Australian Kelpie

The Australian Kelpie was originally bred to have the energy, intelligence, and independence to herd livestock all day in the hot Australian climate without much need for supervision, and the breed retains those qualities to this day. Australian Kelpies are still used across Australia and the United States for their herding instincts, and that suits these dogs just fine, as they are happiest when they have a job to do. Those who want to keep an Australian Kelpie as a pet would do well to remember that, as a bored Australian Kelpie may make their own fun by acting out and engaging in destructive behavior. The good news is that these dogs are easy to train for almost any task, so long as they have a confident, competent trainer who can give positive reinforcement without being too harsh. Australian Kelpies are fully capable of performing many dog sports, search and rescue work, nose work, service dog duties, and more. They have high energy and high exercise needs, and while they are able to handle doing a job with little supervision, they need human companionship and direction. Leaving them home alone for long periods of time can spell disaster. Their natural herding instincts need to be contained and used properly from an early age, or they may end up nipping at the heels of children, other pets, and even guests, but with time and training, they can make loyal companions who excel as watchdogs and work tirelessly at any task they’re given.

See below for complete list of Australian Kelpie characteristics!

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If you’re looking to buy Australian Kelpie puppies, click here.

Breed Characteristics:

Adapts Well to Apartment Living2More info +

Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

See Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

Good For Novice Owners2More info +

Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

See Dogs That Are Good For Experienced Owners

Sensitivity Level4More info +

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

See Dogs That Have Low Sensitivity Levels

Tolerates Being Alone2More info +

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

See Dogs Poorly Suited To Be Alone

Tolerates Cold Weather3More info +

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Cold Weather

Tolerates Hot Weather5More info +

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness
Affectionate with Family4More info +

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Incredibly Kid Friendly Dogs2More info +

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

See Dogs Not Kid Friendly

Dog Friendly3More info +

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

See Dogs That Are Not Dog Friendly

Friendly Toward Strangers2More info +

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

See Dogs That Are More Shy

Health Grooming
Amount Of Shedding3More info +

If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

See Dogs That Shed Very Little

Drooling Potential1More info +

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

See Dogs That Are Not Big Droolers

Easy To Groom4More info +

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

See Dogs That Require More Grooming

General Health3More info +

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

See Dogs More Prone To Health Problems

Potential For Weight Gain2More info +

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Size3More info +

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right large dog for you!

See Medium Dogs

See Small Dogs

Easy To Train5More info +

Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

See Dogs That Are Challenging To Train

Intelligence5More info +

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

See Dogs That Have Low Intelligence

Potential For Mouthiness5More info +

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive4More info +[caption id="attachment_55015" align="alignnone" width="680"](Picture Credit: Haydn West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images) (Picture Credit: Haydn West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)[/caption] Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by — cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.See Dogs That Have Low Prey Drive
Tendency To Bark Or Howl4More info +

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

See Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet

Wanderlust Potential4More info +

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

Exercise Needs
Energy Level5More info +

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

See Dogs That Have Low Energy

Intensity3More info +

A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

See Dogs With Low Intensity

Exercise Needs5More info +

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

See Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise

Potential For Playfulness4More info +

Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

See Dogs That Are Less Playfull

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Height: 15 to 20 inches
Weight: 25 to 46 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 15 years
  • The Australian Kelpie is always ready to work. These dogs were made to withstand the heat and rugged conditions of Australia and work tirelessly all day to round up livestock, and they are still used for that purpose today. They are independent thinkers, which makes them well suited for herding without human supervision, but it can also mean trouble if they aren't challenged to do a specific task. Australian Kelpies need an outlet to use their mental and physical energy or they will create an outlet for themselves, which may include chewing, digging, or other destructive behavior. Their high energy and exercise requirements mean that they aren't the best suited breed for apartment life, and they can act out when left alone for long periods of time, though they may adapt well if they have a diligent owner who is present and gives plenty of walks and at least a good run each day. Training should begin early in life, especially socialization training, as Australian Kelpies can be highly territorial, and they may also nip while using their natural herding instincts. These qualities do, however, make them natural watchdogs. Without training, Australian Kelpies can be rambunctious and difficult to handle, but with proper guidance, all of their problematic tendencies can be honed into enormously useful and impressive skills, and their intelligence makes that training quite easy. Their grooming needs are fairly minimal, their health is generally good, and they are very loyal and loving companions for the right owners. Make sure you are ready to handle the Australian Kelpie's needs before you adopt, and you'll have an amazing friend for life.
  • Highlights

