The beardie is a medium-sized dog with a long, lean, strongly made body, which gives the impression of both strength and agility. Its gait is supple and powerful, with good reach and drive. The ability to make sharp turns, quick starts and sudden stops is essential in a sheep-herding breed, and the beardie must be able to keep this activity up for a long period of time under all conditions. Its coat is double with a soft, furry undercoat. The outer coat is flat, harsh and fairly straight; it is sufficient to protect the dog but not so much as to obscure the dog’s lines. The beardie’s expression is bright and inquiring.
The boisterous beardie is lively and playful, full of enthusiasm and energy. It is smart and obedient, but it is an independent thinker with a clownish sense of humor. It likes children, but it may be too rambunctious for small children and may try to herd them when playing.
The bearded collie probably originated from the central European Magyar komondor or lowland Polish sheepdog. In fact, records show that in 1514 two lowland Polish sheepdogs were brought to Scotland by Polish traders. Although dogs strongly resembling bearded collies are depicted in art dating from the 18th century, hard evidence of the breed cannot be found until the early-19th century, when the first breed description was published. These dogs were tireless herders of sheep and drovers of cattle over rough terrain in the cold Scottish mists. Long popular as a herding dog in Scotland, after the Victorian era the breed also gained favor as a show dog. Two strains, the border strain, which was brown and white with a slightly wavy coat, and the Highland strain, which had a gray and white coat, have since been interbred and merged into one breed. After World War I, the “beardie” was once again bred solely for work. Their value as stock dogs made it difficult for outsiders to acquire one from their shepherd owners. Eventually, however, a few breeders interested in showing beardies were able to bring some dogs to England and then to America. The AKC recognized the breed in 1977. It has since become a prominent show dog and continues as a capable herder, although it is more popular as a competitor in herding trials than as an actual working dog.