The Staffy X Kelpie: The Australian Mix Breed Profile
Dog breed group
35 cm to 45 cm
14 to 28 kg
10 to 14 years
Are you looking for an active and energetic dog that also loves cuddling? Then the Staffy cross Kelpie might be the perfect breed for you. This unusual crossbreed is challenging and rewarding. Today we’re covering everything you need to know about it.
The Staffy Cross Kelpie: A Little Back Story
The Staffy cross Kelpie isn't a relatively new crossbreed, they would unofficially account for the majority of dogs in rescue groups found across Australia (likely with a sprinkle of a few other breeds too). Both the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Australian Kelpie have been around for 100+ years! To understand where the Kelpie Staffy mix comes from, we’ll go over the history of those two breeds.
While the two parent breeds have their origins in England, that’s where the similarities end. On the one hand, we have the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also known as Staffy. This is a mastiff-type dog originally bred as an all-purpose working dog. Because of it, they are stocky, muscular and powerful. Their ancestors are a mix of mastiffs, collies and non-descript farm dogs. Like other bull types such as the bull terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier became popular with the rise of blood sports in the UK.
These ‘sports’ involved pitting different dogs against each other or other animals, like bulls. That’s where the term ‘bulldog’ comes from. These dogs were bred to have powerful jaws and short, stocky legs to avoid getting too hurt. Fortunately, blood sports were officially banned in the UK in 1835, although underground betting was still common. For those illicit pits, people started to cross traditional bulldogs with terriers, to merge the feisty temperament of the latter with the physical strength of the bulldog.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the result of these mixes: powerful like the bulldog and spirited like the terrier. Its name comes from the county of Staffordshire, where they were very popular. By the late nineteenth century, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier arrived in America, and breeders started developing it as its own breed. Nowadays, the American Kennel Club recognises the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, very similar to the original dog used in illegal pits, and the American Staffordshire terrier, a taller, heavier version. The latter is part of what we now know as pit bull-type dogs.
Then we have the Australian Kelpie dog, with a very different background. This active herding dog was created in Australia when local shepherds started crossing different collie-type dogs originally from the UK. Australian farmers needed a sturdy, medium-sized dog that could herd sheep through large expanses of land. The Kelpie is agile, energetic and independent, with an iron-clad work ethic. Nowadays, this breed is still used as a working dog because of its strong ethic and smarts.
Coming from these two powerful and active breeds, it’s no surprise the Staffy Kelpie cross has a good work disposition, loves to do its job and is overall a loyal dog that excels at herding and guarding.
The Staffy x Kelpie Mix
Now that we’ve covered where this gentle pup comes from, we’ll go over what makes it unique. If you’re wondering whether this lovable crossbreed could be the right fit, here’s what you should know.
Kelpie x Staffy Temperament and Personality
Good with Kids
Good with Other Dogs and People
Intelligence & Trainability
Kelpie x Staffy Temperament and Personality 5/5
Given this is a new crossbreed, there isn’t a way to consistently predict its temperament and behaviour. However, going off of its parent breeds, you can more or less know how the puppies will be like.
Let’s start with the Kelpie. This active herding dog was bred to work independently, so it’s no surprise they enjoy solving problems on their own. While this is great when raised as a working dog, Kelpies as family pets pose some challenges owners should be aware of. In general, this breed is affectionate and loves to spend time with its owners, but also needs some space and quiet time. Kelpies can be very high-energy, but they are friendly. Well-socialised Kelpies aren’t aggressive and do better when they can be part of your day-to-day. This breed is never shy and enjoy facing new challenges. On the flip side, they don’t like meeting large crowds of people and will tend to stay at the outskirts of a large group.
Then we have the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This muscular pup has always been a family pet, even while it was bred as a bull-baiting dog. In contrast with its tough exterior, Staffies are known to be affectionate, loving and brave. In fact, pet food manufacturer Eukanuba conducted a survey that showed the Staffords were among the top two ‘most communicative and affectionate breeds’, and Staffies were also the ‘most partial to a belly rub’ . Their charming behaviour makes them fit well in family settings, and in 2019 it was classed as Britain’s most popular dog breed of the year .
PRO TIP: Don’t mix up the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier. While similar, these are two distinct breeds! Staffies are smaller and slightly less stocky, while American terriers are larger, heavier and look more like the American pit bull.
Staffies are friendly, but also tend to love a challenge. While these dogs aren’t aggressive, they don’t back down if they feel another dog is picking a fight. To avoid any issues, any Staffy -or a mix- should be properly socialised and trained in recall.
Considering its two parent breeds, the Kelpie x Staffy mix is a loyal dog that enjoys being active and spending time with family. However, the Kelpie and the Staffy have very different social traits, since the Staffy loves to welcome people and doesn’t mind being the center of attention. Because of that, it’s not possible to know whether your new mixed puppy will be outgoing or not. A good rule of thumb, even if you’re adopting a purebred puppy, is meeting its parents. While part of a dog’s behaviour is based on its socialisation, some of its natural tendencies and character come from its parents.
