The Australian Kelpie Breed

The Australian Kelpie is a capable and clever herding dog used to work sheep and other livestock in the United States and, or course, his homeland of Australia. Kelpies were created by crossing early Collies with other herding dogs and, possibly, Dingoes.


Kelpie Temperament and Personality The Kelpie’s breed standard describes him as extremely alert and eager with a mild, tractable disposition and an almost inexhaustible energy. He is noted for his loyalty and devotion to his work. This is a highly intelligent and capable dog. He likes to have a job to do, and whatever it is, he will do it well.


Be prepared to provide him with work that will satisfy him, whether that is bringing things to you — the paper, your slippers, dirty laundry left on the floor — competing in agility or obedience, accompanying you on errands or helping you keep an eye on the kids at the park. If you can teach it, he can learn it. Do not underestimate the amount of time and energy it will take to train and live with this dog if you can’t provide him with his traditional herding work or an outlet such as dog sports.


Being a herding dog, the Kelpie’s instinct is to work on his own and think for himself. In his mind, you are a partner, not a boss. Take that into account when you are training him. Respect his intelligence and don’t drill him over and over when it’s clear that he already knows something. This is a dog that is accustomed to and capable of working on his own with little or no supervision.


The Kelpie’s herding heritage can work against him in one way, making him wary of anything or anyone unusual. That’s beneficial to an extent—it’s one of the things that makes him a good watchdog, but early, frequent socialization is critical to prevent a Kelpie from becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different. Purchase your Kelpie puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Run far away from breeders who raise their pups in a barn or a pen out in the backyard. An Australian Kelpie who is to be a family companion needs plenty of socialization. Continue socializing your Kelpie throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, the homes of friends and neighbors, and dog-friendly shops and businesses.


Train the Kelpie with a firm hand and consistent direction. For best results, begin training early, keep training sessions short, and use positive reinforcement techniques, never force, which is likely to backfire.

Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.


Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Kelpie, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.


What You Need To Know About Kelpie Health

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

The Kelpie is a generally healthy breed, but he has some potential health conditions that can be a concern. They include Collie eye anomaly, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cerebellar abiotrophy.

Cerebellar abiotrophy is a progressive neurological disease that affects movement. It has no treatment, but researchers are seeking a genetic marker for the disease, which could eventually aid breeders in identifying Kelpies who are affected by or carriers of the disease.

Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is impossible to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for common defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed.

Don't fall for a bad breeder's lies. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or any of the other excuses irresponsible breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Kelpie at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.


The Basics of Kelpie Grooming

Brush the Kelpie’s coat once or twice a week to remove dead hair and keep shedding to a minimum. Some Kelpies have a double coat that sheds heavily in the spring. You’ll need to brush him more often to keep the loose hair under control. Active Australian Kelpies often wear their nails down naturally, but it’s a good idea to check them weekly to see if they need a trim. Otherwise, just keep the ears clean and give him a bath if he gets dirty. Brush his teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath.