A true Australian breed
The Kelpie came into being in the late 19th Century. The Australian wool industry was becoming big business, and farmers needed tough dogs who could not only handle the unruly sheep but also the harsh environmental conditions and vast acreages. The Kelpie’s ancestors include British herding dogs (that may also have contributed to the development of the Border Collie, English Shepherd and Australian Shepherd). There’s a story that in 1870, a man, Jack Gleeson and his unnamed puppy were sitting by a creek in country Victoria when the mist rose off the creek inspiring the pup’s name, ‘Kelpie’, which is Gaelic for ‘water sprite’. At the same time, another Victorian gentleman imported a male and female sheepdog from Scotland. One of their offspring, ‘Caesar’ was eventually mated with Gleeson’s ‘Kelpie’. There are also some reports that Dingoes were bred into the Kelpie breed. It is from these beginnings that we have the Australian Kelpie today. By the 1880s, Kelpies were winning sheep dog trials across NSW and Victoria. Today the breed is still popular in working paddocks and in the show ring.
Smart, loyal and always by your side
As far as temperament goes, the cheeky Australian Kelpie has oodles of personality and a wicked sense of humour. Sounds very Australian indeed! They are versatile working dogs, highly intelligent, alert and capable of learning a great deal, but they’re also independent thinkers. The Kelpie is a breed with an exceptionally high IQ and may get into mischief if left to their own devices. They require plenty of exercise, and may become bored if cooped up for long periods of time. Keep a Kelpie occupied and engaged, and they’ll thrive. Their greatest joy is tender loving care, whilst their greatest disappointment is inactivity and lack of attention. Kelpies are ‘velcro’ dogs, so wherever their humans are, that is where they are… whether it’s going for walks or on the lounge watching television. They can be timid with strangers and this makes them good watchdogs (but as they are not biters, they’re not regarded as good guard dogs). See your local Greencross Vets if you’d like to know more about a Kelpie’s temperament.
The Australian Kelpie is moderate in size, weighing 14-20 kilos, and they usually look and feel like they could do a day’s work without any effort. In appearance, they’re lithe, athletic and muscular, and slightly longer than they are tall. The breed comes in seven colours – black, black and tan, red, red and tan, chocolate, fawn and blue. (There may be deviations in these colours, but if there is, they wouldn’t be acceptable in the show ring). Because they were originally bred to herd animals, Kelpies are quite agile – they can turn suddenly at speed and are capable of crouching and stealthy creeping. The breed has almond-shaped eyes, which is a practical feature, as it avoids dust getting into them from the paddock or yard. A Kelpie’s ears are pricked and the inside of them are well furnished with hair to keep out the dust of the sheep yard (or sand from the backyard family sandpit).
At Greencross Vets, nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of your four-legged friend. If you have any more questions, please reach out to your local Greencross Vets. You can find your local Greencross Vets here. We’re more than happy to help!