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Australian Kelpie
Australian Kelpie

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Country of origin: Australia
Patronage: Farm dog, smart, mature, good at training
Weight 14–20 kg (31–44 lb)
Height 41–51 cm (16–20 in)
Coat: short double coat
Color: black, black and tan, red, red and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan, cream

The Kelpie is an Australian sheep dog successful at mustering and droving with little or no command guidance. They are medium-sized dogs and come in a variety of colours. Kelpies have been exported throughout the world and are used to muster livestock, primarily sheep, cattle and goats.

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.

The Kelpie is a smooth-coated, medium sized dog generally with prick ears and an athletic appearance. Working Kelpies are bred for work and endurance, rather than physical appearance. Coat colors include black, black and tan, red, red and tan, blue, blue and tan, fawn, fawn and tan, and cream (yellow). Kelpies generally weigh 14–20 kilograms (31–44 lb) and measure 41–51 centimetres (16–20 in) at the withers.

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Breed standards
Robert Kaleski published the first standard for the Kelpie in 1904. The standard was accepted by leading breeders of the time and adopted by the Kennel Club of New South Wales. Contemporary breed standards vary depending on whether the registry is for working or show Kelpies. It is possible for a dog to both work and show, but options for competition in conformation shows might be limited depending on ancestry and the opinions of the kennel clubs or breed clubs involved.

In Australia, there are two separate registries for Kelpies. This is one of the most popular sheep dogs in the world. Working Kelpies are registered with the Working Kelpie Council (WKC), which is the primary authority on the breed standard, and/or the State Sheepdog Workers Association. The WKC encourages breeding for working ability, and allows a wide variety of coat colours. The wide standards allowed by the WKC mean that Working Kelpies do not meet the standard for showing. Show Kelpies are registered with the Australian National Kennel Council, which encourages breeding for a certain appearance and limits acceptable colours. Only Show Kelpies may be shown in Australia.

Breed standards outside Australia
In the USA, the Kelpie is not recognised as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The North American Australian Kelpie Registry, which promotes the dog as a working breed, does not want the breed to be promoted by the AKC. Kelpies are recognised by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in the United States and may compete in UKC events. Kelpies are also recognised by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) in Canada and may compete in CKC events. The Svenska Working Kelpie Klubben also does not permit Working Kelpies to be shown.

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Working Kelpies
The Working Kelpie comes in three coat types: smooth, short, and rough. The coat can be almost every colour from black through light tan or cream. Some Kelpies have a white blaze on the chest, and a few have white points. Kelpies sometimes have a double coat, which sheds out in spring in temperate climates. Agouti is not unusual, and can look like a double coat.

Working Kelpies vary in size, ranging from about 19 inches to as much as 25 inches and from 28-60 lbs. The dog's working ability is unrelated to appearance, so stockmen looking for capable working dogs disregard the dog's appearance.

A Working Kelpie can be a cheap and efficient worker that can save farmers and graziers the cost of several hands when mustering livestock. The good working Kelpies are herding dogs that will prevent stock from moving away from the stockman. This natural instinct is crucial when mustering stock in isolated gorge country, where a good dog will silently move ahead of the stockman and block up the stock (usually cattle) until the rider appears. The preferred dogs for cattle work are Kelpies, often of a special line, or a Kelpie cross. They will drive a mob of livestock long distances in extremes of climates and conditions. Kelpies have natural instincts for managing livestock. They will work sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, and other domestic livestock. The Kelpie's signature move is to jump on the backs of sheep and walk across the tops of the sheep to reach the other side and break up the jam. A good working Kelpie is a versatile dog—they can work all day on the farm, ranch, or station, and trial on the weekends. Kelpies compete and are exhibited in livestock working trials, ranging from yards or arenas to large open fields working sheep, goats, cattle, or ducks.

