The Border Collie x Kelpie -
A Working Dog Breed Profile
Are you considering getting a Border Collie cross puppy? The Border Collie Kelpie cross might be right for you! This crossbreed is an active, lively dog with lots of energy to work and play. If that sounds like your cup of tea, here’s what you should know!
Vital Stats - Kelpie x Border Collie
Dog breed group
Around 50 cm, depending on the parents
Border Collie X Kelpie: A Little Backstory
This furry pup is a relatively new crossbreed, but its ancestors go way back. In fact, both Border Collies and Kelpies descend from collie-type herding dogs brought to Australia in the late nineteenth century.
At the time, Australia and New Zealand were starting to open up their lands to farmers, and properties spanned hundreds of acres. The sheep and wool industry needed hardworking dogs that could handle thousands of sheep on their own.
The early Border Collie was developed by shepherds in Scotland, Wales and England. Later they were imported into Australia to handle cattle.
Using collie-type dogs from England and Wales (including the Border Collie), several working dogs were developed to handle herding in large areas under the harsh Australian sun. By the early twentieth century, farmers started to favour certain types of dogs that would eventually be established as distinct breeds.
The Kelpie was one of those dogs developed to handle sheep on their own. Nowadays, this breed is mainly used as a working dog in the cattle industry. Some Kelpies also perform in obedience and agility, as well as herding competitions.
As you can see, the Border Collie Kelpie cross comes from a strong line of herding dogs. Because of that, they have good work disposition and could generally do a good job herding and guarding cattle.
The Border Collie Kelpie Cross
Now that we’ve covered where this lovable pup comes from, let’s dive deep into what makes it unique. It’s important to remember that this is a rare cross with no dedicated breeders, so its characteristics come from the merging of its two parent breeds.
Border Collie x Kelpie Temperament and personality
Friendliness towards dogs and other pets
Intelligence and Trainability
Border Collie x Kelpie Temperament & Personality 4/5
Considering its Border Collie and Kelpie heritage, the Kelpie x Border Collie mix is generally a gentle, mild-tempered dog with a good disposition. To understand what you’re getting into, let’s look at its parent breeds:
Border Collies are fast, alert dogs that enjoy pleasing their owners. Because of their herding heritage, they can easily work independently but will also follow orders without issue. These hardworking pups love to have a set schedule and tasks, especially if they involve working alongside their owner. After decades of breeding, Border Collies are recognised as the best herding dogs for almost any job.
On the flip side, Border Collies are highly sensitive to their surroundings and might get overwhelmed easily if they are in a busy space. While this breed is never shy, they can act aloof and wary towards strangers, until their handler lets them know they’re safe. Border Collies are affectionate and enjoy cuddling, but only as a treat after a stimulating day of work!
Then we have the Kelpie. Also known as the Australian Kelpie, these dogs were specifically selected to herd sheep on their own, without getting feedback from shepherds. This means Kelpies enjoy challenges and working independently. However, they are also fiercely loyal dogs that want to please their owners and enjoy praise after a job well done.
This breed tends to like smaller groups of people instead of large gatherings. Like Border Collies, Kelpies don’t shy away from unknown situations but aren’t outgoing. In general, a Kelpie that isn’t sure about its surroundings will stay on the outskirts of the action until they have assessed everything that’s going on. (Smart if you ask me!)
As you can see, both of these breeds are friendly and affectionate with their families but would rather stay away from large groups of people and noisy situations. The Border Collie Kelpie mix follows in those footsteps and will be reserved in unknown situations while enjoying the challenges that come with a working life. In general, this mix is used as a herding dog, but has also been known to act as scent and rescue dog with the police, or as dedicated agility competitors.
Since this crossbreed is friendly but somewhat wary of strangers, we’re taking off 1 star.
Child Friendliness 4/5
Considering the friendly attitude of both parent breeds, this pup has generally a positive attitude towards children. The Kelpie cross Border Collie tends to be affectionate, especially once it’s been properly socialised. This is key if you want a well-behaved dog that won’t get easily overwhelmed.
To ensure your dog can handle children well, it’s important to offer socialisation opportunities during puppyhood. According to the American veterinary association, socialisation is
This means you’ll gradually expose your pup to new situations until they feel secure. The more you do this, the easier it will be for them to handle the outside world. In general, you’ll want to expose your puppy to the kind of stimuli they’ll encounter in their future daily life. For example, if you have young kids, their first interactions together need to be supervised to ensure it’s a positive experience for everyone.
