The Australian Kelpie is an iconic Australian canine. They are renowned for their intelligence, energy, loyalty and love for working livestock, particularly cattle and sheep.
Many livestock owners see them as a fundamental part of running their flocks and herds, they are overachievers and are part of the workforce. Yet little facts are known about how the breed came into existence.
The Australian Kelpie is bred predominantly for their skill and working ability. They are a medium-sized dog with an athletic/ slim build. They feature a double coat of short hair and pointy ears. Colours include black, red, brown/ fawn, blue and cream.
These colours could be solid or a mix, commonly you will see a black and tan or red and tan combination. Life expectancy is approximately twelve to fifteen years.
The Australian Kelpie is the perfect example of a workaholic. With its athletic endurance and enthusiasm, it loves to work and herd stock and will work until it drops.
They have the ability to handle the harsh weather conditions of rural Australia. Kelpies are usually intelligent, loyal and eager to please, making them obedient and easy to train.
A mix of Scottish sheep dog breeds (Collies) was crossbred, arguably with a dash of dingo to form what is known today as the Australian Kelpie.
How did the breed come to be? This is something that is heavily debated still to this day. Bill Robertson, author of Origins of the Australian Kelpie stated that there are 26 versions that he knows of regarding the Kelpies origin.
In the 1800’s, as Australia’s sheep herds rapidly increased, the need for canine assistance increased.
Particularly in the harsh and rough terrain of rural Australia. Working dogs were imported, particularly various Scottish sheep dog breeds (Collies).
A mix of these sheep dogs was bred, arguably with a dash of dingo to form what is known today as the Australian Kelpie. The success and popularity of the working dog found it being declared an official breed in early 1900 by the Australian government.
Developed in Australia specifically to herd sheep, is now a working dog that has been exported to the world where they are working and herding a wide variety of livestock.
Other famous working dog breeds
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Red Heeler or Blue Heeler, was originally developed in Australia to drove cattle over long distances. Its origin dates back to 1840. It is an energetic and intelligent breed, featuring an independent streak. They form a strong bond with their ‘master’ and can be known to be protective of them or their possessions.
The Border Collie was originally developed on the border of England and Scotland, they were developed for their intelligence and obedience in working and herds of livestock. They are highly energetic and playful. Used throughout Australia as working dogs, they can also be found in households as a companion animal.
The Australian Sheppard, despite its name, was developed in the United States and only became popular in Australia after WWII. They are athletic, obedient, easy to train. Renowned for their versatility and often make successful service dogs, such as search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, guide dogs.
Looking at adopting a Kelpie?
If you are thinking of getting a kelpie for a pet, ensure that you can provide the active lifestyle that the breed needs. It is not uncommon for a working kelpie to run up to 60km a day.
They may become destructive if they do not receive the exercise and stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.