Australian Kelpie

The Australian Kelpie

By Michael Russell

The Kelpie is an Australian breed that was developed, it is said, from mixes with the wild dingo and the Collie for the purpose of creating a breed that could herd sheep and be resilient enough to withstand the extremes of climate in Australia. A dog that works sheep needs to have quick movement and great speed, but must be soft enough not to bite or terrorize the flock. It is also a dog that should respond to the commands of its human master with alacrity and yet needs to have the intelligence to work independently a good deal of the time. The Kelpie fits all of these necessary requirements plus it has the addition of a marked devotion to its master and a strong desire to perform the work required of it.

It has been said that without the Kelpie, the livelihood of Australia’s sheep ranchers would be greatly endangered, for a good Kelpie can do the job of six mounted men. They muster the sheep into pens, they drive them out onto the range, they are indispensable in rounding up the strays and finding the lost or weakened sheep before predators can arrive on the scene. The job that they do is instinctive in nature and they take easily to training and can compete with the best of the herding breeds at sheepdog trials. However the breed is not as well known in the United States as the Border Collie and has not been recognized by the A.K.C. Many fanciers of the Kelpie are pleased that it has not become an overly popular breed because in the end they feel that the standard is more “protected” from irresponsible breeding and that the dog will remain true to the purpose for which it was bred if it is less popular.

The Kelpie is a highly devoted dog with a strong sense of duty and has made its mark in obedience, as well as tracking. It is a dog that is easy to train and always ready to go. Like most herding breeds, the desire to give chase is instinctive and the Kelpie if it is kept as a pet needs to have a fenced in area and plenty of exercise. They are great companions to people as well as excellent herding dogs and settle into a life in the home as a pet as happily as they settle into the life of a sheep herding dog.

The colors of the Kelpie can be red, red and black, black and tan, chocolate, fawn, or smoke blue. The coat lies flat to the body and is short with weather resistant harsh outer guard hairs and short dense undercoat for insulation. The chest is deep and legs are straight without a steep angulation to the shoulders. The body is of moderate length and build, this is a dog that must be capable of speedy dashes and quick turns. The Kelpie should have endurance and but should not be a dog of extremes, it should look well balanced and sturdy without being overly stocky.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Dogs

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