The Australian Kelpie is one of those dogs that, if you’re not from Australia, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick out of a “lineup.” Now, we don’t want to imply that this medium-sized guy isn’t handsome, but let’s face it, they don’t necessarily have any “super” distinguishing features differentiating them from many other dog breeds out there (except maybe those ears).
But maybe that’s not so bad because those with this breed know full well that these guys are a true “gem” to own. But it’s important to point out that the Australian Kelpie isn’t necessarily going to be the “best” dog for everyone.
This is why…
In this article, we wanted to take a moment and discuss some of the pros and cons of owning a Kelpie so that if you ever get a chance to get your hands on one, you won’t regret your choice to adopt one six months from now! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Australian Kelpie Fast Facts
Country of Origin: Australia
Original Purpose: Herding cattle
Height: 17 to 20 inches measured at the shoulder
Weight: 31 to 46 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 13 years
Dog Breed Classification: Not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
Origin of the Australian Kelpie
Unlike many other dog breeds where the original “origins” of the species remain somewhat of a mystery regarding where and how the Australian Kelpie was created, the story is quite simple. During the late 1800s, the Australian Kelpie existed when Australian landowners decided to intermix Collies with local indigenous dogs (possibly Dingos). This resulted in creating a medium-sized dog that “inherited” Collie’s intelligence and the local breed’s “toughness,” which suited the early Australian farmers just fine!
Even though the Australian Kelpie has not been “officially” recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the breed is recognized by both the United Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club, so it is probably just a matter of time until the AKC gets around to officially taking notice.
One thing holding him back from being “officially” recognized is that the Australian Kelpie goes by many different names, which can confuse determining what dog you are talking about! For example, you may often hear folks refer to the Australian Kelpie as a:
The Australian Cattle dog is an officially recognized breed by the AKC; it’s not the same “kind” as an Australian Kelpie!
Now we mention all of this…
Even though the AKC does not recognize the Australian Kelpie, that is not stopping many dog breeders and enthusiasts from breeding the Australian Kelpie for his looks rather than just his “herding ability.” It is also why this breed is growing in popularity worldwide as being more than just a working dog, mainly because they are so intelligent and good with children.
You’re going to find that Kelpies are typically bred to produce a dog with a “solid” coat, usually black and tan. The coat will be a double coat with a thicker undercoat, making it a bit more durable (i.e., less grooming for you!). But will still require weekly grooming if you want to try to avoid having your house covered in fur. The Australian Kelpie will likely require much less maintenance than a similar dog, such as the Border Collie or Collie since they don’t shed nearly as much or need as much grooming.
But like a Border Collie…
The Australian Kelpie is going to be very similar in size (height and weight) and also be equally as intelligent! This is a good thing if you plan to keep your Kelpie mentally and physically challenged, but probably not such a good idea if you plan on keeping your Kelpie “cooped” up in the house or apartment all day long on their own!
Personality and Temperament
If you describe an Australian Kelpie’s personality in three words, it would probably be intelligent, loyal, and alert. These are all some of the most outstanding qualities you can find in a friend, and that’s what your dog will be: a lifelong friend. But like any good working dog, when these dogs are left alone for extended periods or do not get the mental and physical stimulation they need, they can become quite destructive. And by bad, we mean they can and will chew up about anything they can access!
And many times…
This “destructive” streak can be personal. As we’ve already said, these dogs are brilliant and can be taught to do a wide variety of jobs, including:
- Herding animals,
- Search and rescue operations,
- Detection dogs (drugs or explosive devices),
- Or assistance or therapy dogs
So, it’s not like they can’t be taught not to chew up your shoes! But if you leave them on their own or don’t give them time to blow off steam, your Australian Kelpie might like to “remind” you of his needs by taking some of their pent-up energy and focusing it on something around the house!
Early training and socialization are critical…
Because these dogs are so intelligent and because they will have a natural tendency to want to chase anything that moves, early training and socialization will be vital to owning a well-mannered Kelpie that will get along well with other animals and small children. The good news is that because these dogs are so intelligent and because they “seek” the approval of their owners, most Australian Kelpies make great students, which is why they’re notoriously easy to train and, even after being well-socialized around others, retain an “uncanny” ability to differentiate between “good guys” and “bad guys”!
Potential Health Concerns
Two of the most significant health concerns your Australian Kelpies could encounter are genetic and thus somewhat avoidable with proper breeding history. This is where contacting the Working Kelpie Council may be of some assistance, as they will have information in their breeders’ directory that may help you choose a legit breeder in your area. , There are certain medical conditions you will want to look for when considering which Australian Kelpie puppy or rescue dog to adopt.
Australian Kelpie Health Conditions such as:
- The first sign of progressive retinal atrophy will be if your Aussie is running into things at night or generally appears to have a hard time finding his way around after dark. Ultimately, your dog will probably go blind and require assistance.
- Cerebellar abiotrophy – This is a genetic neurological disease. While knowing the family history of your breed can help, it doesn’t eliminate your dog’s chances. This disease results in poor balance, confusion, and several other problems with daily function. Dogs with this cannot be treated but will require much extra care.
- Luxating Patella – This is a disease of the knees that can be treated. If your kelpie is having difficulty walking, knee replacement may be in the cards. Depending on your vet, that could cost a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.
While these conditions won’t be present in any Kelpie puppy you may be considering; they could be present in their parents or an adult rescue dog you may be considering.
We here at IndulgeYourPet always like to remind folks that while you’re doing your “due diligence” in determining what “type” of dog you may or may not want to adopt, why not also take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy on your new family member as well? A pet insurance policy isn’t always going to be a good fit for everyone, but without knowing what a procedure might cost you, how will you know if getting one isn’t a wise and sound investment?
We encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article for more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies.