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The breed originated from the intermixing of the offspring of three pairs of 'Working Collies' imported into Australia by three early landholders. The first female born whose name was ‘Kelpie” was broken in to work sheep and did so very efficiently. By the turn of the century the majority of dogs of "Kelpie-like" appearance were described as Kelpies regardless of origin.

The general appearance is that of a toned, active dog of great quality, showing hard muscular condition combined with great suppleness of limb and conveying the capability of untiring work. The Kelpie is extremely alert, eager and highly intelligent, with a mild, tractable disposition and an almost inexhaustible energy, with marked loyalty and devotion to duty. It has a natural instinct and aptitude in the working of sheep, both in open country and in the yard.