Australian Kelpie Dog: Characteristics, Lifespan, Temperament

The Australian Kelpie dog is a beautiful and medium sized dog. It was originally bred to have the energy, intelligence, and independence to herd livestock all day in their native climate without much need for supervision. It is also known as Kelpie, Barb or Farmer Dog.

As the name suggests, the Australian Kelpie dog breed was originated from Australia. And it has been exported throughout the world and is used to master livestock, primarily sheep, cattle and goats.

The ancestors of the most Australian Kelpie dogs were British dogs known loosely as collies (sometimes spelled colleys). These were mostly black, i.e. dark brown, dogs – hence the name collie, which has the same root as coal.

Some collies were imported to Australia for stock work in the early 19th century, and were bred with other types of dogs – usually with an eye to working sheep without direct supervision.

For much of the 20th century and early 21st century it was claimed that Kelpies were partly descended from dingoes. But a genomic study in 2019 indicated that the Kelpie had no dingo ancestry.

The first dog known as a Kelpie was a black and tan female pup with floppy ears bought by Jack Gleeson about 1872 from a litter born on Warrock Station near Casterton, owned by George Robertson, a Scot. This dog was named Kelpie after the kelpie, a mythological shapeshifting water spirit of Celtic folklore. In later years she was referred to as “(Gleeson’s) Kelpie”, to differentiate her from “(King’s) Kelpie”, her daughter.[1]

The Australian Kelpie dogs have been trained as scent dogs with good success rates by the 1990s. And in Sweden, they are widely used for tracking and rescue work. These dogs have now been exported to many countries including United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Korea, Italy, Argentina and Canada.

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Australian Kelpie Dog Characteristics

The Australian Kelpie dogs are medium-sized and very beautiful dogs. They are a soft-coated dogs with prick ears and an athletic appearance.

Their coat colors include black, black and tan, red, red and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan, cream, black and blue, and white and gold.

The mature Australian Kelpie dogs can reach between 16 and 20 inches at the withers. Their average body weight is between 14 and 20 kg. But they can reach maximum weight of 25 to 27 kg.

The Australian Kelpie dog breed has been separated into two distinct varieties; the Show 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, while the Working Kelpie is bred for working ability rather than appearance.

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Temperament

The Show Kelpies generally excel in agility trials and may be shown in conformation in Australia. The Australian Kelpie dogs are intelligent and are easy to train dogs, making them well tempered and good pets especially with children.

They require a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Otherwise they can get bored and be disruptive by constantly barking or digging, or by chewing on things.

For keeping them stimulated, take them to medium to long walks or play retch. They are also curious naturally, so it’s recommended that owners have large enough yards for them to explore and run in.

Lifespan

Average lifespan of the Australian Kelpie dog breed is between 10 and 12 years.

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Feeding

How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Australian Kelpie dogs are medium sized animals. So, their diet should be formulated for a medium sized breed with average energy and exercise needs. Although, you can consult with your vet for better feeding recommendations.

Caring

Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Australian Kelpie dogs. These dogs generally require little regular care. Their nails will usually file down naturally as they walk, though they should be checked for damage and trimmed if necessary.

Teeth of the Australian Kelpie dog should be brushed regularly as recommended by a vet. Check their ears regularly for any signs of debris, parasites or infection and keep the ears clean. And baths should be given as needed.

Health

The Australian Kelpie dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, Collie eye anomaly, and cerebellar abiotrophy, which is a neurological condition that affects movement. Always keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed Name Australian Kelpie
Other Names Kelpie, Barb or Farmer Dog
Breed Size Medium
Height Between 16 and 20 inches at the withers
Weight Between 14 and 20 kg
Good as pets Yes
Climate Tolerance All climates
Color Black, black and tan, red, red and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan, cream, black and blue, and white and gold
Lifespan Between 10 and 12 years
Good for children Yes
Rarity Common
Country of Origin Australia