The Working Kelpie Council of Australia

Breed Society for the Australian Working Kelpie

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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.

The Working Kelpie Foundation Strains

The initial foundation of the working Kelpie stemmed from the blending of what appears to be three different strains although there could be a connection between two of them in their country of origin. Of the original breeding the only further imports and infusion documented are those of the Rutherford strain and imports of these dogs continued until around 1910. The following article by Wayne McMillan dated 25/8/2011 gives a greater insight into the background of the Rutherford family and their dogs suitability for Australian conditions.

"In the mid 1800’s in Australia, when sheep, dogs and pioneers are discussed, there is one family that stands out above the rest and that is the Rutherford’s. The family can (and) The Kildonan clean bred line of collies can be traced back to Gideon Rutherford a shepherd who was born in Sept 1778 in Showman, Roxburghshire, Scotland and died about 1869 in Kildonan, Sutherland Scotland. He was the fourth child of Andrew Rutherford and Christian Stevenson of Showman, Roxburghshire, Scotland. (From Parish records Roxburghshire: Brian & Dianne Dixon, J. Gregory Barron and Chris & Sheila Hale) Gideon Rutherford’s outstanding line of Collies originally bought to Australia by his son John in 1864, were one of the most successful and influential line of sheepdogs ever introduced. His strain of collies had such a legendary reputation that they were still being imported to Australia over 40 years later. It is also certain that the early Kelpie sheepdog strains had Rutherford bloodlines in their breeding.

read the full article


Do you own a Livestock working dog? Then, get involved

The Farm Dog Project is a collaboration between The University of Sydney, Meat and Livestock Australia, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and The Working Kelpie Council of Australia.

To date, over 800 Australian farmers have been involved in the project, working to advance our knowledge of the value of the working dog to livestock industries and the qualities of a valuable dog.

Behaviour and genetics database There is now a unique opportunity to create a database of Australian, and international, Livestock working dogs and their particular temperament and Livestock working traits. This will be a powerful resource for working dog societies to learn more about how these traits are passed on from parents to progeny and also to investigate the genes responsible for the valuable behaviours.
To get involved rate your dogs’ behaviour and personality using the Livestock working Dog Assessment Form.
It only takes 5 minutes per dog.

Access the form online here:
  1. Be honest and critical of your dogs’ natural behavior. It is only possible to look for genetic differences if we know about variation in behaviour.
  2. Indicate on the form whether you are willing to provide a DNA sample from your dog.

Initially, only samples from Livestock Working Kelpies are being sought.

  1. If you consent, we will send you a simple cheek swab kit and a reply paid envelope for you to collect and return the sample.
  2. Repeat this process for as many of your dogs as you can.

Include the good, the bad and the ugly so that undesirable traits can be investigated too.

In addition, you have the opportunity to have your dogs genotyped for free. This data may be of great value to you if you have enquiries in the future on particular genes or recessive traits of interest.
Can I lose?  No!
The information you give about your dogs will not be connected to your name or your dogs’ names without your permission. Dogs are assigned a number to de-identify them from their names and their information goes into a pool of data comparing dog behavior and genes. It will not be made public how you score your dog or what genes emerge.

NKFTC 2019

The 50th Anniversary of the National Kelpie Field Trial Championship will be held at Carcoar (NSW) Showgrounds from the 8th to the 10th of November 2019.


NKFTC-Winners-2018
2018 NKFTC Finalists
  • 2018 NKFTC Finalists

National Kelpie Field Trial Championship Yallambee VIC

Adam James with Myamba Moss
84+69=153
Kevin Howell with Karana Tige II
80+61=141
Cordon Curtis with BinnaBurra Johnny
67+65=132
Greg Walton with Karana Jed
66+63=129
Gary White with Whites Fella II
76+52=128
Gary White with Whites Jimmy
65=55=120
Nan Lloyd with Kumbark Ace
65+51=116
Ken Atherton with Ramulam Lad
80+LS=80

The NKFTC for 2018 was held in WA at Yallambee, Ken and Jenny Atherton’s property north of Arthur River in the states south. The cast was up hill and the ground ran down alongside a dam. Quite picturesque and provided a good view for spectators.

The sheep were Dohnes and were fleet of foot and inclined to run down the fence on the cast if not headed quickly enough. They also had a tendency to split if pushed too hard.

They provided plenty of challenges for the dogs and frustration for the handlers. The more experienced dogs managed to hold them together and some good scores were achieved.

The cast lift and draw was the most difficult section. Once that was managed they then had to be worked into a small holding yard. This required patience and good covering dogs.

