Informatiepagina's / info

About the Working Kelpie


Achtergrond van de Working Kelpie.

Background of the Working Kelpie.

Land of unmeasurable distances.

Outback-Australia.jpg Outback Australia image by panf007

It takes a special kind of dog to cope with these large numbers of sheep,


unmeasureable distances in blistering heat:

Here is: the Working Kelpie


Veel mensen weten niet dat er een verschil is tussen de Australian Kelpie en de Working Kelpie.
A lot of people don't know that there is a big difference between the Australian kelpie and the Working Kelpie.

Below an explanation by Working Kelpie legend Tony Parsons.

Hieronder een uitleg door Working Kelpie legende Tony Parsons.



'It is quite understandable that anyone who is first interested in Kelpies would not appreciate the vast differences that exist between the show and working strains of the Kelpie breed. I am not too proud to admit that I was misled when I began with Kelpies 58 years ago. Fortunately, I was very soon put on the right track and ever since then I have been a protagonist for the working Kelpie.

To better explain the differences I refer to, and to try and make the explanation as simple as possible I will take the letter Y. Lets say that the base of this letter represents the Kelpies bred by John Qinn, the Maiden Bros., King and McLeod and some other early breeders of the working Kelpie. And then in 1902 the late Robert Kaleski drew up the first standard for Kelpies (and Barbs) and for Cattle Dogs and these standards were endorsed byt the original Kennel Club of NSW. Kaleski�s standards were to remain in place for many years. It is worth mentioning that his Kelpie standard was based on the black and tan Kelpie which was regarded as the truest colour and also the major original colour of the emerging Kelpie breed.

Once the standards for Kelpies and Cattle Dogs were set down people began to exhibit them at shows. Old show schedules show quite clearly that some of the original dogs exhibitet in the show rings were produced from genuine working Kelpie. In fact there was no other kind of Kelpie. For some years after shows began there was not a great deterioration in working ability because a lot of people who showed Kelpies were genuine stock people. But by the 1930s, maybe even earlier, there had been a deterioration in the working ability of show dogs when judged against the abilities of Kelpies worked by the likes of Frank Scanlon, Jack Goodfellow and some others. Put simply, the show breeders had lost the plot.
During this period, that is, from 1902 to say 1930, the show breeders for some strange reason had virtually abandoned the original black and tan in favour of the red or chocolate Kelpie with blacks running a poor second.

Now what I want to get across to all readers, Australian and international, is that the original working Kelpie was a magnificent creation. It arrived virtually by chance, by a combination of factors that will never come again. The fact that we have good working Kelpies today is testament to the quality of those early working Kelpies. Despite the many thousands of fine working Kelpies lost by accident, illtreatment and nong nong breeders, the breed has continued to produce outstanding specimens. That is because it has been reproduced on the basis of performance. By performance I mean the way a Kelpie works. The true and great Kelpies had a marvellous �feel� for sheep, great cover and footwork and the best of them had �drive-and-hold�. It was the latter factor that made them so different a worker from the newly arrived Border Collies.

A few, a very few, stockmen down through the years managed to preserve the working Kelpie�s unique qualities. But as strains of Kelpies were developed for the show ring these unique qualities were lost. Consequently, there would not be a show bred Kelpie alive today that remotely resembles the original working Kelpie. Footwork, cover �feel� for sheep and the drive-and-hold abililty have all disappeared from these show strains.

It is important to point out that working ability can deteriorate in one generation if care is not taken. How then can working ability remain high when no selection for work has been made for umpteen years as is the case with so many show strains of Kelpie? Moreover, after discussions with many show people I know they have no idea what a good �break� means let alone footwork. They see a dog running about aimlessly on sheep and think it is �work�. There is work and work and the bench dogs have lost real working ability.

So if we go back to that figure Y we find that the two arms have moved further and further apart over the years. This is not surprising as virtually every breed of utility dog has been ruined by show breeding and their original purpose forgotten. Show people talk of the �purity� of the show dogs but what value is there in purity if the show dogs are only a parody of the working Kelpie. It is what a Kelpie does that matters, not that it has a nice chocolate coat.

As most people who show Kelpies are not stockpersons it is not surprising that they are ignorant of what makes up a good working dog. To appreciate a working dog you need to have worked stock and therefore to know what is required in a working dog. You need to appreciate natural working ability and to select for it.

So one can sympathise with the Swedish (and other European *)breeders who have taken the trouble to travel to Australia to find genuine working dogs when they find their dogs given breed titles that do not do them justice whereas the show strain dogs, which are only masquerading as true Kelpies, are favoured. Even here in Australia where there is less excuse for breeders and fanciers of show Kelpies not to know that their dogs are sadly deficient in working ability, there is virtually no understanding of the unique qualities that distinguish the true working Kelpie.

