Australian Kelpie, Cattle Dog and One of Collie Breeds
Australian Kelpie walking across backs of sheep
The Australian Kelpie originated as a collie breed and is sometimes referred to as a cattle dog, although they may also work sheep or reindeer. They might be referred to as an Australian Shepherd. This breed of dog has been known since 1870 and according to the website terrific pets.com on the Australian Kelpie, some people think the breed started by crossing a Dingo with a Border Collie. They say that the breed was actually developed from “ English North Country Collies of the Rutherford strain” and were imported to Australia in the late 19th Century. There are now about 100,000 Kelpies working in Australia, according to pets.com. Wikipedia says that they were imported to Australia and bred with other dogs in the 19th Century with the goal of being a dog that could work sheep without direct supervision. According to a Vetstreet.com article the sheep and wool industry in Australia was becoming big business in the late 19th century, probably about 1870. A dog was needed for working unruly sheep in a tough climate over vast acreage.
The collie breeds we have today were formed a decade or more after the Kelpie was established as a breed. The Border Collie wasn’t brought to Australia until after 1901, according to the Wikipedia article. The ancestors of the Australian Kelpie were black dogs known as “colleys” or “collies.” The term “collie” was originally used for a number of breeds now known as “herding dogs.”
According to Vetstreet.com the dogs are used in search and rescue, as detection dogs, hearing dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs, for dog sports, watch and guard duties.
- “…has a compact body with well developed limbs…broad chest and firm hindquarters.”
- Head –long and narrow
- Tail-medium length, smooth, bushy, and low set
- Feet-short, compact, well arched toes
- Coat-double coat, short and dense under coat and hard straight weather repellent outer coat Wikipedia describes Kelpie coat colors as: black, black and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan and cream.
- Ears-usually widely spaced and pricked but about 20% have one or both flopped.
- Eyes-widely spaced, medium size, almond shaped. Tawny-gold to brown. For lighter colored dogs-hazel eyes and tan markings above eye.
In Australia, at least, the Kelpie has two standards, one for the working Kelpie and another for the show Kelpie. For the working Kelpie there is three coat types: the smooth, short and rough coats.
- According to Vetstreet.com their weight should be 31 to 46 lbs.
The working Kelpie can work reindeer, poultry, goats and cattle. They also do well in obedience trials. The show Kelpie has almost no herding instinct. The working Kelpie is one of the most popular working dogs and most successful.
Robert Kaleski first published the breed standard, according to Wikipedia, in 1904. It was accepted at the time and adopted by the Kennel Club of New South Wales. Today’s standards vary for working or show dogs. Dogs could do both but might be limited depending on the breed clubs and the kennel clubs.
- There are two separate registries in Australia. Working Kelpies are registered with the working Kelpies Council and /or State Sheepdog Workers Association.
- Show Kelpies are registered with the Australian National Kennel Council, which encourages certain appearance and limits the colors accepted.
- The American Kennel Association does not recognize the Kelpie as a breed.
- North American Australian Kelpie registry promotes the Kelpie as a working dog and does not want the AKC to promote it as a show dog.
- Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) allows competition in their events.
Type A personality.
The Kelpie seems to have many characteristics similar to the Border Collie. One such characteristic is having a type A personality. They are independent thinkers; don’t like to be bored need constant stimulation to keep a busy mind occupied. In accordance with this they are not god indoor dogs. They need to be outdoors to see and do different things.
They are also good watchdogs and can be trained for use as Seeing Eye dogs.
The Australian Kelpie is a herding dog used to work sheep and other livestock. Much like the Border Collies, it is intelligent, independent, and active. Generally they ned to be active and thrive in an outdoor environment.
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
© 2012 Don A. Hoglund
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