Australian Kelpie

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Is the Australian Kelpie right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Kelpie; Barb

The basics:
As the name suggests, the sheep-herding Australian Kelpie was developed in Australia from working collies. Like its ancestors, this breed's intelligence, toughness, and enthusiasm for work has made it a favorite in Australia and New Zealand. Some Kelpies even work as seeing-dog dogs. Over time, two separate registries developed in Australia for this dog, the Working Kelpie Council for the working dogs, and the Australian National Kennel Council, for the show dogs. Know what you want before you get the dog. The two types are no longer supposed to be interbred.

This is not a breed to pose on a cushion to watch TV. Kelpies can get bored and even hyperactive if they don't have enough to do. They can be a great choice for the active owner who has a worthwhile job for them, likes jogging or biking with an athletic dog, or thrives on the competitve show circuit. But the energetic Kelpie could be a nightmare for the couch potato.

The Kelpie isn't yet fully recognized by the AKC but it was added to the Foundation Stock Service in 2014, a significant step forward.

Appearance / health:
Kelpies are slender, light dogs with strong muscles. The skull is slightly rounded. The muzzle tapers toward the nose and is in proportion to the skull. In working Kelpies, the ears are usually pricked though some may have floppy ears. The tails are either bushy or smooth. Working Kelpies are known more for their working ability than appearance. Show Kelpies are usually heavier and shorter.

Kelpies are average shedders. Bathing is done only when necessary. Brushing is done occasionally.

They need a lot of exercise. A long walk or a daily jog is necessary to keep them busy and healthy.

Australian Kelpies suffer from few health issues. A condition called hip dysplasia may occur, which is a result of badly formed hips and can result in lameness. Eye problems may occur in some Kelpies.

Behavior / temperament:
Kelpies are naturally protective of their families and some can go to any extent to protect their loved ones. They are alert to their owner's call. The herding instinct may be strong in several Kelpies as they herd other dogs and pets. They have a tendency to bite. Kelpies make good watchdogs owing to their excellent vision.

Training typically includes obedience training and socialization with other pets and dogs. They are extremely intelligent and fast learners. Working Kelpies can be trained to do various functions in the farm.

They can be quite noisy, especially when there are strangers or animals such as cats around.


confident dog, hardy breed, great wth people, good temperament, herding, ranch dog, intense work


dominant dog, small backyard, sedentary lifestyle, high prey drive, suburban settings, intensity


herding instinct, Firm Hand, Working Kelpie Council, Kelpie herding cows, gum nutshonky nuts

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