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DNA of the Kelpie to the smooth Collie

We received a question this week from Anita in South Africa.

"I've just imported my first Kelpie and I'm so pleased with him. He comes from Beloka Kelpies. I think that the Kelpie is the best suited working breed for the conditions here in Southern Africa. We have hot temperatures and harsh landscape. The Border Collie is a popular breed but I think it's because the 'farmers' don't know how to train their dogs. I have one question: have you compared the DNA of the Kelpie to the smooth Collie. There are some similarities, like coat, the nose markings, ears, built, just to start. I was just wondering. Greetings from the Eastern Karoo (semi- desert) South Africa"

Thanks for your most interesting question. First congratulations on your choice, Paul Macphail is a good operator and his Beloka Kelpies have an excellent reputation. I am sure your Kelpie will prove more hardy than the general run of so-called ‘Border Collies’. I reluctantly use the name “Border collie” simply because after many years research, I estimate approximately 90% of so-called Border collies are in fact, Collies of varying types, certainly not true Border collies. The term “collie” is in reality, any dog that ‘follows from behind’. In reference to the harsh country where you live and work, it’s important to give your Kelpie time to adjust to the environment. Where your Kelpie comes from in Welshpool (lush pastures in Victoria, Australia) is totally opposite to Karoo (semi- desert) South Africa. Once climatized, I am sure he will meet your requirements. In regards to your original question, the DNA test I had done was to establish if the Kelpie, did or didn’t have any genetic association with the Australian Dingo, and this was confirmed in my book. It’s worth noting in the early 1900s, dog authority Mr. Rice Courtney stated, “the coat of the Kelpie was unlike any other dog” The double coat is similar to that of a dingo! Yes, some smooth collies do have double coat, but who really knows their true genetic background? As for the other phenotype indications, breeding for working characteristics can be at the detriment of breed type.

Thanks Bill Robertson

Author Origins of the Australian Kelpie

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