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Australian Kelpie

Independent and motivated worker

Australian Kelpie

Toni Grzunov - Last Updated on May 12th, 2021

All you need to know about the Australian Kelpie 

The first thing you need to know about the Australian Kelpie is that it absolutely loves to work. Yes, these pups were bred as working dogs, and they never let go of that part of their heritage. 

It doesn’t matter if it is catching a ball, running through an agility course, or herding sheep. Kelpies will absolutely adore any type of assignment you give them. They are energetic and affectionate and need tons of physical and mental stimulation.

If you are willing to provide them with that, you will get a loyal companion that will be a wonderful pet for an active family. They will love spending time with you, especially if you enjoy activities like hiking, flyball, and other similar sports.

These dogs are more popular in Australia, as their name implies. They were developed there and you won’t see them often in the United States. Still, who doesn’t want to feel special by owning a unique pet?

Also, there are several national breed clubs in the U.S., as well as Australian Kelpie rescue groups. All of them specialize in this breed, so you won’t have problems finding any info or help when dealing with your Kelpie.

So you think you have what it takes to keep up with one of these active pooches? We have you covered on all you need to know about the Australian Kelpie!

Fast Facts

Group - Working

Weight - 25-45 Pounds 

Height - 17-20 Inches 

Hair Length - Short

Shedding - Moderate

Lifespan - 10-14 Years

The Appearance of the Australian Kelpie

People might confuse the Australian Kelpie for a mixed breed at first. Their ears and tail resemble those of a German Shepherd, and their coat is similar to that of a Border Collie. However, once you take a closer look, you will see how unique this breed is.

Kelpies are medium-sized dogs that have strong, muscular bodies. They are sturdy and have a short double coat. The undercoat is dense, and the topcoat consists of thick, straight hair. 

With every movement of a Kelpie, you will notice how much energy it has. They are incredibly athletic, with an effortless gait that can cover some range. 

They have pricked ears sitting atop a rounded head with a medium-length muzzle. Their lips are clean, and they have large teeth. The eyes of a Kelpie have an oval shape and are dark in color. They have a determined, curious look to them, always ready for action and adventure.

These dogs are longer than they are tall. They have a muscular neck and back, and you can see the definition of the muscles all over the body. The chest of a Kelpie is deep, with a lean and tucked abdomen. All of the limbs are also muscular, allowing the dog to stand tall.

Generally, Kelpies manage to combine the cute look with their lovely face and pointy ears, with an athletic, muscular body. It is a beautiful combination that gives them a really unique look.

Now that you know what these active pups look like, we should introduce you to the world of their coat colors. We have you covered on all you need to know, so read on.

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What colors does an Australian Kelpie come in?

According to the breed standard, the allowed colors for an Australian Kelpie are:

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Red
  • Red and tan
  • Fawn
  • Chocolate
  • Smoke blue

Your dog should be in one of those colors if you plan to bring it to competitions and dog shows. Out of these, black and tan is the most common coat color, and combinations of some of these colors are possible.

Extremely rare, you might run into a Kelpie with a yellow coat! Because of this, some believed that this breed descended from the Australian Dingo. Clubs don’t accept this color, but that doesn’t make the yellow Kelpie any less cute.

All about the Australian Kelpie personality

Kelpies are constantly alert and always ready for action. Their intelligence is high, and they make wonderful companions. Spending time with them will always be fun and eventful. 

Australian Kelpies were bred as working dogs, meaning they are used to intensive labor and require direction. If you don’t know how to provide them with that, they will see themselves as your partner and not as your pet.

They can become rebellious and disobedient if this happens, so they require an experienced owner. You need to know what you’re doing when dealing with a Kelpie. These pups require a strict set of rules to follow. This will make them incredible companions.

If you don’t give them a job that will occupy them, Kelpies can become restless. You need to be ready to start working with your pet from an early age and train it accordingly. This is why previous experience with dogs is almost mandatory.

You can basically employ them to do anything, for gathering the post or even carrying some groceries. Kelpies will absolutely love having their paws full of various assignments!

Another important thing you should know about Kelpie’s personality is that they are extremely loyal. They will stick to you no matter what. Kelpies also make excellent watchdogs. They are yappy and alert to everything going on around them.

