Suthenskys Australian Kelpies

Kelpie Standard / Facts

'Dash' is a working kelpie and 'Tammy' is a show bred kelpie

Dash her friend Chloe


On this page, I will try to provide the general information about the Australian Kelpie that is commonly asked for. Most of the information will be taken from books or articles that I have found. So if there is anything in particular you would like to know about, please let me know and I will endeavour to research it and place the answers here on this page. This page will always be a 'work in progress' so please come back from time to time to visit and see what has been added. 

Below is a short outline of the Australian Kelpie, as per a booklet given out General Information on the Australian Kelpie by they ANKC. (Australian National Kennel Council)



The Kelpie came into being last century because Australian sheep men needed a special type of dog that could work sheep on the vast outback properties, under variable and harsh conditions. This was a result of the various breeds of sheepdogs from Europe and the UK having proven too heavily coated to cope with the severe Australian climate and geography.

The wonderful breed came from two black and tan short-coated prick eared Collies imported in the 1800s. Various other breeds have contributed to the  evolution of the Kelpie as well.

From these humble beginnings, the Australian Kelpie developed to the stage where it has now been exported to Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK, USA, South America, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany, France and the Netherlands. These dogs have been successfully used to manage a variety of stock, including reindeer, goats, cattle and, of course, sheep. Kelpies in Sweden have gained police dog titles and pulled sleds. They are also being widely used as search and rescue dogs.


When considering a dog, please realise that you are taking it on for its lifetime. Australian Kelpies live from between 12 to 16 years of age.


Height at shoulder:

Dogs                            46 - 51 cms (18 - 20 ins)

Bitches                        43 - 48 cms (17 - 19 ins)


Kelpies have excelled in the areas of obedience, agility and tracking. They have participated in pet therapy programs and have even been utilised as fully trained Guide Dogs. The finest characteristic of the Kelpie, however, is its irresistible personality. The breed is extremely alert, eager and highly intelligent, with a mild, tractable disposition. These dogs show marked loyalty and real devotion to duty.

Although bred primarily for working sheep, the 'show bred' Australian Kelpie has proven itself to be a very adaptable and versatile dog.




As a companion animal, the Kelpie has few equals. Loving, gentle and kind, its greatest joy is being on the receiving end of its owner's tender loving care, while its greats disappointment is inactivity and lack of attention. Obedience provides a great way of getting to know and share the needs of this highly intelligent breed of dog. The Kelpie is largely free from most inherited diseases and is quickly house-trained and is an easy dog to feed - eating almost anything given.

The Kelpie needs about the same amount of exercise as other healthy young dogs. This can mean freedom to run in a very big yard or regular long walks. A smaller yard would obviously necessitate more frequent walks.

The Kelpie coat is relatively short and needs little maintenance. It is a double coat with a dense undercoat that will require additional combing when moulting (about twice a year). An occasional bath is desirable.

If you are thinking of buying a Kelpie pup, make sure that you are prepared to commit to the amount of time and degree of attention it deserves, as this breed will want to be your constant companion. Remember that the cheapest purchase often ends up being the most expensive in the long run, so be prepared to pay a fair price for you puppy.

Take time to learn about the breed, in particular its care and training requirements. It is important to ensure that your yard is fully fenced.


Contrary to uninformed opinion, this breed adapts well to being a family pet, jogging companion, children's mate and guardian. It craves companionship, making it among the most social of breeds.


Now you know a little about the Australian Kelpie and have decided this is the dog for you or you want more information, make contact with the breed clubs or your State controlling body for purebred dogs as listed below. They will be able to give you more information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the breed and its needs.


The Kelpie Standard



GENERAL APPEARANCE - The general appearance shall be that of a lithe, active dog of great quality, showing hard muscular condition combined with great suppleness of limb and conveying the capability of untiring work. It must be free from any suggestion of weediness.

CHARACTERISTICS - The Kelpie is extremely alert, eager and highly intelligent, with a mild, tractable disposition and an almost inexhaustible energy, with marked loyalty and devotion to duty. It has a natural instinct and aptitude in the working of sheep, both in open country and in the yard. Any defect of structure or temperament foreign to a working dog must be regarded as uncharacteristic.