    • In Australia and the United States, the Australian Kelpie is still used to help herd livestock with little need for supervision.
    • Dingoes were likely interbred with Australian Kelpies at various points in the breed's history.
    • The breed is named after the Kelpies of Celtic folklore, which were water spirits that could appear in horse or human form.
    • Australian Kelpies are capable of learning to do search and rescue, detection work, therapy work, guide dog duties, agility and dog sports, and more.
    • The Australian Kelpie coat can come in several different colors, including black, chocolate, red, smokey blue, and fawn, and some also have tan markings.
    • Australian Kelpies often have double coats that have an outer weather-resistant layer. Their coats don't need much grooming, though they tend to shed more heavily in spring and may need more brushing at that time.
    • Although Australian Kelpies are typically used for a specific job, they can be loving pets so long as they are well trained and given tasks to do that keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
  • History

    The history of the Australian Kelpie begins, as you might imagine, in Australia. Black Collies were imported to the continent to herd livestock in the 1800s from Britain and were crossbred with other breeds that likely even included wild dingoes. The resulting breed was hardy, able to withstand the tough climate of the continent, and capable of working practically nonstop. Ranchers valued them for their intelligence and ability to work independently. The first dog to be called "Kelpie" was bought by a man named Jack Gleeson in 1872 from a Scottish man named George Robertson, and was named after a shape-shifting water spirit from Celtic mythology that could appear as a horse or human. The breed was crossbred with many others since then to become the modern Australian Kelpie we know today. The Australian Kelpie was later exported to other countries around the world, and the breed was especially useful in the United States where it adapted to the climate, terrain, and variety of livestock very easily. Now, Australian Kelpies can be found performing a multitude of tasks around the world, including detection work, therapy, service dog work, and dog sports performance, but they are often still used for herding. When they are kept as pets, they require training, exercise, and lots of mental stimulation.
  • Size

    Australian Kelpies are medium-sized dogs, typically weighing between 25 and 46 pounds. They usually measure 15 to 20 inches at the shoulder. Individuals of the breed may be smaller or larger.
  • Personality

    Australian Kelpies have an independent streak that is very beneficial for herding work, but it also means that they need to be mentally challenged, or they may grow bored and engage in destructive behavior. Despite this independent nature, Australian Kelpies should not be left without human company for long, least of all when they are cooped up indoors. They have a sensitive side that doesn't respond well to harsh rebukes or punishment, but a competent trainer that relies on positive reinforcement will find that these dogs are more than smart enough to follow commands, even at long distances. Australian Kelpies are not overly trusting of strangers, and they are very territorial. Although this makes them great watchdogs who will bark at any sign of danger, it also means they need socialization training from an early age, and it may be best for them if neighboring pets are not allowed to wander on the property. They need to learn when it is appropriate to react with suspicion and when to allow guests to approach. Novice owners may find the exercise needs of the Australian Kelpie to be too much to handle. They need several walks, a good run each day, and mental exercises, such as learning new tricks or commands, to stay calm and happy.
  • Health

    The Australian Kelpie's health is generally good. The breed may be genetically predisposed to a few conditions that owners should watch out for, however. These include cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, Collie eye anomaly, and cerebellar abiotrophy, which is a neurological condition that affects movement. These conditions are fairly uncommon, but it is important to stay vigilant and keep up with regular vet visits.
  • Care

    Australian Kelpies require fairly little regular care. Their nails will usually file down naturally as they walk, though they should be checked for damage and trimmed if necessary. Teeth should be brushed regularly as recommended by a veterinarian. Their ears should be checked for signs of debris, parasites, or infection and kept clean. Baths should be given as needed.
  • Feeding

    An Australian Kelpie diet should be formulated for a mid-sized breed with high energy and intense exercise requirements. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your Australian Kelpie and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
  • Coat Color And Grooming

    Australian Kelpie coats can be short, rough, or smooth and come in several different beautiful colors. They can be black, red, chocolate, black with tan markings, red with tan markings, smokey blue, or fawn. The Australian Kelpie's grooming needs are low to moderate. A brushing or two per week should help remove dead hair and reduce shedding. They often have double coats with the outer coat being more weather-resistant. Australian Kelpies tend to shed more heavily in the spring, so they may need extra brushing during that time.
  • Children And Other Pets

    The natural herding instincts of the Australian Kelpie can make it hard for them to live with small children or other pets, as they have a tendency to nip in order to round up whoever or whatever they feel needs to be herded. Their distrust of strangers may also make things difficult when children have young friends over. However, all of these tendencies can be kept under control and redirected to constructive behaviors with the right training, especially if socialization training begins early in life. If you plan to adopt an Australian Kelpie into your family, make sure you are prepared to give them the training they need to provide everyone with a safe and positive living environment, including your new pup.
  • Rescue Groups

    If you're interested in adopting an Australian Kelpie into your family, you can check out Rescue Me! Australian Kelpie Rescue's website or find them on Facebook where they regularly post adoptable Australian Kelpies that need homes. You can also check out our adoption page that lets you search for adoptable dogs by breed and zip code, so you can find an Australian Kelpie in need of a home in your area.