The Koolie, also known as the Coolie, the German Koolie, or the Australian Koolie, is a breed of domestic working dog that originated in Australia. The breed was developed by mating two breeds of British working dogs in the early nineteenth century.
These were the Scottish black and tan Collie and the blue merle Collie and it is thought that these were the same dogs that were imported to the kennels of Thomas S. Hall, who helped develop the Australian Cattle Dog. Other possible origins include a European herding dog called the German Tiger, but this cannot be proven. Evidence from personal records like photos and diaries has shown that this breed has existed for 160 years. This suggested that the Koolie’s bloodlines were crossed with the Kelpie Border Collie bloodlines. The Koolie was bred for diverse purposes in different areas, so it is not recognized by a certain physical standard, but by its skills as a working breed.
The Koolie varies in appearance across Australia. Members of this breed found in Snowy Mountains in New South Wales and the Hunter Valley region are stout, bred to flush cattle out of bushes, while in northern areas of New South Wales and Queensland, the dogs are taller, bred to herd cattle across long spaces. This breed can vary between sixteen to twenty-four inches in size. Its coat can vary in texture and length depending upon the dog’s origins, but most owners prefer that the coat be short and smooth because it is easier to maintain.
The coloring of the Koolie varies greatly depending upon the area and purpose for which it was bred, but all members of this breed have a merle-patterned coat. Some individuals can be solid black, red, or brown in color and there can also be variants of these colors including yellow, tan, gray, or slate blue, which are caused by the masking gene known as E,loci. The breed can also be bi-color or tri-color with mixes of red, black, white, and brown markings.
The Koolie can live an average of eighteen years and it does not display many major health issues. This is due the genetic diversity of the Koolie, although the breed does suffer from occasionally blindness or deafness due to the same gene that cause its merle-patterned coat. It is recommended that a solid colored dog and a merle-patterned dog be breed in order to avoid these physical ailments. Genetic studies have shown that the lack of genetic ailments may be due to a process of natural breeding.
The Koolie was bred from many working breeds to create the perfect working dog, but the preferred temperament of this breed is both that of a working dog and a pet. The breed is calm, loyal, and hardworking, but training is suggested. The Koolie can participate in many activities besides working including sporting and agility shows. Its herding instincts can be used to herd small animals like ducks to big animals like bulls, and it is so skilled that it has quickly become popular for shows outside of Australia. Although the Koolie is not recognized by any major kennel clubs, it is recognized by many smaller clubs including the Australian Sporting Registrar and the American Herding Breed Association’s Registrar.
Image Caption: Pete, a short coat tri-merled Koolie Silhouette Pete, owned and photographed by R&A Worboys Australia. Credit: Koolieoz/Wikipedia