Australian Kelpie

Recommended for: Active people
Maintenance Level: High
Lifespan: 11-15 years
Intelligent, very active
Health Risk:
This breed has an around average probability of having health issues in its lifetime, hence it is one of the more affordable breeds to insure.
Is this breed right for you?
Try our breed selector quiz to find out your best matching breed!

Insuring a Australian Kelpie?

Get award-winning cover with more benefits and up to 80% of eligible vet bills reimbursed. Find out about your cover options.

Get a quick quote

Breed Overview

The Australian Kelpie is a medium-sized dog with a rich history in Australia, originally bred for droving and mustering livestock. As a herding dog, the Kelpie is an active, agile and tireless worker with a natural aptitude for working with sheep. He is also highly intelligent, alert and eager, intensely loyal and devoted to duty.

Kelpies have compact bodies with a broad chest, muscular lower body, and a medium-length, low-set tail. Their brown eyes have an intelligent and eager expression and their ears are pricked. Their double coat is made up of a short, dense undercoat covered by a hard, straight, weather-resistant overcoat. They come in a few different colours and patterns, the most common being black and red, with or without tan/fawn, chocolate and blue.

Like all dogs originally bred to work, the Kelpie has an inexhaustible energy and needs frequent, vigorous exercise – though sometimes even this isn’t enough to tire them out! They like to have a job to do, and as herding dogs this may well be trying to herd other dogs or even children. Owners are advised to take their Kelpies for a long walk or jog at least once a day, as well as to provide daily mental exercise such as training in dog sport such as obedience, rally, agility or flyball. Kelpies are not suited to apartment living as they need space for their limitless energy.

The average Kelpie stands between 43 and 51 cm tall and weighs around 14 – 20 kg and their lifespan is about 11 – 15 years. that keeps their mind and body active.

Protect your loved ones

Sign up now and save up to 80% on eligible vet bills for your dog or cat.
Get a quick quote
Read more reviews
Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance

Personality and Temperament

A highly intelligent breed with a mild, tractable nature, the Kelpie is a fast learner who enjoys a challenge and having a job to do. Known for its boundless energy, enthusiasm and work ethic, not only are they great workers, but they excel in agility trials because of their ability to jump extremely high. When dealing with livestock, the agile Kelpie often jumps on the backs of sheep and runs over the top of them to get to the other side as quickly as possible.

As an independent-minded breed, the Kelpie can be somewhat challenging to train and manage, while unattended Kelpies can become destructive and difficult to handle. Their strong prey drive means they are likely to chase after everything that moves. A bored Kelpie can develop behavioural problems, so owners are encouraged to keep them well occupied. They are not recommended for relatively inactive families, as they require lots of physical and mental stimulation each day.

Kelpies have excellent sight and can be trained as seeing-eye dogs. Their amazing eyes also make them great watchdogs. Though not aggressive in nature, the Kelpie can be very protective of its family and property, even if it means sacrificing itself.

Common Australian Kelpie Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Most Australian Kelpies are healthy dogs. However, the following conditions have been known to affect the breed:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a family of eye conditions which cause the retina’s gradual deterioration. Night vision is lost in the early stages of the disease, and day vision is lost as the disease progresses. There is no cure, but many dogs adapt well to the loss of vision, as long as their environment stays the same.
  • Cryptorchidism is the medical term for the hereditary condition where one or both of the testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. Normally, the testes develop near the kidneys within the abdomen and descend into the scrotum by two months of age (or later in some dogs, but rarely after 6 months). Both descended and undescended testicles can be removed through neutering.
  • Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap moves out of its normal position, causing pain and an abnormal gait. Owners may notice a skip in their dog’s step or see their dog run on three legs for a brief period. It is one of the most common orthopaedic conditions in dogs and one of the most common causes of lameness. Mild cases generally do not impact too much on the dog’s life, but severe cases may require surgery.
  • Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary condition and common in many breeds. The hip doesn’t develop as it should,  leading to an instable or loose joint. This often results in prolonged limping and eventually lameness in later life.
  • Cerebellar abiotrophy is an inherited neurological disease which causes certain neurons in the cerebellum dying off, affecting balance and coordination. The disease begins to affect the dog shortly after it is born and usually becomes noticeable before the age of 6 months, although some dogs may not show signs until they are older. There is no cure – the only way to ensure a healthy Kelpie is to know for sure that its parents are not carriers.


Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

What do Australian Kelpie owners claim for the most?

Pet Talk

Jam packed with news, tips and advice on how to provide the best possible care for your Bow Wow or Meow!

    Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance


    Like so many breeds, the origin of the Kelpie is disputed. There is no doubt, however, that the Kelpie’s ancestors were Collie type dogs imported from Scotland to Australia to work with livestock in the 1800s. They were crossbred with other types of dog (possibly even the Dingo).

    The opening up of huge areas of farming land across NSW and Victoria required a special dog to handle sheep in such challenging conditions, including vast distances, heat, rough terrain and dust storms.  The Kelpie was developed as a tireless worker in the hottest and dustiest of climates, able to perform the work of several men.

    The first Kelpie (a black and tan pup) was reported in 1872 by Jack Gleeson. Gleeson named the dog after the kelpie, a mythological water sprite in Scottish folklore. The first Kelpie’s subsequent litters were referred to also as “Kelpies”, and the name caught on. “Barb” (all-black) Kelpies earned their name after a black Kelpie pup was named Barb after the 1866 Melbourne Cup winner.


    Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance

    Australian Kelpie Facts!

    • A Kelpie called “Riley” formerly held the world record for dog jumping, reaching 2.95 metres.
    • Red Dog, an Australian icon, was a red Kelpie cross known for wandering in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He had many owners in his time and made many friends – he was a member of the Dampier Salts Sport and Social Club, the Transport Workers Union, and was even given his own bank account by the Bank of New South Wales, who used him as a mascot. He died in 1979 at the age of about 8, possibly from intentional poisoning. He is buried in Roebourne, Western Australia and a statue was erected in his honour in Dampier. There are several books and poems written about Red Dog, and his story was turned into a movie in 2011.
    • A stray Kelpie known as “Gunner” is credited with alerting the Australian Air Force that Japanese aircraft were moving towards Darwin during WWII. When he heard an enemy aircraft approach, he would whine or jump. He served in the Air Force between 1942 and 1945.

    Read all you need to know about insuring a Australian Kelpie

    Learn more

    Get a quote


    10% discount for multiple pets

    Free engraved pet ID tag on sign up3

    Customer Satisfaction

    21 day cooling off
    Life-long cover4
    Streamlined claims


    Australian Kelpie Rescue:

    The Australian Kelpie Club of NSW:

    The Working Kelpie Council of Australia:

    Australian Cattle Dog & Kelpie Club of Qld:

    We're here to help you be a better pet parent

    Download our free Rescue Dog guide

    Choosing to rescue a dog means giving an animal a second chance in life. This comprehensive guide, developed by professional trainers, aims to help make the transition to life in your home as successful as possible for your dog and your family.
    Download guide