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Although many still believe the Kelpie is a Dingo crossed with the Border Collie, more accurate documentation reveals the breed's development from English North Country Collies of the Rutherford strain. These hardy British working herders, like many sheepdogs, were imported to Australia during the latter half of the 19th century. Today nearly 100,000 Kelpies are employed on that continent. Despite their relatively small size, Kelpies are without limitations, capable of working cattle, goats, poultry and reindeer. They will excel in competitive obedience. The name "Kelpie" comes from the water kelpie mentioned by Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish writer, in the novel Kidnapped. This breed has been known since 1870.


The Australian Kelpie has a compact body and well-developed limbs. Slightly longer than he is tall, the Kelpie has a broad chest and firm hind quarters that contribute to his flexible, energized appearance. The head is long and narrow. The medium length tail is low set. The short, compact feet have well arched toes. The double coat consists of a short and dense undercoat and a hard, straight and weather-repellent outer coat. Colour possibilities include black and red, each with or without tan; and fawn, chocolate and blue. The majority of Kelpie owners seem to be more interested in the breed's working ability then their appearance.


The Australian Kelpie is a compact, robust, enthusiastic, and tireless working dog who excels at herding. In Australia the Kelpie is a popular and successful working dog. Kelpies are devoted one-man dogs but are far too work-oriented and energetic for a couch dog or in-active existence. Their easy trainability and keenness on the job make them a fundamental component of the Australian work force. They are ready to respond immediately to any signal given by their master, even from a great distance.

They are good with children when they are raised with them from puppy hood and/or are properly socialized. Kelpies will try to herd other dogs, pets and animals whether they want to be herded or not. This workaholic will work until it drops. They are independent and work for themselves rather than for pleasing a handler. In their native country of Australia, Kelpies work all day even in intense heat, covering 1,000 to 4,000-plus acres. The breed uses "eye" similar to the Border Collies on the tractable stock, but utilizes its nipping ability to turn more stubborn cattle. Kelpies can muster thousands of sheep from pasture to pen to truck. When a flock of sheep is packed tightly together the Kelpie will look for the shortest way to the other side, which is usually in a straight line.

This very clever dog will jump on the back of the nearest sheep and run lightly across the flock to reach the other side. They make excellent watchdogs and can also be trained as seeing-eye dogs. The Australian Kelpie is not an aggressive dog, but he can be protective when needed, and will guard his family and their belongings when necessary, regardless of the risk to himself. With the deep intelligence in which this breed exhibits, comes a high dominance level. Meek owners will not do well with this breed. They need an owner who knows how to display calm but firm authority over the dog at all times. With the right type of owner and the proper amount of daily physical and mental exercise this breed can excel. Problems can and will arise with meek owners, and/or owners who do not provide the proper amount and type of exercise. This breed does best with a job to do. If you do not have time to extensively work with and exercise your dog, or do not fully understand the dogs natural instints and their need to have leadership, this is not the breed for you

Height, Weight

Height: 43-51 cm.
Weight: 11-20 kg.

Health Problems

Beware of Progressive Retinal Atrophy - retinal degeneration causing partial to total blindness.

Living Conditions

The Australian Kelpie is not suited to live in a small dwelling or flat. They are working dogs that need plenty of open space to run and will be happiest with a job to do. Their all-weather coat allows them to live where it is hot as well as where it is cold. They will be content to live outdoors with adequate shelter.


The Australian Kelpie is a working dog that demands a great deal of exercise, preferably with some kind of job to do. Their energy levels are extremely high and they will run until they drop. They need to be taken on long daily walks in open country side. The Australian Kelpie makes an excellent jogging companion. Do not allow this dog to walk ahead of you when he is on the lead. He must be made to walk to heal to re-enforce that his owner is the alpha pack leader.

Life Expectancy

Around 10-14 years

Litter Size
4-7 puppies


This breed is easy to groom. An occasional combing and brushing is all that it needs. Bathe only when necessary as it will remove the natural oils in the weather-resistant coat and dry out the skin. This breed has an average moult.


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