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J. Russell Greig authored an article in January 1913 for the Collie Folio. It was entitled "The Bearded Collie." The
article has been retyped below:
'A big rough "tousy" looking type with a coat not unlike a
doormat, the texture of the hair hard and fibry and the ears hanging
close to the head.'
Such is the description of the Scottish Bearded Collie given by
the author of Dogs of Scotland.
It is a description in which one can find little amiss, for a
'tyke' — in the general acceptance of the term — he
He has none of the polish and noblesse of his English cousin,
the Bobtail, but there is a rough rugged grandeur about him, which
is wholly in keeping with his natural surroundings —
his native hills.
His being essentially a worker, however, does not
preclude his boasting an ancient lineage, but to trace his origin is
no mean task.
Had the 'Beardie', like the Bloodhound and Greyhound, been owned
in olden times by the noblemen and gentlemen of the country, records
of his ancestry and history would have been more numerous but his
deeds have not been emblazoned in the records of the trail and the
chase. He is, and has always been, a hill herd's dog
— a humble worker.
Few dogs, except those used for hunting, were thought worthy of
notice in days gone by, and the dog's origin, as a consequence, is 'wrapt
in the dim obscurity of buried centuries'.
Our knowledge of the history of the British Sheepdog is, as has
been indicated, extremely meagre, but is nevertheless interesting,
and carries us back to earliest times.
The great biologist Buffon held that the Sheepdog was the source
of all our other breeds. How far this is true is an open question.
The fact that sheep raising is one of the oldest occupations
would seem to lend support to such a contention, for it would not be
long before the domesticated dog would be recognised as a valuable
assistant to the shepherd.
So far as our knowledge goes, it is to the Welsh King Howel Dda,
who reigned early in the tenth century, that we are indebted for the
first reference to the Sheepdog in Britain, for in a code of laws he
personally drew up, and in that part which refers to the worth of
the dogs, appears the following:
'18 Whosoever possessed a cur, though it be the King, its value
'19 A herd dog that goes before the herd in the morning and
follows them home at night is worth the best ox.'[Dalziel]
What the actual appearance of the ancient British Sheepdog was,
we have little idea. Appian's description of the dog used by the
ancient Caledonians is crude, and though it would appear to be some
sort of hunting terrier, no definite conclusion can be arrived at.
Dr. Johannes Caius, writing in the sixteenth century, minutely
describes the work of the Sheepdog, but unfortunately omits to give
any more than a very vague description of the dog itself. One has
frequently heard it supposed that the bearded Collie is of
comparatively recent origin, and indeed so great an authority as
Hugh Dalziel suggested that he was a cross between the Collie and
the Old English Sheepdog. Still there are many others who believed
the Bearded Collie to be one of the most ancient breeds in these
Islands, a contention which it is the author's purpose to forward.
There are two lines of evidence which support this claim
— one is furnished by the dog's natural history, the
other by his racial history.
Take them in turn. It is one of the most salient characteristics
of the dog that he breeds 'true to type'; no matter what crosses are
introduced; the typical 'Beardie' characters are predominant, and
are indelibly stamped upon the offspring. This is surely not what
one would expect in a recent, adventitiously manufactured breed
— the result of a first cross; —
and one would instance it as a proof of his antiquity and
concentration of strain.
As has been stated above, the Bobtail is by some regarded as a
possible progenitor of the 'Beardie'.
One is firmly convinced, however, that the relationship which
exists between the two breeds could be better likened to that of
cousins — i.e. they are both descendants from a
The likeness between the two breeds is remarkable, but it is
still more remarkable when one compares the working English Sheepdog
and the 'Beardie', for we must remember that the former has been
much improved since the formation of the Old English Sheepdog Club.
The author has in his possession a sketch made about twenty
years ago of Mr. Weager's Grizzle Bob and Dairy Maid
— Bobtails, which, although considered among the best
specimens of their time, bear a strong resemblance to the 'Beardie'
rather than to their successors on the show bench today.
The most noticeable difference between the two breeds is, of
course, the absence in the Bobtail of a caudal appendage. We know,
however, that this is not an infallible characteristic of the breed,
and that many a Sheepdog puppy acquires his 'bob' by means of the
Philip Reinagle's historic picture of "The Sheepdog', one of a
series of paintings, which was reproduced in the Sportsman's Cabinet
(1804) is of peculiar interest in this respect. Here we have a
presumably typical Old English Sheepdog with quite a respectable
tail, which, if shown to a Scottish shepherd today, would be
pronounced a Bearded Collie. further, in the text we are told that
'the breed is propagated and preserved with the greatest respect to
purity in the northern parts of the kingdom as well as in the
highlands of Scotland.'
Gordon James Phillips, of Glenlivet, in a letter which appeared
in the 'Live Stock Journal' for 15 November 1878, speaks of a strain
of the Bearded Collie with a tail which he describes as 'simply a
stump, generally from six to nine inches in length'. Whether this
was a true 'Beardie' indigenous to the district, or merely the
imported English bobtail, one is unable to learn.
When discussing the origin of the Collie, Dalziel remarked: 'I
think it is not improbable that the Scotch Collie may in part be
derived from the English form of Sheepdog and the Scotch Greyhound.'
But in consideration of the undoubted antiquity of the Bearded
Collie one is led to agree with Gray, and consider it just as
probable that the Scotch Collie may be derived in part from the
Scotch form of Sheepdog and the Scotch Greyhound.
When we come to consider the Continental breeds of Sheepdog we
are again struck by their resemblance to our Bobtail and Beardie.
The French Cien de Berger de la Brie, were it not for his
semi-prick ears, might pass for a litle brother of the Bearded
Collie, while the Owtchar, found along the banks of the Dneiper, is
his Russian prototype.
Indeed, so striking is the family resemblance in the Sheepdog,
that one is led to believe they have all a common stock and are
merely the branches of the same family tree.
Assuming this to be correct, it is possible that the British
Sheepdog was imported into this country at a very early date and may
possibly have a Gallic origin.
It is only within the last few days that the Bearded Collie Club
has been formed in Edinburgh, under the presidency of Mr. Jas. C.
At the present moment the breed is not recognised by the Kennel
Club, and it is hoped that one of the first actions of the new club
will be to appeal to the proper authorities to set this matter to
rights. The primary object of the club is to preserve the breed, and
it has many claims for support.
The dog has been the mainstay of many generations of
flockmasters, and having been exclusively bred for brains and
stamina, he has an intelligence and constitution equalled by few.
The club Standard is presently being compiled, and one shall not
venture to go into a minute description of his 'points', but it is
resolved to keep the dog as much as possible in the state in which
he exists throughout Scotland today, and at all costs let him remain
One might fittingly conclude this short article on the Bearded
Collie with the following quotation from Alfred Olliphant's [sic]
Should you, while wandering in the wild sheep land, happen
on moor or in market upon a very perfect gentle knight, clothed
in dark grey habit, splashed here and there with rays of moon;
free by right divine of the guild of gentlemen, strenuous as a
prince, lithe as a rowan, graceful as a girl, with high king
carriage, motions and manners of a fairy queen, should he have a
noble breadth of brow, an air of still strength born of right
confidence, all unassuming; last and most unfailing test of all,
should you look into two snowclad eyes, calm, wistful
inscrutable, their soft depths clothed on with eternal sadness
— yearning as is said, for the soul that is not
theirs — know then, that you look
upon one of the line of the most illustrious Sheepdogs of the