Overall, a Kelpie Staffy crossbreed pup will tend to be affectionate, active and smart. Because of it, we’re giving this mix 5 out of 5 stars.
Good with Kids 4/5
As we’ve mentioned before, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known for being great with kids and a lovable family dog. Because of it, any of its crosses also tend to be affectionate and generally patient, even with little grabby hands!
After being properly socialised, your Kelpie x Staffy dog is likely to be loyal and patient with kids. Socialisation is key with all dogs, but especially if you want yours to constantly face loud, unexpected situations like running kids, other dogs and new people.
The herding dog in your Kelpie Staffy mix makes it a great playmate for kids but can also develop mouthiness if you don’t pay close attention. Mouthiness among herding dogs is very common, because they need to use their teeth to move cattle around. However, in a home setting mouthiness can frighten kids and exacerbate common misbehaviour like chasing moving bikes or cars.
If you’re a new dog owner, it’s important to distinguish between general mouthiness and actual aggression. Simply put, a mouthy dog will use their mouth to communicate. This means trying to grab your hand with their mouth to lead you, nipping at your feet, or chasing kids and nipping at them. In general, nipping will very rarely draw blood and is very brief. In contrast, aggression and actual biting is accompanied by other physical cues. These include growling, showing teeth, showing anxious and focused behaviour or an aggressive stance.
Both Kelpies and Staffies are well-tempered dogs, so aggressiveness is uncommon. However, to prevent mouthiness or excessive herding behaviour, socialisation should be a priority. To do this, slowly expose your dog to unknown situations in a controlled environment. Make sure every experience is positive and reinforce these feelings by offering treats and praise whenever your dog stays calm. The key is making sure your pup understands there’s nothing to worry about.
Once properly socialised, your Staffy Kelpie mix will make a great companion for kids of all ages. Because of it, we’re giving this crossbreed 4 out of 5 stars.
Good with Other Dogs and People 4/5
Both Kelpies and Staffies are well-mannered and, like in the item above, you’ll probably have no issues once properly socialised. However, keep in mind these two breeds have very different attitudes towards strangers. If you expect your dog to go with you to large social gatherings, this is something to consider.
For starters, Kelpies were bred to work independently or with very few people. While this breed isn’t shy, they prefer the company of a small group of people and other animals. In general, they don’t love being in the spotlight. As such, a Kelpie will tend to stay back and oversee the situation, instead of mingling with the group. Kelpies make friends slowly and take their time when meeting new people.
In contrast, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are very people friendly. They enjoy having rubs and praise, even from strangers, and love making new friends. Your mixed puppy might get more traits from one parent or the other, so it’s important to be prepared for both outcomes.
When it comes to introducing your Staffy Kelpie crossbreed to other pets, keep in mind their herding instincts. Running small pets can be triggering for kelpie mixes if your dog isn’t properly socialised. To avoid it, introduce other small animals when your dog is young, or just let the pets get to know each other in a controlled setting.
PRO TIP: The Staffy is considered a pit bull-type dog by most authorities. While this isn’t an issue most of the time, you might find it difficult to do air travel with your dog since some carriers don’t allow the breed even in cargo. Australian authorities don’t consider the Staffy a restricted dog , so they don’t need to be muzzled in public. However, a Kelpie Staffy cross might face issues with these laws especially if they look more like a Staffy or pit bull than a kelpie.
Remember, the Staffy in your new pup makes your dog brave, so try to limit contact with outwardly dominating dogs. To avoid fights, it’s important to keep an eye out for any physical cues when meeting unknown dogs.
Since the two parent breeds tend to be generally friendly and tolerant of other dogs, we’re giving this crossbreed 4 out of 5 stars.
Exercise Needs 5/5
This is no surprise, but any Kelpie Staffy mix will need a lot of exercise to be happy. Considering the working past of the Kelpie, and the bull-baiting origin of the Staffordshire, of course this crossbreed needs long walks!
As a rule of thumb, you should offer structured sessions every day. This can look like long walks around the neighbourhood, playing at the dog park, running with you or even agility training.
Overall, the best option for the Staffy x Kelpie is something that will be both physically and mentally challenging.
If you don’t offer enough exercise, your dog can become destructive, mouthy and even aggressive. A bored working dog won’t be a good family pet! Of course, every dog is different, so change up your exercise schedule according to their needs. Some pups do great with one walk a day; others need at least two. Finding a playmate in the dog park, or having several dogs in the house, can offer enough exercise for some. It’s important to understand your dog’s needs and see how they do.
Because of it, this crossbreed is better suited for an active family that enjoys the outdoors. We’re giving the Kelpie Staffy mix 5 out of 5 stars.
Intelligence & Trainability 5/5
Both Kelpies and Staffies are very smart dogs, so training is generally easy. Of course, with smarts come a few challenges. For example, your dog might get bored faster whenever lessons start getting too repetitive. Keep them engaged and interested by showing them new tricks that are mentally challenging. This could be accomplished either through complex obedience lessons, or even agility training.
Given the two parent breeds are muscular and agile, your Kelpie Staffy cross could have a lot of fun training in circuits. Plus, it’s a great way to get in some much-needed exercise as well.
