The Working Kelpie (a herding breed), is a dog bred and born with purpose – to work.

The Working Australian Kelpie originated around 1870, playing a major role in the development of the sheep and wool industry in Australia. Descended from the British “working coley” (an origin shared with the Border Collie), the Kelpie was bred to handle the harsh, hot landscape, extensive acreage, and unruly Merino sheep. Bred for the harsh conditions of Australia, the Working Kelpie, being a “natural” dog, has acclimated well to all climates and terrain in North America.

Broken Stirrup Ranch Kelpies, Oregon

Ranchers and farmers in North America have found them well-suited to most livestock working situations.  The Working Kelpie has been in North American since shortly after the turn of the 20th century.  These dogs were brought to this continent to expedite livestock handling in the livestock industry.  They can be found in all types of cattle working environments.  Though their primary use in North America has been with cattle, it goes without saying that they are also used on sheep, goats, and any other type of herd animal.

On ranches here in North America, as in the Australian bush, the Working Kelpie often works unsupervised, relying on their own wits to find and gather livestock.  The Working Kelpie is a keen, active dog always ready to work.

Not a Rare Breed

In North America the Working Kelpie has been used and raised as a working livestock dog since the early 1900’s. The Working Kelpie has not carried a high visibility profile in North America as it has been used and bred almost exclusively in working ranch and farm environments in the United States and Canada for nearly 100 years. Though the Working Australian Kelpie has gained popularity in performance sports, i.e, agility, flyball, etc. in the past 2 decades, the inquiries are primarily for cattle work.

While some may believe the Working Kelpie is a “rare” breed, it is not. The Working Kelpie can be found on 6 of the 7 continents, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find some have been in the Antarctica. With tens of thousands of Kelpies going to work each day in Australia and several thousand here in North America, we find it unusual that anyone would consider them “rare.”

For a more information of origin, characteristics, conformation click here.

Physical Description

The general appearance of the Working Australian Kelpie is that of a lithe, active dog showing hard muscular condition, conveying the capability of untiring work.  Movement and action shall be smooth and effortless, with a good length of stride.

The Working Kelpie is a prick earred, slick or short hair coated dog, predominately with tan markings, though they can also be a solid colored. Colors, other than black, may vary from light to dark versions of that color. Minimal white markings on the chest such as a spot, stripe or at most a blaze are acceptable.

Bedell Kelpies, Nevada

The Working Australian Kelpie is predominately: Black and tan, Red and tan, Blue and tan, Fawn and tan. Though less predominate, they may also be solid colored: Black, Red, Blue, Fawn, Cream

Average height and weight of the Working Kelpie in North America is as follows:

  • Males 20 – 23 inches in height at the withers
  • Females 18 – 22 inches in height at the withers
  • Weight averages 35 – 55  pounds for males and 25 – 45 pounds for females
  • Both sexes have strong but not coarse bone
  • Length to height is 10 – 9, from the point of breastbone to buttocks

For a more detailed account of characteristics, conformation and color, click here.