Getting to know the Australian Koolie

Getting To Know The Australian Koolie


As an owner of an Australian Koolie, I am no stranger to odd looks and confused faces at the dog park, when asked what breed my dog Tilly is. “Is she a Kelpie?” they ask, “No, an Australian Koolie” I reply. Insert strange look on face and the follow up question “A what?”.

Let me shed some light on the beautiful breed of an Australian Koolie.

An Australian Koolie, is a working / herding breed, that is known for their amazing speed and stamina while herding sheep and driving cattle. According to the Australian Breeders International, the Australian Koolie which was historically called a German Coolie, has existed in Australia since the late 1700’s and early 1800’s when the first German immigrants arrived with their dogs.

Koolies which can be easily be mistaken for an Australian Cattle Dog or Australian Kelpie due to their likeness of speed, agility and coat colours, were bred as an all-around station dog. The versatility and intelligence of the Koolie allowed farmers to use these dogs for many different types of stock and farm duties whereas the Australian Cattle Dog and Kelpie were breed for a specific duty in mind; Cattle Dogs are unique in their ability to round up cattle thanks to their heeling and bite characteristics, and Kelpies with their barking qualities are best for sheep yard work.

australian cattle dog australian kelpie australian koolie working dogs

Today, Koolies are not only used on farms and stations. Due to their sweet-nature and devoted sense of loyalty they are seen in family homes all over Australia and increasingly overseas. As incredibly smart dogs, they are easy to train but must be kept active and challenged. Therefore they would be great companions for an active and adventurous family. Long walks, swimming, hikes and an open field to bolt around (and I do mean bolt! They are very quick) are some of the adventurous activities this breed loves.


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Australian Koolie Training

As Koolies are extremely active, not only physically but mentally as well, they need to be kept busy and ‘working’. A bored and frustrated Koolie will see your backyard and garden turned into a pot hole filled playground.

Training your Koolie will make life much easier and will keep your bundle of energy happy and healthy by knowing what he can and can’t do. Once the Master is respected, you will have a loyal companion who will not leave your side and one who will be obedient when going out on adventures with you.

Make sure that your Koolie has lots of challenges to complete when you are busy. See below for a few suggestions:

  • Feed them in an interactive feeding bowl or ball. This not only feeds them slowly but will stimulate them mentally as they try and work out how to get the food.
  • Tug Ball. There are several options on the market today that allow you to tie up / attach a ball and rope to an anchor point. This makes the dog work to pull the ball down and will fling back into place for another go.
  • Stuff a toy with peanut butter. Most dogs love peanut butter and this treat will not only give them a reward but it will make them work for it, just like feeding them with an interactive bowl.
  • Play ‘Find It’. Just as the name suggests Find It is a search and find game that can be used with many different items such as their favourite toy, treats or things that you actually need to find (hand bag and keys would be a great start for me). If your Koolie doesn’t know ‘Find It’, then start by training them to find something very familiar or even a person. Tell them to sit and stay while you hide it close to them. Give the command ‘Find It’ and encourage them to search the area. Praise and reward them when they touch it and build on from here.

Australian Koolie Temperament

  • Obedient and Loyal
  • Patient and intelligent
  • Energetic and hard working
  • Playful with other dogs and people
  • No large barking tendency
  • They will herd ANYTHING! Including Chickens, People, Guinea pigs, other Dogs.

Australian Koolie size, weight and life expectancy

  • Height: 34 - 60 cm (13 - 23 inches)
  • Weight: 15 - 24 kg (33 - 53 pounds)
  • Average age is 18 + years

Australian Koolie Colour patterns

  • Merle: Red or blue
  • Solid: Red, brown, or black
  • Bi: Red/white, black/white, black/tan, red/tan
  • Tricolor: Solid or merle colors, often with a white chest and tan points.

Australian Koolie Common Health Issues

  • The Merle gene can cause blind or deaf pups
  • Occasion joint problems due to their athleticism (jumping/twisting can damage the cartilage and ligaments)
  • Minor allergies of the skin or immune system issues

Overall, Koolies currently have the cleanest DNA genetic diversity in the world. This is partly due to careful breeding and not focussing on one ability more than another.

Australian Koolie Associations

  • AHBA = American Herding Breed Association
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Council
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • ASAP = Australian Specialised Animal Pathology
  • ASCA = Australian Shepherd Council America
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • KCA = Koolie Club of Australia
  • NZCCC = New Zealand Canine Control Council
  • TWBF = Traditional Working Breeds Finland
  • VGAP = Veterinary Genetics Assurance Program




This blog is written from the writers own personal experience and information gathered from the below sources: