The Australian Kelpie

Exercise Requirements  
Grooming Requirements  
Weight17-22 Kg (approx)
Life Span15 Years (approx)


The general appearance shall be that of a lithe, active dog of great quality, showing hard muscular condition combined with great suppleness of limb and conveying the capability of untiring work. It must be free from any suggestion of weediness


Last century the Kelpie came into being because Australian sheepmen needed a special type of dog that could work sheep under variable and harsh conditions on the vast outback properties of Australia. The severe Australian climate and the harsh conditions of the country made it very hard for the various breeds of sheepdogs from Europe and the UK as they were too heavy coated. In the 1860s this wonderful breed came from two black and tan short coated prick eared Collies imported by a Mr. Elliott and a Mr. Allen.

From a litter born shortly after their arrival came several black and tans and one red pup. The red pup, in some ways, resembled the fox, which was believed to be in the background of the breeding of course this is not true and foxes and dogs cannot mate. From Victoria came a bitch, also from a Collie, called Kelpie (Gaelic word meaning water sprite). The Kelpie was mated to a dog from Elliott and Allen's pups and one pup from this litter resembled her mother so much she was also named Kelpie.

Kelpie (at 12 months of age) was entered in the first sheep dog trial in 1872 which was held at Forbes, NSW and she won this trial with ease. Her pups were in great demand and were at the time called Kelpie's pups, and so this is how the name Kelpie was evolved. This name has now gained the status of Australian Kelpie.

Among the descendants of these early dogs was the jet black dog who was named The Barb. Many black Kelpies were referred to as 'Barbs" and this term still persists today.

There are various recorded and unrecorded infusions of other breeds with some experts believing there have been crosses to the Dingo. However, this issue is fiercely debated by many breeders and historians.

The Australian Kelpie has been exported to the Netherlands, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK, USA, South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Germany from these humble beginnings. These dogs are being used to manage a variety of stock including reindeer, goats, cattle and, of course, sheep.

Kelpies in Sweden have gained police dog titles and pulled sleds and are trained for search and rescue work.

The Kelpie has excelled in the areas of Obedience, Agility and Tracking. They have participated in Pets As Therapy and in the past, have been fully trained Guide Dogs.


The Kelpie is extremely alert, eager and highly intelligent, with a mild, tractable disposition and an almost inexhaustible energy, with marked loyalty and devotion to duty. It has a natural instinct and aptitude in the working of sheep, both in open country and in the yard. Any defect of structure or temperament foreign to a working dog must be regarded as uncharacteristic.

Care / Grooming

The Kelpie coat is a double coat with a short dense undercoat. As with all dogs they need to be brushed and bathed regularly. Kelpies have two good coat drops each year - Summer and Winter. To groom your Kelpie regularly will keep their coat in top condition and will remove any dead hair. A good quality shampoo, with a flea rinse if required, will keep the coat healthy.

Worm your Kelpie every three months with a good quality worming product - it is always a good idea to discuss worming, heartworm and flea rinses with your own vet.

Feed your Kelpie a balanced diet of fresh meat, bones, chicken and a quality dry food and even try fresh fruit and vegetables in the blender. Also a dessert spoon of fresh yoghurt each day on their food is very good for them. If your dog cannot eat bones then try giving them a whole carrot or an apple to chew.


The Kelpie is generally a good sound dog.

The pure bred Kelpie genetic pool is becoming smaller so there are some genetically based problems are appearing in the breed.

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