A-z - Animals

australian kelpie

interesting fact
Kelby can walk more than 30 miles a day.
alert and smart
Should be trained from an early age, should be firm but fair

Australian Kelpie as a Pet:

general health
energy level
chewing tendency
family and kid friendly

separation anxiety
preferred temperature
warm climate
exercise needs
be friendly with other dogs
Thoroughbred Cost of Ownership
pack of dogs
male weight
25-45 lbs
female weight
25-45 lbs

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See all Australian Kelpie Dog pictures!

Australian Kelpies, or affectionately known as Kelpies, are bred in Australia as shepherds keep large numbers of sheep in New South Wales and Victoria.

They were bred primarily to take care of the sheep themselves without any real guidance from a shepherd or other human beings. In addition to herding sheep, the breed is also adept at herding cattle and goats.

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Today, there are two different kinds of Kelpies. The first breed was continued as a working dog for shepherds and herding livestock. The second variety is Show Kelpies. Show Kelpies were bred for their performance in dog competition. Kelpies are very intelligent animals and can make great family pets as long as they are given a job, as their working instinct is very strong. They can also become destructive if they get bored.

Kelby Australia infographic

© AZ-Animals.com

history and origin

When many acres of land were opened up in Australia's New South Wales and Victoria states, the number of sheep on those lands skyrocketed into the millions. It was no longer feasible to graze them with humans, so barbed wire was set up. In order to raise sheep over such a large area under harsh climatic conditions such as heat, rough terrain, and sandstorms, a special breed of dog is required. The Australian Kelpie is perfect because it can do multi-person work in the most extreme conditions without getting tired.

The origin of the Kelpie breed has been debated. However, it is known that these dogs originated in Scotland. These canids are black and tan with long fur and semi-erect ears, and are about the size of a collie. In addition, the pups of these dogs produced reddish-brown puppies.

Australian Kelpie middle runner
Kelpie was born to a pair of English Sheepdogs that were shipped to Australia.


Australian Kelpie Health and Recreation

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Owning an Australian Kelpie: 3 Pros and Cons

advantage! shortcoming!
EASY TO Groom : Kelpies are easier to groom than many other breeds and only need brushing once a week. High Activity Needs : Kelpies do best when they are active and have a job to do. They're not just good dogs for lounging around the house.
Excellent Working Dog : Kelpies are excellent working dogs and do well when they get a job. Can Be Destructive : If Kelpies don't get the mental stimulation and exercise they need, they may exhibit destructive behavior.
Loyalty : Kyles are loyal to those they trust. Not always good with young children : Without proper training, Kelpies may try to "chase" or bite young children.
The red and tan Australian Kelpie is herding a flock of sheep.
The Australian Kelpie is a natural shepherd dog.

©KA Willis/Shutterstock.com

size and weight

The Australian Kelpie is a medium-sized dog breed. Males and females generally weigh between 25 and 45 pounds and stand between 17 and 20 inches tall.

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height (male) 17 to 20 inches
height (female) 17 to 20 inches
weight (male) 25 lbs to 45 lbs
weight (female) 25 lbs to 45 lbs
Australian Kelpie is a lovely rusty brown.

©Ellen Levy Finch/Creative Commons

common health problems

Unfortunately, the Australian Kelpie faces more potential health problems than some other dog breeds. Learn what to look out for in order to provide the best care for your dog.

One potential health problem in this breed is progressive retinal atrophy. This is an eye disease in which the retina deteriorates over time. At first, the dog loses night vision, but as the disease progresses, day vision follows.

Patella luxation is another possible health issue for Kelpie. This is a condition in which the kneecap (patella) is not aligned correctly. This can cause them to slip and fall, which can make walking difficult and painful for dogs, especially in more severe cases. These more severe cases may require surgery.

Hip dysplasia, a genetic disorder, is another potential problem to be aware of. In this condition, the bones around the hip are not forming properly, causing them to rub together and causing pain. Dogs may also start to limp or develop a limp on one of their legs. This condition may also require surgery.

To recap, these are some potential health issues that could affect a Kelpie:

  • progressive retinal atrophy
  • Patella luxation
  • hip dysplasia
Australian Kelpie (Canis familiaris) - running
Australian Kelpies are prone to hip dysplasia.


Temperament and Behavior

The Australian Kelpie is fairly even-tempered. This breed exhibits very loyal traits and can be very loyal to members of their family.

Kelpies are also very intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation and regular exercise. If these needs are not met, they will exhibit destructive behavior. They were bred to herd livestock and will still do their best as herding dogs or when they have a job to do. Kelpies also have very alert and active personalities.