Once in the yard, the first gather also proved a headache for some people, if the dog was not in the right spot the sheep quickly worked it out and would race through any gaps. The rest of the yard course generally caused few problems.

Once the yard course was completed, handlers then went back out and released the five sheep they had yarded. They then continued towards the first obstacle which was a gap, followed by a trap. For the trap the dog had to put the sheep into a narrow obstacle and hold them until the handler walked to the other end and opened the gate to let them out. The last obstacle was a pen, which was not easy, and as the sheep could not be rushed, many competitors simply ran out of time here.

It was a great trial, with challenging sheep, a good course and great spirit of competition from all handlers.


The First Decision - Which Kelpie?
late Mike Donelan

A bloke once asked Tommy Smith advice on buying a good horse. Smith's reply was "Save up your money and buy the best bred one you can find". I give the same advice to the Kelpie owner starting out - buy the best! The dog may not turn out to be a champion but you've got 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".

read the full article

Code of Behaviour and Practice

Recently the WKC developed a Code of Behaviour and Practice for WKC registered breeders and members. It was published in the News Bulletin recently. The document is now available online here.

We recommend downloading a copy for your records.


Kelpies Respond To Body Language

Article about Late Jack Body breeder of the well known and very successful Glenlogie strain dogs. (Reprint from January 1990 Bulletin)

If anybody knows how to speak to a Kelpie, Holbrook's Jack Body does, it is the language of 70 years of handling some of the best sheep dogs in the country … soft, warm and exact.

Dog height, down on one knee he stretches his hand out and calls quietly, 'come, come'. 'I like to talk to my dogs,' he says. 'I want him to come a little bit at a time. If I say to a dog 'come here', I want him here and he has to be here now; not tomorrow. 'If you ask him to come six inches, you don't want six feet'. Jack Body has had dogs since he first started working on stations at the age of 11 in 1920. It was a matter of necessity, he says.

'I've just gone 80 years and I've always had good dogs. And I've always had a crook arm, so my dogs had to be better than the other blokes' dogs to get the jobs.'

Only once was he really at loss for a dog, Working on Kinross Station at Holbrook, young Jack was penning up for 16 shearers in a shed where 186 sheep a day was dragging the chain. With the wool flying off the wethers and without a decent dog, Jack was in the firing line from a shearer who was held up for sheep. It was the last time Jack didn't have a top dog. He promptly bought a rough haired red Kelpie appropriately called Ruff for a pound from Kinross boundary rider, Les Anderson, and the situation abruptly changed. Only 12 months old, Ruff showed his form and the same shearer had to lift his first sheep over the door as they were packed in so tightly.

From then on through the 1930's, Jack broke in, trained and sold dogs through a variety of jobs including boundary riding on Wyanawah station at Holbrook. By the 1950's Jack was working in town and it wasn't until the early 1970's that he showed his true form as a sheepdog trials man.

With a few acres and fewer sheep to train the Kelpies from his Glenlogie stud on, Jack set out to take on the world. The sport has taken him through every state in Australia except Western Australia, twice to Tasmania and twice to New Zealand.

It was across the Tasman where he met with his greatest triumph with his best trials dog, Glenlogie Rex. He was placed 11th in the world in the big Rotorua Expo International Sheep Dog Trial in 1978. Rex, he says, was the most intelligent dog Jack owned and was placed 40 times in trials, going on to sire numbers of top trial dogs. Glenlogie Mandy, by Rex, was Australian Champion with Jack at Mudgee.

Among the best Tex sired is Glenlogie Lucky owned by Chris Stapleton of Oberon who was the current National Kelpie champion, twice Australian Yard Dog Champion and twice NSW Yard Dog Champion. All in spite of the fact that Jack is not a yard dog fan.

But, Jack says, it does not matter how good or well bred a dog is, they have to be trained. 'A dog is only as good as the bloke that owns it and if the man's no good, the dog's no good.'

And how does he choose a top dog? 'In a pup, you don't,' Jack says. 'Anybody that says they can pick a pup at four, five, six months of age; nope, they're having themselves on. 'But as a general rule I like a good wide head that shows brain capacity. 'If you are breeding cattle you are breeding for beef, if you are breeding sheep you are breeding for wool or mutton and if you are breeding dogs, you are breeding for brains. But he's got to be working for you; he could have his brains working against you.'

But the people in the Know say Jack Body's dogs always work with him and it shows in his natural love of a great working dog. 'I've always had a dog, penning up, working on stations -- even if I wasn't competing, I'd still have a sheepdog -- they're wonderful mates.