Australian Kelpie Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Australian Kelpie Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The lithe, hard-muscled Australian Kelpie can work stock for many hours and cover long distances in heat and dust without giving in.
One of the smartest of all breeds, the Australian Kelpie can also be one of the most challenging to live with. His superior intellect, combined with his independence, intensity, and passion for keeping busy, are his best features – and the ones that make him unsuitable for most homes.
This sharp-eyed, quick-thinking, fanatical workaholic must be allowed to do his job with livestock, to learn advanced obedience or agility, to accompany you jogging or biking, or to chase balls or Frisbees.
Without physical and mental stimulation, Australian Kelpies become bored and hyperactive and will drive you crazy with obsessive, destructive behaviors as they seek creative outlets for their energy.
High intelligence means they learn quickly – including how to do anything they set their mind to. They are master escape artists (going over and under fences) and zealous gatherers of cars, bikes, joggers, cats, other dogs, livestock, and running children – circling, poking, pushing, and nipping if the person or animal or object doesn't cooperate.
You must stay one step ahead of this brilliant breed, and most people are simply not up to the task.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium-sized and completely natural-looking
- Is built like an athlete – agile and quick-moving
- Loves to work and thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
- Is smart, versatile, and capable – when well-trained and well-exercised, can learn almost anything
An Australian Kelpie may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Extreme intensity and passion for keeping busy
- Destructiveness and barking when bored or not exercised enough
- Shyness or suspiciousness when not socialized enough
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Chasing and nipping at things that move: children, joggers, other animals, bikes, cars
- Waiting lists (hard to find)
An Australian Kelpie may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Kelpies have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Australian Kelpie to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
If I were considering buying or adopting An Australian Kelpie
If I was considering an Australian Kelpie, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Australian Kelpies MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored – which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
Australian Kelpies were never intended to be simply household pets. Their working behaviors are inappropriate in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their high energy level, is difficult-to-impossible. In other words, I don't recommend this breed if you simply want a pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog on long hikes and to get involved in herding, or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or a similar canine activity that keeps these super-intelligent dogs occupied.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Australian Kelpies need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness
- Mind of their own. Australian Kelpies are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they are independent thinkers. You must know how to be a leader and show them that you mean what you say. My Australian Kelpie Training Page discusses the training program you need.
- Shedding. For such a shorthaired dog, Australian Kelpies shed much more than you might think.
- Finding one. If you live in Australia, working Kelpies are common. But in the United States, this breed is hard to find.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.