Working Kelpie

31-46 lbs
Australian Sheepdog, Kelpie, Australischer Kelpie, Barb

Most people believe that the Working Kelpie and the Australian Kelpie is the same exact breed, and while technically they would be correct, there is one main difference between the two. The Working Kelpie has remained true to his roots and is able to perform all the jobs for which he was bred. The Australian Kelpie has moved away from being able to properly perform the job he was bred for and more towards the conformation and uniformity. The Working Kelpie may differ in looks from dog to dog, but he is intelligent, agile and able to work as a herder. Working Kelpies are able to register with the Working Kelpie Council of Australia or can also be dual registered with the Federation Cynologique Internationale as a Working Kelpie. The Australian Kelpie can only be registered with the FCI as an Australian Kelpie. 

purpose Purpose
Drover or Herding
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry
Collie, Dingo, Cattle Dog

Working Kelpie Health

Average Size
Male Working Kelpie size stats
Height: 18-20 inches Weight: 31-46 lbs
Female Working Kelpie size stats
Height: 17-19 inches Weight: 31-46 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
Minor Concerns
  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy (Ataxia)
Occasional Diagnoses
  • None Known
Occasional Tests
  • CERF
  • Complete Physical Examination

Working Kelpie Breed History

The history of the Kelpie is not documented well and many researchers have tried to find his origins only to come up with theories, not actual fact. It is believed that the Working Kelpie developed from three pairs of working Collies that were imported by early landholders in Australia. It is unclear whether these Collies were Border Collies or Scottish Collies. However, since the breed is affected with Collie Eye Anomaly or CEA, it is speculated that these working Collies were the Scottish Collies. It is known and well documented that one of the foundation females for the Kelpie breed was a black and tan working Collie owned by George Robertson of Worrock Station. This female was then either given or sold to J.D. “Jack” Gleeson who named the female “Kelpie”. Jack Gleeson trained Kelpie to work the sheep. Gleeson was then given an all black dog named “Moss” who came from dogs imported from Scotland. Kelpie and Moss were bred together and their offspring is thought to be the start of developing the Working Kelpie breed. It is thought that the offspring of this mating was then bred to cattle dogs of various origins and also to dingoes. The resulting offspring were then bred back to dogs similar to Kelpie and Moss to set type. However, the drovers were not overly concerned with the look of the dog as long as he was able to perform the job he was supposed to. The Working Kelpie was found in many different colors but the black and black and white Kelpies were commonly called Barbs. Even today, many in Australia call them Barbs. The modern Working Kelpie can be traced back to the 1870s and although research is still being done on the breed, it is obvious from the look and genetic makeup of the breed he developed from the Collie, Cattle Dog and Dingo. The United Kennel Club recognizes the Australian Kelpie and the Working Kelpie as one breed. However, the American Kennel Club has decided to accept both the Australian Kelpie and the Working Kelpie into its Foundation Stock Service as two distinct breeds. 

Working Kelpie Breed Appearance

The overall appearance of the Working Kelpie can very drastically since breeders are more focused on function not look. He is a medium-sized, well-muscled dog that is able to work for long periods of time without becoming overly tired. He has wide set eyes that are oval in shape and medium sized. He should have an eager and alert expression. His eyes can be dark brown, blue or amber in color, although dark brown is the most desirable. His nose should be black but it can be brown or self-colored depending on his coat color. He has a short, straight topcoat that is weather resistant. His coat can be slightly longer on the underside of his tail, around his neck and on the back of his thighs. Usually, he has a dense undercoat that is softer. The Working Kelpie’s coloring can be any coloration and markings that are historically associated with the breed. This basically means almost any coloration is acceptable except solid white or brindle. 

Eye Color Possibilities
blue Working Kelpie eyes
brown Working Kelpie eyes
amber Working Kelpie eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Working Kelpie nose
brown Working Kelpie nose
Coat Color Possibilities
black Working Kelpie coat
blue Working Kelpie coat
brown Working Kelpie coat
fawn Working Kelpie coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Working Kelpie straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Working Kelpie Breed Maintenance

Some Working Kelpies do have a double coat that will shed seasonally. When he is shedding heavily, he will need to be brushed daily. Otherwise, brush him once a week or so to keep any shedding to a minimum and remove any dead hairs. This will keep his coat healthy and glossy. Use a slicker brush to groom him, a de-shedder may also be used when he is shedding heavily. He does not have a strong smell unless he has just come in from working with the stock, generally, he should only need a bath a few times a year. If you notice a strong smell, use a dry shampoo between baths to freshen his coat. The hair between his foot pads should be trimmed to keep him from collecting dirt or debris between his toes and causing lameness. Most Working Kelpies will naturally wear their toenails down when they are working the stock, but it is a good idea to check every few weeks to make sure his nails are not overly long. 

Brushes for Working Kelpie
Slicker Brush
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Working Kelpie requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Working Kelpie Temperament

The Working Kelpie is always alert and eager to work. He is an extremely high energy dog and requires a lot of exercise to keep him happy. Most Working Kelpies do well on a ranch or farm where their skills are being put to good use. He is not recommended for apartment living or for families that are not active. He needs a job to do or he will develop bad behaviors that will drive his family crazy. He is easy to train and wants to please you. The Working Kelpie would excel at dog sports such as agility, obedience, dock diving, herding trials or even Frisbee toss. Dog sports are also a great way to bond with him and help him expel some of his energy. Expect to spend a good deal of time with your Working Kelpie if he is not being used to work sheep or cattle. He will also need early socialization to ensure he is able to fit into a family home. Training is also important and should be started at an early age. The Working Kelpie does need a strong fence to keep him safe when he is not working.

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes
activity minutes

Working Kelpie Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.1 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00
food bag monthly cost

Working Kelpie Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Working Kelpie size stats at six months
Height: 15.0 inches Weight: 17.5 lbs
Female Working Kelpie size stats at six months
Height: 14.0 inches Weight: 17.5 lbs
12 Months
Male Working Kelpie size stats at 12 months
Height: 17.5 inches Weight: 30.0 lbs
Female Working Kelpie size stats at 12 months
Height: 16.5 inches Weight: 30.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Working Kelpie size stats at 18 months
Height: 19.0 inches Weight: 38.5 lbs
Female Working Kelpie size stats at 18 months
Height: 18.0 inches Weight: 38.5 lbs

Working Kelpie Owner Experiences

2 Years
5 People
House & Yard
I live in Arizona so my kelpie sheds an incredible amount. He is very high energy but can also be get laid back when given enough exercise. He is naturally a skinnier dog I feed him more than recommend(he loves to eat and have treats/snacks) but he doesn’t put on much weight. Extremely friendly with kids, we have a two year old and a 7 month old and he lets them pull on his tail or touch his ears or even put their hands in his mouth and food bowl and it doesn’t faze him. He also loves little dogs and sometimes it’s hard to tell him it’s time to stop playing because a lot of dogs don’t have the energy he has so after a while they’re tired and he’s still excited to play.
3 years, 9 months ago
2 Years
5 People
Playing fetch ... and ball toss and teaching him
He's crazy stubborn ... He's playful and energetic as expected but i really wish i have more time to meet up with his energy
3 years ago
4 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Brilliant temperament, highly intelligent, loves cuddles. Needs a 'job' to keep mind and body focused. Has an 'off' switch and she loves lounging on the couch.
2 years, 8 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd