The Working Kelpie Council of Australia

Breed Society for the Australian Working Kelpie


Welcome Message

Welcome to the home of the Working Kelpie Council. We are a national organisation dedicated to the continued growth and excellence of the Working Kelpie breed.

From humble beginnings, the Working Kelpie developed to the stage where it has now been exported to Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK, USA, South America, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany, France and the Netherlands. These dogs have been successfully 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. They are also being widely used as search and rescue dogs.

We have a wide selection of information in our Website including the history and origin of the breed, training methods and characteristics of the breed. Want to buy a pup? We have the current list of pups for sale in the Breeders Notes. Looking for a breeder? We have an excellent search engine (Locate a Breeder) to help you find a breeder near you.

How To Choose Your Dog - By the late Mike Donelan

I remember an Englishman who had fought in the first World War, with both the British and Australian troops. His definition of a good handler of troops was "plenty of discipline with the Tommies and plenty of freedom with the Aussies". This applies to the Australian Kelpie and is sound advice to those who handle Kelpies.

There is no doubt that you can make a 'push button dog' out of a Border Collie, who thrives on discipline, but generally, the Kelpie is more of an individual who likes to 'do his own thing' than his British cousin. So, unless you accept this basic facet of the Kelpie, you have chosen the wrong breed and should look for another with a much more reactionary nature.

The first and soundest word of advice, which applies to buying any animal, is 'buy the best!'. The dog may not turn out to be a champion but you have more chance with a well-bred one than one 'off the neighbour' or getting one 'out of Bill Jones' good bitch', or 'a pup by old Tom's good dog'.

Secondly, decide the purpose for which you want your dog; yard work or paddock work. Very, very few dogs will do both these tasks capably. Genetically, any animals that are widely opposed in type and style do not produce offspring that are in between the two. All rounders are the hardest of all dogs to breed. Ask yourself the question, "Can I really run my stock enterprise with one dog? and should I do so?". You should plan the type of dogs you need.

Most stockmen have more than one dog, sometimes three or four, specialising in different jobs. I personally think it sound practice when working Kelpies to have a good paddock dog. When you get to the yards with the mob he will have done a lot of work, so tie him up. Then let your other yard dog work and you will have a fresh dog. You will have your stock work done faster and more efficiently.

When buying your Kelpie, choose a breeder who has good bloodlines. Avoid the breeder who has 'old Dot, the best casting and paddock bitch in the country, and mated to Rover, the best yard dog in the country, so she'll have pups that will be champion all rounders'. Too many prospective owners are obsessed with wanting a dog that has a good cast, is a wide worker, a good droving dog, plenty of bark in the yards and backs sheep naturally. I sometimes wonder would they also like the dog to count the sheep out the gate for them!

The Australian countryside is full of farmers who plan their homes, their fencing, their watering points and wool sheds. They buy good rams and bulls and yet don't even think of their dogs on whom they depend to run these enterprises almost every day.

A rule of thumb calculation is that it is wiser to pay approximately what you would pay your shearer in two days and buy a well bred pup. Thus, if he turns out a fair dog, he should be better value than a man's work for two days of the year. Avoid, 'like the plague' the dealer who buys sheep dog types from the city pound. He takes them home and tries them – if they bark or run round sheep he sells them as 'sheep dogs' to the unwary and inexperienced. A short cut, and cheap but unsatisfactory method of obtaining your Kelpie.

A good dog is one of the cheapest investments you can make on your property. He is an important labour saving device in this era of high cost labour. Find a breeder who has dogs that do work similar to your own. Ask the breeder for references of dogs bred by him working in your area, on your type of country. If he is a responsible breeder he will be more than willing to meet this request.

Another big decision for the prospective Kelpie owner to make is whether to buy a pup or a broken in dog. From experience with Kelpies, the soundest advice I can offer is to break in your own dogs if possible. Kelpies are very faithful, so the pup that grows up with you is generally a better dog than the one I would break in and sell to you. He is basically a one-man dog, and he usually does not take to strangers for a long time. This is even more noticeable with the good ones.

