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Australian Kelpie

Other names: Kelpie

Australian Kelpie
Australian Kelpie
Puppy

Motivated, energetic, focused, devoted and independent? That’s the Australian Kelpie for you. A breed with seemingly endless stamina, they were originally bred to herd livestock day-in-day-out and are independent thinkers at heart.

As a pet, they’re loyal, devoted and friendly in the right home. Without frequent exercise, thorough training and lots of mental stimulation, the Kelpie can be challenging and destructive. 

They’re known to bond strongly to one member of the family, so if you’re looking for a loyal, loving companion for one (active) person specifically, the Australian Kelpie might be the perfect choice.

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Key facts about the Australian Kelpie

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Playful, Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Long, Hard
  • Price : Around £340

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)

Section

Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the Australian Kelpie

Adult size

Female dog Between 17 and 19 in
Male dog Between 18 and 20 in

Weight

Female dog Between 24 and 33 lb
Male dog Between 29 and 49 lb

Coat colour

The Kelpie’s coat comes in:

  • Black
  • Black with tan markings
  • Light to dark blue
  • Light to dark blue with tan markings
  • Various shades of red
  • Various shades of tan

Type of coat

Their coat is medium length.

The Australian Kelpie’s double coat is short, straight, harsh-textured, and waterproof. The thick undercoat provides plenty of protection against wind, rain and cold temperatures.

Eye colour

The eyes range from shades of gold to deep brown, depending on the coat colour.

Description

This medium-sized breed has a compact yet muscular body, which is longer than it is tall. The legs are clearly powerful and muscled for their size. The head is narrow with a rounded skull, while the tail is set low and is medium in length. They’re easily recognisable by their pointy, prominent ears and expressive, alert, almond-shaped eyes. Overall, this breed has an athletic, durable and rather charming appearance.

Temperament

Affectionate

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This breed is loyal, affectionate and loving. The catch? This affection is normally directed towards one person. While they’ll be generally friendly and warm towards the whole family, they’ll definitely have an obvious favourite. This makes them a fantastic companion dog to a single person, but may trigger jealousy within a family with teenagers or children.

Playful

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The Australian Kelpie is full of energy - which they love to burn with lots of play-time! Anything which keeps this breed occupied is a sure winner, so be ready to play lots of sports and games and provide plenty of toys.

Calm

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When all of the Australian Kelpie’s needs are met, they can be a perfectly relaxed and chilled-out pooch. However, if left to their own devices for too long without exercise or company, they won’t just hang out quietly - they’re likely to become hyper and cause damage around the house.

Intelligent

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You can’t find a much more intelligent dog than the Kelpie. They’re super switched on and learn things at an incredible speed. While this is a good trait overall, it does mean they’re more than capable of manipulating situations and tend to pick up bad habits. On top of this, their intelligence means they become bored easily and constantly need something to focus on or play with.

Hunter

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You have to remember that the Kelpie was bred as a working dog and as such, holds a high prey drive and herding instinct. They’ll try to herd anything - whether that’s a cat or a group of kids! A strong recall and heel can solve this problem, though.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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This breed can be rather wary of unfamiliar faces and in the right circumstances, will become very protective of their owner and property. Socialization is particularly important for the Kelpie - otherwise, bringing anyone new into the home may prove difficult.

Independent

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The Australian Kelpie has a mind of their own - and they’re not afraid to use it! This is a truly independent breed - they love a challenge and need constant mental stimulation.

Behaviour of the Australian Kelpie

Tolerates solitude

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You’d think that this highly independent breed would be fine left on their own - but that’s just not the case! If left on their own for too long - especially if they’re kept indoors - the Kelpie is likely to suffer from separation anxiety and extreme boredom. They form extremely strong ties to one special person and crave that person’s company.

Easy to train / obedience

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It is a dog easy to educate, thanks to his great attention and his taste for learning.

Barking

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This dog doesn't bark much.

Tendency to run away

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He is a faithful companion on whom one can count, he does not run away and stays with his owner (or the flock he has in charge).

Destructive

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If the Kelpie doesn’t get enough exercise, feels lonely, unfulfilled or bored, they’ll quickly turn to destructive behaviours such as hyperactivity, barking, scratching and chewing to communicate their distress and give them something to do. This breed needs a constant outlet for their high energy - if you can’t provide that, they’ll be destructive.

