ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Koolie: Your Best Friend From Down Under

white koolie
John Walton
Written by John Walton

When you go to a dog park, there are plenty of Poodles, Labradors, and Bulldogs around. This is probably because these breeds are some of the most popular in the world. There’s nothing wrong with having a dog that belongs to a popular dog breed. However, there are also people who want a unique best friend like the Koolie.

The Koolie is not as popular as the aforementioned breeds, but these dogs are just as loyal, intelligent, and playful as the rest of them. Adopting a Koolie can be a rewarding experience. They belong to the working dog group, so you have a smart, curious, and loyal dog on your hands. Their merle coats also make them look very distinctive.

If you’re thinking about adopting a Koolie, this article will give you information on what you need to know about this breed. This article will talk about the Koolie’s health, temperament, care, and other breed aspects so that you will know if the breed is a right fit for your lifestyle.

Breed Characteristics

Koolie lying on grass

  • Adaptability: High; but needs space to exercise
  • Trainability: Good; very smart and trainable
  • Health and Grooming: Good
  • All Around Friendliness: Good; but wary towards strangers
  • Exercise Needs: High; seems to have boundless energy
Dog Breed GroupWorking Dogs
HeightMales: 34 to 60 cm (13 to 23 inches)
Females: 34 to 60 cm (13 to 23 inches)
WeightMales – 15 to 24 kg (33 to 53 pounds)
Females – 15 to 24 kg (33 to 53 pounds)
Lifespan12 – 18 Years

The Koolie is a strong working dog. This breed is very intelligent and likes to be active. As companions, these dogs are easy-going and fun loving. Their disposition makes them a good addition to an active family with children or to an individual who loves the outdoors and exercising.

Their intelligence makes them very easy to train. They were originally bred to look after sheep in Australia and are still prized by local shepherds for their herding abilities. A well-trained Koolie can execute tasks on command. They work with cattle, sheep, goats and any other animals that need herding.

The Koolie has a medium-length coat that is fairly easy to care for. Koolies are moderate shedders and do not require lots of grooming. Just brush their coat once a week to get rid of debris, and they are usually good to go.

Since they were bred to look after livestock, they prefer being outdoors and working. They have a strong work ethic and are happiest when they have something to do. However, they also make good companions especially if you’re the outdoorsy type. They are also employed as therapy dogs.

Koolies are wary of strangers. However, they are not overly aggressive. As a watchdog, they will warn you when strangers are around. They are good with kids too. They are protective but loving, affectionate, and playful with children. They are loyal and can form great bonds with their families.

Main Highlights

Koolie standing in yard

  • The Koolie is an intelligent breed and wants to please their masters. They have a strong work ethic, making them highly trainable. Their intelligence also makes them very adaptable to different situations.
  • They do well in a variety of dog sports like agility, obedience, and herding.
  • The Koolie’s lifespan is longer compared to other dog breeds. They are not affected by many genetic problems.
  • Their coat is easy to groom and does not require a lot of attention. You just need to brush it occasionally and bathe when necessary. The Koolie is an average shedder.
  • This breed is cat-friendly.
  • They are kid-friendly too. They are playful, energetic, and affectionate towards children.
  • They are wary towards strangers.
  • This breed has high energy levels and stamina. They require a long daily walk and ample space to run, sniff, and explore. Unexercised Koolies become bored and destructive.
  • Lots of exercises is known to extend this breed’s lifespan.
  • They are not recognized by the AKC or other major breed clubs.
  • They can have different-colored eyes.
  • Koolies have a keen sense of smell. They can smell lambs from a great distance and even flush them from brushes.
  • Great choice for people with an active lifestyle or families that love the outdoors.
  • Aside from herding, they are also employed as therapy dogs.

Breed History

Koolie running in grass

The ancestors of the Koolie are the smooth-coated blue merle Collies and the black-and-tan Collie from Scotland which were brought to the country by German immigrants, which is why some people still refer to this breed as the German Koolie. Migrants could not pronounce the name Collie, so they invented their own name for the dog, Koolie.

They were originally used as “all around dogs” until the early 1800s when one of them mated with a Dingo (Australian wild dog) which resulted in a dog with a short coat, making the Koolie ideal working dogs for the hot weather of Australian outback.

The breed became popular among people working with livestock who wanted an intelligent, trainable, and hardworking dog to herd and guide their flocks. They were developed to muster Simmental Cattle and Brahma over a long distance.

Size

This dog is medium-sized with a muscular stature. The males stand around 34 to 60 cm (13 to 23 inches) while the females are 34 to 60 cm (13 to 23 inches) at the withers. At maturity, they can weigh between 33 to 53 pounds. Males and females do not differ very much when it comes to size and weight.

The general appearance of the Koolie is strong and athletic. They are well-muscled, agile, and have lots of stamina. They have very interesting coat color like red merle and blue, solid red, black, and gray. A breed standard is still being developed.

Like many working dogs, they have an alert stance and intense expression. Originally, Koolies had different-colored eyes, but dogs that have same-colored eyes are more common nowadays.

True to their workaholic nature and their strong work ethic, Koolies have an amazing nose. Their outstanding sense of smell can help them spot sheep and lamb at a distance and can even sniff out lost sheep in bushes. This amazing gift has made them indispensable among livestock farmers.

They have a long lifespan averaging around 15 years. According to experts, this can be increased with regular exercise and lots of TLC. Proper diet and regular visits to the vet will also keep them healthy and happy for most of their lifetime.

Personality and Character

Koolie playing with a ball on grass

Breeders and past owners describe the Koolie as a fun-loving, very active and eager-to-please dog. They have a balanced temperament. They are not nervous, aggressive, or shy. They know how to confront, to be gentle, and be lively when needed.

