The Kelpie is an Australian Sheep Dog and is considered to be one of only a few truely Australian dog breeds. They are highly skilled musterers and drovers, and can do so with little or no command guidance. Typically medium-sized, they come in a variety of colors. The modern Kelpie can now be found throughout the world and is often used to muster livestock such as sheep, cattle and goats.
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The breed has been separated into two distinct varieties: the show - or bench - Kelpie and the working Kelpie. The show Kelpie is seen at conformation dog shows in some countries and is selected for appearance rather than working instinct. Working Kelpies are bred for working ability rather than appearance.
Australian Kelpies are typically 20 inches tall and have compact, muscular frames. The Working Kelpie breed has an easy-to-groom, weather-proof coat, which is usually black and tan, but can come in various combinations of colors including black, chocolate, tan, red, blue or fawn. The variety of coloration and coat types puts the Kelpie in a select group, as it is not possible to look at an unidentified dog and classify it as a Kelpie.
The Kelpie's orgins are believed to lie in Scotland. The ancestors of the Kelpie were working Sheep Dogs called Collies, of which various breeds contributed to their development. In the early 1800's, some of these collies were imported to Australia for stock work, and were bred to other types of dogs (and possibly the occasional Dingo), but always with an eye to working sheep.
The Kelpie was first registered as an official breed in 1902, and is known to be one of the earliest registered in Australia. Amazingly, the Border Collie - one of the breeds in which the Kelpie shares its origins, wasn't registered as a breed in Britain until four years later.