The Australian Kelpie was developed in the 1800s and is still prized today for its stamina and working ability in harsh conditions. Kelpies are medium-sized dogs that love to work. In this guide, we will study the characteristics of the breed in detail.
Facts about the Australian Kelpie
- It is said that Australia was built on the ‘back of the Kelpie’ because of the role these dogs have played in the development of the sheep and wool industry.
- The Australian Dingo may have played a role in the Kelpie’s establishment. Other breed involved in the Kelpie’s formation includes the Smooth Collies.
- Both, the Australian dingo and the Kelpie, have been featured on Australian postage stamps honoring the country’s native dogs.
- Kelpies are greatly prized working dogs by farmers since they have the unique ability of not biting or pulling out sheep’s wool while herding them. Pulling and biting are undesirable traits in herding dogs. However, Kelpies do jump on the back of the sheep to herd them, if they feel one is in danger. This is not a taught-skill; it just comes inherently to a Kelpie and that is what makes them so successful in what they do.
- Australian Kelpies in America have several clubs dedicated to the protection and maintenance of the breed. Some of the reputed ones are the Working Kelpies, Inc., the Red River Cattle Dog Association and Western Cowdog Association.
This is a medium-sized dog, strong, active, and lithe. They have a wedge-shaped head and prick ears. There are different coat colors seen in Kelpies, including black with or without tan, blue or gray, light red with or without tan, fawn ranging from dark to light, and tan ranging from dark to cream.
Where to find an Australian Kelpie
The best place to find an Australian Kelpie is a reputed breeder. You can ask a vet or other Kelpie owners for recommendations to good breeders. Alternatively, visit the official club website of the Working Australian Kelpie in America to get a list of good breeders nearby.
Once you have contacted several breeders, ask to see their kennels. The facility should look neat and clean. Also, a breeder should ideally only keep one or two breeds, no more. This will ensure that he or she isn’t into this line of work just for the money but is dedicated to the betterment of the breed.
Ask several questions to the breeder and, in turn, prepare to answer several questions about your household. A good breeder will want to know your reasons for wanting a Kelpie. After all; a Kelpie is a working dog that needs plenty of exercise as well as an experienced owner to handle him. So it is best to consider an Australian Kelpie only if you know what you are getting into.
Australian Kelpie temperament
The Australian Kelpie is the happiest when he is given a job to do and when he is surrounded by his loved ones. This is a playful, fun-loving dog that is also athletic, intelligent, alert, courageous, brave and protective. They are quiet dogs that do not bark too much. Kelpies are always aware of what is going on around them. They make quiet companions but are usually suspicious of strangers. When a stranger comes around, they will constantly look at their owners for signs of approval. If signs of approval are absent, be assured that your Kelpie will not hesitate to risk his life in order to protect you.
Kelpies love to work and when given a job, you will find that they are quite the independent-thinkers. That is why they need a firm owner who will show them who the boss is! But they soon develop a working relationship with their owner. That is why Australian farmers prize this dog for guarding their flock.
Owners must never forget that this is a herding dog. Do not be surprised if your Kelpie tries to ‘round-up’ toys, small kids, or even someone running! You must always pay the utmost attention to your Kelpie’s safety. A Kelpie may perceive something as ‘needing rounding’ and will not hesitate to dash off into the traffic. So always keep your dog leashed and make sure you have a securely fenced yard around your house.
Before you bring your Kelpie puppy home, make sure you have a plan for his daily exercise. This is one of those breeds that need a lot of exercise. Of course, all dogs need to be exercised and without that, they can get extremely bored or depressed. When you own a Kelpie, exercise is crucial. Your dog has loads of energy and he needs to expend it. If you keep your Kelpie cooped up indoors without exercise, play, or toys, he is bound to get extremely bored. And bored dogs can indulge in unwanted behaviors including destruction. Of course, work, work, and more work is the best exercise for a Kelpie but if he primarily a house pet, you may want to spend your day planning a lot of activity with him, every day.
Kelpies respond best to inducive training and lots of ‘Good Dog!’ praise and rewards. You can start with some basic house training and crate training. Dogs are creatures of habit so it is imperative that you set a routine for your pet right from day one. Take your Kelpie puppy out several times a day and show him where he can eliminate. Each time that he obeys, give him a reward and a lot of praise.
Later on, as your pet grows up, you can start with basic training. At first, keep training sessions short and end each session with lots of play-time. If needed, enroll your pet in obedience training classes or puppy kindergarten. This will also help him socialize with other dogs.
Grooming your Australian Kelpie
All dogs need to be groomed and the Kelpie is no different. However, having a short coat, grooming isn’t a difficult task. Make sure you brush your pet’s coat once or twice a week. This activity will not only help remove parasites and stray hairs but also help you bond with your new puppy. That is why it is important to start grooming right from puppyhood. Make bath times fun for your pet and he will not give you a tough time as he grows. Be diligent with your Kelpie’s oral health; make sure to brush his teeth from time to time. Check his ears for mites and fungal or bacterial infections and don’t forget to trim his toenails once every 3-4 months.
Health issues in Kelpies
Possible health concerns in Kelpies are hip dysplasia and osteochondritis dissecans which is a growth disorder of the joints. The life span of the Kelpie is between 12-14 years.