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Australian Kelpie: Dog Breed Profile

Tara Gregg / EyeEm / Getty Images

A herding dog hailing from the land Down Under, the athletic, muscular, and energetic Australian Kelpie is an extremely intense breed. Highly intelligent and driven, Kelpies enjoy working hard. In fact, they really need a job to do—hanging around the house simply won’t suffice. Most Australian Kelpies are used as working dogs, mostly herding sheep, though some Kelpies can be used on cattle as well.

If a Kelpie isn’t employed on a working sheep ranch or farm, owners must find another outlet to fulfill their mental and physical demands. The breed has impressive endurance if you’re looking for a running partner, the Australian Kelpie is your dog. However, unless you are devoted to doing a lot with and for your dog, this breed is not generally an ideal pet. The Australian Kelpie is truly best-suited as a working dog. In fact, the breed is often referred to as the Working Kelpie or Australian Working Kelpie.

Australian Kelpies are affectionate with children and typically get along well with other pets, though they might need to be discouraged from excessive herding of other members of their pack. They are highly trainable, eager to please, and loyal. When paired with an owner who understand the breed’s special needs, the Australian Kelpie can be the ultimate companion.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding (UKC)

Weight: About 30 to 45 pounds

Height: 17 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder

Coat: Moderately short, straight and weather-resistant with a brushy tail. May be longer on the neck and on the backs of the thighs.

Colors: Black with or without tan markings blue (gray) ranging from dark to light, with or without tan markings red ranging from chocolate to light red, with or without tan markings or tan ranging from dark to cream.

Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Kelpie History

The history of our Australian Kelpie is one that so interesting and at at times conflicting depending on what you read and who you talk to and has been argued for many years by breeders all around the world.

Ive read countess articles on this topic all conflicting however quite interesting to read if your right into history and love the Australian Kelpie its well worth reading into but be prepared to keep digging then dog some more.

One of my favorite Kelpie books is by Norm Macleod and in this book he mentions to look at the Kelpie you would think he is a cross between a smooth Collie and the Dingo but he is not though most bushman will fight you if you say so. Nearly all have the idea that he sprung from a cross of the dingo and the Collie made by an old shepherd at Humbug Creek near Condabolin. But this is not the case. Men from the boarder of Scotland and England whom he had met say he comes from a cross of a fox and a black smooth collie made by a gypsy for a poaching dog 150 years ago. This is where the so called shyness and cunning is suppose to come from a breed known as fox dogs which were imported into Australia from the United Kingdom.

The working Kelpie council of Australia mentions the following ‘the breed originated from the intermixing of the progeny of three pairs of ‘Working Collies’ imported into Australia by three early landholders. The foundation female, born of black and tan working collies on Mr. George Robertson’s ‘Worrock’ Station on the Glenelg River, Victoria, eventually came into the possession of Mr. J.D. Gleeson, who named her Kelpie.

For many years his descendants were known as ‘Barbs’ and even today many people persist in describing black members of the family in this way. The original Barb was a blend of the same strains that established the breed now known as Kelpies.

King’s Kelpie’, when mated to Moss, produced a number of outstanding dogs. From this line came Clyde who, when mated to Gay, a bitch bred by Mr. Willis and acquired by Mr. John Quinn from the Beveridges of ‘Dollar Vale’ Station, Junee, N.S.W., produced one of the most famous of all Kelpies – a blue dog called Coil. Mr. Quinn won the first Sydney Trial with Gay in 1896 and in 1898 won the event with Coil, scoring the ultimate 200 points. Coil’s performance is even more remarkable when one learns that he made the second run with a broken foreleg.

Mr. Quinn’s achievements, first with Gay and then with Coil, established the popularity of the strain for both trial and station work, a popularity which has remained ever since. A little later Messrs King and McLeod established their famous Stud on the bloodline of King’s Kelpie, mixed with dogs purchased from Mr. Quinn. After the turn of the century Messrs King and McLeod introduced new imported blood into the established strain, something for which they are often criticized. Mr. Quinn continued to breed strictly within the strain until his death in 1930’s.

“When foreigners read in their papers about the great sheep-runs of Australia, they wonder how on earth such big mobs of sheep, running on such big areas, can be handled to profit. If they only knew it, the answer is very simple and to get over the dif­ficulty, Australia has produced a special dog for the work and the name of the dog is Kelpie. . . . .

The best way to understand the Kelpie’s value is to watch him at work in a league-­wide paddock somewhere back of Bourke, mustering sheep for the shearing. As the stockman rides along the centre of the pad­dock, cracking his big whip, the Kelpie is away to the side he is bidden. Keeping parallel with the stockman, at an easy swing­ing gallop, he works between him and the fence. The sheep therein, wild as hawks, fly from the whip cracks like antelopes, always forward, to escape the black watcher at the rear.”

On 7 th April 1958, the ANKC was formed to co-ordinate Australia’s Stud Registers and Breed Standards however without formal Stud Books like Britain, it is still up to each State to publish litter registrations and Championship titles in their regular monthly or bi-monthly magazines. In 1975 the RAS of NSW became one of the first organizations of its kind to install an in-house computer to cope with all the dog registrations. It worked so well that by 1988 all other States and Territories except Victoria and South Australia were linked to the NSW system. Today, the ANKC owns its own computer system with Australia’s new litter registrations and titles conducted on line.

The Kelpies were first exhibited at the Melbourne Royal Show back in 1908 with an entry of six dogs and three bitches, today there are moderate amounts being shown not only in Australia but around the world. I once read the Kelpies were not the most popular breed and still to this day I believe to be true however anyone that usually owns them usually sticks to them this also very true.

Kelpies - History



The background of the Australian Working Kelpie is fascinating and complex. Few people outside of Australia even know that the breed exists, yet in Australia this dog is worked on thousands of properties right across the land and saves millions of dollars in labour costs. There have been statues erected to it and had stories and poems done in its honour.

In Britain and to some extent America it is thought that the only true heading type of dog is a Border Collie but this is not the case. The Kelpie is a superb heading dog with an enormous amount of natural sheep working ability. That is not to say that the Kelpie is better than the Border Collie or visa versa. The two sheepdogs tend to compliment each other and both are used in Australia.

The origin of the Kelpie like many working dogs world-wide came from beginnings in Britain. However it must be stressed now that the Kelpie is not and never was a Border Collie! The Kelpie came from special line bred strains of British Working Collie just as the Bearded Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, Old English Sheepdog, Smithfield, Collie Rough (Scotch Collie) the American McNab and the Border Collie as we know today came from other strains of Working Collie. The Border Collie breed was not formed until approximately 25 - 30 years after the Australian Working Kelpie. The first Border Collie imported into Australia was Hindhope Jed and was actually bought here by the famous King & McLeod Kelpie Stud, in 1901.


Many people ask if the Australian native wild dog, the Dingo played a major part in the Kelpie breed. The answer is yes! There is no doubt that the Dingo was used a number of times by various breeders and stockmen over a long period. The only question is how much influence did the Dingo have in the breed and how early was it's blood used.

In the early days of Australia we used shepherds to watch over the flocks of sheep. Many of these shepherds were originally bought out from Britain and were doing the same job as they had done for years. Others were Chinese and Aboriginals. In the mid 1800's the shepherds were replaced with fencing and today we have no real shepherds in Australia.

Australia also started to breed its own special kind of sheep called the Australian Merino. These sheep were far more nervous and panicked more than the British and South African breeds we also had in Australia at that time and therefore they were far more difficult to handle. Added to this was the fact that without shepherds the sheep had less contact with humans and became almost wild.

The original sheepdogs that had been continually imported since the early settlement were not capable of handling these new sheep or the Australian conditions to the best advantage. A few breeds were however a big improvement on the previous importations. One of the bloodlines we know a lot about was the North County Collies - or Rutherford strain. These specialist sheepdogs were bred pure in Scotland since 1760. In the 1800's John Rutherford & his family settled in Australia and of course bought their dogs with them. They also continued to import their Scottish breed for a number of years as well as breeding here.

A number of other breeders were impressed by this strain and also used them in their own breeding programs. This was most notably done by Gerald Kempe in NSW and later South Australia, and the Tully family in NSW. In the same general area of NSW near the present town of Young, the partnership of Elliott and Allen imported two Working Collies by the name of Brutus and Jenny. These dogs were not of the Rutherford strain, but came from another of the good Working Collie strains.

The pair of dogs were mated on the voyage over and Jenny whelped soon after arriving. Both of these dogs were impressive workers. A pup from this mating was bred to Jack Gleeson's good bitch called 'Kelpie' to produce the famous 'King's Kelpie'.

Gleeson had acquired his sheepdog called Kelpie, by swapping a horse for her at Warrock Station in Victoria in the 1870's. Kelpie was bred on the station owned by Mr. George Robertson.

Jack Gleeson also acquired a black dog known as Tullys Moss a little later from his friend, Mark Tully in NSW. Moss was bred from two Rutherford Sheepdogs but bred in Australia at Yarrawonga Station. Gleeson's Kelpie was mated at least twice to Moss.

Although in the original few years these dogs were already highly respected workers they were not known widely in Australia until the dog now referred to as Kings 'Kelpie' , a daughter of Gleeson's Kelpie, won a large sheepdog trial event at Forbes in NSW 1879. This trial was well publicised and involved some of the most outstanding sheepdogs in Australia, including Gibson's Tweed coming across from Tasmania.

The judge was Mr. Phil Mylecharane, considered by most to be an expert on sheep & sheepdog matters. Kelpie put on a brilliant display at this trial and impressed all who saw her including the judge. She was placed equal first with Charles Gibson's Tweed. Kelpie's win at this trial and her ability and style was talked about and word got around quickly. Soon people everywhere wanted to buy a 'Kelpie' pup. For a few years only pups from Kings Kelpie were given the name Kelpie but as time went on the name was applied to her relatives as well.

The next dog to become well known was the 'Barb', named after a famous Australian racehorse. This dog introduced Rutherford blood to the Kelpie line. Sired by Tully's Moss, (Yarrawonga Clyde x Lassie ), The dam was Sally, ( Grand daughter to Brutus and Jenny). Barb was a solid looking all black dog and gained a reputation as a strong forcing type dog. His offspring were referred to as Barbs and they became established as a separate strain of Kelpies for a number of years. Even today, although there are no true Barbs left, many people still sometimes refer to a black Kelpie as a Barb.

In the late 1800's another great Kelpie sealed the high reputation of the breed forever. This dog was John Quinn's blue Kelpie, Coil. (Often referred to today as 'The Immortal Coil'.) John Quinn was already well known for having excellent dogs and was the winner of the first Sydney Sheepdog Trials in 1896 with a Kelpie called 'Gay'.

In 1898, John Quinn took Coil to the Sydney Trial hoping to repeat his previous success. He did that and more ! Coil completed the trial with a perfect score, 100 points. With the finals to be run the next day, Coil was a hot favourite. That evening on the way back to the hotel, Coil jumped out of the horse-drawn carriage and broke his leg on the wheel spokes. Fortunately among other talents John Quinn was a qualified Veterinarian and that night set his leg.

Next day working on three legs and swinging the damaged one, Coil scored another perfect run of 100 points and history was made. Coil went on to win a number of other trials but he became better known as a superb sire of outstanding Kelpies. From the written reports of the period, it seems anyone who saw Coil work could not help but be impressed.

In 1900 a unique partnership was formed between Charles Beechworth King and Alec McLeod, a very astute businessman. Mr. King was one of a large family involved with Kelpies for many decades. His cousin, Charles T.W. King owned Kings Kelpie.

The Stud known as King & McLeod became famous across Australia as well as many other parts of the world. They were determined to buy and breed the best sheepdogs in Australia. They used the prestigious Sydney trials as a barometer of their success and once boasted that they owned or bred every sheepdog that had won a major trial in Australia over a period of 25 years.

In 1901 the King & McLeod partnership purchased the first Border Collie to come into Australia. This was Hindhope Jed, a black and tan bitch, bred by John Elliott of Jedsburgh in Scotland. This bitch was originally sent to James Lilico in New Zealand but Alec McLeod visiting in 1901 bought her not long after she had arrived there. She had already won trials in Scotland as well as at least one in New Zealand and then in 1903, she won the big trial at Sydney in Australia.

In 1903, they made moves to purchase the blue Kelpie, Coil, from John Quinn. Mr. Quinn didn't want to sell him. McLeod persisted continually until they were finally able to obtain the dog for an undisclosed sum. They also purchased a second top working Kelpie of Quinns, another Blue dog called Wallace. Wallace was the winner of the Sydney trial in 1899.

Another Kelpie that made the King & McLeod Stud a household name was Biddy. Biddy was a small prick-eared red & tan coloured bitch. She was heavily promoted by the Stud as the Champion Sheepdog of Australia after winning Sydney trials in 1902.

Biddy was often quoted by Alec McLeod as being typical of the Kelpie breed. She also had a famous trick of herding a small chick into a jam tin. Mr. McLeod promoted this unusual feat quite widely and even tried to get sponsorship from IXL, the Australian Jam Company.

The King & McLeod Stud went on until about 1930. John Quinn was also still breeding on his same bloodlines until the early 1930's. One of the last dogs he bred was the big blue Kelpie, Boy Blue. This dog was made famous by Jack Goodfellow of the Currawang Kelpie Stud.

The history of the Kelpie can never be complete without mention of the early handlers and breeders that kept the Kelpie name famous. One of these was Frank Scanlon (Scanlon Kelpie Stud). Frank stated breeding as a young boy and was still breeding up to his death in 1990 when he was in his late 80's. Frank had connections with many of the greatest Kelpies that ever lived. In the early days he had used some of the King & McLeod lines, but the man he said who most influenced him was Tom Bower. Tom is almost forgotten today but his breeding contributed a lot to the Kelpie in the early days.

In the 1940's, there were many first class Kelpies working in Australia. Scanlons Dell bred by Stan Collins but owned and worked by Frank Scanlon made a name for herself as a first class breeder. She also won a number of trials but her contribution to the Kelpie breed as a breeder had far greater importance. Her breeding also had a strong influence for many generations.

In the 1950's there was a sheepdog that made a big name for himself. This dog was 'Johnny' bred by Patrick Walker of Tenterfield NSW. Johnny was controversial from the start because although he was always referred to as a Kelpie and certainly looked like one, he had some Border Collie blood in him. One of his grandsires was Braw Speed, an imported Border Collie.

Johnny was regarded by most that saw him work as by far the greatest trial dog of his period bar none. He was handled superbly by Athol Butler, a perfectionist on the trial field who took the sport very seriously. Athol also did extremely well with another pure bred Kelpie, the big cream dog, Porters Don.

In more recent years many Kelpies have made a name for themselves. Among these are dogs like Liscannor Marco, Liscannor Pace, Barambogie Mack, Capree Watch, Noonbarra Butch, Milburn Basil, Liscannor Kay, Glenlogie Rex and Glenlogie Lucky. Most of these dogs have won on trial fields usually in Utility trials, but they were also highly regarded as breeders of good all-round dogs. These dogs also worked the properties at home and most of their offspring never got to see a trial ground but were rated very highly as Station (Ranch) Workers.

The Kelpie today is the main sheepdog working in Australia, helping to work nearly 180 million sheep. Thought of as a tough dog that is able to withstand the punishing heat and long distances typical of many Australian properties. The Kelpie however is also at home on small farming properties bringing in the cows or rounding up a small mob of sheep.

These days the Kelpie is finding a growing acceptance in many countries that need good dogs to work stock including Canada, the United States of America, Argentina, Iran, Mexico, Sweden, Malaysia, South Africa, Germany, Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, Ireland, Russia, Belgium, Denmark, Hawaii (USA), Netherlands (Holland), Norway, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Hong Kong, England, Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, New Caledonia and Norfolk island etc.

This DVD shows our Noonbarra Kelpies working at all aspects of sheepwork including Droving, Mustering, Sheepdog Trials and Yard work. There are also special sections on Kelpies as companion dogs and pets and a section on Kelpie puppies. It shows our dogs interacting with children and strangers and being indoor dogs. Professionally finished with Titles, commentary and music.

For more detailed info see our video page. Click here.

AUD $15.00 Free postage within Australia


For more information on the Kelpie history and details about hundreds of famous dogs see:

Noonbarra Working Kelpie Stud
Mary and Stephen Bilson.
539 Lookout Road, Mullion Creek via Orange NSW 2800
Postal Address: P.O. Box 1374, Orange NSW 2800, Australia
Ph. (02) 6366 0499
Email us

Information on Kelpie history & the outstanding Kelpies of the past can be found in the latest edition of our book


We think this book would be an enjoyable read for anyone with even a passing interest in the Kelpie. It would be a great guide for breeders and trainers with information that is impossible to get anywhere else!

The Rockybar Stud, owned by Les Tarrant, was one of the most famous in Australia for half a century and their influence can be seen in Kelpies all over the world today.

Les Tarrant started with Kelpies in the 1930's. He led a life of droving, mustering and working with horses and livestock. In 1950, he set up the Rockybar Kelpie Stud in the far north-western districts of NSW.

We look at some bush characters and old dog men such as the remarkable priest of Goondiwindi, Father McCormack, Stanley McMaster, Frank Scanlon, Stan Collins, and more. We look at the individual dogs in the old Rockybar lines and the more modern lines (after 1980). We have a huge section on Les Tarrant in his own words explaining how to breed Kelpies and the problems and pitfalls to avoid. There is a good chapter of the book dedicated to how to train Kelpies the Rockybar way. Another chapter is on yard work and yard trials.

There are plenty of photographs and some were very hard to obtain. Many (probably most) would never have been seen by the general public before.

Large A4 format. B/W photos throughout. 166 pages.

New 3rd edition of this very popular manual designed for all Kelpie owners of every level from raw beginners through to experienced trainers. This practical manual deals with everything involved in owning and training a Kelpie to ensure he grows up to be a well mannered, obedient dog.

The book is not about training on livestock! It deals with general obedience training, socialising your Kelpie, feeding, crating, toilet training, preventing problem behaviour, dominance issues, car travel, bathing, digging holes, stealing food, walking on a lead, coming when called. and much more.

Kelpie, king of the mob

IT’S JUST AFTER 7am on a sheep station near Nyngan, NSW, as Gary White, a famed stockman, mounts his all-terrain quad motorbike and revs its engine. He’s about to muster 1000 sheep and their lambs from several paddocks, up to 10km away.

Leaping onto the steel tray mounted on the back of the quad, three kelpies crouch – lithe, lean and muscled with piercing eyes – for the ride out to the paddocks. They shiver with the excitement of knowing they will soon be among the sheep to chivvy them to the station yards with unparalleled skill.

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“We breed the kelpies for work with sheep, cattle and goats in tough conditions and it’s their greatest pleasure,” Gary says.

Among these three is Fella, Australia’s top kelpie sheepdog. He proved it by winning the National Kelpie Field Trial ­Championship in 2012 and 2014, taking on the best from
across the country. (He missed 2013 because Gary was abroad when the trials were held.)

I’m also riding a quad, and kangaroos bound out of the way as we roar along dusty red tracks and over bumpy fields, heading for the first paddock. Tall stringy eucalypts frame the fields beneath a brightening blue sky. When we reach the paddock, no sheep are in sight. Gary’s eyes tighten against the sun as he peers across the field. “Sheep prefer to graze into the breeze and so they will be somewhere over there,” he says, pointing to a timber stand about 400m away. “It’s going to be a long day so let’s go find them and get started.”

Born to work. John and Gary White show off the latest litter of their prize-winning kelpie pups.

MANY AUSTRALIANS BELIEVE kelpies emerged as a breed after British collie sheepdogs were bred with ­Australia’s dingoes. Not so, says Barbara Cooper, the registrar of the Working Kelpie Council of Australia, based in Sydney. Although there is a physical resemblance between kelpies and dingoes – their sharp faces, colouring and high, pointed ears – the first kelpies were bred in the 1870s by ­crossing strains of collie sheepdogs imported from Scotland by rural landholders in NSW.

It’s thought the original female, a black-and-tan working collie named Kelpie, was born on a station on Glenelg ­River, Victoria, and trained by a stockman named Jack Gleeson. The dog’s initial lines of offspring were known as Kelpie’s pups, and then simply as kelpies, after the breed expanded. “They bred them to handle the harsh local conditions,” Barbara says.

Veterinarian Dr Clive Ogilvie, based in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne, says kelpies evolved from that foundation stock to have “athletic, agile bodies, straight legs, strong hearts and good lung capacity. They have long [snouts] for ease of breathing and efficient heat loss through panting and small, well-set eyes to avoid injuries.”

Gary says kelpies are much better suited to rugged outback conditions than border collies. “It can get very hot out here during summer, often above 38ºC. The kelpies handle the extreme heat and the long distances that they sometimes have to muster with ease, going for hours without water. Their short hair handles burrs better than the long-haired collies’ [coats].”

Kelpies are also highly intelligent, a trait of other collie-based breeds. Gary’s 82-year-old father, John, a former sheep-station manager, has bred top-class kelpies for half a century. He says the best working dogs have to be able to act on their own ­initiative.

“In the event of wild, unpredictable sheep, a dog retaining his own initiative reacts instantly through inborn anticipation of what the sheep are going to do. In general farm work with sheep, a dog unable to carry out the tasks without constant commanding is more of a liability than an asset,” he says.

Veterinarian Dr Elizabeth Arnott, from Quirindi in western NSW, is devoting several years to studying the genetics of the best kelpie working dogs at the University of Sydney’s veterinary faculty, in an effort to improve the overall attributes of the breed. She says there are up to 300,000 dogs working with livestock in the bush and about 60 per cent are kelpies.

She has taken blood samples from Fella (Whites Fella II) and other top working kelpies to determine, by their DNA, what makes them such good working dogs. “Farmers are telling us that about 20 per cent of the working kelpies are no good they lack the natural herding instincts of the best kelpies,” Liz says.

Kelpies’ hypnotic stares can transfix a mob of rambunctious sheep and keep them in their place.

One of the most important traits is composure. It’s ­commonly believed that kelpies constantly nip at the sheep’s hooves to keep them moving on a muster – but that’s also a fallacy.

“The best kelpie working dogs like Fella have a calmness so they don’t stress the sheep,” Liz says. “They also know how close they can go to the sheep without scattering them, confident they can control them. The best also have boldness, intelligence, ­anticipation and initiative.”

Liz tells me kelpies are bred to have boundless energy and a compulsive desire to work. I witness this at an off-leash dog park in Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Leichhardt. Up to 100 dogs of many breeds are brought there each day. Kelpies are the most energetic, dashing about almost without stopping, even herding other dogs for no reason other than their natural instincts.

They are fun but tough work as pets. Ellen O’ Connor brings her kelpie, Aofie, to the park every afternoon, sometimes twice on a Saturday or Sunday, even when it’s raining and she and the handful of other kelpies and their owners are the only ones in the park. “Aofie needs to run daily or she can become disruptive. But the joy she gives me is worth it,” Ellen says.

Traditions change. Nowadays Gary musters with an all-terrain quad. He can do the work of four stockmen mounted on horses.

I SEE LITTLE EVIDENCE of that manic energy among the ­kelpie show dogs, the pretty boys and girls of the breed.

The sky is overcast as I arrive at a grassy oval in the ­hamlet of Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Several ­multi-coloured tents have been pitched on either side of a roped-off ring, like pavilions at medieval jousting contests. Inside, about 50 kelpies – Supreme, Grand and Australian ­champions – peer out from dog crates.

It’s one of the biannual gatherings in which the very best NSW kelpie show-dog breeders to compete for highly desired trophies and sashes including best kelpie in the show. Marie Colyer, queen of kelpie show-dog breeders, is meticulously grooming ­Australian champion Becky, whose stud name is Wingdari Dinki Di Oz. In April 2014 at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the Royal ­Agricultural Society of NSW included Marie in the prestigious Parade of Champions, honouring her for the successes of her dogs at the show over the years.

At Berrima, Marie is attended by a group of acolytes, her kelpies’ handlers, who parade the dogs before the presiding judge, Joan Bray.

The tension among the top breeders crackles, and they ­rarely talk as their dogs go through their paces in the ring, watched closely by the judge. Clad in knee-high boots, Joan judges them on their physique, soundness and type, and how freely they move. Having worked with kelpies in the bush a few years ­earlier, I instantly notice the difference. The show dogs have ­handsome heads but their legs are shorter and their bodies considerably stouter.

“Kelpies not selected primarily for their working ability and stamina are unlikely to last a day on a sheep station,” Liz had told me. “They’re evolving as a separate breed.”

Marie proudly shows me Danny (Wingdari G’day Easy Goin’ Drover), a beautiful 12-week-old puppy. He has a lean, athletic look, but he will begin to resemble his elders within a year or two. Late in the day Marie scores yet another success with ­Wingdari Dinki Di Oz, who is judged Best Exhibit in Show.

Mustering sheep in the heat is tough work. Stockman Gary White takes bottles of water to refresh his kelpies.

A FEW DAYS LATER I head back to Nyngan, in the ­geographic heart of NSW, to see the very best kelpie ­working dogs. The town’s population is just more than 2000 and the region’s economy is largely based on sheep stations and farming. Social life revolves around the RSL club and strangers cheerily greet you on the street. It is an echo of an Australia that has mostly disappeared from our cities.

It’s Sunday morning and Gary White, Fella’s stockman ­owner, arrives at my motel. He is tall, wears work-worn jeans and a stetson, and is ­friendly and easygoing. He’s taking me to his father’s farm, 30km into the scrub. John White has retired but still breeds some of the best working kelpies – between two and four litters a year. Out here kangaroos and wedgies are many times more numerous than people and there are no other ­homesteads for several ­kilometres.

John takes me to an open pen where his latest litter – six beautiful black-and-tan puppies, just five weeks old – play with rough-and-tumble gusto. John carries a chunk of fluffy wool, attached to a stick by a string, and trails it along the ground to test which puppies have strong working instincts. “They will make the best working dogs,” he says.

Some pups ignore the wool, preferring to play. But a couple, with deadly wolf-like focus, crouch and follow the wool, ­competing for it. John smiles when one grabs it in his mouth.

In a nearby yard he keeps a few sheep, including a stocky ram, to train older pups. He lets in an experienced kelpie and a ­seven-month-old pup. The pup watches intently, like a diligent apprentice, as the master kelpie quickly pushes the sheep into a tightly packed bunch and backs them against a fence. When one breaks free the kelpie swiftly catches it – and when it turns on him and charges, he leaps up and headbutts it to force it back into the group.

When it’s the pup’s turn, dwarfed by the sheep, he rounds them up with impressive skill and pushes them into a corner of the yard. A bulky sheep turns on him, threatening to charge, but the pup stands his ground. Solely by his willpower and fierce stare, he forces it back into the huddled group.

A promising pup of seven months challenges a mob of full-grown sheep.

THE NEXT MORNING, AT 7AM, Gary arrives at the motel with six of his 17 dogs in the back of his vehicle. “It’s tough work so I rotate them,” he says.

As we head for Bel-Air station, massive road trains roar past us on the highway to Broken Hill. About 30km from town we turn onto a dusty track leading to the station.
There, grazier Mick Hoare lists the paddocks where he has kept the sheep to be mustered. Mick runs about 3000 ewes and their lambs on this and his two other stations – for a total of nearly 7000ha – as well as 50 rams to service all those ewes.

Mick keeps the ewes in mobs of about 300 in separate ­paddocks. Over the next three days, Gary and his kelpies will ­muster the ewes and lambs into the yards by the homestead so the lambs can be marked, castrated and ear-tagged.

The first paddock is 10km distant, and, once Gary and the kelpies spot the sheep by the timber stand, we drive the quads across the field. As we near the sheep the kelpies crouch, ready to leap into action. Fella is with them, sturdy and reddish-brown. He’d be laughed out of a kelpie show-dog trial but has an innate sense of dignity and confidence that mark him as a leader.

Nearing the sheep, Fella and another kelpie leap from the quad, hurtle into the timber stand and soon have all the sheep streaming out to the open paddock. Although working kelpies at times need to use their own initiative, Gary employs a series of whistles and shouted commands that guide the kelpies in their manoeuvring of the ewes and lambs into a bunched mob. Fella spots a small pack as they make a break for the trees and he is a blur as he races to round them up and herd them back.

Passing through the gate separating the paddocks, 20 lambs escape and run back to the trees. Gary and the kelpies give chase and it takes them another hour to bring the lambs back to the mob. Mick tells me later that it would have taken him most of the morning to achieve the same thing: “Gary and his dogs are the best musterers around,” he says.
Many of the lambs are only a few days old, and, well into the muster, one refuses to go any further. It stands its ground and shivers with exhaustion. Gary pulls up and gathers it into his arms, cradling it as he drives on.

At the yards, Fella and the two other kelpies herd the sheep into a race – a narrow outdoor passageway enclosed by steel bars – where the ewes are temporarily separated from the lambs. When there is a tangle or blockage of sheep at the top of the race, Fella races along their backs and untangles it. He gets kicked and banged many times against the steel bars but doesn’t flinch. “The kelpies are usually dead tired at the end of each day but they’re fresh and raring to go by the next morning,” Gary says.

The bleating of the separated ewes and lambs is deafening. Gary explains that each mother and its lamb have a distinctive call, so they can find one another in a mob. Once the lambs have been dealt with they run into the paddock and quickly find their mothers to huddle against their flanks.

Marie Colyer, one of the most successful breeders of show kelpies, cradles a champion young dog.

AS WE HAVE LUNCH Gary tells me he has the best job in the world, out in the open each day with his beloved kelpies. The record price for a working kelpie was $12,000 at Casterton, Victoria, in 2012 but Gary says he wouldn’t sell Fella for $20,000 or more.

He follows his father’s way in training them, not with fear of punishment but with love and affection. He also breeds ­kelpies and allows his pups their first 12 months to enjoy an easy life around his home before he begins to train them for stock work. On the second day at Bel-Air, he brings along Ruby, a one-year-old female.

Now and then she makes a mistake, such as rushing to the head of the mob, but swiftly runs to the back of the sheep to join Fella when Gary whistles. “I don’t mind her making mistakes because she’ll learn from them,” he says.

Even when Ruby ­dashes into the mob and wrestles a lamb to the ground without biting it, he doesn’t punish her. “It’s like a cat playing with a mouse,” he says, smiling, after he jumps off the quad and separates them.

