The Australian Kelpie is an athletic, medium-sized dog that was originally bred for working with sheep. The Kelpie is a bit of a workaholic with incredible stamina and the ability to work for long hours and cover large distances with ease. The Kelpie can live in a family environment but the breed needs to be kept busy otherwise they quickly get bored. Australian Kelpies are intelligent, loyal and devoted, the breed was developed from Collie type dogs imported to Australia from Scotland and has the same alert look in their eye as a Border Collie. The Australian Kelpie is a natural-looking dog that is strong, agile and muscular. The Kelpies double coat is short, smooth and low maintenance.
Australian Kelpies look strong and athletic, they are well proportioned and have a natural look about them. Kelpies have broad, slightly rounded skulls with straight foreheads that come to a pronounced stop. Their muzzles are well defined and their nose matches the colour of their coat. A Kelpie has brown eyes that are medium in size and set wide. This breed always looks alert and ready to go. This is helped by the Kelpies' pricked ears that are set wide apart and point slightly outwards.
Always ready to go, the Australian Kelpie has strong, well muscled legs and shoulders, a straight back and a deep chest. Their feet are strong with arched toes and deep pads. A Kelpies tail has lots of hair and hangs in a slight curve, when excited the tail may be carried raised.
The double coat of the Kelpie is short, straight and weather resistant. The hair around the Kelpies face and feet is shorter and around their neck it is noticeably longer forming a ruff. Australian Kelpies are usually black, blue, red or tan in colour.
How big do Australian Kelpie dogs get?
Height - Males: 39 - 51cm, Females: 39 - 51cm
Weight - Males: 14 - 20kg, Females: 14 - 20kg
Australian Kelpies are intelligent, high-energy dogs that love to have a job to do. The breed has a low boredom threshold so they enjoy being out and about on walks and love the challenge of canine sports. Kelpies are playful and enjoy interactive games so this is a good way for them to burn off energy. Australian Kelpies are eager to please and they are quick to learn new things making them easy to train. While the Kelpie is excellent at herding, they are not good guard dogs.
Are Australian Kelpie dogs intelligent? Yes
Are Australian Kelpie dogs affectionate? Yes
Do Australian Kelpie dogs have high or low energy levels? High energy levels
Are Australian Kelpie dogs loyal? Yes
Are Australian Kelpie dogs playful? Yes
Are Australian Kelpie dogs aggressive? No
Are Australian Kelpie dogs easy to train? Yes
Are Australian Kelpie dogs good guard dogs? No
Australian Kelpies need to be well socialised from a young age otherwise they can be difficult to handle. This is mainly due to the high herding instincts of the Kelpie. Without proper training, the Kelpie may try to herd anything that moves from children to other animals. With that said, Kelpies are good with older children as they are patient and kind. Kelpies tend to get on with other dogs but contact with smaller animals is best avoided.
Do Australian Kelpie dogs get along with other pets? No, they have high herding instincts
Do Australian Kelpie dogs get along with other dogs? Yes
Are Australian Kelpie dogs good with kids? Yes, but they are better around older children
Are Australian Kelpie dogs good with strangers? Yes, although some may keep their distance and bark
The Australian Kelpie is best suited to experienced owners as they need to be properly trained, handled and socialised otherwise they can pick up unwanted behaviours such as herding when they shouldn’t. Fortunately, in the right hands Kelpies are very obedient and will listen to commands well. As Australian Kelpies are medium sized dogs with a huge amount of energy they aren’t able to live in an apartment. Ideally, the Kelpie needs to be in a home with a secure garden where they can have plenty of safe space to use their energy. This breed cannot be left alone so needs to be in a household where someone is going to be at home with them.
Are Australian Kelpie dogs good for first-time owners? No, they have specific socialisation, handling and training needs
Are Australian Kelpie dogs hypoallergenic? No
Are Australian Kelpie dogs prone to drooling? No
Are Australian Kelpie dogs a good breed for apartment living? No, they need lots of space and access to a large, secure garden
Do Australian Kelpie dogs shed a lot? Yes, they shed steadily throughout the year
Do Australian Kelpie dogs bark a lot? Yes, but this can be prevented with training
Can Australian Kelpie dogs be left alone at home? No
Can Australian Kelpie dogs handle the heat? Yes
Can Australian Kelpie dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes
Are Australian Kelpie dogs sensitive to loud noises? No
The Australian Kelpie has an average life span of 12 - 14 years. They are considered to be very healthy dogs and are known to suffer from only a few conditions:
Collie eye anomaly - this is a genetic mutation that causes developmental eye defects. This can result in vision problems or blindness. Collie eye anomaly can usually be diagnosed at 6 - 8 weeks of age. There is not a cure for this condition but sometimes surgery can help minimise the effects.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - this is a developing disease that is genetically inherited. This disease is not curable and leads to eventual blindness. Many dogs can learn to live without their vision.
