The Australian Kelpie is usually classified by being either a work dog or a show dog. They have a compact body and are slightly longer than they are tall. The chest is broad and the head is long and narrow. The tail is of medium length and can be smooth or bushy. They have short feet with arched toes. The coat can be smooth, short or rough. The coat is usually made up of a short undercoat which is dense and an outer coat which is straight. Many Australian Kelpies have a white patch on the chest. The ears can be pricked or flopped and are pointed. The eyes are almond shaped and wide set. They can be any color from gold to brown and usually match their coat.
The coat of the Australian Kelpie is short and straight. The outer hair is flat and the undercoat is dense. The hair on the head, ears, feet and legs is short with longer hair at the neck area.
The Australian Kelpie is thought to be a mix of Dingo and Border collie. However, further inspection proves that they really came from England North Country Collies. They were actually taken to Australia from England in the 19th century. They still widely used as herd dogs and work dogs in Australia. The two types of Australian Kelpie – Show Kelpie and Work Kelpie – are different in that the Show Kelpie does not have the herding instinct that the Work Kelpie does.
The Australian Kelpie is well known as a work dog. It will work hard and never gives up. Working is a very important part of their life and they are dedicated to doing a good job. They are free spirited and need something to do at all time since they hate being bored. With a lack of something constructive to do they will become, so they must be kept busy and entertained or engaged. They are devoted but usually choose one person as their ultimate companion. They do not do well inside and are more suited for outside living.
Australian Kelpies are easy to train and known for being exceptional learners. They will respond to a signal in an instant. This comes from their past as a working dog. They still hold onto their natural instincts to herd and will try to herd everything from other animals to children. One of the distinctive characteristics of this breed is when they are herding sheep in the fields they will often run across the backs of the sheep to save time and be more efficient. Although they are often used for herding sheep they can be used to work with almost any animal.
The Australian Kelpie is not known as an aggressive breed. The Australian Kelpie is known for being protective and will protect their family and property at all costs.
Australian Kelpies are generally a healthy breed, but can suffer from common canine ailments. They can get progressive retinal atrophy which can lead to blindness, cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, cerebellar abiotrophy and trick knee.
This outdoor dog is, luckily, simple to groom. All the Australian Kelpie really needs is an occasional brushing and a bath only when necessary. Its coat is designed for the outdoors and stays fairly clean on its own. Too frequent grooming can actually be harmful because it strips the coat of weather proofing oils.
It is important to have a regular routine of checking for cuts, bruises and loose teeth that may result from the work the dog does. The nails should also be watched so they do not get too long.
As a work dog, the Australian Kelpie needs purpose in his exercise routine. He should be given exercises that make him feel like he is accomplishing something. Simple exercise is not for the Australian Kelpie. They have a lot of energy and love to run. They are the athlete of the dog world and should be given an exercise program such as a person would use if they were in training as an athlete. A good exercise program will consider their need to accomplish something, their high energy level and their need to be engaged mentally in a task. When they do not get enough exercise they can become destructive.
The Australian Kelpie is fairly easy to train. Their independent nature and drive to work alone may make them rather noncompliant at times. They require a good relationship with their owner in order to be properly trained.
They are very good at learning complex tasks that require thinking and intelligence. They will often use their own judgment and may have trouble waiting for a command before reacting.
They need a varied training schedule so they do not get bored. Repetition will not work well with this breed. The trainer must establish that he is the leader and the dog is to follow to get the best training results.