The Australian Kelpie, or simply a Kelpie, is a medium-sized dog originally developed for mustering and droving sheep. This is a sheep dog breed which was developed in Australia, but over the years has been exported to provide help with livestock into other countries. Their use has become quite valuable to many.
Today, there are two types of Kelpies available, the Show Kelpie and the Working Kelpie. As you may presume by its names, the Show Kelpie has a purpose of being a show dog and is valued mostly for its appearance. The Working Kelpie, on the other hand, has retained its original use and is still being kept as a sheep dog.
History & Origins
The Australian Kelpie has its roots deeply imbedded in the Australian continent. In fact, the earliest mention of these dogs goes back to the 19th century where Collie dogs were imported to Australia from Brittan. These Collie dogs were called that way because they were black and resembled coal. The purpose of bringing these dogs was mainly for sheep herding and helping farmers out. But the Collies that were brought there were then crossbred with a number of dogs found in Australia and in some cases even Dingos. As a resulted we have the first Australian Kelpie dog.
The first Kelpie was a black and tan female puppy, owned by Jack Gleeson. The breed was also referred to as Gleeson’s Kelpie for a period. They decided to call it a Kelpie based of a Celtic folklore tale. In Celtic lore, a Kelpie is actually a shapeshifting spirit and one of the stories is that a Kelpie shapeshifters into a dingo. One part of that is true as it has been determined that Kelpies have ¾ Dingos. Since it was illegal to keep Dingos as pets in the past, many owners registered their Dingos as Kelpies since they look very much alike.
Australian Kelpie Characteristics & Temperament
The Australian Kelpie is a very energetic and agile dog. They excel at agility challenges and like running around. If you keep them as a house dog, you should be aware that they expel massive amounts of energy and that they can be overwhelming for some people because of it. But they still make for great pets and are very good with kids. Like all herding dogs, Kelpies have an independent streak to them. So you constantly need to give them something to do. Training them will require mental and physical challenges for them because if not the dog will become bored and will engage in self-destructive activities. They do not like being left alone for long periods of time and prefer the outdoors instead of being kept inside.
The Kelpie is a very intelligent dog, so training them will not require so much on your part. But they do need a lot of socialization early on. Since they are vary of strangers and act quite territorial, it would be best if you can provide them with a lot of experience so they can determine friend from foe. The Kelpie is a great watch dog and will protect your household, but you will have to train it properly for it to do that.
Appearance, Colors, Size
The Australian Kelpie is a medium-sized dog. It has an athletic appearance and erect ears and resembles a Dingo fairly much. They have a short and soft coat which usually comes in black, black and tan, red, red and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan, cream, black and blue and white and gold. The Kelpie will usually reach a size of 41 to 51 cm (16-20 in) and weight is usually about 14 to 20 kg (31-44 lb).
Australian Kelpie Health
When it comes to health problems, the Australian Kelpie is no different from any other dogs of the same breed. The Kelpie will generally have similar problems and other dogs of the same group but they are considered as pretty healthy dogs by all standards. Some of the more difficult and serious problems that may occur with a Kelpie include cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy.
There are also problems with eye anomaly, and cerebellar abiotrophy, but these are neurological conditions that appear quite rarely but do have to be taken into account. The average lifespan of an Australian Kelpie is between 10 and 15 years.
Grooming & Shedding
The Australian Kelpie is a dog that does not require a lot of grooming. They do have a heavy shedding period during the summer where you will have to make sure to brush them more often, but generally speaking, they are ease to maintain. Their coats are rough and short and you will do fine if you provide them with occasional brushes at least once a week. Bathing them is almost unnecessary and you can do it once a year. Their nails actually file down naturally as they walk, but you should check them and see if they need a trim. Other concerning factors are their teeth that need to be brushed and their ears that need to be checked for parasites and other infections.
Australian Kelpie Price and Breeders
After the Australian Kelpie has reached the peak of its population, it quickly began to be exported in other counties. They are quite popular in Argentina, New Zealand, Canada, US, UK and various other countries. This means that breeders have also spread and are providing more quality stocks everywhere around. The average price of a Kelpie pup has reached a number of 500 to 700 USD.
As breeders have spread, so have the rescue groups for Australian Kelpies. Many of them exist now and can be found all over the world where Kelpies have become popular and useful. The biggest and most popular one of them currently has to be Rescue Me! Australian Kelpie Rescue, which has constituents in a lot of states and offers these dogs for adoption.