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Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpie

The athletic Australian Kelpie is a working dog, originally bred for herding livestock. While Kelpies are still busy working all around the world, they also make great family pets.

The Kelpie has roots in Scotland, from where farm collies were imported into Australia in the 1800’s. It has been said that the Australian Kelpie was developed through cross breeding Australian Dingos with Black Collies, however research on the DNA of the Kelpie doesn’t support that theory.

It’s easy to see why people may have thought that as they do share similar features, notably those big, upright ears! Kelpies are a medium sized dog, around 38 to 51cm in height and weighing around and 11 to 21kgs.


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Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics


Australia, 1800’s 

Bred for

Working dog, bred for herding 


Medium, 38 to 51cm (height) and 11 to 21kgs

Weight Range

11 to 21kgs


Black, chocolate, red, smoky blue, and fawn, with tan markings 

Life expectancy

10 to 13 years 


Short, double coat that sheds   


Independent, intelligent, energetic

Exercise requirements

High. Likely to excel at sports such as agility

Best suited for 

Very active households

Apartment Friendly

Not recommended


Kelpies are known for their high energy, intelligence and stamina. They are loyal and protective family members, and do well with socialisation with other dogs, people and animals from an early age to ensure good manners later in life. They have a high exercise requirement and are well suited to agility and other sports if they aren’t formally working. Keeping the Kelpie’s body and mind busy is vital to avoid destructive behaviour which can arise out of boredom. The breed also has an independent streak and are best suited to a household of experienced dog people. 


They have a short thick coat, with an undercoat. They do shed fur, particularly with the change of seasons. Brushing at this time is particularly beneficial, however brushing with a pin brush two to three times a week will help to keep the coat healthy. It also gives you a great opportunity to check your Kelpie’s skin for any signs of redness or infection. Prevent parasites by ensuring your Kelpie is on flea and tick control all year round, especially if you and your Kelpie venture into the bush or parkland to exercise. 


When choosing a food for your Kelpie, select a premium food appropriate to your dog’s age and life stage. As Kelpie’s can be very active, a food  which includes joint supplement could be a good choice of diet for your Kelpie. Ensure that you follow the recommended feeding guides on the food appropriate to your pet's size to help avoid obesity and ensure your fur baby gets appropriate nutrition. Make sure your Kelpie always has a supply of fresh, clean water available. 

Common health concerns 

Kelpies active nature is revealed in the top reason for visiting the vet in 2019, which was for bone fractures. Fractures can occur after exercise or play, secondary to motor vehicle or other accidents. All fractures require immediate veterinary attention. 

Arthritis is also common, which can occur as a degenerative change, or secondary to an injury. 

The five most common reasons for a Kelpie to visit the vet (excluding routine care visits) according to PetSure data (from 2019) include:



Average cost for single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment (highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)


Accidents- fractures




Skin Conditions (allergy, infection) 








Neurological condition (seizures)




Gastrointestinal Condition



Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

Most popular Kelpie names

According to PetSure data in 2019 the most popular Kelpie names were:

Most popular names

  1. Ruby
  2. Luna
  3. Archie
  4. Charlie
  5. Dusty
  6. Bella
  7. Frankie
  8. Jack
  9. Blue
  10. Nala

Most popular female names  

  1. Ruby
  2. Luna
  3. Bella
  4. Nala
  5. Tilly
  6. Frankie
  7. Daisy
  8. Evie
  9. Maggie
  10. Milly  

Most popular male names

  1. Archie
  2. Charlie
  3. Dusty
  4. Jack
  5. Blue
  6. Diesel
  7. Rusty
  8. Toby
  9. Banjo
  10. Bear

Did you know?

A kelpie called Red Dog has his own monument in Dampier, Western Australia. He was well known in the area, where he travelled extensively but always returned home. He sadly passed away in 1979 with presumed poisoning. Red Dog inspired a novel and two films. 

Where can I get a Kelpie?

If you’re looking for a Kelpie, check out your local breed specific rescue organisation. Also be sure to check your local pet rescue shelters where you might just find your new best friend! 


  1. Wikipedia, Kelpie, Accessed on 16 October 2020
  2. Dogtime.com, Australian Kelpie, Accessed on 21/10/20
  3. Monument Australia, Red Dog, Accessed on 21/10/20
  4. Fowler, K, ABC Rural, Kelpie DNA study unravels mysterious origins of Australian working dog, but finds no dingo, 28 June 2019, Accessed on 10/11/20

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Bei Bei
Bei Bei