Australian Kelpie

If you need a good sheep herder, the Australian Kelpie is one of the best. They are workaholics, who remain tireless even in high temperatures. The latter is only slightly less active.


The Kelpie is an Australian breed, developed and maintained as a working sheepdog to cope with the local geographical and climatic conditions — it is the only dog which can handle sheep in the vast, rugged country areas of Australia. It is reasonably certain that the Australian Kelpie originated from shorthaired, pricked or semi-prick-eared dogs from the border counties of England and Scotland and these might well have been known as a breed of Collie. Some say that these dogs were mated with a dingo (the most intelligent and cunning dog known to man) and that this is why the Kelpie has such an amazing stamina and endurance compared to other dogs. However, as with many breeds, no true record has been kept which relates the true evolution of the Kelpie.

The Kelpie is not, and never should be, a biting dog when working, but it often barks when mustering or yarding sheep. It is said that the Kelpie does the work of six to eight mounted horsemen and that without its help the cost of Australia’s wool clip would be prohibitive.


This beautiful foxlike breed with a strong, scissorslike bite has incredible stamina and speed. The ideal kelpie has a wide head with a prominent stop, and a muzzle that becomes narrower towards the nose. Its dark almond-shaped eyes (which may be lighter, dependent on coat color) have a penetrating stare said to be capable of mesmerizing sheep. The hair color varies from black, blackish red, dark chestnut, chestnut, reddish chestnut, and tan to bluish gray.

Guiding sheep with unsurpassable skill by running around the flock or jumping from back to back of the sheep at incredible speed, this dog reacts quickly to its master's signals. Its keen senses, enthusiasm, and mild aggressiveness towards strangers also make it an excellent guard dog.

Height: 43-51 cm at the shoulder

Weight: 16-20 kg

Coat and Grooming

The short coat comes in every colour from black to cream. Kelpies need a weekly groom to remove dead hairs. No specialized grooming is necessary.


Typical of most Australian breeds, the Kelpie is a hardy dog, free of major hereditary diseases.

Hip dysplasia is a concern.

Expected lifespan is 10-14 years.

Environment and Exercise

This breed is unsuitable for apartments. If kept as a house pet, the Australian Kelpie will need plenty of room. They are also simply too active to be confined to backyards. Both varieties thrive on large rural properties. Even Show Kelpies need daily exercise and can run happily for over 50km a day.

Compatibility with Kids and other Pets

This high-energy dog may knock over small children. The Australian Kelpie is generally only good with children it has been raised with. Much to their annoyance, the Kelpie will try to herd other dogs and pets.


Usually a brood of four to seven puppies is delivered easily, the mother caring well for them and not requiring help. Wonderfully intelligent, the puppies are calm, obedient, and learn well.

Gallery of Australian Kelpie