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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.
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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.
Most Australian Kelpies are healthy dogs. However, the following conditions have been known to affect the breed:
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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.
Australian Kelpie Rescue: http://www.auskelpierescue.com/
The Australian Kelpie Club of NSW: http://www.australiankelpieclubnsw.com/
The Working Kelpie Council of Australia: http://www.wkc.org.au/
Australian Cattle Dog & Kelpie Club of Qld: http://www.cattledog-kelpieclubqld.com/