Unofficial description of the Bearded Collie or Beardie by a Beardie owner.
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Bearded Collie Description
Comparison of American and UK Bearded Collie Standard

The American Standard is presented basically as it appears in the AKC standard, whereas the UK (United Kingdom) Standard has been organized so that it may be used for comparison.  We thought it would be interesting to make this comparison as the Bearded Collie originated in the UK (Scotland).  The descriptions are also informative when considering a Bearded Collie.

The information here is not to be considered the official representation.  It has been presented only for comparison.  Use of this information is at the sole risk and discretion of the reader.  We urge you to look at the official standards on their respective web site (AKC) or the United Kingdom Kennel Club (UK)  Also, please look at our Beardie Links area in the More Information area for other links to standards.  And, of course - check out the BCCA web page

AKC Bearded Collie Herding Group Breed Standard   UK Bearded Collie Standard (not in original format)

The Bearded Collie is hardy and active, with an aura of strength and agility characteristic of a real working dog. Bred for centuries as a companion and servant of man, the Bearded Collie is a devoted and intelligent member of the family. He is stable and self-confident, showing no signs of shyness or aggression. This is a natural and unspoiled breed. 

Characteristics: Alert, lively, self-confident and active.

Temperament: Steady, intelligent working dog, with no signs of nervousness or aggression.

General Appearance 

The Bearded Collie is a medium sized dog with a medium length coat that follows the natural lines of the body and allows plenty of daylight under the body. The body is long and lean, and, though strongly made, does not appear heavy. A bright  inquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed. The Bearded Collie should be shown in a natural stance. 

General Appearance: Lean active dog, longer than it is high in an approximate proportion of 5 to 4, measured from point of chest to point of buttock. Bitches may be slightly longer. though strongly made, should show plenty of daylight under body and should not look too heavy. Bright, enquiring expression is a distinctive feature.

The head is in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is broad and flat; the stop  is moderate; the cheeks are well filled beneath the eyes; the muzzle is strong and full; the foreface is equal in length to the distance between the stop and occiput. The nose is large and squarish. A snipy muzzle is to be penalized. (See Color section for pigmentation.)
Eyes: The eyes are large, expressive, soft and affectionate, but not round nor
protruding, and are set widely apart. The eyebrows are arched to the sides to frame the eyes and are long enough to blend smoothly into the coat on the sides of the head. (See Color section for eye color.)
Ears: The ears are medium sized, hanging and covered with long hair. They are set level with the eyes. When the dog is alert, the ears have a slight lift at the base.
Teeth: The teeth are strong and white, meeting in a scissors bite. Full dentition is desirable. 

Head & Skull: Head in proportion to size. Skull broad, flat and square, distance between stop and occiput being equal to width between orifices of ears. Muzzle strong and equal in length to distance between stop and occiput. Whole effect being that of a dog with strength of muzzle and plenty of brain room. Moderate stop. Nose large and square, generally black but normally following coat colouor in blues and browns. Nose and lips of solid colour without spots or patches. Pigmentation of lips and eye rims follows nose colour.

Eyes: Toning with coat colour, set widely apart and large, soft and affectionate, not protruding. Eyebrows arched up and forward but not so long as to obscure eyes.

Ears: Of medium size and drooping. When alert, ears lift at base, level with, but not above top of skull, increasing apparent breadth of skull.

Mouth: Teeth large and white. Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite preferred, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Level bite tolerated but undesirable.


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

Neck: Moderate length, muscular and slightly arched.

The shoulders are well laid back at an angle of approximately 45°; a line drawn from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the forward point of articulation approximates a right angle with a line from the forward point of articulation to the point of the elbow. The tops of the shoulder blades lie in against the withers, but they slope outwards from there sufficiently to accommodate the desired spring of ribs. The legs are straight and vertical, with substantial, but not heavy, bone and are covered with shaggy hair all around. The pasterns are flexible without weakness. 

Forequarters: Shoulders sloping well back, legs straight and vertical with good bone, covered with shaggy hair all round. Pasterns flexible without weakness.

The body is longer than it is high in an approximate ratio of five to four, length measured from point of chest to point of buttocks, height measured at the highest point of the withers. The length of the back comes from the length of the ribcage and not that of the loin. The back is level. The ribs are well sprung from the spine but are flat at the sides. The chest is deep, reaching at least to the elbows. The loins are strong. The level back line blends smoothly into the curve of the rump. A flat croup or a steep croup is to be severely penalized. 

Body: Length of back comes from length of ribcage and not that of loin. Back level and ribs well sprung but not barrelled. Loin strong and chest deep, giving plenty of heart and lung room.