Cerebellar abiotrophy - this is a genetic disease that causes the cerebellum cells to deteriorate prematurely causing a lack of balance and poor coordination. There is no treatment for this condition.
Hip dysplasia - this is a painful condition that is caused by the abnormal development of one or both hip joints. Hip dysplasia can be treated with medication, physiotherapy and surgery.
Luxating patella - this is when the kneecap slips or dislocates. This condition often develops within the first year of life and can be treated with physiotherapy, surgery and pain relief.
How long do Australian Kelpie dogs live? 12 - 14 years
The Australian Kelpie is a high energy dog that needs at least 2 hours of exercise per day. It’s a good idea to introduce your Kelpie to canine sports too as this is a brilliant way for them to be mentally and physically stimulated, especially if they are not working. Australian Kelpies need to have as much time off lead as possible but make sure they are properly recall trained before letting them off otherwise they may begin herding other people or animals in the park. When not out for walks, Kelpies should have access to a secure garden where they can play interactive games and roam around off-lead.
How much exercise does an Australian Kelpie dog need? At least 2 hours per day
Do Australian Kelpie dogs like water play? Yes, these dogs love water and swimming
Australian Kelpies don’t tend to be fussy eaters and do well with high quality dry food. The amount you need to feed your Kelpie will depend on their age, build, health and activity level. An Australian Kelpie puppy needs between 170 - 340g of dry food per day, the actual serving will depend on the puppy’s age and build. As this is only an estimate and every dog is different, it is essential to have a personal dietary plan made.
Are Australian Kelpie dogs prone to weight gain? No
How much should I feed an Australian Kelpie puppy? Between 170 - 340g of good quality dry food per day depending on the puppy’s age and build
How much should I feed an adult Australian Kelpie dog? Between 175 - 305g of good quality dry food per day depending on the dog’s weight and activity level
Grooming: The short double coat of the Australian Kelpie is low maintenance. They need to be brushed twice a week to keep them in good condition and to help remove loose hair. Kelpies do shed throughout the year so be prepared for dead hair coming off of their coat. This will increase twice a year when the Kelpie goes through a period of heavy shedding. It is also important to check the Kelpies ears and teeth regularly and clean them when needed. Their nails will also need to be trimmed periodically.
Emotional Care: The Australian Kelpie is a dog that loves to be busy. Kelpies don’t like to be left alone so need an active family that wants to be out for long walks or playing interactive games. As an active dog, it is important the Kelpie gets enough physical and mental stimulation each day otherwise they will become bored which can lead to destructive behaviours around the home.
History of the Australian Kelpie
The Australian Kelpie was bred from Collie type dogs that were taken to Australia from Scotland. These working dogs were bred with other breeds to create Kelpies. The Australian Kelpie was bred to be a working dog that herded large flocks of livestock. Kelpies were developed to be intelligent, quick-witted and able to withstand challenging conditions.
Kelpies became well known in Australia as reliable, hardy working dogs. Thanks to their good natures, Kelpies are also popular family dogs. Outside of Australia, the Kelpie is lesser known compared to the Border Collie and is rarely seen. This means there are often waiting lists for Kelpie puppies.
Australian Kelpies are descendants of Collies
Kelpies are working dogs that need to be busy
A Kelpie named Koko played the title role in the film “Red Dog” in 2011
Koko the Kelpie won the Golden Collar Award for Best Dog in a Foreign Film for their performance in the Red Dog movie
If you think the Australian Kelpie sounds like the right dog for you, have a read of our buying guide for advice on finding and buying a puppy. When buying online it is important to be aware of scams and bad practices. All breeders on Puppies have been vetted to ensure they are responsible. Take a look at our Australian Kelpie puppy page to find available dogs in your area.
How much does an Australian Kelpie cost to buy? - £400 - £1200
How much does an Australian Kelpie cost to feed? - £35 per month
How much does insurance for an Australian Kelpie cost? - £30 per month
Another option is to consider adopting an Australian Kelpie. Speak to your local dog rescue centre or the below associations about rescuing one of these special dogs: