Is any dog as iconically Australian as a Kepie? Except, they’re technically Scottish. We’ll forgive that though, because they made their name working on outback farms where they developed a reputation for being smart, hardworking, athletic, and beyond enthusiastic. To an Australian kelpie loves to have a job is an understatement. They’re totally workaholics who are happiest when they have something to do. Like many farm breeds if you don’t keep them occupied they might start trying to herd you around the house. With all those brains and energy, they’re kind of like the school captain of dogs. You get the sense they probably hate weekends and sleep ins.
As mentioned, Australian Kelpies’ ancestors originated in Scotland where they were bred to work on the moors and across the highlands. Recognising their suitability for farm life, settlers brought them over to Australia in the late 1800s and they’ve been Aussie icons ever since. By 1902 they became one of the earliest breeds to be officially registered in Oz.
Originally they worked on merino wool farms, but now they can be found all over–including in cities and suburbs. Word of warning, their hearts still belong in the country. So if you do want to try and turn them into city-slickers, you better be prepared to give them a farm’s-worth of exercise and excitement.
What You’ll Love about a Kelpie
Smart: You need to be bright to keep up on a farm, and these guys don’t disappoint. They love working, training, and being challenged so are quick to pick up whatever you’re teaching.
Loyal: They might not be total social butterflies, but are known to be devoted to the one or two people they really love. This is part of their history, where they would spend the majority of their time with a single stockman working the land.
Low(ish) maintenance: Being farm kids, they’re not too into grooming. Their double coat and thick undercoat is great in most weather and only needs regular brushing and the occasional wash to look great. Although like most breeds that don’t require clipping, they will shed.
What You Might Find “Challenging”
Energetic: When we say they love to be active we mean it. They need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. A couple of walks won’t do it, on farms they can run up to 60km a day. For them to be happy living in urban areas they’ll want to go on regular runs and jogs with you.
Their big brains also mean they’re quick to get bored. If that happens, they can bark or become destructive.
Not overly social: While they love their families, a kelpie can be weary and skittish around strangers. If you live somewhere they’ll be around new people and pets regularly you’ll need to make an effort to socialise them constantly and from a young age. Although, this had the advantage of making them great guard dogs.
Common Health Issues for an Australian Kelpie
In general, Australian Kelpies are pretty hardy and don’t tend to have many health conditions. Although, no dog is totally invincible.
Eye issues: They can develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cerebellar abiotrophy (CA), and Collie Eye Anomaly– a disorder found under the retina.
Hip Dysplasia: Like many active medium and large breeds their hips can play up.