The red and tan Australian Kelpie is herding a flock of sheep.
Australian Kelpies are high energy dogs that require a lot of vigorous exercise on a daily basis.

©KA Willis/Shutterstock.com

How to Care for Australian Kelpies

As you prepare your care plan, keep Kelpie's health concerns, temperament, dietary needs, activity needs, and more in mind. This dog breed is unique and requires different care than you would give a dog of a different breed.

best dog food

Always choose a high-quality dog food for your Kelpie. Check with your veterinarian which brand or type of food is best for your dog's individual needs. The exact amount of food your dog needs each day may vary based on his or her weight, age, activity level, metabolism, health issues, and other factors. Again, your veterinarian is a great resource for making sure you're feeding your dog the right amount of food.

After the Australian Kelpie Puppy weened, they need to eat very small amounts of food more frequently throughout the day. This is because the stomach of a puppy is smaller than that of an adult dog. Young puppies should be fed three to four times a day. Two meals a day should be enough until the puppy is six months old. Choose a high-quality puppy food for your Kelpie.

Since patellar luxation and hip dysplasia are both concerns for Australian Kelpies, try to find a dog food with nutrients that cover strong joints and bones.

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The following is AZ Animals Australian Kelpie Food Recommendation – Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food.

This wholesome dog food provides your Australian Kelpie with a healthy dose of glucosamine and calcium for cartilage, bones and joints, keeping your dog happy on his feet for years to come. Vitamin A and Taurine also support eye health in this breed who may suffer from retinal atrophy.

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best for weight loss

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Adult Dry Dog Food

  • Specifically formulated for dogs that are less active and/or have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight
  • The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken powder
  • Whole grains, including brown rice and barley, provide extra fiber to keep your dog feeling full for longer
  • Adding calcium and phosphorus can improve your dog's overall health, especially as they age
  • All minerals are chelated for easier absorption

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Maintenance and Grooming

Kelpies are relatively easy to groom. They have a denser undercoat and a flat, waterproof outer coat. You should brush your Kelpie about once a week to remove any loose hair or other debris. You may also find that your Kelpie needs an occasional bath to keep him or her clean and smelling.

It's also important to trim your Kelpie's nails so they don't grow too long and cause pain when the dog walks. They should also brush their teeth several times a week to prevent dental disease.


It was important to train the Australian Kelby from an early age. This prevents them from becoming too territorial and helps them understand what is expected of them. Remember, Kelpies do best when given a job and will respond well to training designed to teach them the job.


Australian Kelpies are very active dogs that are used to a lot of daily exercise. It's important to help ensure your Kelpie gets enough exercise. This can include long walks, playing or completing tasks assigned to them.

Australian Kelpie (Canis familiaris) - on a sand dune
The Australian Kelpie is very intelligent and a joy to train.

©KA Willis/Shutterstock.com


Kelpies can be very destructive if they get bored, so it's important to make sure your home is puppy-safe. Remove anything that might be a security risk or that you don't want to see destroyed by your Kelpie. In addition to puppy-proofing your home, make sure to choose a trusted veterinarian to take your dog after you bring it home.

Changes in the environment can be stressful for Kelpie puppies, so be sure to give them plenty of attention. It's also important to train and socialize your dog from an early age so they get used to different people and places and learn how to behave appropriately.

Australian kelpie puppy lying on the grass

©Deborah Samwell/Shutterstock.com

with children

Under the right conditions, Kelpies can make great family pets. Since they are instinctive herders, they may try to herd young children if they are not properly trained or socialized. They can also bite children if not trained properly. However, as long as they receive the training, socialization, and stimulation they need, they can make excellent family dogs.

dogs similar to australian kelpies

The Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd and Border Collie are three breeds that are similar to the Australian Kelpie.

  • Australian Cattle Dog: Both the Australian Cattle Dog and the Kelpie are bred in Australia. Both are medium-sized dogs, with the Australian Cattledog weighing about 10 pounds, with an average weight of 46 pounds and the Kelpie at 35 pounds. Kelpies have a double coat, while Australian Cattle Dogs have a denser coat.
  • Australian Shepherd: The Australian Shepherd is a larger dog than the Kelpie. The average male Australian Shepherd weighs 57.5 pounds, while the average male Kelpie weighs just 35 pounds. Both breeds are territorial and can make excellent watchdogs.
  • Border Collie: Both the Border Collie and the Kelpie make excellent livestock herding dogs. They're also about the same size, with an average weight of about 35 lbs. Border collies require more grooming than kelpies and are likely to be more affectionate.
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Australian Kelpie (Canis familiaris) - puppy in the grass
The Australian Kelpie is a herding dog that will often chase away children playing in the yard.

© Eliska_vys/Shutterstock.com

famous australian kelpies

Australian Kelpies appear at many dog shows. Some of the more well-known members of the breed include:

  • Coil: Coil was a Kelpie who won the Sheepdog Trials in Sydney in 1898 with the highest score.
  • Koko: Kelpie Koko played the role of "Red Dog" in a movie of the same name. The Red Dog is a kelpie that was widely known and loved in Australia in the 1970s.

Here are some of the most popular names for Australian Kelpies:

  • dingo
  • boomerang
  • dusty
  • Archie
  • Australian
  • Mira
  • island
  • pippa
  • ocher
  • kiwi fruit

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about the author

Heather Hall

I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

Australian Kelpie FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is the Australian Kelpie a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore?

Australian Kelpies are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom does the Australian Kelpie belong?

The Australian Kelpie belongs to the animal kingdom.

What category is the Australian Kelpie?

The Australian Kelpie belongs to the class Mammalia.

What phylum does the Australian Kelpie belong to?

The Australian Kelpie belongs to the phylum Chordate.

What family does the Australian Kelpie belong to?

The Australian Kelpie belongs to the canine family.

What order is the Australian Kelpie?

The Australian Kelpie belongs to the order Carnivora.

What genus is the Australian Kelpie?

The Australian Kelpie belongs to the genus Canis.

What type of covering does the Australian Kelpie have?

The Australian Kelpie is covered in hair.

How many children does an Australian Kelpie have?

The average number of babies for an Australian Kelpie is five.

What are some interesting facts about the Australian Kelpie?

The Australian Kelpie is friendly, intelligent and energetic!

What is the scientific name of the Australian Kelpie?

The scientific name of the Australian Kelpie is Canis lupus.

How much does it cost to own an Australian Kelpie?

The price to buy an Australian Kelpie from a breeder can vary widely. While the average Australian Kelpie costs just $400, you can buy one from a reputable breeder for between $800 and $3,400. Adopting a Kelpie from a shelter (if you can find one) is much cheaper and should only cost you a few hundred dollars.

Besides the cost of adopting a puppy, don't forget about all the other supplies Kelpie will need. Think food, dog beds, toys, treats, crates, and more. You also need to budget for veterinary care. The first year of owning your dog is likely to be the most expensive, and you'll want to budget between $1,000 and $1,500. The next few years should get a little cheaper, but still make sure to budget between $500 and $1,000 for everything your dog needs.

Are Australian Kelpies Good Family Dogs?

Australian Kelpies can make great family pets. However, it is imperative to ensure that they receive the required training and socialization. Otherwise, they may try to "drive" or bite young children.

How Long Do Australian Kelpies Live?

The average lifespan for an Australian Kelpie is between 10 and 13 years.

What is the Australian Kelpie Cattle Dog?

The Australian Kelpie is a dog bred with her livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats. This breed is easy to train and does a variety of job duties well.

Can Kelpies Be Inside Dogs?

Kelpies can be inside a dog, but they also need to perform "duty" throughout the day. They were bred to be working dogs, and if not tasked, they would build up excess energy and become destructive.

What breeds are Australian Kelpies made up of?

The Australian Kelpie is derived from the Australian Scottish Shepherd and Dingo.

What does an Australian Kelpie look like?

Kelpies are a medium-sized dog with a relatively compact body. They have longer heads and lower tails. This breed has a double coat and comes in a variety of colors including brown, tan, black, fawn, red, chocolate or blue.

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  1. American Kennel Club, available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/australian-kelpie/
  2. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Kelpie
  3. Dogtime, available here: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/australian-kelpie#/slide/1
  4. Your purebred puppy, available here: https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/australiankelpies.html
  5. ABC, available here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-06-28/kelpie-study-finds-no-detectable-dingo-dna/11250106#:~:text =The% 20kelpie%2C%20a%20herding%20dog, over %20%204%2C000%20years%20ago.
  6. Purina, available here: https://www.purina.com.au/en/puppies/breeds/kelpie#.YBTsw-gzZPZ
  7. Next day pets, available here: https://www.nextdaypets.com/Australian-Kelpie.htm#:~:text=You%20should%20budget%20anywhere%20from,Australian%20Kelpies%20sold%20is %20%24400.
  8. Kiddle, available here: https://kids.kiddle.co/Australian_Kelpie#:~:text=Kelpies%20are%20able%20to%20travel,get%20and%20keep%20them%20moving.