It is sound practice to have a young dog coming on each year or so. If you lose one, or he is getting old, you have a built-in insurance policy at the cheapest possible rate. Don't put yourself in the position of so many people who ring the Kelpie breeder urgently, saying he is in the middle of shearing and his dog was hit by a car and wants an all rounder to replace him. If you have your young dog coming on, this can be avoided.

There is much unexplainable prejudice towards colour in the selection of the Kelpie. So many would-be buyers seem to base their preference on the colour of a deceased favourite dog. Hence if 'old Rover' was red, they want to replace him with a replica. Hardly an intelligent criterion on which to base their choice.
Actually, the only colour guide, if any, in choosing a working Kelpie is a sign of tan markings on the face, chest, paws, etc on a predominately black, red, blue or fawn body. This is opposed to the show type Kelpie which is mainly solid black or red colour. Some buyers will not even entertain the idea of a fawn or cream dog, yet two of the all time great Kelpie sires were these colours. These were Woombi Zinc and Porters Don. Colour has little or no relation to a dog's working ability.

As far as 'bark' in a dog is concerned, I feel generally that the dog for yard work or forcing work of any kind needs to bark. The dog used in large paddocks or in those with little or no visibility should not bark as this will 'spook' the stock.

2024 National Kelpie Field Trial Championship Results

The trial was held in Kellerberrin Western Australia 20-21 April 2024.

1 Aoidh Doyle
2 Nan Lloyd
3 Adrian Carpenter
4 Gary White
5 Ken Atherton
6 Gary White
6 Kevin Howell

Bloodline for WHISPER SNIP can be seen here....

The National Kelpie Field Trial Championship of 2024 was a showcase of the finest Kelpie sheepdogs and their handlers from around the country. It was held against the backdrop of scenic countryside and embodied the rich tradition and heritage of sheepdog trials in Australia.

Throughout the championship, spectators were treated to a series of captivating trials that put the Kelpies' intelligence, agility, and teamwork to the test. Each trial presented a unique challenge that underscored the remarkable bond between handler and dog. As the competition unfolded, the air buzzed with excitement and anticipation, with participants vying for top honours and the coveted title of National Kelpie Field Trial Champion.

The championship was not just a competition, but also a celebration of camaraderie and sportsmanship within the sheepdog community. Handlers supported one another through triumphs and setbacks, and forged lasting connections centered around their shared passion for working dogs. Amidst the competitive spirit, there was a palpable sense of mutual respect and admiration for the dedication and skill displayed by both dogs and handlers alike.

In the end, as the final trials concluded and champions were crowned, the National Kelpie Field Trial Championship of 2024 left a lasting impression on all who attended. Beyond the thrill of victory, the event served as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Kelpie breed and its integral role in the rich tapestry of Australian agriculture. The participants carried with them memories of camaraderie, competition, and the enduring bond between human and Kelpie.

Below is part of an educational article the WKC commisioned by Deborah Maxwell BVSc.

We acknowledge and thank Deb Maxwell BVSc for the time and effort she put into the presentation of these articles.

The Full article can be downloaded here....


Update July 2020 by Deb  Maxwell BVSc

With tests now available for CA, the number of CA affected pups being born can be greatly reduced.

In every mating, for each CA type, one parent must be clear.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA) in Kelpies causes ataxia and other difficulties with movement. There are three or more genetic causes, and while DNA tests have been developed, there are still unknowns. This article presents the knowledge to date, but continuing research and the data from wider commercial testing will build on this knowledge and may result in changes to tests and future recommendations.

Nevertheless, the current tests can greatly reduce the number of potentially affected pups.

The same disease variants may also affect ANKC Kelpies, Border Collies and Koolies, as well as crosses of these breeds, due to their common ancestors and occasional cross-breeding.

