Australian Kelpie - Information and NZ Breed Standards

Membership ID

Australian Kelpie

General Information - Australian Kelpie



10-13 years

very high


very high

Watchdog ability:
very high

Protection ability:

Area of Origin:

Date of Origin:

Other Names:
Kelpie, Barb, Australian Sheep Dog

Original Function:
cattle and sheep herding


The Australian Kelpie, also referred to simply as the Kelpie, or the Barb if it is all black, was developed in Australia in 1800's to herd livestock. A New South Wales cattle grazer called Allen imported a couple of English Collies into Australia in 1870. One of their offspring was bred with a local black-and-tan bitch named Kelpie. Her progeny became the basis for the breed which was first exhibited in 1908.


The Australian Kelpie is a compact, robust, enthusiastic, and tireless working dog. Excellent at herding, the Australian Kelpie is the most popular and successful working dog. Kelpies are devoted one-man dogs but are often far too work-oriented and energetic for a house or apartment existence. Their easy trainability and keenness on the job make them a fundamental component of the Australian work force. They are ready to respond immediately to any signal given by its master, even from a great distance. They are good with children when they are raised with them from puppyhood. Kelpies will try to herd other dogs, pets and animals whether they want to be herded or not.

This workaholic will work until it drops. In their native country of Australia, Kelpies work all day even in intense heat, covering 1,000 to 4,000-plus acres. The breed uses "eye" similar to the Border Collie’s on the tractable stock, but utilises its nipping ability to turn more stubborn cattle. Kelpies can muster thousands of sheep from pasture to pen to truck. The Kelpie will jump on the back of the sheep in a tightly packed flock and run lightly to reach the other side. They make excellent watchdogs and can also be trained as seeing-eye dogs. The Australian Kelpie is not an aggressive dog, but can be protective when needed.


The Australian Kelpie was bred to be active and tireless. This dog needs a lot of physical and mental activity, more than a simple walk on a leash can provide. A good jog or long workout, coupled with obedience lessons or other intellectual challenges, is essential every day. It is happiest when it has a job to perform, and especially when that job is herding. The Australian Kelpie can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates. It is unsuited for apartment life. Its coat needs brushing or combing weekly to remove dead hairs.

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