At the risk of sounding immodest but because I want to drive home what I have been saying, I regard myself as one of the �keepers of the flame�. That is, I am trying to retain a nucleus of Kelpies that exhibit some of the characters of the old-time dogs. This is not because of any desire to sell a lot of dogs because I have ceased to be a commercial breeder, but because I have the wellfare of the working Kelpie at heart and there is nothing I like more than to see a top class Kelpie in action. Despite the many working Kelpies being bred it is becoming rarer and rarer to find very high class Kelpies. For example, the quality of Kelpies being bred in my State (Queensland) is the lowest it has been in my lifetime. I am not alone in this view. So if we can�t easily produce high class working Kelpies after generations of breeding on the basis of performance, how can breeders of show dogs produce such dogs when there has been virtually no selection on the basis of performance but only on looks?

The show breeders do not seem to understand any of the above. They never have in my lifetime but have continually casitgated me for pointing out how wrong they are in their judgements of what constitutes a true Kelpie. They fall back on the argument that the working Kelpie is a �crossbred� dog. All Kelpies were �crossbreds� originally as they were derived mostly from strains of working Collies

The show Kelpie traces to these dogs just as surely as does the working Kelpie. All Kelpies stem from the same source. What the show breeders have done is breed a strain of mostly red dogs that lack the qualities of the dogs from which they sprang. They don�t understand that handsome is as handsome does when it comes to moving sheep.

The people who are trying to produce genuine and high quality working Kelpies, whether they reside in Sweden or the United States or here in Australia, have got it right and the show people have got it very wrong. We could lose every show Kelpie in this country and it wouldn� t matter a damn but we could not, and cannot, afford to lose what is left of the working Kelpie strains whose contribution to the wealth of Austrlia via our great wool industry is impossible to calculate'.

by Tony Parsons

First published in the Purebred Working Kelpie Club magazine KELPIE NEWS

* added by editor
Untranslated to avoid errors.

Working Kelpies worden geregistreerd bij de Working Kelpie Council in Australie (WKC).
WKC aangesloten fokkers bieden garantie op het werkvermogen van de hond, wat er in het kort op neer komt dat als de hond rond 1 jarige leeftijd niet voldoet aan de verwachtingen deze door de fokker vervangen dient te worden.

De FCI zal het een zorg zijn of een hond wel of niet werkt. Australian Kelpies met FCI stamboom worden volgens een rasstandaard gefokt, op uiterlijkheden.

The FCI does not give a toss if a dog works or not.
Australian Kelpies are bred for exteriour.

Verder heb je Working kelpies met een FCI erkenning. Dit zijn de dubbel geregistreerde kelpies. Deze zijn geregistreerd bij zowel WKC als FCI.

And there are double registrated Kelpies which are registered at the FCI and WKC.

This site is purely for the Working Kelpie.

Deze site beperkt zich uitsluitend tot de Working Kelpie.



De Kelpie is zonder twijfel een bijzonder ras. Instaat om onvermoeibaar te werken in verzengende hitte, vrieskou, over grote afstanden hele dagen lang, is een goede kelpie in staat meer werk te verrichten dan een groot aantal mensen, vooral in heuvelachtig terrein of over grote afstanden.




The Kelpie is undoubtedly a special breed. Capable of tirelessly working in blistering heat, freezing cold and over great distances for days on end, a good kelpie is said to be worth many men, particulary in mountain conditions or over vast areas.

Een Kelpie is zeer waardevol in de paddock, het vrije veld, en de yards, binnen de hekken, een groep schapen verzamelen, ze naar de vangkralen te drijven, de schapen door sluizen te drijven en ze in trailers te drijven. Altijd alert en oplettend, de kelpie moet instaat zijn zelfstandig te werken maar moet ook op stem en fluitcommando's reageren. Er zijn een stuk of 6 basiscommando's voor de hond om op te reageren om zo zijn taak te vervullen.

A kelpie is most valuable in the paddocks and yards, gathering a mob of sheep, driving them to the yards and pens and forcing the sheep through races, up ramps and into sheds and trucks. Always alert and watchful, the Kelpie is required to be an independent thinker, though will also rely on various whistle commands made by its owner. There are about half a dozen commands to which the Kelpie is trained to respond, each of these commands directing the dog to perform certain tasks.

Enige termen die gebruikt worden door Kelpie handlers:

Cast, ookwel outrun, een kelpie wordt weggestuurd om een groep schapen te verzamelen als de handler ze naar een bepaald punt wil hebben, zoals de behandelsluis. De hond moet over grote afstand weggestuurd kunnen worden en de schapen halen.De beste honden hebben hier natuurlijke aanleg voor.