If you have calm children or older teens, a Border Collie Kelpie cross will be a good companion for their outdoor activities, and they might even be great helpers in their training. However, keep in mind an adult will generally have to be their main handler, especially if the children aren’t experienced dog owners. Once this crossbreed is socialised and used to the sounds of an active family, they’ll enjoy spending time with kids, take care of them and cuddle them.
In contrast, if your dog isn’t accustomed to kids, their herding instincts will kick in as soon as they run near them. You’ll want to avoid tapping into those instincts since herding small children involves nipping, running and general stress for the kids. To keep this from happening, slowly introduce your dog to kids and train them to have a strong recall.
We’re taking off 1 star because in general an adult will have to be the dog’s main handler and you need to keep an eye out for running children. Other than that this is a great breed for families.
Dog & Animal Friendliness 3/5
Both Border Collies and Kelpies are friendly towards other dogs. In general, these active breeds thoroughly enjoy having another four-legged buddy to play with and get their energy out. However, when choosing the Kelpie cross Border Collie, it’s important to consider the strong herding instincts of both its parent breeds.
A Border Collie Kelpie mix will tend to herd anything that runs, including kids and house pets like cats and small dogs. If you want your dog to be a family pet, it’s important to learn to manage those herding instincts and control this crossbreed’s mouthiness.
Since herding comes from a very modified prey drive, it’s spurred by any moving target. As their owner, you need to redirect your dog’s attention whenever they have the visual stimuli of running kids, dogs or cars.
You can lower your chances of dealing with herding issues if your crossbreed puppy meets the family pets during puppyhood. If your Border Collie Kelpie cross grows up with cats, kids and small dogs, they will generally not consider them prey.
Of course, you still need to reinforce their recall training and avoid risky situations. Even if your dog doesn’t go after the family cat doesn’t mean they will stay calm around unknown cats. As a herding dog owner, it’s key to avoid risky situations and understand your dog’s physical cues to prevent accidents from happening. Remember you will be trying to get this dog to go against its natural instincts, so this will be a lifelong commitment. Check the trainability section for some pointers about these issues.
Because of their strong herding instincts, we’re taking off 2 stars.
Exercise Needs 5/5
Considering both parent breeds were raised to be hardworking herding dogs, it’s no surprise the Border Collie x Kelpie mix needs a lot of active time to be happy.
If you’re looking for a companion dog for a sedentary lifestyle, this isn’t the breed for you. But if you want a pup that will enjoy going on long walks with you and share your love for the outdoors, this crossbreed might be the right choice.
A Border Collie X Kelpie puppy needs at least one long walk a day to keep them fit and healthy. They will also enjoy shorter walks and training sessions that will help them stay sharp throughout their life.
If you’re not a jogger yourself or can’t dedicate enough time to outdoor play, consider finding a dog buddy. Playing with other dogs will generally burn your pup’s energy and tire them out so they come home to sleep.
We’re giving this crossbreed 5 out of 5 in this category.
Intelligence & Trainability 4/5
The Border Collie is known as one of the smartest dogs ever, and the Kelpie isn’t too far behind. Because of its parents, you can expect your Kelpie Border Collie cross to be smart and easy to train.
While both of the parent breeds are working dogs, it’s important to note the Kelpie was selected to be more independent and work without a shepherd. This is a great feature when herding large amounts of sheep, but it could also make training as a house pet more difficult for Kelpies and their crossbreeds. The independent streak in Kelpies means they need some convincing, so they understand what’s needed of them, and that they should follow your cues.
During training, you’ll have to do some gentle bribing and occasionally let this strong-willed dog do things on their own terms. They will understand what your goal is, and then do it using what they consider is the most efficient method. Only focus on harsh obedience if it’s something important, like recall. In other instances, let them do it their way!
With these breeds and their crosses, it’s especially important to focus on positive reinforcement training. These dogs are extremely sensitive to their owner’s moods and don’t take well to violence or mistreatment. As an owner, you need to foster a loving, respectful relationship with your dog that reassures them and makes them feel secure.
To summarise, this crossbreed is easy to train if you have the patience to let them understand what you want them to do. Because of their independence and smarts, we’re giving this dog 4 out of 5 in this category.
When it comes to grooming, you won’t know your new puppy’s needs until they’ve grown to be at least a year old - sometimes two. This is because Border Collies and Kelpies have very different coat textures and grooming needs.
