The Development of the Kelpie Breed:
The name ‘Kelpie’ is a Gaelic term meaning Water Sprite.
The Australian Working Kelpie was developed in the late 1860’s from a number of different sheepdogs in Victoria and NSW. They do not descend from Border Collies, and were actually well established in Australia before the Border Collie breed was developed on the border regions of England.
The early foundation dogs for the breed were Gleeson’s Kelpie (where the Kelpie name originated), Allan & Elliot’s Brutus and Jenny; and Tully’s Moss. Jack Gleeson is regarded as one of the most important men in the development of the Kelpie breed. The early progeny of Gleeson’s Kelpie to a Rutherford strain of sheepdog called Tully’s Moss, were the foundation animals for the Kelpie breed. Gleeson’s Kelpie (a black and tan dog) was also mated to Caesar who was a son of Brutus and Jenny, owned by Allan and Elliot. A pup from this litter was given to Charles King, who proceeded to name the pup, Kelpie. This second ‘Kelpie’ was known as King’s Kelpie, to differentiate her from her dam.
The name ‘Kelpie’ became famous when in 1879, King’s Kelpie, performed exceptionally well at a sheep trial in Forbes NSW. Her work and style was said to be magnificent, resulting in graziers and stockmen wanting a ‘Kelpie pup’.
Sheep numbers increased dramatically in Australia in the late 1800’s. This resulted in a high demand for Kelpies, as they were renowned for their ability to work in the harsh Australian conditions. Their reputation as an excellent sheep dog, was enhanced by the success of a dog called Coil, who was owned by John Quinn. Coil won the Sydney Sheep Dog trials in 1898, gaining a perfect score on day one. He met with an accident overnight and broke his leg. This did not stop him from gaining another perfect score at the trials the next day! He is in the history books as being one of the greatest working kelpies of all time!
Kelpies first entered the world of Dog Shows in 1908. There were 6 dogs and 3 bitches entered into the Royal Melbourne Show that year.
The Australian Kelpie is an extremely versatile breed of dog.
They excel in any form of dog activity, be it Obedience, Endurance, Dances With Dogs, Conformation Shows and of course Herding and Sheep Trials. They are an extremely loyal companion, eager to please their owner. The Australian Kelpie is also a wonderful family pet, provided that they are given regular exercise and attention.