It’s something of a mystery why the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix is quite as new as it is, because the breeds have similar characteristics and temperament. But as a relatively new ‘designer dog,’ let’s take a look at what you have in store if you get one.
Australian Kelpie history
Named for Celtic water-spirits, and descended originally from an English Collie, the Australian Kelpie has always been a breed to make itself useful. One of nature’s sheepdogs, it has been useful in Australia since around the late 19th-century.
It was for some time understood that there had been some Dingo interbreeding in the Australian Kelpie’s history, but as of 2019, genetic testing has proved that the Kelpie is in fact free of Dingo DNA.
German Shepherd history
German Shepherds have been around since the late 1850s, along with a handful of other working dogs in France and Italy. Towards the end of the 19th-century, there were selective breeding programs to establish the ‘finished’ form of several of these working dogs, which involved some in-breeding, to ‘perfect’ dogs like the German Shepherd.
As a breed, it was found to be a relatively no-nonsense herding dog, with the demeanor almost of a stern nanny – it would protect its flock from outside predators, but sometimes seem like a brusque barking authoritarian.
Proof that the value of the breed was highly appreciated is that during and after the Second World War, the German Shepherd disappeared for a while. The breed was still there, but it gained the alternative name of “Alsatian” – meaning “From Alsace,” a region of France. That meant German Shepherds could still be used and owned without the taint of being ‘German’ during and immediately after a war in which Germany was viewed by many as the chief aggressor. That was an association made especially unfortunate by Adolf Hitler’s love of the breed.
The two names are still interchangeable today, although in the significantly post-war world, the name German Shepherd has lost the vast majority of its stigma.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix history
Relatively new – certainly compared to both its parent breeds – the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd is a mix that’s proving popular. Medium-to-large (mostly depending on the individual parent dogs), it’s a breed that doubles down on intelligence, loyalty, and engagement.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix Personality & Temperament
Australian Kelpie personality and temperament
Kelpies have a natural aptitude for the organization of disorganized elements, like sheep – to the point where they rarely need a lot of formal training to make good work dogs.
An intelligent and perhaps surprisingly good-natured breed, they are generally patient with children. Beware boredom in the Kelpie, though – either physical or mental. Bore a Kelpie and you can expect barking for attention and even the digging of random holes, simply by way of exercising the legs. Train an Australian Kelpie and it will pick up disciplines relatively easily and without too much fuss – some Australian Kelpies have been trained as rescue dogs because of their calm capability in most situations.
They’re not hugely demanding in terms of exercise, but they need moderate walks to burn off those tinges of boredom, and engagement to keep their mind occupied. Simple walks with plenty to see and smell will keep your Kelpie happy, as will some toys in the home environment.
German Shepherd personality and temperament
The temperament of the German Shepherd is mostly calm, intensely loyal to its clan or family, wary of strangers, either human or canine, and highly trainable. The breed was originally a herding animal, but has proved adaptable to urban occupations, for instance with police departments, as sniffer dogs at airports, and in search and rescue operations.
Those are examples of the breed’s temperament – it likes to have something to do, and, like the Australian Kelpie, abhors boredom. Bore a German Shepherd and there’ll be barking, digging, and sometimes wanton destruction. As a bigger dog, that’s a thing you’re going to notice. Exercise and stimulation will take the edge off your German Shepherd though, and let its loyalty and intelligence win through.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix personality and temperament
As a combination of Australian Kelpie and German Shepherd genetics, the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix is never going to be some wild and crazy Labrador. The mix brings both the intelligence and trainability of its parent breeds forward, so you get a highly aware, hugely loyal dog that likes – in fact, that needs to have some sort of purpose to be best pleased with its life.
Good with children, the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix has a protective streak that can be useful in a watchdog, but can also, without training, be preemptively defensive against strangers – both human and canine.
Usefully though, the breed takes to training instinctively, the herding instinct of its forebears making it one of the easier breeds in which you can instill rules of behavior.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix: Size, Height, and Weight
Australian Kelpie size, height, and weight
The average Australian Kelpie stands between 15-20 inches high, and can healthily weigh in between 25-46 pounds. As such, it’s not an inconsiderable chunk of dog, though depending on the individual animal, it’s still relatively svelte compared to a German Shepherd.
German Shepherd size, height, and weight
The German Shepherd is a dog to be reckoned with. It can stand anything from 1 foot 10 inches to 2 feet 2 inches at the shoulder, so a lap dog, this is not. Weight-wise, it dwarfs the Australian Kelpie, coming in healthily at anything from 75-90 pounds. There’s a lot of power in a German Shepherd, so it’s very rarely idle weight.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix size, height, and weight
There is some fluctuation in the size, height, and weight of the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix, but it verges more on the lower end of the German Shepherd range than it does on the Australian Kelpie side. So you can expect a dog upward of 50 pounds, with lots of leg power, though nowhere (usually near) the height and ruggedness of the German Shepherd.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix: Training and Exercise Needs
Both of the parent breeds here have a need to be busy both in mind and body. If you leave an Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix alone long enough to get bored, both halves of its ancestry are likely to act up – there will be barking, perhaps even a whine or howl, and there may well be digging, vandalism, and destruction. The dog will want to do anything it can to escape – both in physical and mental terms – from the situation in which it has no purpose, no action to take, no stimulation to address.