On the one hand, we have Border Collies. These dogs can have anything from medium-length to relatively short hair, depending on the line and the breeder. Most short-haired Border Collies are exclusively bred from working lines for work purposes, so you might have a hard time finding one to adopt as a pet. If you do manage to adopt a short hair Border Collie, remember that specific pup has probably been bred selectively as a herding dog and will show those traits even stronger than a collie bred as a pet.
In contrast, Australian Kelpies have short, dense hair that keeps them protected from the elements.
A Border Collie x Kelpie puppy can inherit the medium-length coat of the Border Collie or the short hair of the Kelpie. In some cases, it’ll have both. Unfortunately, you won’t know in which category your new pup falls until they’re at least a year old.
While this might not be an aesthetic concern, coat length is an important consideration if you’d rather have less dog hair to clean up. If the two parent breeds of your mixed pup have a double coat, they’ll shed year-round and it will get worse in the spring. However, longer hair is more noticeable on furniture, so you might want to avoid that.
This crossbreed will need one good brushing a week, and constant clean up to keep your home fur-free. Besides the shedding issue, this dog doesn’t have any special grooming needs beyond hygiene and nail clipping.
We’re taking off 1 star because of the shedding.
Health Issues 4/5
Border Collie cross Kelpies have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years and are generally strong dogs.
Since this crossbreed comes from two working dogs, you can expect them to be healthy throughout their life. Of course, like other dogs of this size, there are some issues you need to be aware of:
Other serious genetic conditions can appear among Border Collies and Kelpies, but these are very rare and tend to show symptoms within the few first weeks of life.
On a final note, keep in mind Australian Kelpies and other working dogs are more prone to obesity than other breeds . Your puppy might inherit these traits, so you need to be especially careful with their diet.
PRO TIP: if you’re getting your Kelpie cross from a breeder, ask them to provide negative genetic tests for collie eye anomaly, as well as a vet’s assessment on the parent’s eye health.
Because of the possibility of serious inherited diseases due to their collie genetic pool, we’re taking off 1 star.
Are Border Collie Kelpie Dogs Apartment-Friendly?
This isn’t a dog that will do good in an apartment. Because of their medium-to-large size and very active nature, these pups need enough space to run around and get their energy out.
If you commit to providing ample time every day for your dog to go out, play and train, apartment living might be feasible. This is also an option if you plan to take your dog with you to work, where they’ll have the chance to be mentally stimulated.
If you’d rather have the possibility to leave your dog at home, choose another breed. Both Border Collies and Kelpies need daily mental and physical stimulation to be happy, or they risk becoming bored, misbehaving and eventually destroying your belongings. Keep this in mind before choosing this crossbreed!
Adopting A Border Collie Kelpie Puppy
Since this is a rare crossbreed, Border Collie Kelpie puppies tend to happen by mistake. This makes them very difficult to find, particularly since you won’t encounter breeders dedicated solely to them.
Despite this, you might get lucky talking to either Border Collie or Kelpie breeders. They might have an unexpected litter coming their way! Here are some Australian breeders that might help you out:
Kelpie Border Collie Rescue and Fostering
Another option to adopt a Kelpie Border Collie cross is through rescue. Visiting your local RSPCA and asking for news about this mix might help you find your new pup. But you’ll likely have more luck looking into local rescues dedicated exclusively to Border Collies and Kelpies. They’ll know if there are any Border Collie Kelpie dogs looking for a home. Here are some rescues you can visit:
My Final Thoughts
This furry crossbreed might be a great choice if you’re looking for an active and loyal pup that can go on runs around town and loves to learn new tricks. Because of their lively spirit and good-natured character, these are great companions to older children, provided an adult takes charge of their training.
While this dog can be a handful for inexperienced owners, training and sharing your life with a Border Collie Kelpie cross can be an exciting adventure for the right family. We hope you have enough info to decide if this is the right choice for you!
Interested in learning about more Border Collie or Kelpie cross breeds? Check out the below:
- Kelpie X Staffy - Breed Profile
- The trouble with designer dogs. Chicago tribune editors. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2008-07-23-0807230782-story.html
- Socialization for dogs and cats. American Veterinary Medical Association. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/socialization-dogs-and-cats
- McGreevy, P. D., Thomson, P. C., Pride, C., Fawcett, A., Grassi, T., & Jones, B. (2005). Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved. Veterinary Record, 156(22), 695-702.