The Australian Kelpie: Your complete guide!

The Australian Kelpie, a picture of agility, unwavering loyalty, and remarkable herding abilities, has made its mark among dog enthusiasts and farmers. With its origins in Australia, distinctive physical features, and a unique set of temperament traits, this breed is esteemed as an agile and dependable herding and working dog.

Australian Kelpie portrait
Agile | Smart | Energetic
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    Everything you need to know about the Australian Kelpie!

    Category (Explanation)Breed Information
    Year of Breed ConceptionLate 19th century
    Country of OriginAustralia
    Weight (lbs & kg) (Male)31-46 lbs (14-21 kg)
    Weight (lbs & kg) (Female)26-40 lbs (12-18 kg)
    Coat TypeShort double coat
    Color VariationsVarious colors, often black or red
    Shedding Level (Low, Moderate, High)Low to Moderate
    Height (cm & in)17-20 inches (43-51 cm)
    Breed SizeMedium
    Trainability (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Mental Needs (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Intelligence Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Energy Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Agility (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Loyalty (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Playfulness (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Exercise NeedsHigh exercise and mental stimulation
    Guarding Proficiency (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Sociability with Children (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Barking Level (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Digging Tendency (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Destructive Behavior (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Drooling Level (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Obedience Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Apartment Friendly (Yes/No)Can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise
    Inherent Prey DriveHigh
    Physical Risk to Others (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Travel Fatality Risk (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Allergen PotentialLow
    Health Concerns (List of Common Health Concerns)Hip Dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly
    Average Life Expectancy (Life Expectancy in Years)12-15 years
    Make sure to take care of your Australian Kelpie and

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    History of the Australian Kelpie

    The Australian Kelpie’s history is a testament to their herding and working heritage in Australia. These dogs were developed to manage livestock, especially sheep, in the challenging Australian outback.

    Their agility and intelligence made them exceptional herders. They were known for their unwavering commitment to their work and their ability to adapt to harsh conditions.

    Today, Australian Kelpies are celebrated for their herding abilities and their role in Australian agriculture. They are cherished for their loyalty and their agility in herding tasks.

    What makes the Australian Kelpie so special?

    a Australian Kelpie standing on a dirt road

    What sets the Australian Kelpie apart is its unparalleled herding skills and boundless energy. These dogs excel in herding livestock and have become legendary in the world of dog sports. Their intelligence and loyalty make them exceptional working and family dogs.

    Australian Kelpies have a tradition as herding dogs in Australia. Their agility and herding instincts made them excellent at guiding and managing livestock. They were known for their intelligence and dedication to their work. Today, they continue to excel in herding competitions and serve as active and loyal family companions, maintaining their tradition as dependable working dogs.

    Australian Kelpies are known for their spirited and energetic personalities. They are celebrated for their herding skills and boundless energy, making them legendary in the world of herding dogs.

    Their intelligence and loyalty make them dependable herders, and they have a sweet and loving nature. Australian Kelpies are characterized by their energy, devotion, and a playful disposition, epitomizing the perfect blend of vitality and companionship.

    Australian Kelpies are intelligent and highly active. They are typically good with children and other pets but may be reserved with strangers. Early socialization is important for their well-adjusted temperament.

    They thrive on mental and physical challenges.

    Australian Kelpies are medium-sized dogs with a well-proportioned and agile build. They have a well-proportioned head with dark, almond-shaped eyes and medium-sized ears.

    They have a short double coat that lies close to their skin. Coat colors can include black and tan, red, chocolate, or black with or without tan markings. Their tail is often naturally bobbed or short.

    Males typically stand between 17 to 20 inches (43-51 cm) at the shoulder and weigh between 25 to 45 pounds (11-20 kg), while females are slightly smaller and lighter.

    Australian Kelpies have an alert and agile presence, reflecting their role as herding and working dogs.

    Australian Kelpies commonly come in black and tan, red, blue, or chocolate. They may not have distinct coat colors.

    Australian Kelpies often have solid coat colors, such as black and tan, red, blue, or chocolate, without distinct coat patterns.

    Australian Kelpies have a moderate shedding level. They shed year-round, with increased shedding during seasonal changes. Regular grooming and brushing can help manage shedding and promote a healthy coat.

    Australian Kelpies have a short, double coat that requires minimal grooming. Grooming habits for this breed include:

    1. Brushing: Occasional brushing with a slicker brush is sufficient to remove loose fur and maintain coat health.

    2. Bathing: Bathe Australian Kelpies when necessary using a dog-specific shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing.