Because of their smarts, these dogs are nowadays more common as service or working dogs in urban contexts. Kelpies can be trained as police or sight dogs, and Staffies do well as anxiety companions and hospital service dogs.
Overall, this crossbreed is easy to take care of. While you won’t be sure about the specific coat your crossbreed puppy will inherit, both the Kelpie and the Staffordshire terrier are easy to groom.
The Kelpie, for instance, has a soft, medium-length coat made to handle every weather. They have an undercoat, which sheds throughout the year and especially in spring. But besides the shedding, you’ll only need to brush once or twice a week.
In contrast, Staffies have short, dense hair with different possible colours. Staffies tend to be either one single colour or brindled. Overall, both breeds are easy to care for and, besides brushing, will only need their nails trimmed and ears cleaned once in a while.
However, your mixed pup can have the double coat of the Kelpie or the short hair of the Staffy. If you want to minimise the loose hair in your home, a crossbreed pup might not be the best option. Since you won’t know which parent your puppy takes after, you won’t be able to know whether or not they will shed a lot.
Health Issues 3/5
Like other working breeds, both the Kelpie and the Staffy are healthy breeds. Because of their utilitarian past, they were bred without very many health issues. However, the rise of breeding for pet purposes has limited their genetic pool and caused some conditions to appear more frequently.
For example, Kelpies are prone to cerebellar degeneration (CA), which causes ataxia. This is an inherited brain condition that slowly kills cerebellum cells. In turn, this causes motor skills problems and eventually, death. This is a recessive disease, meaning both parents have to have the faulty gene in order for pups to have it. It's believed that CA is caused by a number of gene variants, which makes eradication of the disease difficult. There are now a few genetic tests which can detect some genes thought to cause CA , but not all. Currently, only a biopsy can effectively diagnose the condition and dogs are euthanised to prevent suffering.
On the other hand, Staffies are also generally healthy but have a tendency to certain eye conditions. Hereditary cataracts are one of the main issues with this breed. Allergies also tend to be a problem, and vets think the causes might be genetic.
Of course, the two parents should also be tested for common, non-dangerous conditions like patella luxation and hip dysplasia.
Because of the slight health issues that might affect this crossbreed, we’re taking off 2 stars.
Is the Staffy Cross Kelpie Good for Apartment Living?
They could be, but only if you offer plenty of outdoor exercise. If you have an apartment, it’s important to consider both the size and needs of your prospective puppy.
Size-wise, the Kelpie and the Staffy are on the small side of medium, so they could fit well in a bigger flat. However, these are both very active breeds, and you need to provide sufficient walk and playtime to keep their energy in check. If you want your new dog to go out with you every day, and don’t plan on leaving them alone for hours, having a Kelpie cross Staffy in an apartment is feasible.
However, if you want to be away for most of the day and don’t particularly enjoy outdoor walks year-round, this crossbreed is probably not the right choice.
Adopting A Kelpie Cross Staffy Puppy
Since this is a very new crossbreed, most litters happen by chance. In fact, it might be very difficult to find a Kelpie cross Staffy puppy in your area. However, if you’re sure this is the right choice for your family, there might be other options. Local breeders and rescue groups might know about an upcoming mixed litter, or even know about available puppies. Breed clubs and associations have an updated list with registered breeders that might be able to help. Here’s a small list of resources:
Kelpie Staffy Rescue and Fostering
Kelpies and Staffies are among the dogs most frequently abandoned according to the RSPCA . Because of their very specific exercise needs, and the socialisation they should go through, many families abandon their pups very young.
Adopting a Kelpie Staffy mix is a great way to offer a second chance to a pup. Plus, an older dog is easier to place because its personality is already visible. That way, you can be sure it’s the right fit for your family. To find a mixed puppy, check out your local RSPCA and rescues. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction:
If you want a pup that will keep up with your active lifestyle, then a Kelpie cross Staffy might be the right choice for you. Considering its gentle disposition and loyal nature, this is a dog that will fit perfectly with caring owners looking for an everyday companion. While first-time owners might have a harder time with training, this could be a great breed for outdoor lovers.
Want to learn more about Kelpie or Staffy mix breeds? Check out the below:
- Tuahene, S. April 18, 2019. "EUKANUBA survey reveals lifetime of love between owner and dog". Pet Gazette. Retrieved April 4, 2023. https://www.petgazette.biz/23971-eukanuba-survey-reveals-lifetime-of-love-between-owner-and-dog/
- Walden, L. May 1, 2019. "Staffies And Westies Have Been Revealed As The Most Affectionate Dog Breeds". Country Living. Retrieved April 4, 2023. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/dog-breeds/a27328818/affectionate-dog-breeds-staffies-westies/
- "Prohibited cat and dog breeds in Australia". Petraveller. Retrieved April 4, 2023. https://www.petraveller.com.au/blog/prohibited-dog-and-cat-breeds-in-australia
- Hemy, M. et al. September 1, 2017. "Characteristics and Outcomes of Dogs Admitted into Queensland RSPCA Shelters". Animals, 2017, 7(9), 67. Retrieved April 4, 2023. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/7/9/67