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Australian Kelpie: Origin | Facts | Heights | Size | Weight

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Australian Kelpie: Origin | Facts | Heights | Size | Weight

Australian Kelpie (Australian Shepherd Dog): a tough, brave, devoted and very intelligent dog -Origin | Facts | Heights | Size | Weight.  The Australian Kelpie (Australian Shepherd Dog) it could easily adapt to all sorts of flocks, but it is mainly used with merino sheep, producers of fine wool.

Taking care of livestock is therefore the activity that best fits your instinct. Descended from Fox Collie, a Scottish smooth-haired dog, he was imported to Australia by a sheep farmer. The Australian Kelpie (Australian Shepherd Dog) has been successful in the wastes of this immense continent.

Let’s find out together this wonderful dog resistant, courageous, devoted and very intelligent: theAustralian Kelpie (Australian Shepherd Dog).

■ Solid construction;
■ Robust but of modest size;
■ Long and fine head;
■ Straight and pointed ears;
■ Almond-shaped eyes;
Deep chest;
■ Straight back;
■ Short and smooth coat;
■ Height at the withers: from 46 to 51 cm for males; from 43 to 48 cm for females;
■ Ideal weight: from 13 to 15 kg;
■ Average life span: 12-14 years.

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1. Origin and history

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Like his “cousins”, theAustralian Shepherd Dog (another Australian Shepherd) and theAustralian Cattle Dog (the Australian mountain dog), theAustralian Kelpie (Australian Shepherd Dog), was bred by English colonists who settled in Australia in the last century.

These crossed indigenous dogs with British ones to obtain animals suitable for Australian climatic conditions.

In 1870, an immigrant named Alien, who with his partner Elliot devoted himself to raising sheep, decided to import a pair of smooth-haired collies, called Fox Collies, from Scotland.

At the time it was believed that these dogs were crossed with foxes, both because they traced their appearance and because the puppies were red. In reality, since such a cross is biologically impossible, this hypothesis was the result of an aesthetic suggestion.

Curiosity: only the Fox Collies proved capable of withstanding the Australian climate. The immigrants had already tried to introduce other collies, for example the Rough Collie and the Smooth-haired Smooth Collie, but these dogs did not have the physical temperament necessary to carry out their work in the immense semi-desert expanses of Australia.

Two splendid specimens of Fox Collie, Jenny and Brutus, they embarked for Australia and reproduced during the crossing. Upon their arrival, the litter was already born and in particular a puppy, Cesar, looked decidedly promising.

As soon as they arrived at their destination, both the parents and their offspring were employed in the management of flocks becoming extraordinary guardians: Jenny, Brutus, Nero is Laddie (the brothers of Cesar) worked with ardor and efficacy, without ever barking.

Their reputation as shepherds spread quickly to Victoria. Here, a certain Mr Gleeson owned a female of the same race, called Kelpie, who was crossed with Cesar.

The small black and fawn female born from this union was purchased by a certain Mr. King, who called her Kelpie like the mother. In Forbes, in 1873, Kelpie he won a race of shepherd dogs: from that moment the selection of the breed began.

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Due to the small number of specimens available, breeders had to resort to crossbreeding in some cases, while other times the Kelpie were crossed with native dogs, including the dingo.

In fact, they borrowed greater physical resistance. Meanwhile, the breed was about to be officially recognized: in 1908, two subjects were presented with the name of “Kelpie“at Melbourne’s first Royal Show, arousing admiration from the judges.

Curiosity: the Kelpie were once classified into two distinct varieties, depending on whether or not they had a black coat. The black specimens were called “Barb“, named after the grandson of Kelpie II, which generated subjects of ebony black color, famous for being avid and resistant workers. Eleven Barbs were presented at the Canberra exhibition in 1943. This distinction is out of date, but the elderly factors continue to call the black Kelpie by the name of Barb.

The Kelpie is not the only working dog employed in Australia. He has two famous “cousins”, the Australian Mountain Dog and the Australian Shepherd.
– The first, called Australian Cattle Dog, has a more original appearance than that of the Kelpie and is enjoying considerable success in the United States.
– The second, theAustralian Shepherd Dog, is of Basque origin and came in the wake of the Basque colonists in the 19th century.

The Kelpie has a striking resemblance to the dog of the island of Phu Quoc, located in the Gulf of Siam, in the South China Sea: it has the same elongated spitz-type head, the same straight ears, the same line.
Can it be concluded that the Australian Kelpie was crossed with Indochinese breeds? Most likely not: the resemblance to the dog on the island of Phu Quoc is due to a simple coincidence.

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2. Lively and attentive, he is an indefatigable and alert dog

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– Character and behavior
Intuition, speed and tenacity make Australian Kelpie one of the best shepherd breeds currently active.
Australia and its inhabitants are extremely proud of this dog. In addition to leading the flocks, he must protect them against wild dogs.
He is able to travel over 60 km a day following a large flock, which he is able to drive with great skill. The vigorous Kelpie is an irreplaceable aid for breeders.

He is practically unknown outside his country, where, on the other hand, he is widespread and where his working dog skills are recognized and highly appreciated.