This breed is used to working one-on-one with their masters; as such, they usually form a strong attachment with one member of the family. They are devoted to their favorites and generally love being around them. They make loyal and devoted friends.

The obedient, loyal, and eager-to-please characteristic of this breed has a drawback. They bond strongly with their families and don’t like being alone or ignored for a long time. If left alone for long periods, Koolies can become depressed or destructive.

See Also: Depression in Dogs

With children, Koolies are playful, gentle, and protective. They make good watchdogs and are wary of strangers. They will give you a bark if there are intruders but are not overly aggressive. Koolies are also cool with other pets especially if they are socialized early on.

They are a favorite among stockmen because of their impressive stamina, intelligence, and gentleness around ewes and lambs. But don’t think that this dog is a pushover because they will still bite and defend their flock against mongrels, bulls, and steers.

They are not only fast and agile, but they also have good vision and hearing. These traits were developed since Koolies originally worked in the outback. Their excellent vision is needed to locate lost ewes, lambs, and other livestock. Good hearing is also needed to find animals that are lost and cannot be seen. Aside from this, their excellent sense of smell can pick up scents and track animals out of view.

Koolies can be challenging to keep especially if you’re a first-time dog owner. This is mainly due to their seemingly unending supply of energy. Koolies were bred to work in the outback, and stockmen needed a breed that can work up to 14 hours today. If you plan on adopting a Koolie, be prepared to take them on long walks, jogs, and other forms of exercise.

They like to run so it’s best to let them go off leash in safe areas so that they can let out all that energy. Koolies have a strong herding instinct, but they know how to listen and work as a team with their owners. They know how to take direction and stop when commanded. Unexercised or bored Koolies are prone to destruction and obesity.

Koolies are not recognized by any major organization, but they have a major following in Australia. Their physical characteristics, traits, and personal charm have made them a favorite not only with farm owners but with regular people too. Today the Koolie is a working dog, sporting dog, therapy dog, and companion dog.

Health and Potential Problems

Koolie jumping

The Koolie probably has one of the longest lifespans for a medium-sized dog. The average lifespan of this breed is approximately 15 years. Their hardiness and long life is probably due to a diverse gene pool.

They are not easily affected by common genetic problems that are passed along some dog breeds. However, Koolies are prone to joint problems, skin allergies, and hip dysplasia.

It is not uncommon to have deaf puppies in Koolies. Puppies that are deaf are a result of homozygous merle (MM) where the mating was between a merle and another merle, and the deafness gene was inherited. Puppies that lack color around the eyes and ears are usually deaf.

See Also: How to Train a Deaf Dog

The Koolie is generally a healthy dog breed, but regular visits to the vet and a good diet should still be observed by potential owners. Owners should also follow vaccination schedules to keep Koolies healthy.

Care Features

Koolie puppy sitting in grass

Coolies have a short coat, but it still needs to be brushed regularly to keep it clean and to prevent the buildup of debris in the coat. The best time to brush is right after an exercise. Make sure to brush at least once a week.

Dental problems can become a problem, especially for senior dogs. Try to brush your Koolie’s teeth at least once a week with vet-approved products. The trimming of the nails should be done when they are too long.

Keep your Koolie happy with regular exercise. They have lots of energy and great stamina, so a long daily walk or a jog is preferable.

The Koolie prefers open spaces, big backyards with fences and lots of room to explore. Dog sporting events like obedience, agility, and flyball are great because these are not only mentally stimulating to Koolies but are also great forms of exercise which they love.

See Also: Agility Training for Dogs

Feeding Schedule

Koolies do well with high-quality dog food and treats. However, they should be measured and monitored to avoid obesity. Make sure to follow feeding instructions from your veterinarian. Make sure that the proportions given are appropriate for the size and age of your Koolie.

Feed your Koolie two or preferably three times a day, spaced at regular intervals. Treats can be given as a reward in-between meals, but make sure not to be too generous since this could make them fat.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

red koolie lying on grass

The Koolie looks similar to other working dogs, most especially the Australian Cattle dog. Their coat is smooth and short and a bit longer on the tail. The most common color for this breed is red merle or blue merle with markings. Some dogs have red and black markings.

Their medium-length coat is easy to clean and maintain. It does not require frequent brushing so you can get away with once a week brushing. There are Koolies with longer length coats, and their fur is usually wavier compared to shorter-haired Koolies.

Bathing should be done when needed. Since this dog is prone to skin allergies, it is important to monitor their coats and skin. Brushing and bathing will let you inspect them more closely.

See Also: Dog Skin Problems: Most Common Problems and Methods of Treatment

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Koolies love kids and vice versa. They are playful, lively, gentle, and protective around kids. They are wary of strangers, so they will keep your kids safe. Their high stamina can match kids on a sugar high. They love to play, run, and have fun with kids especially outdoors.

They are friendly towards cats and other pets too. They can be wary at first, but early socialization can keep things harmonized in your home. However, Koolies have a strong herding instinct so they should be taught not to herd smaller pets.

Wrap Up

two koolie dogs together

If you think you can keep up with a high energy dog like the Koolie, you’re going to have a best friend for life. Stockmen and farmers love this breed because of their excellent work ethic while normal people love them because of their easy going, intelligent, and loyal nature.

The unique looks of the Koolie also make them a good choice for people who are looking for something different. However, don’t let this be the deciding factor in adopting a Koolie because their strong work ethic and stamina could come back to bite you. They need owners who are willing to put in the time and effort needed to keep them exercised both mentally and physically.

Do you think the Koolie is a good fit for your lifestyle? Do you think you can keep up with the Koolie’s need for constant activity? Tell us by leaving your comments below. If you decide to adopt a Koolie, don’t miss out on our superhero dog names article. These kind-hearted, tireless working dogs have a lot in common with superheroes.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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