The Australian Koolie is, first and foremost, a working dog. The breed is known for its speed and stamina herding sheep and driving cattle, but these sweet-natured, devoted dogs can also be excellent companions for active owners.
Australian Koolie History
A working dog from Australia, the Australian Koolie—or Koolie—was believed to be a result of crossbreeding smooth-coated blue merle Collies with black and tan Collies. According to local legend, the Koolie got its name from German immigrants in South Australia who could not pronounce “Collie” and called the dogs “coolies” instead.
The Australian Koolie is a newer breed that has been around for less than 200 years. During that time, the breed has earned their reputation as outstanding working dogs. International breed standards promote their working dog attributes over their appearances to ensure that Australian Koolies remain excellent herding dogs with the speed, stamina, and ability to get the job done.
Australian Koolie Traits
Koolies are strong, agile dogs with well-muscled bodies and free, tireless gaits.
Coat and Coloring
Australian Koolies are a double-coated breed with a short, dense, rain-resistant undercoat and a close, flat outer coat. While some Koolies have short, smooth hair, others can have medium or long hair.
The breed comes in many colors, including solid black, red/chocolate, black and white, red and white, and tri-colored solid red or black with white markings and brown points. They can also have a grey, black, red/chocolate or white undercoat with large splashes of dark colorings, including red/chocolate for red merles or black and grey for blue merles.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Like other active herding breeds, Koolies have deep chests, muscular loins and shoulders, and well-furnished tails that hang in a slight curve to blend with a rounded, sloping rump.
Australian Koolie Temperament
Australian Koolies are patient and dedicated. These dogs are equally committed to their work and their owners, offering stamina and skill along with devotion and loyalty. Often mistaken as being shy or timid, Koolies can seem reserved around strangers. The breed is not aggressive but can demonstrate dominance.
Their natural herding instincts can make Koolies eager to control animals and children. These bundles of energy do best in active homes where owners understand their need for regular, high-intensity physical activity.
Australian Koolie Care
Feed Australian Koolies a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their life stage (puppy, adult, senior) and consider a diet formulated for active breeds. These high energy dogs are not known for becoming overweight, but portioning out their food with a measuring cup and limiting treats to no more than 10 percent of their daily calories can help keep Australian Shepherds fit and trim.
Australian Koolies have minimal grooming requirements. Brush their coats at least once per week to remove dead hair and, during spring and fall when these dogs blow their coats, use an undercoat rake several times per week. Keep their ears clean, and their nails trimmed.
Like all breeds, Australian Koolies benefit from a regular dental care routine that includes at-home teeth brushing and professional cleanings.
These are working dogs that want to be on the move and require active owners committed to providing regular exercise. Koolies make great running partners and also enjoy brisk walks, hiking, swimming, and other activities that allow them to burn some energy and display their speed and stamina.
Australian Koolies are intelligent and keen to learn new things but require training to adopt positive behaviors. These dogs love spending time with their owners and will see training as a bonding experience.
Focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based training. Avoid repetitive activities, which will cause Koolies to lose interest in training. Fast-paced games and activities are best to keep them engaged (and help burn off energy).
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH