OVERVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN KELPIE
The Australian Kelpie is an intelligent medium-size dog breed with high energy and devotion to its duties. They were originally herding dogs and are naturally good at working with sheep.
Fully grown, they stand between 17 and 25 inches tall, and weigh anywhere between 35 to 50 pounds, depending on their gender. Kelpies can have a single or double coat that comes in black, chocolate, fawn, tan, red or a combination of these.
Kelpies are not apartment dogs. They need space to release all their energy. Being cooped up will result in them finding their own avenues for entertainment. This will most likely include chewing, digging up flower beds, and performing a scavenger hunt in the garden and through the trash.
They can be very territorial, which makes them great watchdogs, however, they need to be trained from an early age to direct their instincts appropriately. Kelpies can be trained for almost any task if they have a positive and confident trainer. These dogs love having a job to do. They perform well in sports and make good service dogs and rescue dogs. Although they can carry out their tasks independently, human direction and companionship are very necessary.
Pet parents who take good care of the Kelpie and meet their needs will find an extremely loyal companion in this breed. If you are planning on welcoming an Australian Kelpie to your home, here is everything you need to know to ensure you can provide them with the best care.
AUSTRALIAN KELPIE FOOD AND HEALTH
Australian Kelpies are generally a healthy and strong breed. To ensure your pup is healthy and doesn’t develop genetic diseases and ailments, you should only buy from a good breeder who can show you health clearances for the pet’s parents.
Clearances should have a score of fair or higher for hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease. You’ll also want a certification that their eyes are in excellent health from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). Clearances can be confirmed on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website.
With their active lifestyles, these high-energy dogs need a healthy diet rich in nutrients. Not only do they need nourishment to keep them strong and fit but a nutrient-rich formula will also nourish their all-weather coats. Certified premium dog food, specific to your dog’s age will contain the majority of the necessary nutrients. You can also add natural supplements, although we always recommend consulting your vet before adding anything new to your pup’s diet for the first time.
Never feed a puppy adult dog food. Your pet should be fed according to its age group. This will be clearly marked on the packaging with recommendations for serving sizes depending on their weight. Adapt your pet’s diet to their activity levels, especially if they are not farming dogs who spend a large portion of their time running around farmlands.
If you are cooking your dog’s meals, they should contain 50% human-grade animal protein such as oily fish, poultry, and low-fat muscle or organ meats. The rest of the diet should contain 25% complex carbs such as sweet potato and 25% vegetables or fruit such as pumpkin, bananas, or apples.
Avoid anything with onions, garlic, xylitol, raisins, grapes, chocolate, and caffeine as these can be toxic to your dog. Also avoid additives such as salt, sugar, and high-fat foods. When giving your pup new foods, try a little at a time first to see how their gut and bodies react.
Keep mealtimes consistent and try to feed your pup at the same time every day.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR YOUR AUSTRALIAN KELPIE
If Kelpies are not trained and socialized from a young age, they can be rowdy and difficult to handle when they are older. Kelpies are not hard to train as long as you are a confident trainer who uses a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement. Avoid being too harsh when training your dog, and always keep it interesting. The moment they start to associate training negatively, you will have a battle on your hands. You can train their impressive skills for almost anything.
It is just as important that your puppy is socialized while still small and taken to busy parks. They are naturally suspicious of strangers and can be territorial. If Kelpies are not used to other pets and people, they may end up nipping at guests or kids’ heels. When they are raised with other pets they have no problem living peacefully with them at home.
The Australian Kelpie needs several walks or a good run every day as well as mental stimulation. They also constantly need to be learning new things. A Kelpie is a perfect companion if you enjoy long hikes and expeditions. Keep your pet pal on a leash since they are full of energy and can get excited.
Get your Kelpie used to walking with a harness while they are young. A harness allows you to lead with control without placing any strain on your Kelpie’s neck. Damage from a collar can cause thyroid, trachea, throat, eye or ear problems. Since a harness fits around your dog’s torso it eliminates any pulling on the neck.
A collar is, however, recommended to keep an identity tag on your pup. Measure your dog’s neck circumference to make sure you get the right fit. There should be enough space between your pup’s neck and the collar to slide two fingers in between.
For both the collar and the harness, remember that a puppy is still going to grow. Check daily that they aren’t too tight as it can cause choking or difficulty breathing without you noticing. Upsize as soon as it’s needed.
BEST CRATES, BEDS, AND DOG HOUSES FOR AUSTRALIAN KELPIES
Kelpies are bred to be outside for long periods in different weather conditions. As much as your pup loves being outdoors, there is a good chance that they’ll prefer spending evenings inside with their human family. The climate can also be a major determining factor in deciding on the best sleeping spot for your pet pal.
If you are crate training your pup, there are a few important things to consider. The crate needs to have plenty of airflows and the size must be comfortable for your pup. If you have a puppy, you will need to upsize the crate as they grow or purchase an adult size and section it off while they are still small.
If your pet pal is already an adult, you can determine the right crate size by measuring its full length and height and adding four inches both ways. Measure from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail and add four inches. To determine their height, measure from the ground to the very tallest part of your pup’s head and add four inches.
Take into account that you will still be placing a mattress, bed, or blanket in the crate. Once that is in, your pup needs to be able to stand, stretch out, move and turn around comfortably. Although the crate will be used for training, never use it as a form of punishment. Ensure that it is a safe and happy place for your pup.
If they are going to sleep in the crate, get a crate cover with a flap door. This will turn it into a cozy den while still allowing your pup to come and go as needed.
When choosing a bed or mattress, look for something with a machine-washable and removable cover. Memory foam or orthopedic beds are ideal for older dogs who suffer from joint pain since they provide better support for their bodies.
If you decide to get a dog house for outside, make sure the ceiling is at least 25% higher than your pup when they are standing inside the house. Your pup should be able to stretch out and move comfortably when there is a mattress or blanket inside as well.
Outdoor dog houses should always be weather resistant and slightly raised off the ground. Ensure that all manufacturing materials are non-toxic and check for splinters, sharp edges, and leaks.
A dog house with a detachable roof allows you to air the interior regularly and makes cleaning easier. During summer you can prevent the interior from overheating by removing the top for a while. Be very mindful of where you place an outside dog house. It should neither get excessive sun nor shade.
BEST TOYS FOR AUSTRALIAN KELPIES
If you choose an Australian Kelpie as a companion, be aware that they constantly need a job to do or a game to play. Since they enjoy outdoor activities, there are many toys to choose from.
For puppies, teething toys are essential. This will prevent them from chewing just about everything else they can find. Some teething toys can be frozen while others are flavored and textured. Essentially, they all aim to relieve discomfort and itching.
When your Kelpie is older, durable chew toys such as rubber rings and tug toys are more appropriate. Check that they are made from non-toxic and odor-free materials.
Frisbees, balls, erratic balls, and Kong toys are all great options for Kelpies. A ball launcher can make your pet parent’s duty easier while keeping your energetic pal on the run.
Keep your pet pal mentally stimulated with puzzle dispensers and treat finder toys. These include interactive shuffleboard puzzles and treat dispenser balls.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR AUSTRALIAN KELPIE OWNERS
Australian Kelpies often have double coats with dense undercoats and short straight outer coats. Their outer coats are weather-resistant and they don’t require excessive grooming. Brushing them weekly is generally enough to remove dead hairs and dirt, and distribute natural oils on their coat and skin evenly. They do shed more heavily during spring and may need more brushing during that time.
During their weekly brush, also check for any redness or rashes. Check their eyes, ears, and paws for any irregularities or signs of infection so you can treat ailments before they become serious.
Your Kelpie’s lifestyle and activities will determine how often bathing is needed. If they’re out all day in mud and farmlands, they will require more frequent washing. Give your pet a bath only when they’re dirty or becoming smelly. Washing them too often when not needed can strip their skin and hair of the natural oils to retain a healthy coat.
When it comes to brushing your puppy’s teeth, three times weekly at a minimum is recommended to prevent dental issues and gum disease. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily is, however, best.
It is important to get your pet pal used to being groomed, bathed, and having their paws handled. Make it a happy experience from the very start with positive reinforcement and praise. This will make vet visits and grooming as they get older much easier.
BEST AUSTRALIAN KELPIE ACCESSORIES
We know it can be difficult to carry your and your pup’s necessities along when you’re out and about. Get your pet pal their own backpack for long hikes and days that you will be adventuring together.
The contoured dog backpacks are designed with a quick-drying material and have a loop or D-ring to attach a leash so you don’t need an additional collar. Similar to a harness the design allows your pup to move naturally and walk or run with ease. With durable zipper pouches, your pet pal can carry his own snacks and waste bags. If you run or hike in dim light conditions, opt for a backpack and leash with reflective strips to ensure that your pup remains visible.
Another wonderful accessory to have is a multi-functional dog treat pouch. They are ideal for training sessions. These pouches fasten around your waist and feature a clip to attach a leash. The water-resistant pouches allow you to carry treats, toys, waste bags, keys, a phone, and a collapsible water bowl.
To learn more about medium breeds like the Australian Kelpie, check out our breed hub page.