TEMPERAMENT - (See under characteristics)

HEAD AND SKULL - The head is in proportion to the size of the dog, the skull slightly rounded, and broad between the ears. The forehead running in a straight profile towards a pronounced stop. The cheeks are neither course nor prominent, but round to the foreface, which is cleanly chiselled and defined. The muzzle, preferably slightly shorter in length than the skull. Lips tight and clean and free from looseness. The nose colouring conforms to that of the body coat. The overall shape and contours produce a rather fox-like expression, which is softened by the almond-shaped eyes.

EYES - The eyes are almond shaped, of medium size, clearly defined at the corners, and show an intelligent and eager expression. The colour of the eyes to be brown, harmonising with the colour of the coat. In the case of blue dogs a light coloured eye is permissible.

EARS - The ears are pricked and running to a fine point at the tips, the leather fine but strong at the base, set wide apart on the skull and inclining outwards, slightly curved on the outer edge and of moderate size. The inside of the ears is well furnished with hair.

MOUTH - The teeth should be sound, strong and evenly spaced, the lower incisors just behind but touching the upper, that is a scissor bite.

NECK - The neck is of moderate length, strong, slightly arched, gradually moulding into the shoulders, free from throatiness and showing a fair amount of ruff.

FOREQUARTERS - The shoulders should be clean, muscular, well sloping with the shoulder blades close set at the withers. The upper arm should be at a right angle with the shoulder blade. Elbows neither in nor out. The forelegs should be muscular with strong but refined bone, straight and parallel when viewed from the front. When viewed from the side, the pasterns should show a slight slope to ensure flexibility of movement and the ability to turn quickly.

BODY - The ribs are well sprung and the chest must be deep rather than wide, with a firm level top line, strong and well-muscled loins and good depth of flank. The length of the dog from the fore chest in a straight line to the buttocks, is greater than the height at the withers as 10 is to 9.

HINDQUARTERS - The hindquarters should show breadth and strength, with the croup rather long and sloping, the stifles well turned and the hocks fairly well let down. When viewed from behind, the hind legs, from the hocks to the feet, are straight and placed parallel, neither close nor too wide apart.

FEET - The feet should be round, strong, deep in pads, with close knit, well arched toes and strong short nails.

TAIL - The tail during rest should hang in a very slight curve. During movement or excitement it may be raised, but under no circumstances should the tail be carried past a vertical line drawn through the root. It should be furnished with a good brush. Set on position to blend with sloping croup, and it should reach approximately to the hock.

GAIT/MOVEMENT - To produce the almost limitless stamina demanded  of a working sheepdog in wide open spaces the Kelpie must be perfectly sound, both in construction and movement. Any tendency to cow hocks, bow hocks. stiltedness, loose shoulders or restricted movement weaving or plaiting is a serious fault. Movement should be free and tireless and the dog must have the ability to turn suddenly at speed. When trotting the feet tend to come closer together at ground level as speed increases but when the dog comes to rest it stands four square.

COAT - The coat is a double coat with a short dense undercoat. The outer coat is close, each hair straight, hard, and lying flat, so that it is rain-resisting. Under the body, to behind the legs, the coat is longer and forms near the thigh a mild form of breeching. On the head (including the inside of the ears), to the front of the legs and feet, the hair is short. Along the neck it is longer and thicker forming a ruff. The tail should be furnished with a good brush. A coat either too long or too short is a fault. As an average. the hairs on the body should be from 2 to 3 cms (approx. 0.75 - 1.25 ins) in length.

COLOUR - Black, black and tan, red, red and tan, fawn, chocolate, and smoke blue.

SIZE - Height: Dogs 46-51 cms (approx. 18-20 ins) at withers. Bitches 43-48cms (approx. 17-19 ins) at withers.

FAULTS - Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

NOTE - Male animals should have two apparently normal testicals fully descended into the scrotum.

Working Dog Group A.N.K.C. Copyright  January 1998


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Lee-Anne McLean
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Email : [email protected]


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