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Australian Kelpies

General Description

The Kelpie is a medium sized, compact, athletic but robust short coated dog with noticeably large erect ears. Often broad in the chest and  slightly longer than he is tall, he should not have a chunky appearance but one of energy and clean lines demonstrating the capability for extreme speed and control of stops and changes of direction. Kelpies will often demonstrate the ‘eye’ or stare and crouching posture needed for herding. The coat is short and hard with a dense undercoat and is very water repellent.  The feet have short well arched toes.  Colours are red, black (historically known as the Barb)  and blue and all these colours can be with tan points and there is also yellow. White is limited to a chest mark and occasionally toe tips.

Character and Temperament

This is a most successful  tireless and, robust  herding dog with endless enthusiasm , tending to appear independent ,requiring a firm hand, but not to be bullied. Kelpies are generally non aggressive. Left to their own devices they will herd other dogs, children and cars and are not regarded as suitable as family pets unless the family is extremely active. They really want to please themselves rather than please a handler, but are very trainable with patience. They have proved themselves to be ideal agility dogs.


From six months of age a Kelpie will require both plenty of free running exercise and plenty of ‘brain work’. Kelpies do not thrive chained up or kennelled for hours on end and are not suitable generally for flats and small homes. They can become noisy or destructive if left to their own devices.


Minimum grooming required but regular inspections necessary for parasites and injuries.


Kelpies have for generations herded huge mobs of sheep vast distances in the extreme heat of the Australian Outback, never tiring and not needing water till the job is done. They also control  sheep herded closely into yards by jumping onto the backs of the sheep and taking a short cut over the top-then diving underneath the sheep and running back amongst the legs to shove them through the race. It is debateable whether they have Dingo in their blood and there have been many arguments for and against the notion. The first Kelpies originated from a cross between some Border Collie dogs shipped from Scotland and a farm bitch called Kelpie. The resulting pups were ‘Kelpie’s Pups’. The breeding stock was then picked for the style and looks that we now have in the Kelpie breed.


Kelpies have few health problems but prospective owners should be aware that testing for the eye problem PRA -   Progressive Retinal Atrophy and HD -  Hip Dysplasia is sensible and there is a condition called CA – Cerebellar Atrophy for which there is no test but which is a problem in Australia and may have been diagnosed in the UK.


Average Dog Size

18-21 inches Bitches slightly smaller

Average Dog Weight

25 – 45 lbs. Bitches slightly less.

Average Litter Size

5 – 7 puppies.

Average Life Expectancy

10 – 15 years.

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