    3. Ears: Check and clean their ears regularly with a veterinarian-recommended solution to prevent wax buildup or infections.

    4. Nails: Keep their nails trimmed to a comfortable length to maintain proper gait and prevent discomfort.

    5. Teeth: Brush their teeth regularly to ensure dental health and prevent bad breath. Dental chews or toys can be beneficial.

    6. Tail and Paw Care: Maintain cleanliness in the tail and paw areas, inspecting for any signs of irritation or injury.

    Australian Kelpies have a very high activity level and thrive on physical and mental challenges. Key points about their activity level include:

    1. Exercise Needs: Australian Kelpies require daily vigorous exercise to stay content. Activities should be high-intensity and include runs, play, and mental stimulation.

    2. Energy Level: They are known for their very high energy levels and need regular, intense exercise to prevent boredom.

    3. Herding Heritage: Historically, Australian Kelpies were bred for herding livestock. They excel in activities like herding trials, agility, and obedience.

    4. Mental Stimulation: In addition to physical exercise, mental challenges through obedience training and interactive games are crucial.

    d They enjoy outdoor activities and make great companions for hikers and active individuals.

    Australian Kelpies are highly intelligent dogs. They are quick learners and possess strong problem-solving abilities. Their intelligence is essential for herding livestock and excelling in dog sports.

    Australian Kelpies are intelligent and need mental stimulation. Engage them in obedience training and activities that challenge their minds to keep them sharp.

    Social Interaction: They are social dogs and require regular interaction with their human family. Loneliness can lead to anxiety or destructive behavior, so provide companionship and attention.

    Exercise: Mental exercise is equally important. Offer them tasks that challenge their problem-solving skills.

    Training and Obedience: Australian Kelpies benefit from obedience training and activities that engage their minds. Consistent, positive-reinforcement training is effective in shaping their behavior.

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    What to look out for, before you get a Australian Kelpie!

    Australian Kelpie lying down

    If you’re considering an Australian Kelpie, here are important factors to know:

    1. Activity Level: Kelpies are highly active and require daily exercise and mental stimulation.

    2. Training Needs: They are intelligent and excel in obedience and dog sports with consistent training.

    3. Space: Kelpies need space to move around comfortably, making them better suited for homes with yards.

    4. Shedding: They have a moderate shedding level, and regular grooming can help manage their coat.

    5. Work or Activities: Kelpies thrive in work, herding, or dog sports that engage their minds and bodies.

    Australian Kelpies, known for their high energy levels and herding instincts, may pose a physical risk to others if not properly socialized, trained, or managed. The risk assessment factors include:

    1. Herding Instinct: Australian Kelpies have a strong herding instinct, which may lead to chasing or nipping at people or other animals. Proper training is essential to manage this behavior.

    2. Socialization: Early and thorough socialization is crucial to ensure Australian Kelpies are comfortable around people and other animals. Poor socialization can lead to fear or aggression.

    3. Training: Obedience training is essential to teach Australian Kelpies appropriate behavior and ensure they respond to commands. Well-trained dogs are less likely to engage in aggressive behavior.

    4. Owner Responsibility: Responsible ownership involves being aware of the dog’s behavior and taking necessary precautions in public settings.

    5. Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL): Australian Kelpies are generally not subject to BSL, but owners should be aware of local regulations.

    6. Individual Variability: Each dog is unique, and behavior can vary. Responsible ownership, proper training, and socialization are key to minimizing the potential physical risk to others.

    Australian Kelpies are typically good with children. They are energetic and intelligent, making them great playmates for kids. Their herding instincts may lead to them trying to round up and protect children, but this behavior is generally manageable with training.

    Australian Kelpies are often good swimmers. Their agility and athleticism make them proficient in the water. Many may have a natural instinct for swimming. However, individual comfort levels and preferences for water activities can vary. Always supervise them when swimming.

    1. Early Training: Commence training your Australian Kelpie puppy early to make the most of their learning potential.
    2. Socialization: Expose your puppy to various people, animals, and environments to ensure they become well-adjusted adults.
    3. Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and toys to reward good behavior and strengthen your bond with your puppy.
    4. Consistency: Maintain consistency in your training methods and cues to prevent confusion.
    5. Basic Commands: Teach essential commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it” for obedience and safety.
    6. House Training: Establish a regular routine for potty breaks and offer praise for outdoor elimination to housetrain your puppy.
    7. Crate Training: Use crate training to create a secure and comfortable space for your puppy, building positive associations with the crate.
    8. Social Skills: Encourage positive interactions with other dogs and people to develop strong social skills.
    9. Exercise and Play: Ensure your Australian Kelpie puppy receives ample exercise and playtime to prevent restlessness.
    10. Chewing: Provide suitable chew toys to satisfy their need to chew and protect your belongings.
    11. Patience and Persistence: Training may take time; be patient and avoid punitive methods.
    12. Professional Training: Consider professional training classes if you encounter challenges or need additional guidance.

