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bearded collie

Bearded Collie

Herding Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


The origin of the Bearded Collie is said to stem from the breeding of Polski Owczarek Nizinnys (Polish Lowland Sheepdogs), left in Scotland in the 1500's, to local herding dogs. The Bearded Collie was a common breed in Scotland, used extensively as a sheep herding dog and cattle drover. They became familiar to the rest of the world in the 1940's and have become very popular since that time.

The Bearded Collie was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1979.

General Appearance

A medium-sized breed, the Bearded Collie has a medium-length hair coat that follows the natural lines of the body and does not fall to the ground, but allows daylight to be seen under the body. The strongly made body is long and lean. A distinctive characteristic of the breed is its bright, inquiring expression. The breed is always shown in a natural stance and a near-to-natural state. Unnecessary trimming is not desirable.


The breed stems from true working stock, and all characteristics associated with such dogs should be perpetuated in the Bearded Collie. They are an active, agile and intelligent dog, which can demonstrate a degree of stubbornness and independence.

This is one of the few breeds that demonstrate a dominant fading gene. Puppies that are born black begin graying at approximately eight weeks of age. The same is true of blues, which turn silver; browns, which lighten to a cinnamon or milky chocolate; and fawns, which lighten to a champagne hue. The coat colors fade until the dogs reach approximately one year of age. Then the process reverses and they begin to darken, but do not become as dark as their birth color.

Head & Skull

The size of the head is in proportion to the size of the individual dog.


The skull is broad and flat. The distance between the stop and occiput is equal to the width between the orifices of the ears. The stop is moderate. The cheeks are well filled in beneath the eyes.


The muzzle is strong and full. The foreface is equal in length to the distance between the stop and the occiput.

Severe Fault: Snipey muzzle.


A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite.


The eyes are set wide apart, are large, expressive, soft and affectionate. Generally, eye color will follow the tone of the coat color. Lighter-colored eyes are characteristic of the dogs born blue or fawn.

The eyebrows arch to the side and frame, but do not obscure, the eyes. The hair is long enough to blend smoothly into the coat on the sides of the head.

Faults: Round eyes. Protruding eyes.


The nose is large and square.


The ears are medium-sized, hanging and covered with long hair. They are set level with the eyes. When the dog is at alert, the ears have a slight lift, which brings the base level with the top of the skull.


The neck is strong and slightly arched, blending smoothly into the shoulders, and is in proportion to the length of the body.


The shoulders are well laid back.


The forelegs are straight, with substantial bone, and are covered with shaggy hair. The pasterns are flexible.

Faults: Too heavy bone. Weak pasterns.


The body is longer than high, at a ratio of five to four. The length is measured from the point of the chest to the point of the buttocks. The height is measured at the highest point of the withers. Bitches may be slightly longer. The length of back comes from length in the ribcage, not in the loin.

The back is level, blending smoothly into the curve of the rump. The ribs are well sprung from the spine, but are not barreled. The deep chest reaches at least to the elbows. The loins are strong.

Severe Faults: Flat croup. Steep croup.


Well-muscled, with strong second thighs.


The stifles are well bent, and the hocks are low to the ground. Rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground, and when the dog is standing normally, they are just behind a vertical line dropped from the point of the buttocks.


The oval-shaped feet have well-padded soles. The toes are close together, are well-arched, and are well-covered with hair, including the area between the pads.


The tail is abundantly covered with hair. It is set low, and extends at least to the hocks. When at ease, it is normally carried low with an upward swirl at the tip. When in action or at alert, the curve of the tail is accentuated, and it is carried higher but never over the back.

Disqualification: tail carried up over the back.


The hair is rich and dense, giving good protection against wet and cold. The undercoat is soft, furry and close. The outer coat is flat, harsh, strong and shaggy. It is free from woolliness and curl. A slight wave is permissible. The cost naturally parts to either side, but must never be induced artificially. Coat length and density provides protection and enhances the shape of the dog.

The bridge of the nose is sparsely covered with hair. The hair is slightly longer on the sides, covering the upper lips. Coat length increases on the lower lips, the cheek and under the chin; lengthening toward the chest, forming the characteristic beard.

Severe Faults: Excessively long, silky coat. Trimmed or sculptured coat. Curly hair. Lack of sufficient undercoat to form a double coat.


Black, brown, fawn and blue, with or without white markings in the Irish Pattern. Tan trim may occur on all colors.


Pigmentation color (eye rims, nose, lips) follows coat color. In a born black, pigmentation is black. In a born blue, the pigmentation is blue-gray. In a born brown, the pigmentation is brown. In a born fawn, the pigmentation is a lighter brown.

All pigmentation is completely filled in and shows no signs of spots.

Size & Weight

Ideal height for adult males is 21 to 22 inches; ideal height for adult females is 20 to 21 inches. The height criteria are to be adhered to for the express purpose of maintaining the medium size of the breed.

Severe Fault: Height over or under the standard.


Movement is free, supple, powerful and ground covering. Balanced movement is achieved with good reach in the forequarters accompanied by strong drive from the rear, during which the back remains firm and level. The feet are lifted only enough to clear the ground, giving the impression that the dog is gilding, making minimum ground contact. Lithe and flexible movement enables the dog to make the stops and sharp turns necessary during herding work. As speed increases, the dogs single track.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Tail carried up over the back.

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