ancestors of the Kelpie were simply (black) dogs, called
Colleys or Collies. The word "collie" has the
same root as "coal" and "collier (ship)".
Some of these Colleys were imported to Australia for stock
work in the early 1800s, and were bred to other types
of dogs (including the occasional Dingo), but always with
an eye to working sheep without direct supervision. Today's
Collie breeds were not formed until about 10 or 15 years
after the Kelpie was established as a breed, with the
first official Border Collie not brought to Australia
until after Federation in 1901.
Some people claim that Kelpies have some
Dingo blood, one possible reason for this belief is that
as it was illegal to keep dingoes as pets, some dingo
owners registered their animals as Kelpies or Kelpie crosses.
It should be noted that Kelpies and Dingoes are very similar
in conformation and colouring: Dingoes are not restricted
to tan and cream. There is no doubt that some have deliberately
mated Dingoes to their Kelpies, and some opinion holds
that the best dilution is 1/16-1/32, but that 1/2 and
1/4 will work. As the Dingo has been regarded as a savage
sheep-killer since the first white settlement of Australia,
few will admit to the practice.
The first "Kelpie" was a black
and tan bitch pup with slightly floppy ears bought by
Jack Gleeson about 1860 from a litter born on Warrock
Station near Casterton, owned by George Robertson, a Scot.
This dog was named after the mythological kelpie from
Celtic folklore. Legend has it that "Kelpie"
was sired by a Dingo, but there is little evidence for
or against this. In later years she was referred to as
"(Gleeson's) Kelpie", to differentiate her from
"(King's) Kelpie", her daughter.
The second "Kelpie" was "(King's)
Kelpie", another black and tan bitch out of "Kelpie"
by "Caesar", a pup from two sheep-dogs imported
from Scotland. Again, there are legends that these two
sheep-dogs may well have never seen Scotland, and may
well have had Dingo blood. "(King's) Kelpie"
tied the prestigious Forbes Trial in 1879, and the strain
was soon popularly referred to as "Kelpie's pups",
or just Kelpies.
There is no Red Cloud Kelpie, beloved
of Western Australians:
"There were a number of Kelpies
called 'Red Cloud'.
"The first, and most famous was John Quinn's Red
Cloud. I seem to remember that this dog may have been
owned (or used) by the King & McLeod Stud. This was
at the start of the 1900s. But this tradition in Western
Australia of calling all red or Red & Tan Kelpies
a 'Red Cloud' stems back to around the 1960s when a Kelpie
called 'Red Cloud' became very well known."