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Australian Kelpies: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Australian Kelpie temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Australian Kelpie dog breed

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
  • Shedding
  • Waiting lists (hard to find)

An Australian Kelpie may not be right for you.


Dog Breed Traits – Which Traits Are Right For You?

In this brand new series, I'll help you decide which dog breed traits would best suit you and your family, your home and yard, and your lifestyle, so you can choose the best dog breed for your family.

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.

FREE eBooks by Michele Welton

dog icon"Respect Training for Puppies"  and "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words"  are free step by step guides to teaching your pup to be calm and well-behaved.

dog icon"11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy"  is a free guide to keeping your dog mentally, physically, and emotionally happy and healthy so you can enjoy a longer lifetime of companionship.

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  • 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.

If I were considering buying or adopting An Australian Kelpie

If I was considering an Australian Kelpie, I would be most concerned about...

  1. 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.

  2. 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
  3. 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. Read my free online training programs
  4. Shedding. For such a shorthaired dog, Australian Kelpies shed more than you might think.
  5. Finding one. If you live in Australia, working Kelpies are common. But in the United States, this breed is hard to find.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.

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