The Kelpie came into being last century because Australian sheepmen needed a special type of dog that could work sheep on the vast outback properties, under variable and harsh conditions. The various breeds of sheepdogs from Europe and the UK were too heavy coated to cope with the severe Australian climate and geography.
The wonderful breed came from two black and tan short coated pricked eared collies imported by a Mr Elliott and a Mr Allen in the 1860's.
From a litter born shortly after their arrival came several black and tans and one red pup. The red pup, in some ways, resembled the fox, which was believed to be in the background of the breeding.
From Victoria came a bitch, also from a Collie, called Kelpie (gaelic word meaning water sprite). The Kelpie was mated to a dog from Elliott and allen's pups and one pup from this litter resembled her mother so much she was also named Kelpie.
At 12 months of age, Kelpie was entered in the first sheep dog trial in 1872 which was held at Forbes, NSW. She won this trial with ease. After her trial win her pups were in great demand and were at the time called Kelpie's pups, and so the name Kelpie was evolved. It has since gained the status of Australian Kelpie.
Among the descendants of these early dogs was the jet black dog who was named The Barb. Many black Kelpies were referred to as "Barbs" and the term still persists today.
There are various recorded and unrecorded infusions of other breeds with some experts believing there have been crosses to the dingo. However, this issue is fiercely debated by many breeders and historians.
From these humble beginnings, the Australian Kelpie has been exported to Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands. These dogs are being used to manage a variety of stock including reindeer, goats, cattle, and of course, sheep. Kelpies in Sweden have gained police dog titles and pulled sleds.
The Kelpie has excelled in the areas of Obedience, Agility and Tracking. They have participated in Pets as Therapy and in the past have been fully trained Guide Dogs.
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