Terms often used by Working Kelpie handlers include;

Cast: A Kelpie is sent to 'cast' or 'gather' a mob of sheep when the farmer wants to bring his sheep to a certain point, such as the yards. The dog's ability to cast long distances is invaluable and the best dogs will have a natural ability to do so.

Hold: Working Kelpies moeten in staat zijn de verzamelde schapen bijelkaar te houden. Schapen hebben een kudde instinct, maar onder druk of stress, springt er wel eens een uit. Deze moet door de hond meteen weer terug gehaald worden.

Hold: Working Kelpies require the ability to 'hold' a mob of sheep together. Sheep will instinctively remain together, but if pressured or startled, individuals can break away from the mob. A sheep which breaks away should be quickly gathered and returned by the dog.

Afstand houden: Schapen hoeven niet steeds door de hond aangeduwd te worden, zeker niet over grotere afstanden in de hitte. Een Kelpie moet dan enige afstand tot het vee bewaren zodat de kudde in een rustig tempo kan lopen. Een hond die hier natuurlijk gevoel voor heeft is erg handig. Ook moet de kelpie op commando's als walk in of stay reageren.

Keeping Distance: Sheep don't always require constant pushing by the dog, especially if travelling long distances in extreme heat. A kelpie must have the ability to keep some distance from the mob so that the sheep are permitted to walk along steadily. Kelpies which instinctively know when to apply pressure to push the mob forward and also when to ease back and keep distance are strongly desired. The dog must also quickly respond to commands requiring it to 'stay' and 'walk in'.

Backing: Als een hond over de rug van de schapen moet lopen als die vast komen te staan in de sluis.

Backing: When a dog is required to leap onto the sheeps' backs if they become jammed in the loading chutes.

Eye: Een hond met eye beweegt langzaam naar een of meerdere schapen toe, met hoofd en schouders naar beneden gehouden en de dieren strak aankijkend. Vaak beweegt de hond overdreven langzaam. Een hond met fliwibel eye concentreerd zich op meer dan 1 schaap en controleerd ze met zijn indringende blik.


Eye: A dog is said to have a 'good eye' if he is able to steady his approach and watch the mob's every move intently, controlling sheep with its eyes. The dog will often take on an exaggerated stalking motion. A dog which possess a 'flexible eye' is able to watch and read many sheep, 'holding' them with its gaze.


Al sinds zijn ontstaan is de Kelpie er in 2 variaties, de orginele Working Kelpie en de Australian Kelpie- een ras specifiek voor de showring en wordt meer gehouden als huisdier dan als werkhond.







Since its inception, the Kelpie breed has developed into two distinct strains; the original Working Kelpie and the more recent class of 'Bench Kelpie' - a type specifically created for the show ring and more often seen as a pet rather than a working dog.

De werkhond wordt niet op kleur gefokt. Black and tan wordt gezien als de originele kleur maar er zijn ook rode, blauw of fawn kleurige, en gele.

The working dog is not bred for colour. The black and tan is regarded as the truest colour of the Working Kelpie breed, though it may also appear in red, blue or fawn, with or without tan.


Working Kelpies werken hard en onvermoeibaar, de intelligentie straalt er vanaf als je ze bezig ziet. Het werken met schapen is een aangeboren talent.


Working kelpies are hardworking and tireless and their intelligence is apparent to anyone who sees them in action. The dog's desire to work amongst sheep is instinctive.

Dit ras heeft ruimte nodig en hoe meer hoe beter.Working Kelpies zijn workaholics en kunnen zonder probleem 50 tot 60 kilometer per dag rennen: extreem actief ras dus.
De Australian Kelpie is iets minder aktief dan de Working Kelpie maar heeft niet meer de aangeboren werkeigenschappen die vereist zijn om daadwerkelijk met vee te werken.






This breed needs space, lots of it. Kelpies are workaholics and running 50 or 60 kilometres a day is usually no problem for this extremely active breed. The Bench Kelpie is really only slightly less active than the working type, but does not possess the same skills and intellect required for the breed's true purpose.

Gezondheid en levensverwachting:

De Working Kelpie is een erg gezond ras. Er wordt niet alleen gefokt op temperament en intelligentie maar ook op gezondheid en lichaamsbouw. Dit in tegenstelling tot showhonden, die gefokt moeten worden conform de rasstandaard. Levensverwachting van de Working Kelpie is 12 tot 15 jaar.

Health and lifespan

The Working Kelpie is a very sound breed. Breed selection is not only based on temperament and intelligence but also health and conformation, unlike show dogs, which are bred to conform to a written standard (often to the detriment of the overall health of the breed). Average lifespan is 12-15 years.


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