Australian Kelpie

Type: Herding Dog

Height: 17 - 20 inches.

Weight: 25 - 45 lbs.

Life Span: 10 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 4 - 7 puppies.

Country of Origin: Australia

Activity: Very High

Watch-dog: High. This breed is constantly on the go.

Guard-dog: High. Their instinct to guard property is outstanding.


Description: The Australian Kelpie is extremely agile and light footed, capable of a lightening start and a dead stop. They are an outstanding shepherd dog with strong natural herding and guarding instincts. A loyal companion with an inexhaustible supply of energy, Australian Kelpies are devoted to their duties. They will work and work even in extreme discomfort. They are rarely affectionate, but friendly and devoted to their masters. They are intense in the field and mild mannered in the home, although they prefer being in the field. Australian Kelpies are considered the best performing medium-sized sheepdog which has made them a favorite among sheep farmers worldwide. The Australian Kelpie has a compacted body that shows their striated musculature and well developed limbs. Despite their small size Kelpies are without limitations and are capable of working cattle, goats, poultry and reindeer. They are a versatile breed that just wants to get the job done. The Australian Kelpie has natural prick ears and comes in colors of black, chestnut, red, tan, dark chestnut and bluish-grey. They can be a combination of these colors as well. The Australian Kelpie is the most popular sheepdog breed in Australia to this day.

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Other Names: Kelpie, Bard

Colors: Black, black and chestnut, red, red and chestnut, tan, dark chestnut or bluish-gray.

Coat: A close outer coat and short, dense undercoat.

Temperament: Australian Kelpies are keen, responsive, and trainable. They are highly energetic and highly intelligent as well. Rarely affectionate to people, they tend to be a one-person dog. They can be devoted to their owners, however, and are intense in the work field. Australian Kelpies can make a clear distinction between work and rest, being mild and calm at home and extremely outgoing in the field. Independent thinkers, the Australian Kelpie should not be kept to the confines of an apartment. Being so willful and hard working even during discomfort, the Kelpie tends to have the appearance of taking great pride in their work.

With Children: Yes, if raised with them.

With Pets: Yes, they get along well with other dogs, and may even herd other pets.

Care and Training: The Australian Kelpie needs minimal grooming. Brush their short coat or massage them with a towel. Bathe only when necessary. Daily exercise is essential as the Australian Kelpie is a working breed and needs to have a job to do. Freedom to run in an open space would be enjoyable for this breed. Puppies are calm, obedient and learn well. This breed is very trainable, and highly intelligent.

Learning Rate: Very High. Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Exercise, a job or activity to do, and positive training.

Living Environment: Not suited for city living or a slow-paced environment, they need plenty of room and activity to keep them busy. An apartment is no place for a Kelpie. The best owner for this breed would be an active owner with a chance to participate in some kind of activity, living in a rural environment. They can be adaptable to certain places. 

Health Issues: Genetic bone disorder, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), and hip dysplasia.

History: Developed in Australia, Australian Kelpies are descended from the Collie and some believe, the Dingo. They were the result of a cross between a Collie from the north of England and a black and tan female from New South Wales, Australia. The breed's development is from English North Country Collies of the Rutherford Strain. They were officially recognized as a breed in the 1870s. In Scottish folklore a "kelpie" is a good water spirit in the form of a horse. The writer Robert Louis Stevenson refers to the water kelpie in his famous story "Kidnapped". The Australian Kelpie has become the most popular herding dog in Australia, and has taken great admiration from several other countries for their workability as well. A Kelpie is said to be the equivalent of two men on horseback. There is a story of an Aussie Kelp who competed in an 1898 dog trial in Sydney. It is said that the dog completed the full course in the first round, and was, for the first time ever, given 100 points - which is the maximum amount! This lucky Kelpie was to compete the next day to win the title again, but got struck by a car that night and suffered a broken leg. But, due to the Kelpie's tireless working tendencies, the next day he competed with permission from the judges and completed the course in full in 6 minutes and 12 seconds. His leg had not even been set yet. The dog was awarded another 100 points for the course that day, and to this day his legend lives on.

Class: Herding

Registries: ANKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC