German Koolie

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German Koolie

A red merle dog is seen jumping into the backs of the sheep to get to the head of the stocks. The agile dog then blocked the stock in front and at the same time shifting and casting its focus around the flock to see if any sheep are breaking away. The dog is a German Koolie, a breed that is most favored by Australian dairy farmers and graziers. These highly valued dogs have become the dependable and tireless helpers of the stockmen because of their admirable work ethics.

The German Koolie is one of the breeds with a rather misleading name. Contrary to what the breed name implies this herding dog actually originated in Australia and no other Koolies exist outside this continent. Presently the breed answers to the name Australian Koolie. The German Koolie name was given to the breed due to the fact that its development was associated with the European and German immigrants. The Koolie is thought to be one of the oldest breeds in Australia as it was introduced in the early 1800s by the immigrant farmers. It was speculated that these dogs have descended from the dogs in the Thomas S. Hall kennels from where the Australian Cattle Dog originated.

The German Koolie is a medium sized dog that looks a lot like a cross between the Australian Cattle Dog, a Kelpie and Border Collie. The similarities in appearance strengthen the supposition that these dogs share the same ancestry. The German Koolie was primarily developed to be a working dog. The German Koolie is a through and through herder. The dog also herds bulls and ducks and in the absence of animals these dogs will “herd” the family especially the children.


The German Koolie has a very diverse appearance. As mentioned these working dogs are often mistaken for a Border Collie or a Kelpie. This dog can be as small as a Kelpie and it can also be as large as a Border Collie. The long legs of this breed though give it a rangier appearance. The German Koolie is said to be one of the oldest breeds of dogs in Australia. Years of development have created a breed that adapts to varied situations, a breed that meets the needs of the Australian farmers and graziers. German Koolies in New South Wales and in the north of Queensland are developed for mustering Brahma and Simmental Cattle thus the dog were noted to be taller and well boned. German Koolies are shorter and stockier in the snowy mountain areas of New South Wales and in the Hunter Valley region as the dogs are expected to herd and flush out cattle from gullies and from low lying dense bush. The smallest Koolies are found in Victoria.

Coat type and coat color of this breed is diverse as well. The smooth coat can be short and medium in length. Some specimens have long coat although they are not very common. Coat colors range from red and blue merle. A German Koolie can also have a solid black, red or chocolate coat. White bibs and white facial markings enhance the appearance of this breed. Nose and eye colors vary depending on the color of the coat. Black coated dogs would commonly have black eyes and a black nose and red/chocolate coated dogs would have brown or shades of brown nose and eyes. It is common for this breed to have differently colored eyes – one eye can be blue and the other can be brown or black.


The Koolie is an energetic and ardent worker. This is one of the qualities why this breed is highly valued. The dog will be up with the sun to work, to herd and to drove the livestock. At sundown the dog will be seen placidly lounging at his master’s feet. This hardworking breed makes an ideal addition to the family because apart from being loyal and obedient, the dog has the eagerness to please attitude. This dog is good with children and tolerates other dogs. Although socialization will be necessary to make the dog tolerate smaller pets. Being a working dog, the Koolie needs to be provided with opportunities to run everyday. They are not recommended for apartment living as although they are inactive indoors, a large yard will be necessary to satisfy the dog’s high exercise requirements. A Koolie will turn into a destructive dog if allowed to laze inside the house all day.


The German Koolie is a working dog as such they are generally valued for their working abilities. Nevertheless, the dog would still benefit from regular grooming. Weekly brushing using a pin brush would be enough to maintain the good condition of the coat. This breed is an average shedder. When the dog is shedding brushing must be done everyday to remove dead hair. Shedding that are not removed will tangle with the live hair often causing skin infections. The dog can be bathed once a month using animal shampoo. Frequent bathing is not recommended as it will cause dry skin because the natural oils that moisturize the skin are removed. Teeth and ears must be regularly cleaned. Nails must be trimmed regularly. The hair between the pads must be trimmed as well.


The German Koolie is one of the breeds with an “improper” name. The German Koolie is a medium sized breed that originated in Australia, not in Germany as the name implies. One theory states that the name stemmed from the derogatory term used to refer to Australian immigrants. It is also possible that the name resulted from the mispronunciation of the German immigrants for the word “collie”.

The German Koolie is a very important working dog for an Austrian farmer and grazier. This breed noted for its outstanding working abilities is considered to be one of the oldest breeds if not the oldest breed of dog in Australia. Sadly, this breed is not recognized by the Australian Kennel Club. A maximum of seven generations of breed records are necessary for a breed to be recognized. Unfortunately, records of the evolution of the breed were never kept. The bloodline of the German Koolie was never ascertained and substantiated. Because the working ability of this breed is of prime importance, breeders occasionally introduce new blood to improve the breed. This accounts for the diverse appearance of the German Koolie.

The German Koolie has a rather puzzling history and several theories on how this breed was developed exist. It was believed that these dogs have evolved from the Black and Tan Collies imported by Thomas Hall from the highlands of Scotland. If this is true, the German Collie would have descended from the forebears of the Australian Cattle Dog. It was also thought that this breed originated from the dogs introduced by German and other European immigrants to Australia. This theory was supported by documents that specify the importation of German dogs to Australia. Elizabeth and John Macarthur who pioneered the Marino industry in Australia transported from Germany Joseph Pabts to care for the flocks in 1825. The German brought along German Tigers. The German Koolie is believed to have developed from this breed. Regardless of the ancestry, the German Koolie is one outstanding working breed. This working dog was bred to fit the needs of the Australian farmers. This accounts for the breed’s diverse appearance. A dog that is utilized to transport stocks from paddocks to trucks is expected to be small but very agile, one that drove the stock will have longer and well boned legs and great stamina as well as a shorter coat that will be more resistant to burrs. A German Koolie that works in higher elevation have developed rough double coats with wooly undercoats to withstand the chill.

The Koolie Club of Australia was formed in 2000 with the objective of preserving and protecting the breed. The first task of the club is to remove the “German” from the name as in spite of the fact that this breed is considered to be Australia’s oldest breed, it is not uncommon for people to believe that the dogs originated from Germany. So that the breed will not be mistaken for a Collie, “K” was adopted instead of “C”. In 2004, the breed gained the recognition of the Australian Sporting Registrar. The Australian Koolie was accepted by the American Herding Breed Association in 2006.

Australian Koolie, German Koolie or simply Koolie … breed name is not really important. What count most are the working ability and the loyal and devoted companionship this dog provides. A Koolie owner will never be enticed with thousands of dollars to be parted from the dog. These versatile dogs have evolved from being excellent herders to therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs. Koolies have also excelled in agility and obedience competitions.

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