Intelligent, quick to learn and extremely hardy, the Australian kelpie is a herding dog that will keep going all day and then some. These traits are fabulous for active owners with time on their hands but a potential nightmare for those who work away from home. Kelpies need constant exercise and stimulation but reward owners with loyalty, companionship and outstanding performance in canine competition.
Which breed group is the Australian kelpie in?
Breed group: none – not recognised by the Kennel Club
Australian kelpie breed history
In the 19th century, collies were imported to Australia for the purpose of herding livestock. These dogs were later crossed other breeds. The distinctive ears of the kelpie suggest that those breeds may have included dingos. The resulting canines have proved to be extremely hardy and to boast the necessary stamina to work non-stop. The breed was named kelpie after a dog owned by a gentleman called Jack Gleeson. Kelpies now fulfil a variety of roles both in their native Australia and elsewhere but the breed is not yet recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK.
Australian kelpie breed characteristics
Athletic, agile and robust, the Kelpie is built to cover huge distances and to cope with harsh environments. Notable for their keen and alert expressions, these dogs boast many of the characteristics of the collies from which they are descended. They have moderately long necks, strong forelegs, powerful hind legs, muscular shoulders and straight backs. Their feet are rounded and feature deep, tight pads together with well-arched toes. Tails are carried low when the dogs are resting but are raised when the dogs are alert. Short, straight and relatively harsh, the kelpie’s coat is the perfect defence against the weather. Hair on the back of the thighs and around the neck is a little longer and coats can be black, blue, red or tan.
Intelligent dogs, Australian kelpies are quick to learn and love to keep active. They tend to excel at agility tests and are obedient They build amazing bonds with people but can be wary of strangers and they often possess an independent streak.
- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Height: up to 51cm
- Weight: up to 20kg
- Short, harsh coats
- Powerful and agile
- Can be independent
- Excel in canine competitions
- Long lifespans
- Shed moderately
- Can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues with Australian kelpie
Kelpies are sturdy dogs which tend to enjoy long lifespans. However, they are prone to the following conditions:
- Hip dysplasia - dogs should be hip scored
- Collie eye anomaly (CEA/CH) - dogs should be eye tested
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - dogs should be eye tested
- Cerebellar abiotrophy (CA ataxia)
- Luxating patella
What is the Australian kelpie bred for?
Bred to herd livestock on huge ranches and to thrive in challenging conditions, the kelpie was evolved to be hardy, athletic and loyal. These traits also lend themselves to canine sports and detection work. Kelpies remain popular with farmers and have proved to be excellent service dogs.
What sort of owners does the Australian kelpie suit?
Loyal dogs with even temperaments, kelpies have the potential to be amazing pets and are good with children. However, their intelligence and need for exercise means that owners must be in a position to devote a large amount of time to their best friend. Kelpies are best suited to active people who love to adventure in the great outdoors. These dogs must be kept busy and can become destructive when bored. They shed throughout the year but don’t need much grooming.
Kelpies can learn new tricks quickly, but those tricks may include bad habits if the dogs are not well-trained. For this reason, they are not great choices for first-time owners. ideal if you need a watchdog, not such a good idea if barking would be problematic, kelpies are most likely to thrive with experienced owners who live in the countryside.