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Show Kelpies
Show Kelpies are restricted to solid colours (black, chocolate, red, smoky blue, fawn, black and tan, red and tan) in a short double coat with pricked ears. It was during the early 20th century that Kelpies were first exhibited, at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Different kennel clubs' breed standards have preferences for certain colours. Show Kelpies are generally heavier and shorter than working Kelpies.

Show Kelpies generally excel in agility trials and may be shown in conformation in Australia. 'Riley', an Australian Kelpie, set the world record for dog jumping when he jumped 2.95 metres at the Casterton, Victoria Kelpie Festival. In his previous 30 high jumping competitions he was defeated only twice.

Kelpies are a hardy breed with few health problems, but they are susceptible to disorders common to all breeds, like cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, cerebellar abiotrophy and luxating patella. Current research is underway to find the genetic marker for cerebellar abiotrophy in the breed.

The ancestors of the Kelpie were simply (black) dogs, called Colleys or Collies. The word "collie" has the same root as "coal" and "collier (ship)". Some of these collies were imported to Australia for stock work in the early 19th century, and were bred to other types of dogs (possibly including the occasional Dingo), but always with an eye to working sheep without direct supervision. Today's Collie breeds were not formed until about ten or 15 years after the Kelpie was established as a breed, with the first official Border Collie not brought to Australia until after Federation in 1901.

Kelpies have been claimed to have some Dingo blood; as it was illegal to keep dingoes as pets, some dingo owners registered their animals as Kelpies or Kelpie crosses. Kelpies and dingoes are similar in conformation and colouring. There is no doubt that some people have deliberately mated dingoes to their Kelpies, and some opinion holds that the best dilution is 1/16–1/32, but that 1/2 and 1/4 will work. As the Dingo has been regarded as a savage sheep-killer since the first white settlement of Australia, few will admit to the practice.

The first "Kelpie" was a black and tan female pup with floppy ears bought by Jack Gleeson about 1872 from a litter born on Warrock Station near Casterton, owned by George Robertson, a Scot. This dog was named after the mythological kelpie from Celtic folklore. Legend has it that "Kelpie" was sired by a dingo, but there is little evidence for or against this. In later years she was referred to as "(Gleeson's) Kelpie", to differentiate her from "(King's) Kelpie", her daughter. The second "Kelpie" was "(King's) Kelpie", another black and tan bitch out of "Kelpie" by "Caesar", a pup from two sheep-dogs imported from Scotland. Again, there are legends that these two sheep-dogs may never have seen Scotland, and may have had dingo blood. "(King's) Kelpie" tied the prestigious Forbes Trial in 1879, and the strain was soon popularly referred to as "Kelpie's pups", or just Kelpies. The King brothers joined another breeder, McLeod, to form a dog breeding partnership whose dogs dominated trials during 1900 to 1920.

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An early Kelpie, Sally was mated to Moss a smooth haired Collie and she produced a black pup that was named Barb after the black horse, The Barb who won the Melbourne Cup in 1866. This then was how black Kelpies became known as Barb Kelpies.

There were a number of Kelpies called 'Red Cloud'. The first and most famous was John Quinn's Red Cloud in the early 20th century, and then in the 1960s another "Red Cloud" that became very well known in Western Australia. This started the tradition in Western Australia of calling all red or red and tan Kelpies, especially those with white chests, Red Cloud Kelpies.

Kelpies have now been exported to many countries including Argentina, Canada, Italy, Korea, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States for various pursuits.

Recently Kelpies have been trained as scent dogs with good success rates. In Sweden they are widely used for tracking and rescue work.

The Australian legend Red Dog died November 21, 1979. A movie based on this story was made in 2011. 
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Why herding sheep is dogs' work

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

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An Australian kelpie, like this one, helped solve the mathematical mystery of how one dog can manage to control and move so many silly sheep.

How does a single dog get so many sheep to move so efficiently in the same direction?

The answer - revealed by a team of UK and Swedish scientists this week in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface - is that sheepdogs use just two very simple rules.

