "mists of antiquity", today the Bearded Collie can be found around the world .

 

 

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Last revised: September 12, 2017