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Australian Kelpie, Cattle Dog and One of Collie Breeds

Updated on January 10, 2016

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 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 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 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 the dogs are used in search and rescue, as detection dogs, hearing dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs, for dog sports, watch and guard duties.

Kelpie characteristics According to the Kelpie
  • “…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 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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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      toknowinfo, I'm glad you like reading about the Australian Kelpie and I appreciate your comment. I never heard of the breed myself until I started researching.

    • toknowinfo profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a really great hub. I never heard of the Australian Kelpie. I even think the name is cute. The information is well put together and very interesting. Thanks for the education. Rated up up up all the way.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      drbj,thanks for reading and commenting. I like the picture of the Kelpie walking across the backs of the sheep also. They like shortcuts.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      I learned so much I did not know about this breed. Thank you, Don. Fascinated by that photo of the Kelpie strolling across the backs of the sheep. Of course, for an independent thinker, that's the only way to go! :)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Frog Prince, thanks for reading and commenting. I tend to write on things that interest me and hope it interests other people.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Great info on a breed I knew nothing about dahoglund. I always usually learn something when I read your articles.


    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      prasadiain, thanks for commenting on my hub about the Australian Kelpie.

    • prasadjain profile image


      6 years ago from Tumkur

      A very informative hub! Thanks.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy, the dogs walk across the sheep because it is the shortest route to where they want to go. We used to have a Border Collie mix. They are intelligent and get bored easily and find ways to amuse themselves that are sometimes an annoyance to the owners. Thanks for the comment,votes and tweet.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had never heard of an Australian Kelpie dog but that is not unusual. There are so many dog breeds! I found this interesting. Loved the photo at the top with the dog walking on top of the sheep. My mother-in-law once owned a Border Collie and since these dogs have similar traits...they would be great dogs. Another good hub in your dog series.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and tweeting.


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