Tests run by the researchers on about 200 Border Collies (mainly ANKC) did not show CA markers. Since the research, the Late- and Early-onset CA has been confirmed through commercial tests in some Border Collies; CA affected Koolies require testing to confirm these.

The full article is provided as separate PDF document and provides considerable detail for interested readers, including more familiar Kelpie coat colour examples to help build understanding of the genetic and genomic concepts. The summary here contains the key messages. Read the full article here....


  • Cerebellar Abiotrophies (CA) are incurable, inherited diseases in Kelpies with the majority identified by three known and unrelated genetic markers.
  • Signs include ataxia, high stepping [hypermetria], wide stance, incoordination, falling over, difficulty jumping onto objects, fine tremors, a nodding head, difficulty eating or drinking from a bowl, and, occasionally, seizures.
  • The disease is not common, with the level of CA markers in the population remaining low, but two carriers may be chosen as mates and produce affected pups, and linebreeding/inbreeding can increase the chance of this occurring.
  • Some affected dogs studied were not explained by these three markers; potentially there may be one or more other genes causing CA in Kelpies or there are other genes that affect whether the disease is fully expressed, or other markers may be better indicators, in particular, with the Early-onset variant.
  • Dogs with a pair of CA markers are positive or “affected” and most will have signs of ataxia. Carriers only have one copy of any CA marker, and will not be affected.
  • The extent of signs in affected dogs varies and is not yet able to be predicted; some dogs can live a relatively normal life; others will need to be euthanised.
  • Signs in affected dogs vary in time of onset according to the CA variant: Early-onset from 4–8 weeks, Late- onset from 3–8 months (but sometimes later); the German type CA from 4–8 weeks.
  • DNA tests are available to identify whether a dog has any of the markers for the three known CA disease variants, indicating clear, carrier or affected status.
  • The tests vary in their ability to identify affected and carrier dogs:
  • For Late-onset CA, the test is believed to identify all affected and carrier dogs.
  • For Early-onset CA, the current test misses some dogs; any dogs that the current test identifies as carriers or affected, are carriers or affected, however some affected dogs with Early-onset CA used in the research were not identified by this marker. DNA tested with the current marker contributes to CA, but may not be the direct cause. An alternative marker that appears to have higher predictive power is being studied.
  • For the German type CA, very few dogs were in the study. Also, two dogs had tests indicating they were affected, but whether signs of CA appeared in them could not be confirmed.
  • The DNA tests are currently only available through one Australian testing company: Dog Breeding Science, but this may change in the future.
  • Tests can be used to greatly reduce the number of CA affected pups being born by including a clear result for every test, in every mating, every time.
  • Carrier dogs with superior working ability do not need to be removed from the breeding pool, simply ensure that their mate is clear for the CA marker they carry.
  • Carrier dogs do not show signs of disease; buyers of working dogs not intending to breed them should have no concern about their health.
  • Dogs with negative or “clear” test results should not be represented as CA-free because there may yet be an unidentified CA variant, and the Early-onset and German CA tests may not be fully expressed or predict all affected dogs.

Printer friendly version here....

Breeder Directory

Looking for a high quality working dog. Check out the new Breeder Directory here....

Breeder Information : Understanding The WKC Stud Registers
The WKC maintains 4 separate Kelpie Registers, one to record Historical information, and the following three:

National Stud Register
Dogs with (only) 5-digit registration numbers are registered in the WKC “National Stud Register”. These dogs are deemed “Fully Registered” as well as deemed “Purebred” (having at least 4 generations of WKC recorded and verified Kelpie bloodlines). These dogs must ALSO be physically identifiable by a Tattoo marking that is registered with the WKC. This represents the highest grade and type of Working Kelpie, and has always been considered the “Main” WKC Registry.