Greedy / Gluttony

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This breed isn’t known to be greedy, though care should still be taken over their weight and portion sizes.

Guard dog

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The Kelpie isn’t necessarily the first choice for a watchdog - a well-trained and thoroughly socialized one may just act aloof towards strangers. However, if they did feel there was a possibility of danger, they’re likely to bark excessively and protect their loved ones until the ends of the earth.

First dog

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This intelligent, docile and very active dog is very suitable for first time dog owners, but only if they are aware of his needs.

Lifestyle

Australian Kelpie in a flat

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The Kelpie was bred as a working dog and has endless energy. Cooped up in a small flat or apartment, they’re unlikely to be happy or healthy. They need plenty of room to roam, run and play.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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This breed would be happy to be out and about roaming, running or playing all day long. They need constant physical activity, which is why they’re so good as a working pooch. Several hours of vigorous exercise per day is needed to tire this one out - without it, they’ll be destructive and badly behaved.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Due to their high exercise needs, travelling long distances with a Kelpie won’t be easy. However, they should be fine travelling short distances and as a medium-sized breed, are fairly easy to transport in a car.

Compatibility

Australian Kelpie and cats

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The Kelpie has strong herding instincts and won’t hesitate to chase cats and other small animals. Ideally, they should not be kept together as it may be dangerous for the kitty.

Australian Kelpie and dogs

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If well-socialised from a young age, the Kelpie should be able to live happily with other dogs. Make sure to introduce them slowly and watch their behaviour before committing, though - some Kelpies may be territorial.

Australian Kelpie and children

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It is a good dog for all the family who appreciates the presence of children in its restricted circle.

Australian Kelpie and the elderly

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The Australian Kelpie has insane energy needs, which are likely to prove too much to an elderly owner. Hiring a dog walker once a day or going for a short stroll just isn’t enough for this breed.

Price

This breed is fairly easy to come across in the UK. You should be able to pick one up for around £340. Make sure you’re purchasing from a reliable, trusted breeder and meet the parents if possible.

Concerning your monthly budget, on average to fulfill this dog's need, you can count between £20-£30.

Grooming

The Australian Kelpie is incredibly low maintenance in terms of grooming. Their short double coat only needs a brush once or twice a week, though daily brushing can help to minimize shedding. 

The Kelpie’s nails tend to file down naturally (assuming they get enough exercise), though they should still be checked occasionally. Everything else comes as standard - teeth should be brushed as regularly as possible and ears should be checked and cleaned if necessary.

Hair loss

This breed does shed quite a lot, especially considering their short coat. They shed throughout the year but more so during the spring and autumn months. Frequent brushing can help prevent a mess.

Nutrition of the Australian Kelpie

This is an active breed, therefore, they need to be fed dog food which is specifically formulated for active dogs. Otherwise, you may struggle to meet their daily energy requirements. Homemade diets with plenty of meat are a good choice, but make sure to discuss this with your vet first.

Health of the Australian Kelpie

Life expectancy

12-15 years.

Strong / robust

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Despite only being a medium-sized breed, the Kelpie is fairly strong, powerful, resilient and independent.

Withstand heat

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Bred to work long hours out in the sizzling Australian heat, the Kelpie is well-suited to hot weather. Despite their tolerance to heat, they should still be given access to shade and plenty of water.

Withstand cold

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The Kelpie’s coat is weather-resistant, allowing them to withstand cold and windy climates.

Tendency to put on weight

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As such an active breed, the Australian Kelpie is unlikely to become overweight. However, if kept as a pet and not given adequate exercise, the weight could slip on - making for a very unhappy, unfulfilled pooch.

Common illnesses

Good to know

The first ever recorded Kelpie is believed to be a female black-and-tan puppy, whose records date back to 1860.

Origins and history

The hot, dusty outback climate takes a tough working dog - and that’s exactly what the Australian Kelpie was bred for! This hardy dog can cope well in all sorts of conditions and, therefore, has been used as a working dog in Australia for hundreds of years. However, no one is completely sure how this breed was created, though it’s thought to be related to the Collie.

Names

Good names for an Australian Kelpie: Blaze, Jolly, Presley, Tweety

Find out more dog name ideas here