Australian Kelpie

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
black, black & tan, red, red & tan, fawn, chocolate and smoke blue
Hair length:
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • buoyant and outgoing

  • friendly with other pets, canine and non-canine

  • efficient guardian and watcher

  • needs very basic care

  • responds well to training

  • somewhat headstrong and independent

  • heavy seasonal shedder

  • needs very intensive daily exercise


The Australian Kelpie is an industrious and sturdy medium-sized herding dog, which was created in Australia in the latter part of the XIX century. Its supreme intelligence, independent character and loyal nature make it a popular assistant of both Australian and American farmers. There is also a show variety of the breed, which can be frequently seen in the show ring.


In the late XIX century sheep farming was becoming a profitable enterprise in Australia and graziers required hardy dogs that could not only manage and drive disobedient sheep but also withstand the challenging Australian climate and immense territories. In order to develop such a dog the local breeders used imported Collies and some indigenous canines.

It’s commonly thought that the three pairs of working Collies brought to Australia from America played a major role in the invention of the Australian Kelpie. In 1860 Jack Gleeson acquired the first black and tan puppy from a litter on Warrock Station belonged to George Robertson. This female pup was granted with the nickname Kelpie in honour of magical character of Celtic folklore. It contributed greatly into the establishment of a new breed, which presently carries the name of its progenitress.

There is also a suggestion that the Australian Kelpie descended from the Dingo. This theory still has some supporters because it highly resembles this wild dog in looks. At that time packs of Dingos often raided on grazing sheep so people weren’t allowed to keep them as pets. That’s why it’s considered that the owners had to register their illegal companions as Kelpies and cross them with the true Kelpies.

Today the population of the Australian Kelpie is divided into two groups: the working Kelpie and the show Kelpie. Working specimens of this breed are widely used to muster and drive various livestock without any permanent control. If necessary this agile and clever dog is even able to travel from one side of the herd to the other by jumping at the backs of the sheep. A show Kelpie is usually more compact and somewhat stockier than its herding fellow. The dog is commonly put in this category because of its proper conformation although it thrives both in dog’s shows and agility competitions.

The first Australian Kelpie was imported to North America about a century ago (in XX) and soon adjusted to the different environment and livestock. The breed has yet deserved very moderate recognition as a family pet and it’s generally used as a dependable and universal driver and herder around the world. It has recognition of the United Kennel Club (UKC).


The Australian Kelpie is a robust, zealous and extremely high-spirited dog with strong work ethics. In fact boredom can become a serious issue if you don’t plan to supply your Kelpie with a daily task. This means that it won’t make a good pet for a city dweller. This dog has tendency to choose only one person for the role of a master but it always remains staunch to all family members. It is usually tender and courteous with those children with whom it has been raised together since a young age.

The specimen of the Australian Kelpie treats unfamiliar people with certain distrust and suspiciousness. Nonetheless it demonstrates aggression only if someone or something threatens its favourite people or territory. This dog can be turned into an excellent watcher as well as a reliable guardian. Being an inborn herder, it usually tries to “herd” kids, runners, bikers and other animals by nipping at their heels. Be mindful that this type of behaviour can’t be fully eliminated with obedience training.

The Australian Kelpie has gregarious instinct and loves socialising with other canines. With its independent and dominative nature some Kelpies may be rather hostile towards the dog of the same sex. Of course the dog must be timely socialised to be polite with both familiar and unfamiliar canines. It gets along with a domestic cats and other creatures although it’s keen on chasing them around the house in herding attempts.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· eye problems;

· cerebellar abiotrophy.


The maintenance of the Australian Kelpie is an easy task. Its coat will look neat and healthy only with weekly brushing. Nonetheless this dog is a very intense shedder, which will lose its hair in bunches during springs and falls. Plan to brush your pet more frequently during shedding times in order to speed up the process.

Other than that the dog’s nails need regular trimming as well as its ears should be inspected and cleaned (if needed, of course). Weekly dental hygiene is the only way to ensure a good overall health in this area for long years.


The Australian Kelpie is a highly sophisticated dog so it can be trained with rather trivial amount of efforts. This dog competes with incredible success in obedience and agility trials and can be taught virtually any tricks and commands.

Keep in mind though that one of the prominent trait of the Kelpie is its ability to independent work so it will never oblige your orders blindly. This also implies that its trainer should stand out for dominative and confident personality. This dog responds well exclusively to reward-based methods of motivation and reacts to rough-housing with defiant behaviour.


The Australian Kelpie is filled to the brim with boiling energy, which should be channelled in a proper way. A long and brisk walk won’t be nearly enough to make this dog happy and calm indoors. The preferable living condition for the Kelpie is vast pastures of its homeland but it will be also quite content to have a spacious and securely fenced yard at its constant disposal.

This is the reason why this breed won’t become a decent pet for a citizen. Despite its compact size it can be highly destructive and disobedient if it doesn’t have a daily opportunity to vent its excessive vigour constructively.