The Australian Kelpie (Australian Shepherd Dog) is an indefatigable dog. After over a century of constant practice, Australian Kelpie is now at the peak of its specialization.

On the largest island in the world, which has about one hundred and fifty million sheep, breeders consider it a valuable support.

Unlike European or Asian sheepdogs, who are often “unemployed”, Kelpie are actively employed in running the flocks.

The main qualities of Australian Kelpie are robustness and the desire to give the best of themselves in all circumstances. It does not fear the heat, even when it is very intense, nor the distances to travel. He is completely dedicated to his task and faces the difficulties without fear.

Light, agile, he has the power to change direction suddenly. Its constitution is suitable for this task: solid legs, slightly inclined pastoral, feet with wide and resistant soles. Furthermore, the fur texture is perfectly insulating.
Smart and alert, the Kelpie is chosen in some cases as a guard dog. Despite not being a large breed, it is very effective.

Accustomed to leading the flocks, he has considerable authority: he performs the role of guardian with acuteness and manages to put outsiders to flight without barking obsessively.

He is very close to the family: despite having been crossed with the dingo, he has no “wild” character traits and deeply loves his masters. However he is not an apartment dog: he hates being closed and needs a lot of space.
The Kelpie is not a companion dog, therefore it almost never has relationships with children. However, he is a very friendly animal, able to sympathize with his shepherd’s children, to play with them and to protect them when necessary.
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■ The standard is very demanding regarding its locomotor system.
True. The heading “gait” states: “In order to be able to produce the energy necessary for a shepherd dog working in large spaces, the Kelpie must have a perfectly compliant construction and locomotor system. Garretti
arched or retracted, low shoulders, too short an extension are serious defects “.
■ Light eyes are prohibited.
False. The eyes must be brown, in harmony with the coat, but a lighter color is allowed in blue-merle subjects. It is a feature that gives it an almost hypnotic look.
■ In closed grounds it is less effective.
False. The Kelpie shows the same diligence in the management of the sheep both in freedom and in closed ground.
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■ Resistant
■ Brave
■ Very intelligent ■ Fast
■ Sweet
■ Faithful
■ Devoted
■ None
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3. The abc of the perfect master

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■ Kelpie has indisputable natural qualities, but Australian Shepherds must still train it.
The first exercises are carried out starting from three months: the carry-over, the habit of the collar, the commands “sitting”, “on the ground”, “on the foot”, “stationary”. These are the early stages of training each working dog.

■ The specific training of the future shepherd starts around eight or nine months, but already before then the dog must know the sheep.

■ The main maneuvers taught at Kelpie are:
– the grouping (the Kelpie must group the sheep);
– the distance (a dog who is too passionate about his work is excessively close to cattle: he must learn to keep further behind);
– the arrest in the head (before the sheep cross a road, the Kelpie must be able to stop them);
– the folding of the sheep (the shepherd dog must reject the head group and remain in front of the flock until the sheep have deviated the path);
– the separation of the flock (this exercise, contrary to the instinct of the dog, is very difficult, but necessary when you want to find an animal in a large flock).

■ Allow him to follow his vocation.
■ Teach him patiently the profession of shepherd, which requires a lot of attention
■ After work, offer him reward and rest.

■ Prevent him from biting systematically: if a sheep dog that bites wrongly is undesirable, the one that never draws the attention of the beasts risks being ineffective.
■ Switch to a new command if it has not perfectly memorized the previous one.
■ Let go of unnecessary and abrupt gestures.
■ Talk to him too severely.

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4. Living space, nutrition, health and care

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– Vital space
In Australia, the flocks of merino sheep are concentrated in the southeastern regions, where the climate is very dry.
In some cases the protracted drought is fatal for crops and livestock. The responsibility of the Kelpie during these periods is to guide its flocks to the waterways.

Accustomed to living hard, in sometimes extreme conditions and traveling long distances every day, this pastor always needs to keep busy.
Even if he is tied to his farm and his owner, he is happy to do without the comforts and prefers to sleep in the open air.
A lover of space and freedom, the Kelpie prefers the countryside and would suffer if he was transplanted to the city.
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To maintain its athletic qualities unaltered, the Kelpie must receive a rich and balanced diet.

Eat 250 g of beef or sheep meat every day, accompanied by 125 g of pasta and 125 g of vegetables.

He must always have fresh water at his disposal, because he often returns home dehydrated. In Australia, dry industrial food is not the suitable food, as the need for liquids increases.

Like all farm dogs, the Kelpie has a habit of gnawing bones. Only veal or ox bones can be offered, while sheep, chicken and rabbit bones that can stick in the throat or intestine must be excluded.
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Health and care

Australian Kelpie has robust health and an enviable physical fitnesscharacteristics that allowed him to adapt to a harsh lifestyle.
The standard emphasizes its natural vigor: “Noble and lively, with solid musculature, with light and resistant legs, it must not give the impression of thinness or weakness”.

The only real danger to his health is the heat stroke, especially while the dog is working. At the first sign of malaise it is necessary to cool the animal, transporting it to the shade and bathing it with cold water, or even completely immersing it in the liquid.

