Australian Kelpie

Breed History

Australian Kelpie Herding

Australian Kelpie is a medium size herding dog that is known to work tirelessly with Sheep in their homeland. Average height dog with a solid built you will see them with erect ears and on high alert.

Kelpie means Water Sprite in their native land. Economy of Australia is dependent on the wool of sheep for many decades. Without the huge numbers of sheep in the country it would be difficult to prosper financially.

It isn’t practical for a human to herd some of these properties where the sheep would total hundreds of thousands. Huge areas of property with wide acres to cover made it a job only a dog with great stamina could handle.

Like most dogs on an island they were in complete isolation for a long period of time. Exporting to other places would happen in the late 19th century but were exclusive to Australian at first.  

Having a long track record winning competitions in their early days the Australian Kelpie would gain popularity quickly. They continue to be competitive in the

Two myths that need clarification is breeding with foxes and the Dingo crossbreeding. There is no evidence that a fox and dog can breed and have offspring. There is no DNA evidence to suggest that is true.

Dingo crossbreeding may have been something that took place but there is no significant difference in the Kelpie appearance and no contributions to their herding capabilities.


Herding, Sheepdog, or Working Dog is the category you find them in for any major Kennel Club around the world. Due to their history of herding many sheep they will be in the Herding Group in the American Kennel Club when they get registration.

Have not got any recognition from the AKC but it should happen sometime in the future. Although they have been around since the 1870’s and they are a full blood breed.

Here are the different major Kennel clubs around the world that show recognition to the Australian Kelpie.

Australian Kelpie Size

Male Height: 18-20 inches

Female Height: 16-18 inches

Male Weight: 30-45 pounds

Female Weight: 25-35 pounds

Boys are considerably bigger than the girls but not by a lot.

Litter Size

6 puppies are the average litter size for a Kelpie. Breeders should be aware of the number of incoming puppies they need to take care of for eight weeks before selling. Mothers don’t have any known health problems when delivering their puppies expect in case of an emergency.


  • Black
  • Black and Tan
  • Red
  • Red and Tan
  • Fawn
  • Chocolate
  • Smoke Blue


$1,000-$3,000 is the average price for an Australian Kelpie. Prices vary depending on location, supply, demand, championship bloodline and other factors that can change.

Dogs with papers will cost a lot more money than dogs without them. You will need to get the documentation from the ANKC because you can’t get them from the AKC.

Without papers expect to pay a few hundred due to the lower quality of puppy. Large percentage of these dogs will look the same but fall short on some of the breed standards.


Grooming should always start with a long run or walking session. Getting the dog in a state of exhaustion will decrease any bad behaviors that do exist or that can exist while grooming. It helps during the brushing, combing, bathing, ears and nails.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Kelpie has a short double coat and it needs additional maintenance in comparison to a single coat. Expect to brush the coat at least a few times per week especially during shedding season.

Combing is something that needs to happen at least twice per week. During the shedding season this will be great for the coat. Whether combing or brushing you need to start at the skin and have a tool that can accomplish that.

Bathing should happen after a long exercise session with a leash on for the best results. Start getting the dog use to behaving while this is done and then you will know when the leash is no longer in need with the good behavior.

Ears should get a weekly cleaning to remove dirt or any type of build up that can cause an infection. Costly bills can start to add up and should be avoided because it is preventable.

Trimming the nails should happen when you are exercising the dog, which we recommend. If you don’t exercise the dog, which we don’t recommend, take the time to cut them with clippers.

Professional help is a recommendation for those who will not groom at home.

Life Span

13-14 years is the average lifespan of an Australian Kelpie. That’s a long time for a dog to live and a long commitment for any future owners. Great adoption option for people because they live for a very long time in dog years.

Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia – get an examination of the hips and make sure the dog doesn’t have any issues 24 months at the latest. If you notice the dog is favoring or limping on one leg you should take them to the vet to get an x-ray immediately.  

Elbow Dysplasia – growth on the elbow can cause stiffness and discomfort during exercise. Unfortunately, you can’t wait until it goes away and you need to get an examination within the first 24 months.

DNA Testing – there are several genetic diseases that should get some testing while the dog is younger to figure out what kind of medical attention, they will need either now or later in their life.

Breed Group

Proud member of the Herding Group, which is the perfect category for them. All these dogs could move a different animal from one side of a farm to another within a reasonable amount of time.

These dogs have had a special place in many areas worldwide due to them doing work that would be impractical for a human to accomplish. Humans can herd other animals on a smaller scale but when it becomes massive numbers the work dogs can put in is unmatched.

Here are a few dogs that are in the Herding Group

Exercise Needs

Australian Kelpie needs a lot of exercise. There is no single activity you can do to that has a bigger impact than exercising. Training and exercising should work hand in hand.

When a dog doesn’t get a lot of exercise you will notice a lot of bad behaviors starting to arise. High energy levels and too much excitement are the least of your problems.

Bad behavior like digging, barking, chewing, howling, whining, and aggression can all become a reality when you don’t exercise your dog. Whenever you start exercising while the dog is displaying one or more of these behaviors you will notice immediate changes.

The more you experience bad behavior the more you should ramp up the exercise. There should be a direct relationship with bad behavior and increasing exercise.

You should start with this type of the program

Morning: Hour (run, walk or treadmill)

Evening: 30 minutes (run, walk or treadmill)

Younger dogs need more runs than walks and they should get a walk or a treadmill later in the day. Two sessions per day will help get the dog under control and change their behavior quickly.

Adult dogs around 3-5 years of age will have a different exercise approach. Energy levels are starting to decline and at this point you should look at the dog needing less exercise. One session a day will start to become normal.

Senior dogs need less exercise and close to no runs. Walking around the corner will be enough exercise for older dogs but as usual get the dogs energy levels for guidance on how much exercise.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Exercising is simple but hard to do every day. Making the commitment will change the dynamics of the relationship. Going from no exercise to 300-600 hours of exercise will decrease the dog’s energy levels and amount of bad behavior problems. Also, when someone has their dog listening for hours every day, they will start seeing you as the leader and always listen to you. Expect to spend most of your time in this area.

Commands are a smaller part of the training program because it is less time-consuming. Important to remember training commands is a game of repetition. Doing the same commands over and over. For motivation you will need to have them do commands before eating, drinking water, going in and out of doors, and other life activities.

Socializing should happen in this sequence exercise first and socializing second. People who are exercising twice a day don’t need to worry about this because it will happen naturally. If you are doing it once a day make sure you knock out that session first and then take them out.

Correct the dog verbally, off leash and on leash. Timing and making the dog sit or lay after are part of the art of correcting a dog. Physically correcting the dog should happen on rare circumstances and with only the intention of getting their attention.

Are Australian Kelpies Aggressive?

No, Australian Kelpies are not aggressive, and nobody should give this title to a dog because it is learned behavior. Lack of an outlet will make the dog act in an unnatural manner. Making sure the dog has a knowledgeable owner that trains and exercises the dog is more important than a fake personality trait.

Additional Resources