Liz Arnott says it’s likely the kelpies’ importance has been increasing because competition for workers from the mining sector has made rural Australia more reliant on working dogs. So, for the moment, in an age of ever-increasing technology, the place of hardy, work-loving kelpies in the bush is secure.

This article was originally published in the Jan-Feb 2015 edition of Australian Geographic (AG#124).

Subscribe to Rural RoundUp: Stories from rural and regional Australia, every Friday.

In his book, Mr Robertson said the infusion of dingo genes began at Warrock Station in Victoria in the late 1870s, when a dingo was bred with a collie.

He believed that was kept secret at the time because of punitive fines imposed on anyone who kept a dingo-cross at the time.

The University of New South Wales carried out tests to investigate the theory but was unable to determine the timeframe if, and when, dingo genes were possibly introduced to the kelpie breed.

Professor Wade said the Working Kelpie Council of Australia had indicated that "might have been tried but it was never successful".

"I think it's much more likely that the dingo had kelpie in it, than the kelpie had dingo in it.

"Apparently in the old days when people would abandon their farms, they would just leave the dogs behind.

"And so sometimes they got integrated into the dingo populations, which is why our dingos are now very intermingled with domestic dogs."

'It's the spirit, the grit, the ability to handle the heat'

Mr Robertson believes the infusion of dingo genes began at Warrock Station in the late 1870s when a dingo or dingo-cross was bred with a collie. But why has the dingo's pivotal role remained hidden in the shadows of the past?

Mr Robertson said the answer was obvious — that as the scourge of sheepmen, dingoes were reviled. For much of Australia's history a bounty was paid for each one destroyed.

Punitive fines were even imposed on anyone who kept a dingo-cross, so secrecy meant the real story of the kelpie's origins was shrouded in speculation and mystery.

But Mr Robertson said there was no mistaking the dingo's legacy in the modern kelpie.

"It's the spirit, the grit, the ability to handle the heat and the never-say-die characteristic," he said.

"I've seen them so sore they didn't know which foot to put down because they've got bindies [burrs] in every foot.

"And you've gotta say 'wow' that's a courageous dog. And that's where my passion came from, seeing them work in the back country."

Not everyone agrees with Mr Robertson's conclusion. Tony Parsons, an author and authority on the kelpie believes the dingo genes came into the breed came later — several decades into its development.

Unfortunately the DNA tests that confirm the presence of the dingo in the kelpies' ancestry are unable to determine when those dingo genes were introduced to the breed.


Early history

The Kelpien species as a whole was at a pre-warp technological level as of 2257. Several hundred years before the 23rd century, Kelpiens who had undergone vahar'ai fought against the Ba'ul, driving them almost to extinction. The Ba'ul retaliated using more advanced technology however, subjugating the Kelpiens and eventually integrated a technologically supported ideology into Kelpien society. This ideology, known to the Kelpiens as the "Great Balance", kept the Kelpiens subservient by teaching them that they were a prey species for the Ba'ul. Kelpiens were monitored by pylons installed by the Ba'ul, which they called the Watchful Eye. ( DIS : " The Sound of Thunder ")

Kelpien society was thereafter shaped by the fact that they were essentially farmed as livestock by the Ba'ul. Kelpiens who underwent vahar'ai would voluntarily submit to Harvesting by the Ba'ul. More advanced technology could occasionally fall off of starships onto Kaminar's surface, where Kelpien custom dictated that it should be disposed of. ( ST : " The Brightest Star ")

Saru and the USS Discovery

The first Kelpien known to have achieved contact with greater galactic society was Saru, a 23rd century Kelpien who salvaged an abandoned Ba'ul communications array and made contact with the Federation Starfleet. Retrieved from Kaminar by the USS Archimedes, Saru was granted refugee status by the Federation on the understanding that the remainder of his species would remain subject to the Prime Directive. Saru soon decided to join Starfleet and was decorated with the Starfleet Medal of Honor for his actions aboard the USS Discovery in the Federation-Klingon War. Throughout his service, Saru kept detailed personal logs in the hope that when General Order 1 no longer applied to his species, they would know that a journey like his was possible. ( ST : " The Brightest Star " DIS : " Will You Take My Hand? ", " An Obol for Charon ")

In 2257, following an encounter with a spacefaring sphere-like lifeform, Saru underwent vahar'ai and survived, an unexpected experience which left him feeling empowered, and full of questions about the implications for both his race and planet. ( DIS : " An Obol for Charon ")

Saru returned to Kaminar later that year when the USS Discovery followed a red burst to Kaminar's star system. Returning to his ancestral village, Saru revealed to his sister, the priest Siranna, that Kelpien beliefs about vahar'ai were false. Both were kidnapped by the Ba'ul out of paranoia that revealing the truth of the "Great Balance" would once again result in the Ba'ul being driven to the point of extinction. With the aid of Discovery, Saru used Ba'ul technology to broadcast the same frequencies from the sphere that had triggered his own vahar'ai across Kaminar. Over 60% of the Kelpien population underwent vahar'ai, breaking the concept of the Great Balance.

The Ba'ul made a last-ditch attempt to commit genocide against the Kelpiens via the pylons. This was halted by the being known only as the Red Angel, which was witnessed by Saru and contributed significantly to Starfleet's understanding of the apparition. Following the incident, Saru expressed his belief to Siranna that the Kelpiens could move beyond their past animosity with the Ba'ul. ( DIS : " The Sound of Thunder ")

In early 2258, Siranna and other Kelpiens assisted Discovery and the USS Enterprise against Control in the Battle near Xahea, piloting Ba'ul fighters. ( DIS : " Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 ")

The Federation

By the mid-31st century, the Kelpiens and Ba'ul had formed an Alliance and joined the Federation.

In 3064, the KSF Khi'eth, a Kelpien research vessel, crashed on Theta Zeta while charting a dilithium nursery in the Verubin Nebula. Five years later, Su'Kal, a child born to Dr. Issa among the wreckage, witnessed the death of his mother by radiation poisoning and screamed in horror. Because his genes had mutated to interact with the planet's dilithium in unique ways, and dilithium had a subspace component, this scream unleashed the Burn across the galaxy without his knowledge.

Su'Kal was finally rescued by the USS Discovery in 3189, and taken home to Kaminar. ( DIS : " Su'Kal ", " That Hope Is You, Part 2 ")

John Gedye - Selecting a pup. Segment from "THE KELPIE DOG Selecting & Training"

Do not change your dog next to a fence on a long chain allowing him to jump the fence and hang on the other side If the chain is long thread it through the bottom of the fence.

Do not chain your dog under a tree with branches low enough allowing him to jump one and hang on the other side.

One tonners Utilities, trailers Be especially careful, most dogs are hung from these. use properly fitted, extra short chains and good new strong swivel clips. test all chains and clips fully making sure they don't reach within 600mm of the sides of the vehicle or within 600mm of the top of the front from behind the cab.

working dogs should be chained or housed when not in work, or with you and under control or on a short chain with thought.


Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog. And you can find an awesome crate for your dog here to give them a little more personal space in your apartment.

Some dogs are simply easier than others they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.

Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

You may also want to consider adopting a senior dog, as they tend to be less demanding of your time and energy. You can keep your senior dog active well into old age by providing them with joint supplements to fight the symptoms of arthritis. Adding Glyde Mobility Chews to their routine can help their joints stay healthy.

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive--barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. You can find a great jacket for your dog here!

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Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

All Around Friendliness

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

Treats can help the bonding process go more smoothly. Try giving your dog Glyde Mobility Chews to help them see you as a provider and to keep their joints healthy!

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't always so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they're love-bugs with people others would rather play than fight and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!

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Health And Grooming Needs

If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik, you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!

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Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases it just means that they're at an increased risk.

If you're adopting a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

Many health problems are related to digestion and issues in the gut. Adding Bernie's Perfect Poop digestion support treats to your dog's routine can help your pet feel better and improve their overall health!

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Ask your vet about your dog's diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. If your dog has tummy troubles, adding Bernie's Perfect Poop digestion support treats to their diet can help your dog feel better and improve their overall health!

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they're compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!

Many larger dogs are prone to joint issues. Adding Glyde Mobility Chews to their routine can help their joints stay healthy.


Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.

Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests. Here are some great treats that can actually improve your dog's digestion to get you started!

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work--usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase--and sometimes kill--other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses--or that bunny that just ran across the path--even if it means leaving you behind.

Physical Needs

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.

Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

Your dog's energy level can also be affected by health issues. Adding Bernie's Perfect Poop digestion support treats to your pet's diet can help them feel better and improve their overall health!

A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

Even older dogs need exercise, and it can help fight symptoms of arthritis and other age-related conditions. Adding Glyde Mobility Chews to your dog's routine can give your dog the joint supplements they need to stay active well into old age.

Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

You may want to consider adopting an older dog. Seniors can remain playful well into old age and have fewer demands than young dogs. Adding Glyde Mobility Chews to your senior's routine can help fight the symptoms of arthritis and keep your old dog active and playful.

The Scottish Kelpie Myth

The Kelpie Myth is so popular in Scotland, that almost every lake has its own kelpie demon. In ancient times, people even gave sacrifices to the kelpie of certain lakes.

But not all keplies are malevolent. They seem to like children. And they are kind to them. The Kelpies are also kind to young women. Some Kelpie Myths describe the sea creature warning young women of handsome strangers.

Kelpie is a popular water creature in the Scottish folklore. But they are considered more dangerous than other water monsters. Mostly because they survive both in water and on land. The Kelpie usually appears as a beautiful black horse. And the legends describe that every human being who tried to get on one of these horses was killed by the monster. Therefore, better not disturb it.

How does a Kelpie look like?

There numerous physical features that allow you to distinguish a kelpie from a regular horse. For example, the Kelpie is all black, with no spots of white, brown, gray or any other colors.

Another feature is that the Kelpie has some weird hooves. More specifically, the Kelpies hooves are reversed to thoe of a normal horse.

And, the most obvious feature is represented by the Kelpie’s mane. Which is made of snakes.

In conclusion, these are the main facts about the Kelpie Myth. If you live in Scotland or plan to visit, watch out for suspicious water monsters, such as the Kelpie. It is not only dangerous, but plain deadly. So be careful!

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