The researchers fitted highly accurate GPS tracking devices into backpacks that were placed on a trained Australian Kelpie sheepdog and on a flock of 46 female merino sheep in a five-hectare field.

They used the GPS data to build a computer model of what prompted the dog to move, and how it responded.

The dog's first rule is to bind the sheep together by weaving around side-to-side at their backs. Once this has been achieved, it implements the second rule and drives the group forward.

"We had to think about what the dog could see to develop our model. It basically sees white, fluffy things in front of it," says Dr Andrew King of Swansea University.

"If the dog sees gaps between the sheep, or the gaps are getting bigger, the dog needs to bring them together."

Daniel Strombom of Uppsala University explains: "At every step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not.

"If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it's already cohesive, the dog will push the herd towards the target."

Single sheep dogs can successfully herd flocks of 80 or more sheep in their everyday work and in competitive herding trials.

But the model suggests that, in theory, a dog could herd more than 100 by following the two simple rules.

"Other models don't appear to be able to herd really big groups - as soon as the number of individuals gets above 50 you start needing multiple shepherds or sheepdogs," says Strombom.

But the work goes beyond scientific curiosity.

"There are numerous applications for this knowledge, such as crowd control, cleaning up the environment, herding of livestock, keeping animals away from sensitive areas and collective or guiding groups of exploring robots," says King. 
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Man's best friend: Sharing the love of kelpies with community at Maitland Show

1233 ABC Newcastle By Robert Virtue
Updated about 6 hours ago

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PHOTO: Mr Attard owns approximately 30 kelpies on his farm at Young, NSW. (1233 ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)

It is a quintessential Australian image — a farmer out in the paddock under a hot sun, with his loyal kelpie by his side.

But what is it about this particular breed of dog that makes them so valuable to farmers?

At this year's Maitland Show, kelpie trainer Anthony Attard will demonstrate how to train the dogs, and will share an insight into why the canines are so beneficial on farms.

Very trainable, intelligent dogs

Anthony Attard, 46, has always had a love of kelpies.

"I just love their attention to you; they're very trainable dogs," he said.

"They're great companions who really just want to please you when they're working; they're very intelligent dogs.

"I do believe that they do have dingo in them, which really gives them the intelligence, and they've got the stamina of a dingo."

Mr Attard operates a breeding stud with an estimated 30 dogs at his home in Young in the NSW central west, and is visiting Maitland for the first time to demonstrate at the city's agricultural show.

His love of the breed and sharing his knowledge of them is so strong that he spends many weeks on the show circuit, travelling as far as Moss Vale, Milton and Goulburn to demonstrate.

Dogs can run up to 100km per day

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PHOTO: Kelpie trainer Anthony Attard is demonstrating at the Maitland Show. (1233 ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)

The dogs Mr Attard has brought to Maitland are predominantly black with tan-coloured markings.

He said many people were not aware of the dogs' skill and intelligence.

"A lot of people actually would like to have them as pets, but they're not recommended as pets in suburbia because they're such an active dog," Mr Attard said.

"They're dogs that can run up to 100 kilometres a day; they're very, very energetic.

"A lot of people don't have the understanding of what the natural instinct of these dogs is.

"These dogs are a gathering dog, so they actually draw stock towards the handler."

Tips from a trainer

At the Maitland Show, Mr Attard will speak of the different steps to be taken when training kelpies.

"For the first year, all we do is give them access to the sheep a couple of times a week for simply five minutes, and let them show us all their natural work," he said.

"So we don't actually try and teach them anything except for a simple re-call and call-offs, so that we can catch the dog when we finish our training session.

"When they're a year old, we actually start our training, so we start putting our lefts and rights on the dogs, any commands basically.

"But the first year, we like the dogs to just show us what they've got."

Mr Attard said one of the big challenges was teaching discipline.

"The biggest thing is not having an arrogant dog, which is something we've bred out of our dogs," he said.

"An arrogant dog is not going to work with you."

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PHOTO: Mr Attard loves the intelligence and loyalty kelpies have. (1233 ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)

Companionship is key

With long days spent in the paddocks, Mr Attard said kelpies provided valuable companionship.