    Positive training practices will help your Australian Kelpie puppy become a well-behaved and loyal companion.

    Australian Kelpies are often moderate to high in terms of noisiness. They may bark or use vocalizations when herding livestock or alerting their owners. Their herding instincts can lead to vocalization.

    Australian Kelpies thrive in homes that provide:

    • 1. Active Lifestyle: They do well in households with active individuals or families who can provide regular exercise and playtime.
    • 2. Space: A house with a yard where they can exercise and explore is ideal.
    • 3. Socialization: Early and consistent socialization is crucial to their well-adjusted behavior.
    • 4. Routine: Establishing a routine helps them feel secure and reduces anxiety. Predictable daily schedules are beneficial.
    • 5. Training: They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and thrive in environments where training and mental stimulation are prioritized.


    • 1. Lack of Exercise: Without sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, Australian Kelpies can become bored and may develop behavioral problems.
    • 2. Isolation: They are social dogs and may struggle in homes where they are frequently left alone for extended periods.
    • 3. Lack of Socialization: Poorly socialized Australian Kelpies may exhibit fear or aggression towards strangers or other animals, which can lead to challenges in public settings.
    • 4. Owner Experience: Inexperienced owners who are not prepared for the breed’s specific needs and characteristics may face challenges in raising a well-behaved Australian Kelpie.

    Traveling with Australian Kelpies involves these considerations:

    1. Exercise Needs: Kelpies are highly active. Plan for breaks and exercise during travel.
    2. Size: They are a medium-sized breed. Ensure their security with suitable travel crates or seat belt harnesses.
    3. Anxiety: Some Kelpies may experience travel anxiety. Gradual introduction to travel and familiar items can help alleviate stress.
    4. Air Travel: Choose airlines with pet-friendly policies and suitable crate requirements for air travel.
    5. Identification: Ensure proper identification for your Australian Kelpie during travel.

    Australian Kelpies are generally healthy, but they may be prone to certain health concerns, including:

    • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic condition that affects the hip joints and can lead to arthritis and lameness.
    • Cryptorchidism: A condition where one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.
    • Cerebellar Abiotrophy: A neurological condition that can affect coordination.
    • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): An inherited eye condition that can affect vision.

    Proper nutrition is essential for Australian Kelpies. Follow these nutritional habits:

    1. High-Quality Dog Food: Choose dog food with high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient.
    2. Age-Appropriate Food: Feed the appropriate life stage formula.
    3. Protein: Opt for a diet with moderate to high protein content.
    4. Balanced Diet: Ensure a balance of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
    5. Portion Control: Prevent overfeeding with proper portion sizes.
    6. Fresh Water: Always provide clean, fresh water.
    7. Avoid Table Scraps: Refrain from feeding human food.
    8. Treats: Use treats in moderation for training and rewards.
    9. Consult Your Veterinarian: Seek guidance from your vet for the best diet.
    10. Special Dietary Needs: Address dietary restrictions or allergies with your vet.
    11. Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight through exercise and portion control.
    12. Regular Check-Ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for monitoring.

    Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of Australian Kelpies.

    Breed-specific laws (BSL) may affect Australian Kelpies in particular areas, and owners should be aware of these regulations. BSL is typically enacted at the local level, and the restrictions can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Here are some common types of BSL restrictions that Australian Kelpies may encounter:

    1. Mandatory Spaying/Neutering: Some areas may require owners of Australian Kelpies to spay or neuter their dogs under BSL.
    2. Special Licensing: BSL may necessitate special licenses for Australian Kelpie owners, often involving additional fees and regulations.
    3. Liability Insurance: Owners of Australian Kelpies may be required to carry liability insurance as part of BSL.
    4. Muzzling in Public: In specific regions, BSL may dictate that Australian Kelpies be muzzled when in public spaces.
    5. Ownership Bans: In extreme cases, BSL may ban the ownership of Australian Kelpies altogether in certain areas.