Australian Kelpies love being around children and other smaller animals. However, their herding instincts might awaken, and they can start nipping or biting at your child’s ankles if it doesn’t cooperate! This is why you should start early with the socialization process. That way, your pet Kelpie will grow up into a well-adjusted dog. 

If you like taking part in activities such as swimming, hiking, dock diving, or flyball, your Kelpie will love accompanying you during those.

Physical stimulation isn’t the only thing these pups require. You should also try to stimulate your Kelpie mentally with various games such as hide and seek, or puzzle toys. 

Wow, their personality sure seems like a doozy! These pups will keep you busy and definitely require strict training. But, how easy are they to train exactly?

Is an Australian Kelpie easy to train?

With their high intelligence, Australian Kelpies are some of the most trainable dogs around. As we already mentioned, make sure to take the role of the leader, and they will follow all of your commands without question.

Giving these pups working roles is always a great way to train them, as are various sports. It is not by accident that Kelpies are often employed as assistance or guide dogs for people with special needs.

Your Kelpie will easily master the basics of obedience training, but the real challenge will be to keep its interest for the remaining training sessions. You should try to keep them as varied as possible to give your Kelpie a challenge. They absolutely love that!

These dogs are eager to please, so you definitely won’t have any issues with training if you take the right approach. Positive reinforcement always works well. Just keep in mind that both physical and mental activities are required.

How much Grooming does an Australian Kelpie need?

Kelpies are a low-maintenance dog breed and won’t need much grooming at all. You will need to bathe them occasionally if they get really dirty or smelly. When it comes to brushing, it should be done once or twice a week at the most.

Brushing will remove any excess hair and will make your pet Kelpie look stunning. Although they have a short coat, Kelpies do shed regularly. This means that they are not a hypoallergenic breed. If you suffer from allergies, it’s best to avoid getting one as your pet.

These pups will often wear down their nails naturally. If that doesn’t happen, and you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, you should trim them.

Dental hygiene is also important. It is best if you get your dog used to brushing its teeth while it is still young. That way it will never become a problem, and doing it regularly can prevent some health issues.

The Living Environment of the Australian Kelpie

The original purpose of breeding Kelpies was to create dogs to herd sheep. Naturally, they would be doing this across large open spaces, and some of that heritage still remains in their genes.

These pups will definitely need a house with a large yard, and you shouldn’t get one if you live in an apartment. Having a yard will give them plenty of opportunities to be active, making life much easier for you.

Simply locking up your Kelpie in a small backyard won’t be enough and will make your dog unhappy. It will need lots of space and various activities. Kelpies require commitment, but once you provide them with that, they make amazing pets.

The Health and Nutrition of the Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpies are sturdy and active, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to certain health conditions.

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia can commonly occur. This painful skeletal condition causes the ball and socket of the joints not to develop properly. They start rubbing and grinding against each other instead of sliding. This makes the joints deteriorate, and they can lose their function.
  • Another common condition is the genetic disease called cerebellar abiotrophy, or CA. This disease affects the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain tasked with regulating movement. Dogs that suffer from this condition have problems with coordination and a wobble in their walk. This disease progresses with time, and older dogs might not survive it.

If you notice signs of any of these diseases, it is essential to contact your veterinarian immediately. They will run the necessary tests, and you will be able to reduce the risk.

When it comes to feeding, high-quality dog food will do the trick. Consult with your veterinarian on what is the best food for your pet and the correct amount you should feed it daily. It will depend on the age, size, and activity level of your dog.

Since Kelpies like to stay incredibly active, they will need more food than average.

Where does the Australian Kelpie come from?

The origins of the Australian Kelpie are tied to large land areas in Australia in the late 19th century. The country started expanding its involvement in the sheep and wool industry, which meant that herding became more complex and impractical.

They needed to develop a dog breed that could work in the conditions in Australia. Some of these included extreme heat, dust storms, vast distances, and rocky land. Kelpies were the dogs bred for this, and they were capable of doing the work of several men.

Their exact origins are not clear, however. It is believed that they came from Scotland but resembled Collies back then. Through breeding, we got the Australian Kelpie we know today.

Questions people often ask about Australian Kelpie

  • +Are Australian Kelpies good family dogs?

  • +Do Australian Kelpies bark a lot?

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