Acquired: Other (stray, given dog by friend etc.)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
Posted November 5, 2014
Coming from an Australian farming background I've known quite a few farm dogs in my time, especially Kelpies. The Kelpie we own now is a tri-coloured beauty of a bitch named Ruby.
My first point on Kelpies is their intelligence. Kelpies are very smart dogs, and easy to underestimate. In my experience I've never really stopped being amazed at the apparent insight Kelpies gain into their owners and the intuition they display around them.
Here's a story to illustrate. One fine afternoon I was out working on building a new shed with my dad, when out of nowhere a storm blew up. We were outside, suddenly being assaulted with rain and had all of our tools and a bunch of water-sensitive material lying around so we had to hurry to get everything under cover. We were running back and forth, taking things to some nearby shade when Ruby jumped in to help us. With no instruction whatsoever, she started carrying things she could fit in her mouth to cover. We couldn't believe our eyes and she only stopped to look at us when we were staring at her in shock at the clever helpfulness she was displaying! This intelligence is remarkable, and under training these dogs can accomplish some truly amazing and complicated tasks. A similar comparison would be the Border Collie, however Kelpies have a far calmer constitution than Collies and and way less needy.
That being said, Kelpies do have a desire to be loved, and will seek attention from their owners, and they do need regular exercise and wide open spaces. Like a lot of farm dogs, I would not keep a Kelpie in a city unless you have a lot of time to exercise it, and places for it to run free. Farm dogs have a habit of going nuts when cooped up for too long.
Kelpies are natural herders too, which can be a disadvantage if you have animals that you don't want herded, or the Kelpie's herding instinct hasn't been properly trained. For example, if you keep chickens in your yard, you can be sure a Kelpie would run at them, and herd them up if it doesn't start nipping them instinctively. This is not to say Kelpies are vicious, or would attack children if provoked. They are not and possess quite a stable constitution in my experience. Yet the instinct is there and owners must be aware of it!
Overall, I love Kelpies. A great dog to play with and train up if you have the time and energy to keep them occupied!