"On the farm you're out there a lot by yourself, so it's just me and the dogs, and we're doing our stock work or doing a bit of fencing," he said.

"The dogs just hang around and come over for a pat every now and then.

"I do believe that at times they do talk back to us, which is quite enjoyable.

"It is a real pleasure to see a dog think for himself rather than being told what to do." 
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The Australian kelpie: New book looks at mysterious origins of world-famous working dog

Landline By Tim Lee
Updated Sat at 10:14pm

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PHOTO: The Australian kelpie is famed as a working dog. (ABC News)

The Australian kelpie is acclaimed as the best all-round stock dog in the world, but the breed's origins have long been shrouded in mystery — now a new book claims to have found some vital answers to its ancestry, including proof of a dash of dingo in its DNA.

Key points:
  • New book points to dingo DNA from Fraser Island and the mainland in the Australian kelpie

  • Author Bill Robertson said dingo genes came about in late 1870s, when one mated with a collie

  • Fines for early sheepmen for keeping dingo-cross dogs thought to be behind secrecy of bloodline
If you have ever watched a kelpie at work and noted similarities to Australia's native dog, the association is more than coincidental.

Renowned for its boundless energy, speed, tenacity and supreme ability to herd and move stock, Australia's most famed working dog owes some of its qualities to Australia's native dog.

The kelpie, proclaimed an official dog breed in 1905, is widely acknowledged to derive from Scottish collies bred at Warrock Station near Casterton in western Victoria in the late 1870s.

Today the breed is found everywhere — from sheep country in the dusty outback to the frozen wastes of the Arctic where it is used to herd reindeer.

Some historians go as far as to say that without the kelpie, sheep flocks could never have inhabited vast tracts of Australia's harsh inland and the nation's ride to prosperity through wool might never have happened.

Now a book by former champion shearer Bill Robertson claims to have uncovered the real story behind the origins of the working dog.

"There were 26 versions that we had counted of how the kelpie dog originated and where it came from," said Mr Robertson.

His book Origins of the Australian Kelpie — Exposing the myths and Fabrications from the Past, is a detailed investigation the breed and the result of 12 years' work.

It has long been rumoured that the original kelpies were developed by interbreeding Scottish collies with the dingo.

Mr Robertson turned to science to try and find a definitive answer.

"I decided I'd get the University of New South Wales to do DNA testing on some foundation bloodlines," he said.

He paid for the tests and though expensive, he said it was money well spent.

"The final analysis was that there was between 3 and 4 per cent dingo markers in the kelpie strain and those dingoes were both from Fraser Island and mainland Australia."

'It's the spirit, the grit, the ability to handle the heat'

Mr Robertson believes the infusion of dingo genes began at Warrock Station in the late 1870s when a dingo or dingo-cross was bred with a collie. But why has the dingo's pivotal role remained hidden in the shadows of the past?

Mr Robertson said the answer was obvious — that as the scourge of sheepmen, dingoes were reviled. For much of Australia's history a bounty was paid for each one destroyed.

Punitive fines were even imposed on anyone who kept a dingo-cross, so secrecy meant the real story of the kelpie's origins was shrouded in speculation and mystery.

But Mr Robertson said there was no mistaking the dingo's legacy in the modern kelpie.

"It's the spirit, the grit, the ability to handle the heat and the never-say-die characteristic," he said.

"I've seen them so sore they didn't know which foot to put down because they've got bindies [burrs] in every foot.

"And you've gotta say 'wow' that's a courageous dog. And that's where my passion came from, seeing them work in the back country."

Not everyone agrees with Mr Robertson's conclusion. Tony Parsons, an author and authority on the kelpie believes the dingo genes came into the breed came later — several decades into its development.

Unfortunately the DNA tests that confirm the presence of the dingo in the kelpies' ancestry are unable to determine when those dingo genes were introduced to the breed. 
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