AUSTRALIAN KELPIE - WORK WORK WORK
THE AUSTRALIAN KELPIE
Australian Kelpie owners and breeders know that this dog was bred to work, work and work. It has almost inexhaustible energy, is highly intelligent, amazing instincts at herding sheep unsupervised and is tough enough to run all day in the harsh Australian outback climate. Outside of work, as family pets they are beautiful dogs with lovely temperaments, highly intelligent and fiercely loyal. Kelpies are becoming increasingly popular not just as work dogs but also as pets.
Official classification: Working Dog
Country of origin: Australia
Size & Weight: Males, 46-51cm Females, 43 – 48cm
Weight: 14kg – 21kg
Canine Snake Avoidance
Canine snake Avoidance training is specifically tailored for kelpies unique weariness and requirement for more positive training. They learn to avoid snakes very quickly however despite the fact that Australian kelpies respond best to “positive only” techniques, to make the training reliable there needs to be some form of negative reinforcement to really ensure the message is received long term. Often in training, the kelpies high intelligence allows them quickly learn that the trainer has something to do with the snakes so sometimes the kelpie becomes increasingly suspicious of the trainer. To remedy this, if possible, canine snake avoidance training occurs with more than one trainer and attempts to have contact outside of training.
About Australian Kelpies
POSITIVE FEATURES OF AUSTRALIAN KELPIES
Kelpies are generally quiet and don’t bark much except when very excited
Kelpies are highly active, eager and must have a purpose
Kelpies are an excellent companion, family, or working dog
Kelpie coats are short and easy to maintain
Kelpies are easily motivated and trainable
If you love exercising outdoors, the Kelpie is the dog for you.
CHALLENGING FEATURES OF AUSTRALIAN KELPIES
You cannot underestimate how much exercise, activity and mental stimulation kelpies require to avoid boredom vices
Australian Kelpies requires intense, vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run
Kelpies have a tendency to herd, and nip at heels, including small children
Kelpies do not respond as well as other dogs to harsh reprimands or negative-reinforcement training. More (but not exclusive) positive training methods go well with kelpies.
History of Australian Kelpies
Kelpies only came onto the dog scene in the late 19th century (around 1870 approximately) exclusively for the rapidly expanding sheep and wool industry in Australia. Australian farmers needed tough dogs that could handle not only the unruly sheep, but also be able to run the huge spaces of land Australia has to offer in the harshest climates. The ancestors of the Australian kelpie include the “collie” (British type herding dog), English shepherd and the Australian shepherd. Despite claims, there currently is no evidence of dingo ancestry.
Following, Australian kelpies were brought into North America and adapted well to the different climates, livestock in farms and ranches but were not used as much as pets are they are in Australia.
Australian Kelpie Appearance
Coat: Kelpies have a Double coat with a shorter, dense undercoat that can be Black, black and tan, red, red and tan, fawn, chocolate, and smoke blue.
Head: The kelpie head is in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is slightly rounded and broad between the ears. The forehead running in a straight profile towards a pronounced stop. The cheeks are neither coarse nor prominent.
Ears: Kelpie ears are pricked and running to a fine point at the tips
Eyes: The eyes are almond shaped, of medium size, clearly defined at the corners, and show an intelligent and eager expression.
Body: Kelpie ribs are well sprung and the chest must be deep rather than wide, with a firm level topline. They have strong and well-muscled loins and good depth of flank. The length of the dog from the forechest in a straight line to the buttocks.
Gait: Kelpie Movement should be free and tireless and the dog must have the ability to turn suddenly at speed with endless stamina.
Legs: 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. 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.
Tail: The tail during rest should hang in a very slight curve. During movement or excitement it may be raised.
Aussie Kelpie Care
Health & Lifespan
Like all dogs, Australian kelpies can have genetic predispositions to certain diseases including: hip dysplasia, knee problems, balance problems, blindness, retained testicle in males, and kelpies love to eat so can be obese. Kelpies are also prone to collie eye anomaly, progressive renal atrophy and cerebellar abiotrophy. That said, it is not common for kelpies to have health issues as they are generally a very healthy breed.
Because you are running your kelpie so much, nails should wear down naturally but need to be checked at least fortnightly. Otherwise, kelpies only require a brush twice a week, except if your kelpie has a double coat whereby it will shed more often. Keep the ears clean and give the occasional bath.
Australian kelpies are extremely eager and alert combined with a tractable and mild disposition. They have endless energy, are loyal, devoted, highly intelligent and an extremely capable and durable dog. The Australian kelpie has a natural instinct and aptitude in the working of sheep, both in open country and in the yard. They can operate without supervision. These dogs are often used in Australia on cattle farms, but are equally as popular as pets for active families. Kelpies are naturally weary so make good watch dogs alerting you to anything suspicious.
Exercise & Training Considerations
Kelpie energy levels need to be taken into serious consideration when training and exercising your dog. If mustering in the farms, they are very easy to manage. As a family dog, they need constant mental stimulation and you will need to give them work all day to satisfy them. Examples include competing in agility and obedience, keeping an eye on children, training them to bring you things around the house, dog sports etc.
You will need to exercise your kelpie regularly. If in an active family, take turns walking or running your dog per day and it may just be enough to meet the energy needs of this amazing breed.
Kelpies instincts are to work solo and think for themselves which needs to be taken into account. Harsh training methods do not work with this dog and they withdraw quickly. One needs to be firm but not “punishing” as kelpies respond very well to positive reinforcement training. Kelpies also are suspicious of anything new or different so socialisation is essential.
The Australian Kelpie
Kelpies were bred for a purpose and today’s dogs hold up to a standard that few others could. Kelpies were made for droving and mustering primary industry livestock such as sheep, goats and cattle and in doing so, require very little guidance or supervision. They are a soft coated, medium sized dog with the word “work” written into their genetic code. Australian kelpies are extremely eager, alert, intelligent with marked loyalty, devotion to due and are known for the inexhaustible energy. Take a kelpie for a marathon run, and when you finish, the kelpie could run the whole track again. They are not aggressive, but do need a job to do or get really bored.
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