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Koolie Origins

       Smooth coated Collie          Australian Koolie    German Tiger/Alpine Header Breed



 Imported to Australia 1840       Common type 2005       Imported to Australia 1836


Koolie origins
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Kindly approved by Koolie Club of Australia

Where there is wool,

there is a way..

The Koolie Way!

Australia is witnessing the re-emergence of a very old breed of working dog, some believe the oldest working breed bred in Australia, efforts are being made to record and research this breed, much interest has focused on this breed and the need for correct information and sound proper protection, is needed to preserve this breed.

I would like to introduce a breed that you may already be familiar with. It is the Australian Koolie and it has a perplexing and interesting history. All breeds began from many; the Australian Koolie is no different. History books show that serious importations of working breeds began around the 1800s; many books on the Kelpie, Australian Cattle Dog and Stumpy refer to the influence of the Merle breed in their own breed’s foundations.


One such book, by author Angela Sanderson called "Australian Dogs", out by the Currawong press refers to the Australian Koolie; then called the German Collie. What is of most importance in her book is her own reference to a much earlier German writer Von Stephanitz and his book "The German Shepherd In Word and Picture" released 1925 in which he writes "The Australian grazier were sufficiently impressed with German sheep dogs to import them”, he then names one of the breeds which were imported, as the German Tiger (pronounced with a long "e" not a short "i") and describes them as “long or short coated, prick eared type of Merle colouring similar to the type already found in Australia called the German Collie.” ( this proves that German Tigers were imported, but it proves more importantly that the Koolie was establish and recognized by its own name before actually recorded imported Tigers arrived).There is evidence that Elizabeth Macarthur, wife of  John Macarthur who began the Merino

 industry in Australia transported a German by the name of Joseph Pabts to her property in Camden New South Wales in 1825 to care for her flocks; Joseph arrived with his family and a number of his German working dogs, believed to be Tigers. This report indicates that Tigers could have been in Australia 100 years earlier. The earlier Tigers would have merged with other working bloodlines, most commonly the smooth coated Collies which were found readily in the southern and central regions and possessed the shorter coat desire in this hotter climate.


German Tigers, 1825 Koolie Ancestor



One of the questions most often asked is why hasn’t the Koolie breed been recognized before now? The answer is simple; the men and women who bred and worked the Koolie did so to continue an excellent working dog that could adapt to all terrains and weather conditions. This was a dog that would work until it dropped just for the shear love of working and still be a loyal companion at days end. It is only in recent times that we have felt the need to register our Koolies. As people have moved away from the area, the search to find other Koolies for breeding became difficult, so many Koolies were simply bred to other good working dogs. People became concerned that the Koolie may be in danger of being bred out of existence.

In 2000 the Koolie Club of Australia was formed dedicated individuals who began the arduous task of establishing a governing organization to rally like minded dog owners/breeders together to begin a Koolie Registry. One of the first tasks of the Koolie Club of Australia was to determine a name best needed to represent the breed. It was decided to remove the “German” from

the Koolie name because many people mistakenly believed the Koolie was a German breed when in fact the Koolie is considered one of Australia’s oldest working breeds. It was also decided the “K” would be adopted to Koolie so it would not be mistaken for the word Collie. Many members still prefer to spell Koolie with a “C” and according to a news piece from a NSW newspaper it was once even spelt Kulie. it was decided by the club that Australian Koolie would best describe the breed and adopted the name. Koolie type’s are very diverse, they can have pricked ears, semi dropped ears or dropped ears. Their coat can be smooth, short or medium, there have also been a few Koolies that have had coats as long as a Border Collie’s but this is not common. The colours range from Red or Black “better known as Blue” Merle, solid Red or Black usually with White or Merle points. There are solids, tricolours and bicolour as well. The one thing that most serious experienced breeders agree upon is the colour must be a strong dark colour and that the white points must be minimal.

The Koolie size has been known to be as large as a Border Collie to the size of a small Kelpie, bone structure can vary from heavy to fine, the reasons behind such diversity is in the Koolies very ability to adapt to all terrain’s and situations. The men and women who breed them, bred them for what was needed at the time, if you worked truck and transporters you needed a small agile hardy dog that could move quick and work hard. In the paddock on the station or droving you needed a dog that could eat up the distances and have great stamina with a short coat, shorter the better to keep off the burrs. In the high country the dog worked better if the coat was rough and double with a softer water resistant undercoat to keep out the chill of the snow and up north with the semi-wild cattle you required a dog with heavy bones to lend strength needed for this job.

When it comes to sheep you looked for a steady worker that would willingly jump up on the sheep backs in the yards and bring them to you from the fields. The Koolie meets all these requirements and responds to the work with a willingness and devotion that have their owners refusing offers of ten’s of thousands of dollars when offered for their


prized partners. Koolies have shown their metal in every form of work from on the land to Obedience, Tracking, Agility and Rescue Service, Koolies have been used as therapy dogs in nursing homes and as animal educators for children at school. Currently many Koolies, are participating in workshop clinics to prepare for future endeavours with the Sporting Registers Trials and events or just practical application of the Koolie on the land.  We are making every endeavour to actively promote and present clinics in Victoria, Nsw and Qld and aim to provide good strong qualified instruction in the training of Koolies.


American members of the Koolie Club of Australia have chosen to also become members of the American Herding Breed Association, Their Koolies have been certified through the HCT which is a Herding Instinct Test - the test is used to determine how strong the herding instinct is. There are 2 legs of the test that the dog must pass in order to be certified. They have also become members of the Australian Shepherd Club of America this membership is used by the ASCA to track our members participation in herding events. Without membership no points or certification can be awarded. A person can participate without membership but it would only be for fun with no recognition.
Medically our American members Koolies are registered with the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that certifies they are free of all know hereditary eye diseases. And are preparing to x-ray for HD , we hope through these effort to preserve the Koolies working ability and retain healthy bloodlines for the future.


The Koolie Club of Australia aspires to meet our members and breeds needs by focusing on all facets of the working dog, this includes herding workshops, agility & obedience clinics for the training and DNA testing and genetic research for the breeding. Koolies registered with the Koolie Club of Australia Inc. are accepted for registration on the Sporting Registers of both the Victorian Canine Association, the Royal New South Wales Canine Council & the Queensland Canine Control Council. Koolies on these sporting registers can now compete in events run by those bodies such as herding, obedience, agility, tracking and receive full recognition as Koolies, in all results published and on certificates. They can also compete without the requirement of being de-sexed before entering and are no longer noted as an “associate” breed on documentation.
Genetic Technologies Services Australia have recognized the Koolie Club of Australia as official collectors of Koolie DNA, this is offered to all members who wish to have their Koolie tested.


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This site was last updated 04/10/07