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Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpie

This working dog is extremely hardy and can perform a range of tasks well. It excess when put to work on a farm. The breed tends to be favourite for its working capabilities rather than its appearance.


This breed was established in 1870 and although many people believe that it is a Border Collie crossed with a Dingo, it was actually developed from the Rutherford strain of English North Country Collie. The name Kelpie comes from the water kelpie that was mentioned in the novel Kidnapped by Robert Louise Stevenson. This breed was imported to Australia to serve as a sheep herder and today there are around 100,000 working Australian Kelpies. Because of their relatively small size, Australian Kelpies are capable of working goats, poultry and reindeer as well as sheep and cattle.

Body Type

The Australian Kelpie features a compact body with well-developed limbs. The breeder is slightly longer than tall with firm hindquarters and a broad chest that give it a flexible and energized appearance. The head is narrow and long, while the tail is medium length. There are well arched toes on the short and compact feet, while the double coat features a dense and short undercoat topped by a hard and straight coat that is weather repellent. The coat can come in various colours including red and black with markings that include blue, chocolate and tan.


This breed is robust, tireless and extremely enthusiastic, while it is also excellent at herding. Although the Australian Kelpie is devoted to its owner, it is more focused on work than socialising and has trouble resting. The breed is very easy to train, especially when training is done at an early age. However, the training process must be completed firmly and with confidence, otherwise the breed will try to assert itself and can be difficult to control. One of the main challenges with this breed is that it suffers from boredom if left without a task and will display behavioural problems and possibly aggression. The Australian Kelpie needs leadership and their owner must be firm and assertive at all times in order to keep control. The breed often nips cattle in order to herd it and keep it under control and is likely to attack household pets and even other dogs if not controlled firmly.

Associated Health Problems

This breed has the potential to develop a type of retinal degeneration diseases known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which can cause either partial or complete blindness.

Living Conditions

Because the Australian Kelpie is primarily a working dog, it needs a lot of space to run around in and is not recommended for living in an apartment. Their thick, all weather coat means they can live outside easily if adequate shelter is provided and perform tasks even in cold weather.

Exercise and Care

The Australian Kelpie requires a large amount of exercise and thrives when it has work to do. The breed is highly energetic and prefers to be active, as it can become bored and depressed when it is unchallenged. The breed should be taken on long walks and runs each day and care should be taken so that it does not walk ahead and try to establish alpha status. Grooming and bathing should be kept to a minimum to avoid removing the natural oils from the coat, which will cause its dry to dry out.

Breed Stats

Height: 43-51cms
Weight: 11-20kg
Life expectancy: 10-14 years
Litter Size: 4-7 puppies
Group: Herding