Working Kelpie: Breed Profile

| Updated: August 19, 2023
Working Kelpie on a farm in Austalia

Origin History of the Working Kelpie:

The Working Kelpie is a breed of herding dog that originated in Australia in the 1870s. It is believed to be a result of crossbreeding between a set of three pairs of working Collie dogs and other breeds. The breed was developed by J.D. Jack Gleeso, who gave one of these dogs the name Kelpie. This was likely inspired by a shape-shifting water spirit from Celtic mythology that could appear as a horse or human and was known as a Kelpie.

The Working Kelpie was bred to work with sheep and was specifically designed to withstand the tough climate and terrain of Australia. It was valued for its intelligence and ability to work independently and quickly. The breed was later exported to other countries, and the Working Kelpie was soon found performing a multitude of tasks around the world, including detection work, therapy, service dog work, and dog sports performance.

The Working Kelpie is now recognized by the American Kennel Club as a distinct breed and is separated from the Australian Kelpie by the organization. The Working Kelpie is a hardy and energetic breed that requires training, exercise, and lots of mental stimulation. It is a loyal and devoted companion and an enthusiastic worker that is sure to make a great addition to any home.

Working Kelpie Appearance:

The Working Kelpie is a medium-sized dog that stands 18-25 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 28-60 pounds. The breed is known for its distinct coat, which is made up of a mix of black, brown, fawn, and blue colors. The coat is straight, smooth, and of medium length. Working Kelpies have a wide, deep chest, a long tail, and a light, muscular build. They have long, pointed ears that are usually erect and alert, and their eyes are usually dark and intelligent. The Working Kelpie has a thick double coat that helps protect it from the elements and keeps it warm during cold weather.

In terms of physical health, the Working Kelpie is known to be a generally healthy breed. As with all breeds, it is important to feed your Working Kelpie a balanced diet and provide regular exercise and daily grooming to keep them in good health.

Diet and Nutrition:

When it comes to the diet and nutrition of Working Kelpies, it is important to carefully consider their individual needs. Working Kelpies are very active dogs, and as such, require a diet that is tailored to their higher energy levels. Their diet should be high in protein, moderate in fat, and contain complex carbohydrates to provide a balanced source of essential nutrients. It is important to feed your Working Kelpie twice a day, in proper portion sizes according to their weight and age.

It is best to consult your veterinarian or a professional nutritionist for advice on the type and amount of food to feed your Working Kelpie. It is important to be aware that their dietary needs may change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood, and into their senior years. You should ensure that you are providing them with the right balance of nutrition, as well as the right amount of calories, to keep them at a healthy weight.

It is also important to provide your Working Kelpie with the right amount of exercise, as this can affect their dietary needs. If your Working Kelpie does not get enough regular exercise, they are prone to gaining weight. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your Working Kelpie is getting the right amount of exercise for its breed and size.

In conclusion, providing the right nutrition for your Working Kelpie is essential for their health and well-being. It is important to consult with a professional on the type and amount of food to feed your Working Kelpie, as well as ensure that they are getting the right amount of exercise to prevent them from gaining weight.

Working Kelpie
Credit: Lea Scaddan/ Gettyimages

Common Health Issues Affecting Working Kelpies:

Working Kelpies are generally healthy and hardy dogs, but like any breed, they can be prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common problems affecting Working Kelpies include cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, Collie eye anomaly, and cerebellar abiotrophy.

Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles fail to descend. It affects males of all breeds, including Working Kelpies. This condition can cause infertility and an increased risk of testicular tumors.

Hip dysplasia is another common issue seen in Working Kelpies. This is a condition where the hip joint is malformed, resulting in pain and stiffness, as well as decreased mobility. It can be managed with medication, diet, and exercise.

Also Read: Australian Shepherd

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an inherited eye disorder that causes the retina to gradually degenerate over time. It can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is an inherited eye disorder seen in Working Kelpies, which can cause vision impairment or blindness.

Finally, cerebellar abiotrophy is a neurological condition that affects movement. This can lead to signs of tremors, loss of coordination, and difficulty with balance.

It is important to be aware of these health issues and to stay vigilant with regular vet visits. If any of these conditions are present, early detection and intervention can help to manage them.

Interesting Facts About Working Kelpies:

Here are some interesting facts about Working Kelpies:

1. Working Kelpies have an incredible work ethic and can work tirelessly for hours on end. They are often used as working dogs in herding, stock management, and search and rescue operations.

2. Working Kelpies are incredibly intelligent and easy to train. They learn commands quickly, and they have a strong desire to please their owners.

3. The Working Kelpie is known for its loyalty and strong bond with its owners. They are very protective of their families, and they make excellent family pets.

4. In Australia, Working Kelpies are sometimes referred to as the “King of Sheepdogs” because of their hard-working nature and efficient herding skills.

5. Working Kelpies are a relatively new breed, but they have become popular in a short amount of time. They are now recognized by the American Kennel Club and are one of the most popular herding breeds in the U.S.

6. Working Kelpies have a double coat of fur that helps protect them from inclement weather while they work. It also provides them with insulation in colder climates.

7. Working Kelpies have an average lifespan of around 12-14 years, although some can live up to 16 years.

8. The Working Kelpie is a very active breed and needs plenty of exercise and stimulation to stay healthy. They require at least an hour of exercise every day.

Where to Adopt or Buy:

If you’re looking to adopt or buy a Working Kelpie, you have a few options. Firstly, you can check your local animal shelters to see if any are available for adoption. You may also be able to find one through a Working Kelpie Rescue, although these are not as common as other breed rescues. Additionally, you can purchase a Working Kelpie from a breeder, although this can be a more expensive option.

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to do research on the breeder and/or rescue to ensure that they are reputable. You should also consider whether you are able to provide the Working Kelpie with the exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization that they need. Lastly, make sure to find a vet that is knowledgeable about the Working Kelpie breed in order to ensure that your dog gets the best care possible.


In conclusion, the Working Kelpie is an incredibly energetic and loyal dog that is perfect for those who want an active and intelligent companion. With the right socialization and training from the start, the Working Kelpie can make a great family pet and companion to children. These dogs require plenty of room for them to explore and plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

The Working Kelpie’s coat is usually a mix of black, brown, fawn, and blue colors, and grooming should be kept to weekly brushing sessions with daily brushing during shedding season. Finally, during cold months, you may want to consider adding a coat to your Working Kelpie’s wardrobe and during the summer, use dog-safe sunscreen on their ears and nose. All in all, the Working Kelpie is a great breed for those who are looking for an active and loyal companion.


Q: How much exercise does a Working Kelpie need?

A: Working Kelpies are active and energetic dogs that need regular exercise and activity to stay both mentally and physically healthy. As a general rule, aim to provide your Working Kelpie with an hour of exercise daily, which can include a brisk walk, running, playing fetch, or a game of tug-of-war. Make sure to take breaks between bouts of activity to give your Kelpie a chance to rest.

Q: Are Working Kelpies good with children?

A: Working Kelpies generally love children and make great family pets. However, as with any breed, it’s important to always supervise your Working Kelpie around children to make sure they are properly interacting. Additionally, make sure to teach your children how to properly interact with the dog, such as not disturbing them when they’re sleeping or eating.

Q: How often should I brush my Working Kelpie?

A: Working Kelpies are a medium-length coated breed, so brushing them weekly should suffice. However, during heavy shedding seasons, you should brush your Working Kelpie daily to help get rid of dead hair and keep the coat healthy and shiny.

Q: What colors do Working Kelpies come in?

A: Working Kelpies generally come in a mix of black, brown, fawn, and blue colors. The coat is usually described as being straight and smooth, with a medium length.

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