The Kelpie Dog, also known as the Australian Kelpie, is a medium sized breed of dog that was originally bred to herd cattle for long days in the Australian heat. Intelligent and independent, these dogs are still used across Australia and parts of America for herding today, although they are also commonly seen as companion dogs.
While these dogs can be a little bit of a handle and may not be suited to first time dog owners, they can make wonderful family pets in an environment with people who understand their needs. Read on below to find out more about this breed and see whether they are the dog for you.
History Of The Kelpie Dog
The Australian Kelpie is an active dog that excels as a working breed. Very intelligent, these dogs like to be kept busy and this comes from their history as a herding dog in Australia.
The Kelpie Dog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but is recognized by the United Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club. There is also a North American Australian Kelpie Registry which promotes the interest of the breed in the United States.
Australian Kelpies descend from Collies that were imported to Australia from Britain in the 1800s to herd cattle. It is likely that these Collies then crossed with wild dingoes to create a dog with even better working capabilities and thus the Kelpie Dog was born. It is not known whether the Kelpie really does come from the crossbreeding of dingoes but it is wildly thought, considering how similar the Kelpie and dingoes look!
Later, the Australian Kelpie was exported to many other countries around the world and was found particularly useful in the United States as they adapted to the climate and the needs of herding livestock there.
Nowadays, the Kelpie Dog is still used as a working dog. The breed is also popular as a companion dog and as a competitor in dog sports.
Characteristics Of The Kelpie Dog
The Kelpie Dog is a medium sized pup that closely resembles an Australian dingo. They are normally born in litter sizes of between 4 and 7 puppies. Take a look at their characteristics below.
Australian Kelpie’s normally weigh between 25 and 26 lbs and stand between 15 to 20 inches tall. These dogs have a strong body that keeps them active and agile, meaning they are able to move quickly. Their ears stand erect on the top of their head, which is one of the features that makes them resemble the dingo so closely.
The Kelpie has a smooth, short coat. Sometimes these coats can also be rough. Fortunately, they don’t shed very much but you will need to keep on top of their grooming to help prevent this. We will go into more detail about grooming later on.
Australian Kelpie’s coat can come in a range of beautiful colors. Their coat can either be a solid color or it may have markings on it. The most common coat colors are black, red, chocolate, black with tan markings, red with tan markings, smokey blue, or fawn.
The Australian Kelpie is a very active dog who likes to be outside and likes to be given a job to do! These dogs certainly aren’t designed to be laying around the house or curled up on the couch. With an independent streak, they are very good herding dogs but this independent nature can also mean they get bored very easily. They will need to be kept mentally stimulated so they don’t begin to exhibit destructive behaviors.
Despite their independence, the Kelpie Dog really doesn’t like to be left alone and needs to be with their humans at all times. Fortunately, they are an intelligent breed that is very easy to train and socialize well with other humans for the most part. That being said, they can be aloof with strangers and will feel very territorial towards their property and their owners. This means that they can make an excellent watchdog or guard dog.
The life expectancy of the Kelpie Dog is relatively long. These dogs can live for between 10 and 14 years on average.
Known Health Issues
The Kelpie Dog is a generally very healthy dog, although like any breed they can be prone to some health problems. The biggest health concerns are hip dysplasia and eye problems. Hip dysplasia is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
Eye problems in the Australian Kelpie can be Collie eye anomaly or progressive retinal atrophy, among others. Progressive retinal atrophy is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Kelpie Dog, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these dogs on a daily basis is like. Intelligent and active, these pups do have quite high care needs and need an owner who can meet their requirements. Below we will cover their food and diet, their exercise needs and their grooming needs.
Food And Diet
The Kelpie Dog is an active breed and therefore needs a diet to match. These dogs require around 600 calories a day, but you should always check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding them based on their weight.
It is recommended that you feed your Australian Kelpie a diet specially formulated for active breeds, so you can be sure they are getting all the right nutrients to keep them healthy. Take a look at the food we recommend below.