The Kelpie does not have to be groomed, but sometimes it is necessary to brush it vigorously to remove the coat dust.
Like all dogs, it must be freed from intestinal worms and fleas. The cleanliness of the ears and eyes should be checked regularly.
Finally, it is necessary to pay special attention to the paws and plantar pads, since during the activity it travels tens of kilometers per day.
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■ It is a dog that has to work
■ Needs to live outdoors
■ Has the instinct of the shepherd
■ Docile, learn easily
■ Strong sense of duty
■ Must be fed with good quality food
■ Always in shape
■ Enjoys excellent health
■ In Europe it is very rare

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5. The standard of the breed

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ORIGIN: Australia
UTILIZATION: Shepherd dog
CLASSIFICATION F.C.I .: Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (excluding i
Swiss Cattle Dogs)
Section 1 Sheepdogs
With working trial


It must be that of a high quality dog, lively and active, with strong muscles combined with great agility, which expresses the possibility of doing tireless work. It must be devoid of any hint of frailty.


The Kelpie is extremely active, zealous and very intelligent, with a mild and docile character, and with an almost inexhaustible energy, with marked loyalty and devotion to his duty. He has a natural instinct and aptitude for working with the flock, either
in open countryside than in fences. Any element of character and structure, which is extraneous to the working dog, must be considered as typical defects.

HEAD: it is in proportion to the size of the dog. The set of shape and profiles give the dog an almost fox expression, mitigated by almond-shaped eyes.

– REGION OF THE SKULL: Slightly rounded skull and wide between the ears. The forehead comes with a straight profile at the stop.

Stop: pronounced.

– Muzzle region:

Truffle: the color harmonizes with that of the coat

Muzzle: clearly chiseled and defined, preferably slightly shorter than the skull

Lips: snug and clean, not hanging

Teeth: they must be sound strong and regularly spaced, with the lower incisors just behind, but touching the upper ones; i.e. scissor bite

Cheeks: neither large nor protruding but rounded

Eyes: they have an almond shape, medium size, clearly defined at the corners, and have a zealous and intelligent expression. The color of the eyes must be brown, in harmony with the color of the coat. In the case of blue dogs, a lighter color is allowed.

ears: they are erect and end at the top in a fine point; the pavilion is fine and strong at the base. They are well spaced on the skull and inclined outwards, slightly curved on the outer edge and of moderate size. The inside of the ears is well covered with fur.

NECK: moderate in length, strong, slightly arched, it gradually merges into the shoulders, without skin released in the throat and with an abundant collar.

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BODY: the length of the dog measured in a clear line from the chest to the buttocks is greater than the height at the withers in the proportion of 10 to 9.
Top line: firm and horizontal
Kidney: strong and very muscular
Croup: rather long and oblique
Chest: deeper than wide
Ribs: well try
Hips: of good depth

TAIL: at rest the tail should hang with a slight curve. In motion it can be raised, but in no case should it be carried beyond the vertical line that passes through the insertion. It should be provided with hair that forms a good brush. Inserted so that it merges with the sloping line of the croup; it should be about as long as the hocks.


FRONT: forelegs should be muscular with strong but not coarse bones, straight and parallel when viewed from the front

Shoulders: clean, muscular, well oblique with shoulder blades well supported at the withers

Arm: it should be at right angles to the shoulder blade

Elbows: neither outside nor inside

Pastern: when viewed from the side, it should show a slight inclination to ensure flexibility of movement, and the ability to turn quickly

REAR: they should show breadth and strength. When viewed from behind, the legs, from the hock to the foot, are straight and parallel, neither narrow nor too far apart.

Knee: well angled

Hock: rather descended

Feet: they should be round, strong, with thick pads, and fingers well closed and arched; strong and short nails.

GAIT: for the unlimited resistance required of a shepherd dog working in open spaces, the Kelpie must be perfectly healthy, both in construction and in movement. Any tendency to have cow or barrel hocks, frailness, weak shoulders or limited movements with a meandering or crossed gait, is a serious defect. The movement should be loose and tireless and the dog must have the ability to suddenly change direction while running.
At trotting the feet tend to move closer to the ground when the speed increases, but when the dog is at rest, they must be perpendicular to the ground.


HAIR: it is a double coat with a dense and short undercoat. The outer coat is thick, with each coat straight, hard and flattened, such as to be waterproof. Under the body, behind the legs, the hair is longer and forms a kind of calzone near the thigh. On the head, (including the inside of the ears), on the front of the limbs and feet, the hair is short. Along the neck the hair is longer and thicker and forms a collar. The tail should be provided with a good brush. Too long or too short hair is a defect. On average, the hair on the body should be 2 to 3 cm long.

COLOR: black, black and fire, red, red and fire, fawn, chocolate and ash blue

CUT IT: The size at the withers: for males from 46 to 51 cm and for females from 43 to 48 cm

FAULTS: any deviation from the above must be considered a defect and the severity with which it must be penalized must be proportionate to its severity.

N.B. Males must have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

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