Australian Kelpie Info & Australian Kelpie Breeders
The Kelpie is an Australian sheep dog successful at mustering and droving with little or no command guidance. They are medium-sized dogs and come in a variety of colours. Kelpie owners are more interested in the breed's working ability then their appearance. This robust, enthusiastic, and tireless worker, is Australia’s most popular and successful working dog. Kelpies have been exported throughout the world and are used for herding sheep, cattle, goats, ducks, and other livestock.
Because of this, the breed has been separated into two distinct varieties: the show or bench Kelpie and the working Kelpie. The show Kelpie is seen at conformation dog shows in some countries and is selected for appearance rather than working instinct. Working Kelpies are bred for working ability rather than appearance.
The Australian Kelpie is a working dog that demands a great deal of exercise, preferably with some kind of job to do. They are compact, robust, enthusiastic, and a tireless working dog. Their energy levels are extremely high!! They are workaholics and will run until they drop!! They need to be taken on long daily walks and make an excellent jogging companion.
The kelpie is also tough, independent, highly intelligent, and a dog that is extremely loyal. They are very obedient and are exceptionally alert, they are eager to please and they make a devoted companion. Their inexhaustible amount of energy makes them unsuitable for suburban living. They are good with children when they are raised with them from puppyhood. Kelpies will try to herd other dogs, pets and animals whether they want to be herded or not.
Show Kelpies generally excel in agility trials and may be shown in conformation in Australia. 'Riley', an Australian Kelpie, set the world record for dog jumping when he jumped 2.95 metres at the Casterton, Victoria Kelpie Festival. In his previous 30 high jumping competitions he was defeated only twice.
The Kelpie is a smooth-coated, medium sized dog generally with prick ears and an athletic appearance. Coat colors include: black, black and tan, red, red and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan, and cream (yellow).
See this great article - Life after Muster Dogs - Are Kelpies good family pets? Photo Courtesy of Teesh - Pilbara Working Dogs
Australian Kelpie FAQ's
Mandy Sansom, Callicoma Kelpies
What sort of owners or homes are Kelpies best suited to?
Active families, couples, singles. People who are willing to spend time with their dog stimulating it both mentally and physically. It is just about impossible to physically tire out a kelpie, so mental stimulation becomes so much more important. This means people who are willing to keep their kelpie as part of the family rather than shut out in the back yard are the best owners. They allow the dog in to watch TV with them at night, take them camping on weekends etc and that keeps them tired out.
They are also fantastic dogs for people who like training and dog sports. Kelpies love training and are very willing to work for you in any way.
Are Kelpies good with small children, strangers, cats, small animals, and other dogs?
Yes I have kept them with all those, and plenty of my puppy owners have small animals/farm animals, or have babies before or after they get their kelpie. Kelpies are very loyal and will protect all the family including the cat/kids/chickens etc. They can be so loyal to the point of being jealous, so sometimes they will react to other dogs who they feel are intruding on their family group. I have had a few puppy owners have babies and then the dog becomes funny with visiting dogs etc. Any dog can have problems with cats/small animals and other dogs, it all comes down to training and socialisation. Hopefully all breeders will socialise the puppies with these things as early as possible and also educate their puppy buyers to keep doing the same.
Are there any types of homes/lifestyles/situations that do not suit this breed?
Homes that do not have the time/energy to keep the dog stimulated are not suitable. They are just setting themselves up for failure.
How much exercise do Australian Kelpies need?
They need a good walk most days, and preferably a safe place to have some free running off lead. Missing a day’s exercise because you are not feeling well is not a problem, but missing a week’s is- they will become naughty. Being put in a large backyard or house paddock is not enough. The kelpie will sit at the door waiting for you to come out, and will not run around on its own. I tell people to aim for an hour’s walk each day plus some training, plus keep the dog with them as much as possible, even if it is just to watch TV.
Does the Australian Kelpie suffer from any health issues and what sort of testing is recommended?
Yes – mitral valve disease, hip and elbow dysplasia are the worst ones. Testing involves testing the breeding stock, not the puppies. Ideally many generations are tested, and siblings of parents, grandparents as well. Mitral Valve disease is an old age disease that is gradually creeping younger and younger until today we have kelpie with congestive heart failure at 5 and 6years of age. This can be bred away from by checking breeding dogs annually from 2 years of age. Testing requires a cardiologist with an ultrasound. Dogs that are developing the condition before old age, and their relatives, should not be bred from. Unfortunately it is likely they have already been bred with, which makes it all the more important we have tested the lines for a number of generations and tested other relatives as well so the problem lines are discontinued. In some European countries they are now recommending kelpies are not bred with under the age of 5 due to MVD!
Testing for hip and elbow dysplasia involves x-raying and scoring all breeding stock, and again as many relatives as possible. Two parents with good hips can still produce bad hips if they had relatives with bad hips. This does not just pop up out of the blue like many people say it does. There is always a history of problem hips in the line, or many unscored dogs in the line.
Other tests that are probably less important as the conditions are less common, (but still occur) are eye tests by an ophthalmologist (preferably once at a year old and once again as an adult dog) – looking for PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), PPM (persistent pupillary membranes), CEA (Collie eye anomaly), cataracts.
Also genetic testing for CA (Cerebellar Atrophy), ILM (intestinal lipid malabsorption), CEA (collie eye anomaly) and DM (Degenerative Myelopathy). These are all recessive conditions and we need to ensure we are not breeding carriers to carriers.
There are also a few lines that carry epilepsy. This can not be tested for and we have to rely on breeders/owners sharing information about this.
Do Australian Kelpies tend to be expensive in terms of veterinary care?
No, Kelpies are a very wild type or wolf like dog, who tend to not have a lot of problems. Not like floppy eared dogs, wrinkly dogs or long backed dogs etc.
How does a lack of exercise and mental stimulation manifest in this breed?
They start acting like dogs! – Barking, chewing, digging, fighting – all the natural dog behaviours that we do not like will happen when they get bored.
Do Kelpies have any special dietary requirements?
Do Kelpies have special grooming requirements?
No, they are very much a wash and wear dog. But because they are often owned by people who do not like grooming, or do not even think about grooming, one aspect is often forgotten and that is nails. I am shocked at the number of dogs I have bred that come back to me for a visit that have eagles talons. Or kelpies I see on Facebook with torn nails and the people are asking what to do about it. The answer is keep their nails short. They are a breed that has the dew claws left on, so even if they are exercised on concrete which wears down other nails it will never affect the dew claws, so these will always require clipping.
Is there anything else that is important for people to know about Australian Kelpies?
Kelpies today have almost become two different breeds – the working lines of kelpies and the show or ANKC lines of kelpies. The working kelpies are usually two toned, although not always, and are often taller (as there is no height standard in their standard). They tend to have much more energy as they are bred to work all day every day. The ANKC registered kelpies tend to be solid coloured, although not always, and often shorter in height and heavier boned. I have found they have much more of an off switch, and whilst still a very active dog, they can be taught to relax and be less frantic. These two types of kelpies are becoming more and more distinct with every generation as the registers are closed and can not be mixed.
Another point for people to know – although many people confuse them with cattle dogs they are a much softer breed and much more sensitive to harsh handling (bred to work sheep rather than cattle). Kelpies respond to positive reinforcement and gentle handling and will shut down easily and then be labelled as stubborn with harsh handling and correction based training.
Kelpie Breed FAQ's - thanks to Mandy Sansom - Callicoma Kelpies
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