Best Dog Food For The Kelpie DogBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Extreme Athlete dog food from Diamond Naturals for the Australian Kelpie. Formulated for very active dogs such as the Kelpie Dog, this food will ensure your pup gets all the nutrients they need. Included in the recipe is high-quality chicken that provides an excellent source of protein for strong and lean muscles.
There are also vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables and superfoods included in this formula, all of which are easily digestible. Even better, this food contains K9 Strain Probiotics which is bacteria that supports their immune systems and helps your dog maintain an active lifestyle.
A historic herding dog, it comes as no surprise that the Kelpie Dog requires a lot of exercise every day. You should expect to be exercising this dog for at least two hours a day, although they will love to be outside all the time anyway.
Thanks to their high energy levels and intelligence, the Australian Kelpie excels in dogs sports such as obedience and flyball. This is a great way to keep them active but also helps to keep them mentally stimulated too.
The Kelpie will happily accompany you while you are out and about and will make the perfect exercise buddy! Remember, these dogs don’t like to be stuck inside and they don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time.
The Kelpie Dog can make an excellent family dog, but they are an active breed and will need humans who understand their needs. This energetic breed will need an owner to match — someone who can show they who is boss so they learn to listen.
It is often said that the Australian Kelpie dog does best with just one human, but when raised in the right environment can do very well with a family. Unfortunately, due to their herding nature, these pups will try to herd small animals and small children, so they are best suited to a home with older children. Proper socialization is also needed to ensure they understand how to act around other people and animals.
As we have mentioned, the Kelpie breed needs a lot of exercise and therefore is not suited to apartment life. These dogs need to be able to be outside for the majority of the day, so make a great pet for those with land. They will also benefit from a family that likes to exercise and will happily accompany you while out hiking and walking.
Australian Kelpies do not like to be left alone for long periods of time and are therefore not the dog for those who are out for hours during the day. These pups need to be kept mentally stimulated too, to avoid any unwanted and destructive behaviors.
Because they are an intelligent dog, the Kelpie Dog has high trainability. They will learn quickly and if you start training at a young age, they will be able to retain a lot of information. Like any dog, the Kelpie Dog respond best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats.
You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
Remember to be firm and consistent with your Kelpie, because they can be independent and want to do their own thing!
While the Kelpie Dog can be sociable, they can be aloof with strangers. This is what makes them such good guard dogs and watchdogs, because they are very loyal to their family. That being said, socialization should take place from a young age so they learn how to interact with other people aside from their owners.
The Kelpie should also be socialized around young children and other animals so they learn not to try to herd them. Introduce them in a calm and controlled environment from a young age and this will help your Kelpie Dog to understand.
Fortunately, the Australian Kelpie doesn’t have very high grooming needs. Although they do shed, you will only need to brush these pups once or twice a week to keep their coats looking neat and tidy. They will likely shed more heavily in the spring, during which time you may need to brush them more frequently.
Clip their nails as and when is needed, although they will usually file down as they walk anyway. You should also keep on top of their teeth brushing to prevent dental decay and disease. If it is easier, you can always use dental sticks. Remember to check their ears for signs of infection, too.
Kelpie Dog FAQ’s
How much does a Kelpie Dog cost?
An Australian Kelpie can set you back anywhere between $900 and $1200. You should always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder who can give you health clearances for both parent breeds.
If this is out of your price range or you are looking to adopt, you can always check your local shelter or look online for Kelpie Dog rescue organizations.
Are Kelpie Dogs good with children?
Kelpie Dogs can make wonderful family pets, but they will need to be socialized around children from a very young age. Thanks to their herding nature, they can try to herd small children and this is why they are often recommended for adult only homes or homes with older children. However, if they are socialized properly, then this shouldn’t be an issue and they can make great playmates!
The Kelpie Dog was originally used to herd cattle but today can make a wonderful pet for an active household. An energetic breed, these dogs love to be outside exercising and won’t do well if they are stuck at home. While they can be independent, they are also fiercely loyal to their owners and will want to be by your side all the time! If you’ve got the time and energy to keep up with this pup and give them all they need, why not think about adding an Australian Kelpie to your home?