You’re going to need to invest in a good handful of toys to keep the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix mentally active whenever you yourself can’t be with it – and you’re going to need to commit to engaging with the dog when you are there, so that it identifies you as a source of distraction.
Perversely, though they really need exercising to take the edge of the torpor that is distinctly unnatural to them, Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mixed breeds are not especially high maintenance, physically speaking. Moderate but regular walking will help turn the potentially bored animal into a satisfied companion. Anywhere you can let them run without a leash will be extremely appreciated, but remember to always do this safely and only in designated areas.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix: Coat Care, Shedding & Grooming
Australian Kelpie coat care, shedding, and grooming
The Australian Kelpie has a shortish double coat that comes in a range of colors and combinations, including black, black and tan, red and tan, and fawn and tan. The double coat means they don’t need grooming all that often.
Prepare for molting come springtime, though – they may need extra brushing then, not only to keep them comfortable, but also to save your furniture and carpets from extra clumps of Kelpie hair.
German Shepherd coat care, shedding, and grooming
Like the Australian Kelpie, you’d struggle to call a German Shepherd high maintenance in terms of its coat care and grooming. A regular brushing routine to comb out any mats and hair clumps (as well as distributing the coat’s oils) should be enough to keep them looking lustrous.
Bathe as needed – which might be more often than you think, because they tend to be goal-oriented dogs. That can make them unwary of their environment, so a muddy puddle is an irrelevance in the moment of chasing a stick, say.
Shedding is a definite issue with German Shepherds though. Make your mind up to almost continuous shedding, and in addition, they ‘blow’ their coats, losing all their undercoat, twice a year – in spring and fall. So they’re gorgeous, relatively low-maintenance dogs, but yes, everything you own probably will be covered in German Shepherd hair… more or less most of the time.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix coat care, shedding, and grooming
As with exercise, the trick with the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix is to not stress unduly – there’s little that’s high maintenance about the mix – but the coat density can differ depending on the precise parental dogs used. You could get one with a shorter, lower-maintenance coat, or one that has more of the German Shepherd’s shedding propensity about it.
Either way, there will be some semi-regular shedding, but the more prominent the German Shepherd is in the mix, the more shedding you’re going to encounter.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix: Longevity & Health Issues
Australian Kelpie longevity and health issues
Kelpies are generally a hardy breed – they have genetically fared well in the sometimes intense and harsh climate of Australia, so without dismissing the breadth of the US climate, they are likely to adapt themselves to wherever you take them.
There are a handful of things to watch out for with the Australian Kelpie though. Cryptorchidism, dysplasia in the hips, cerebellar abiotrophy, and luxating patella are among the things that can slow your Australian Kelpie down, and as they get older, that slow-down might happen anyway.
Perversely, it will be more noticeable in the Australian Kelpie than in many breeds, because for the majority of their lives, they present as being so capable and energetic, without (boredom permitting) being yappy, attention-seeking dogs.
Barring accident or injury, you’ll get 10-12 years of patient, intelligent, loyal companionship out of an Australian Kelpie.
German Shepherd longevity and health issues
The modern German Shepherd is something of a martyr to the early in-breeding that helped produce the breed we know today. Hip dysplasia can be a real problem for German Shepherds, and can also lead to arthritis as the dog ages.
Around 35% of cases of Canine Hip Dysplasia in Germany are found in German Shepherds, according to the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany, so it’s a mistake to underestimate the seriousness of bone issues in the breed. German Shepherds are also prone to osteoarthritis.
As with the Australian Kelpie, you can expect at least a decade of active life out of your German Shepherd. They will slow down and lose a little interest after that first ten years, but have been known to regularly live to the age of 14.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix: longevity and health issues
Again, there’s a similarity in the issues that affect both parent breeds, so be on the lookout for joint issues with your Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix, especially as they get older.
Hip dysplasia is common in older dogs (especially some that have been particularly bred to have distorted weight distribution towards the back), and both arthritis and osteoarthritis can be issues for this mixed breed.
Australian Kelpie German Shepherd Mix: Is This the Right Dog For You?
The pleasure with an Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix is that they’re so easily trainable, they can fit into lots of different lives, homes, and environments. You won’t need to be as hyper-vigilant with this mix as you would with many, but you will need to dedicate time and commitment to burning off some of their energy and giving them some attention when you’re home.
If you can give them that commitment though, the Australian Kelpie German Shepherd mix could well be a good, loyal, loving fit for you and your household.