The hind legs are powerful and muscular at the thighs with well bent stifles. The hocks are low. In normal stance, the bones below the hocks are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear; the hind feet fall just behind a perpendicular line from the point of buttocks when viewed from the side. The legs are covered with shaggy hair all around. 
Tail: The tail is set low and is long enough for the end of the bone to reach at least the point of the hocks. It is normally carried low with an upward swirl at the tip while the dog is standing. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail may be raised but is never carried beyond a vertical line. The tail is covered with abundant hair. 

Hindquarters: Well muscled with good second thighs, well bent stifles and low hocks. Lower leg falls at right angle to ground and, in normal stance, is just behind a line vetically below point of buttocks.

Tail: Set low, without kink or twist, and long enough for end of bone to reach at least point of hock. Carried low with an upward swirl at tip whilst standing or walking, may be extended at speed. Never carried over back. Covered with abundant hair.


The feet are oval in shape with the soles well padded. The toes are arched and close together, and well covered with hair including between the pads. 

Feet: Oval in shape with soles well padded. Toes arched and close together, well coveered with hair, including between pads.

The coat is double with the undercoat soft, furry and close. The outercoat is flat,  harsh, strong and shaggy, free from wooliness and curl, although a slight wave is permissible. The coat falls naturally to either side but must never be artificially parted. The length and density of the hair are sufficient to provide a protective coat and to enhance the shape of the dog, but not so profuse as to obscure the natural lines of the body. The dog should be shown as naturally as is consistent with good
grooming but the coat must not be trimmed in any way. On the head, the bridge of the nose is sparsely covered with hair which is slightly longer on the sides to cover the lips. From the cheeks, the lower lips and under the chin, the coat increases in
length towards the chest, forming the typical beard. An excessively long, silky coat or one which has been trimmed in any way must be severely penalized. 

Coat: Double with soft, furry and close undercoat. Outercoat flat, harsh, strong and shaggy, free from wooliness and curl, though slight wave permissible. Length and density of hair sufficient to provide a protective coat and to enhance shape of dog, but not enough to obscure natural lines of body. Coat must not be trimmed in any way. Bridge of nose sparsely covered with hair slightly longer on side just to cover lips. From cheeks, lower lips and under chin, coat increases in length towards chest, forming typical beard.

Coat: All Bearded Collies are born either black, blue, brown or fawn, with or without white markings. With maturity, the coat color may lighten, so that a born black may become any shade of gray from black to slate to silver, a born brown from chocolate to sandy. Blues and fawns also show shades from dark to light. Where white occurs, it only appears on the foreface as a blaze, on the skull, on the tip of the tail,on the chest, legs and feet and around the neck. The white hair does not grow on the body behind the shoulder nor on the face to surround the eyes. Tan markings occasionally appear and are acceptable on the eyebrows, inside the ears, on thecheeks, under the root of the tail, and on the legs where the white joins the main color.

Pigmentation: Pigmentation on the Bearded Collie follows coat color. In a born black, the eye rims, nose and lips are black, whereas in the born blue, the pigmentation is a blue-gray color. A born brown dog has brown pigmentation and born fawns a correspondingly lighter brown. The pigmentation is completely filled in and shows no sign of spots.

Eyes: Eye color will generally tone with the coat color. In a born blue or fawn, the distinctively lighter eyes are correct and must not be penalized. 

Colour: Slate grey, reddish fawn, black, blue, all shades of grey, brown and sandy with or without white markings. When white occurs it appears on foreface, as a blaze on skull, on tip of tail, on chest, legs and feet and, if round the collar, roots of white hair should not extend behind shoulder. White should not appear above hocks on outside of hind legs. Slight tan markings are acceptable on eyebrows, inside ears, on cheeks, under root of tail and on legs where white joins main colour.

The ideal height at the withers is 21-22 inches for adult dogs and 20-21 inches for adult bitches. Height over and under the ideal is to be severely penalized. The express objective of this criterion is to insure that the Bearded Collie remains a
medium sized dog. 

Size: Ideal height: Dogs 53-56cms. (21-22ins.); Bitches 51-53cms. (20-21ins.). Overall quality and proportions should be considered before size but excessive variations from the ideal height should be discouraged.

Movement is free, supple and powerful. Balance combines good reach in forequarters with strong drive in hindquarters. The back remains firm and level. The feet are lifted only enough to clear the ground, giving the impression that the dog glides along making minimum contact. Movement is lithe and flexible to enable the dog to make the sharp turns and sudden stops required of the sheepdog. When viewed from the front and rear, the front and rear legs travel in the same plane from the shoulder and hip joint to pads at all speeds. Legs remain straight, but feet move inward as speed increases until the edges of the feet converge on a center line at a fast trot. 

Gait/Movement: Supple, smooth and long reaching, covering ground with minimum of effort.
Serious faults:
--snipy muzzle
--flat croup or steep croup
--excessively long, silky coat
--trimmed or sculptured coat
--height over or under the ideal 
Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

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