Appendix (A) Register
Dogs with Axx (-dash) 5-numbers are recorded in the WKC “Appendix Register”, and are not “Fully Registered” because they are not eligible for Full Registration for one reason or another. The lowest grade is A1, which are dogs that have only 1 generation of WKC verified, recorded and approved Kelpie bloodlines. The highest grade is A4 for dogs deemed as “Purebred”, which would be eligible for Full Registration if they were Tattooed. The other 2 grades A2 & A3 are for dogs that still do not have sufficient verified breeding history (ie: parents with insufficient grading) to be deemed as “Purebred”.

Special (S) Register
Dogs with S Numbers are not technically “Registered” – these dogs are “Recorded” in the unpublished WKC “Special Register”. This facility is for official recording of dogs that, whilst demonstrating good Working ability, are for some reason not eligible for the Appendix Register – for example having limited or no “WKC Verified” Kelpie bloodlines, or even being of other breeds (eg: Border Collie). So-called “Station Bred” dogs are also included in the S-Register. It should be noted that S-Register dogs (and their Gradings) are not published, and they are ineligible for many Working Trials. The Appendix & Special Registers are used to record the breeding of dogs that demonstrate strong Working ability. Through successive breeding with Purebred male Kelpies, their progeny can be elevated into the National Stud Registry.

Breeder Information : Understanding WKC “Pedigree Gradings”
The WKC uses a pedigree system of “Grading Up” which is widely used in most livestock species like cattle, horses, canines, etc. Grading Up is the sequential use of pure-bred animals over a series of generations to produce a “almost pure-bred” result. The usual sequence is that a purebred Sire is used on females that are have unverified breeding, are crossbred or even are of a different breed. The resulting first generation offspring are 1/2 the pure breed of the Sire. The daughters are then mated back to another Purebred Sire of the breed, producing offspring that are 3/4 of pure breed. The next generation provides offspring that are 7/8, the next generation is 15/16, then 31/32, 63/64, 127/128, and so on.

The WKC deems a "Purebred" Kelpie as a "4th generation dog". This means the progeny of at least 4 verified (WKC Registered) sucessive generations (of a line of female dogs) that have been BRED UP to a Pure-bred male (Sire). Therefore, the pedigree will show at least 93.75% of the dog's genetics are verified to be “Purebred” Working Kelpie.

The most fundamental rule of WKC Grading is that the grading of progeny (pups) is determined by the LOWEST grading of either parent dog. However, the progeny of Appendix-registered females will be Upgraded by one level if they are mated to a “PURE-BRED” (A4 or Fully-Registered) male. So, increasing of WKC Pedigree Gradings is always reliant on always “breeding up” to a verified Pure-bred male.

For example, for WKC Registration the mating an A2 female with a Pure-Bred (or A4) male will result in pups with a Grading of A3 (one grade higher than the mother). However, the mating of an A4 female with an A2 male will result in Grade A2 pups (equal to the father, who is lowest). Mating of 2 x A2 dogs will result in pups with the same A2 grading.

These concepts are based around genetics. The pups inherent 1/2 of their bloodlines from each parent’s bloodlines, 50% from each side. So mating two “full-bred” dogs would give the pups 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 (also pure-bred). The breeding of 2 “half-bred” dogs would result in pups that are also only “half-bred”, since 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2. However, if you breed a “half-bred” female with a “Purebred” male, then the resultant pups could be deemed “3/4-bred”, because 1/4 + 1/2 = 3/4.

WKC Registered Grades, with example of Registration Number and respective proportion of Verified Kelpie bloodlines :

Deemed Purebred + tattoo identified (15/16 or 93.75% pure)
Deemed Purebred, but no tattoo so can't be physically verified
3rd Generation of mating to Purebred (5/8 or 87.5% pure)
2nd Generation of mating to Purebred (3/4 or 75% pure)
1st Generation of mating to Purebred (1/2 or 50% pure)
1 or 2 parents is Kelpie of unknown pedigree (under 50% pure)

Non-Registered Grades, for dogs without any verified Kelpie bloodlines.

Working dog any without verified Kelpie bloodlines on one or both sides.

The progeny of Appendix and S-Register females is elevated / upgraded by one level only if mated to a Pure-Bred male.