    The rationale for BSL is often based on concerns about public safety and perceived risks associated with specific breeds, including Australian Kelpies. However, it’s important to note that Australian Kelpies are not inherently aggressive, and BSL may affect them due to their physical resemblance to breeds sometimes included in these laws.

    BSL is a contentious subject, and many advocates argue that it unfairly targets breeds rather than addressing individual dog behavior. They emphasize that responsible ownership, training, and education should be emphasized instead of breed-specific restrictions.

    To determine if there are breed-specific laws or restrictions regarding Australian Kelpies in your area, you should check with your local animal control or government authorities. Be aware of and comply with any local regulations to ensure that you are in compliance with the law while owning an Australian Kelpie.

    Woof Mastery is reader supported and our articles may contain affiliate links. 

    Instead of running third party ads that we have no control of we only use links from high-quality companies we are directly partnered with. Making use of these links come at no cost to you our reader, and in many cases have the extra benefit of discounted rates or sign up bonuses.

    If you’re interested you can read more about our affiliate policy here.

    We appreciate your support and always insure that the products and services we recommend are high-quality, helpful and relevant to the subject at hand!

    Fun Facts About The Australian Kelpie

    Myth 1: Australian Kelpies are Hyperactive and Uncontrollable

    Truth: Australian Kelpies are active and intelligent, making them great working dogs. With proper training and exercise, they can be well-behaved and loyal companions.

    Myth 2: They are Only for Farm Life

    Truth: While they excel on farms, Australian Kelpies can adapt to various lifestyles. They thrive with regular exercise and mental stimulation, regardless of the living environment.

    Australian Kelpies are celebrated for their herding and working abilities, but specific famous individuals may not be as well-documented. They have contributed to the traditional role of herding and working dogs in Australia and other regions.

    • Herding Competitions: Australian Kelpies are celebrated participants in herding competitions, showcasing their herding instincts and agility.
    • Working Dogs: They are used as working dogs in herding and livestock-related tasks.
    • Companionship: Australian Kelpies are appreciated as loyal and hardworking family pets.

    Australian Kelpies are cherished by farmers and shepherds who rely on their herding skills. While specific historical owners may not be widely known, these dogs have played a crucial role in herding livestock in Australia.

    Australian Kelpies, like all breeds, face certain challenges and dangers. Some of the greatest dangers and concerns for the breed include:

    1. Misunderstanding: Misconceptions about the breed’s energy level and exercise needs can lead to misunderstandings and potential challenges for owners who are not prepared for the breed’s requirements.
    2. Health Concerns: Australian Kelpies are susceptible to specific health issues, including hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Responsible breeding and regular veterinary care are essential to address these concerns.
    3. High Energy: They have a high energy level and need regular exercise and mental stimulation. Insufficient activity can lead to restlessness and destructive behavior.
    4. Climate Sensitivity: Australian Kelpies may struggle in extremely hot weather. Owners in warm climates must take precautions to protect their dogs from heat-related issues.
    5. Breed-Specific Legislation: Australian Kelpies may be affected by breed-specific legislation (BSL) in certain areas, leading to restrictions or bans on ownership.
    6. Irresponsible Breeding: Irresponsible breeding practices can result in health and temperament issues. Ethical breeding is crucial for the breed’s well-being.
    7. Training Needs: Proper training is important to manage their herding instincts and to provide mental stimulation for the breed.
    8. Socialization: Early and consistent socialization is necessary to ensure Australian Kelpies are well-adjusted around strangers and other dogs.
    9. Work and Activities: Australian Kelpies thrive on work and activities, and their needs for stimulation and engagement should be met to prevent boredom-related issues.

    By understanding these challenges and providing responsible ownership and care, many of these dangers can be mitigated to ensure the well-being of Australian Kelpies.

    The Australian Kelpie is an Australian herding breed developed for herding livestock, primarily sheep. Its development likely includes British and Scottish herding breeds brought to Australia by early settlers. Selective breeding aimed to create a dog with exceptional herding and working abilities.

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    Why you're going to love the Australian Kelpie

    The Australian Kelpie is a breed known for its agility, intelligence, and herding skills. They excel in working roles and as active companions. Their enthusiastic nature and striking appearance have made them beloved working dogs and family pets.

    Owning an Australian Kelpie involves providing mental and physical stimulation, grooming, and regular veterinary care. Responsible ownership includes addressing potential health concerns and nurturing their herding instincts through training.

    With their alert expression and agile disposition, Australian Kelpies continue to capture the hearts of those who appreciate their energy and devotion.

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