Koolie Dog Breed

Blue Merle Koolie
  • Other names:
  • Australian Coolie
  • German Koolie
  • German Collie
  • Australian Koolie
  • Coulie
  • Coolie
  • German Coolie
  • View all 7...

Pronunciation: [khool lee]

The Koolie is a medium-sized and rather attractive herding dog that is found mainly in Australia. This dog has seemingly inexhaustible stamina, great strength and profound agility. If you have yet to see a Koolie on the job as she drives a flock, gathers a herd or "backs" one of her charges, you should do so.

Koolie Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred15-18 yrs.13-23 in.30-55 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Koolie is a herding dog through and through. This dog was allegedly bred by accident in Australia during the mid-19th century when a Collie — from perhaps Germany, Scotland or Ireland — mated with a Dingo. The resultant dog made a good dog great and more manageable, primarily giving the Koolie as we now know it a much shorter coat. These days, the Koolie is a highly prized dog down under as it is remarkably trainable, intelligent and hard-working. Even those Koolies that have not the stamina to endure endless 14-hour days maintaining and guarding herds and flocks are well-suited for service work for police, fire and rescue agencies. These are not dogs for families who are not extremely active every day and whose activity might not include this amazing canine.


  • Loves kids
  • Highly alert
  • Hard-working
  • Easy to train
  • Rather gentle
  • Great stamina
  • Wants to please
  • Very attractive
  • Excellent trackers
  • Eager to learn tricks
  • Loves agility training
  • Superior sense of smell
  • Stronger than she looks
  • Astounding intelligence
  • Strongly devoted to family
  • Gets along with other dogs
  • Instinctual herding ability
  • Doesn't bark very much, if at all


  • Is not a guard dog
  • Aloof around strangers
  • Needs a lot of space to run
  • Triggered aggression toward cats
  • Potential to be blind and / or deaf
  • Not at all suited for apartment living
  • Not recognized by the any major kennel clubs
  • Requires an enormous amount of daily exercise
  • Must be socialized patiently with other animals
  • Has a very shy personality for first couple of years

Koolie Breed Description

Koolies are some of the smartest dogs out there. As they require a lot of resources to keep their smarts sharp, this page is for both for those seeking Koolie dogs 101 tutorial as well as for those who may know something but wish to learn a lot more.

Because Koolies are highly intelligent, you'll find that a lot of time, money and love are required to accommodate this dog's desires. They are meant to herd animals all day, every day, and this career means they need to know how to maintain large groups of animals as well as the sick, the stragglers and the runaways all at once and without rest. They are also expected to guard the herds. Agility play is high on the list — they are trained to literally ride the backs of the animals they herd while the herd is on the move, after all — and the more you teach them, the more they'll want to learn.

Perhaps the most important thing you should know about Koolies is that they are late bloomers. The first couple of years will find them shy and reserved, and it shouldn't be mistaken for a personality problem.

The Koolie perpetual motion machine is not to be taken lightly. These dogs have an eternal stamina, and their remarkable strength is sometimes a fault. (They are known to injure themselves running and jumping.) These dogs are not for lazy lifestyles nor for small apartments. Be ready to exercise your Koolie long and hard each and every day.

Koolie Appearance

To the uninformed eye, the Koolie may look like a Collie or Kelpie: they are medium-sized dogs with a sturdy, svelte body topped by a well-proportioned head. They are trim but muscular and are very attractive dogs.

The Koolie has a pointy snout and long, pointed ears. Their tails are of medium length, a bit thick and tend to curl up. As they must posses a lot of stamina and strength for their work, they are also a bit muscular in the chest, and they have long legs ending in medium-sized, strong paws.

The Koolie coat may be single or double-layered; if it has two coats, it will be waterproof. While most of these dogs are merle, more and more solid-coated Koolies are appearing as breeders are learning that mating merle-coated Koolies together has a high chance of producing puppies that are blind, deaf or both. Since herders prefer the dog for ability over appearance, this is very important. As for coat length, the short-haired coat is also preferred — and therefore the most common of the three basic coat lengths — as it is easier to keep clean and free of parasites as well as to groom.

Koolie Coloring

Koolies come in only a few colors but those are nevertheless a wide range.

  • There are single-color Koolies that are black or reddish-chocolate.
  • There are two-color Koolies that tend to be either black and white or red and white.
  • There are tri-color Koolies that are typically two-color but with merle (or blue merle). Some Koolies that are merle will have red (or chocolate), black, white, gray or fawn.
  • In rare instances, a red merle Koolie may appear to be yellow or cream which may completely cover the merle — which is significant, for if two merles are bred together they may produce blind and / or deaf puppies.

Koolie Variations

Variations of the Koolie are determined primarily by coat color. (It again should be noted that coat color is not merely a visual thing; it can indicate health problems.) Variations on a lesser level are also recognized via coat lengths as well as are ear styles.

There are many merle variations (preferred color) as well as a few solid colors. The Koolie has more merle variations than most dogs, and they are black, blue, chocolate, fawn, gray, lilac, liver, red and tan. The solid colors tend to be far fewer, with black being one and white being another — this latter solid being the worst. Why is white the worst? you may ask. It's a result of merle-merle breeding that indicates a distinct possibility of blindness and / or deafness. White Koolies are not always blind or deaf, but it is very possible they can be. Due to this, breeders are beginning to accept solid coated Koolies when previously they were considered less desirable.

As for the lesser variants, coat styles include short, medium and long hair, single- or double-coats and smooth or rough hair. (The long-haired Koolie is not rare but it's not at all that common either.) The ears are another variation that should be noted: dropped (i.e., droopy) and pricked (standing) ears. Since most people who have these dogs are graziers and drovers, these seemingly cosmetic variations are extremely important and as such, some are favored over others.

Koolie Temperament

The Koolie's temperament is like few other dogs: she's very patient, loyal, domineering, observant and extremely hard-working. This dog is bred to work essentially on her own while driving herds, keeping stragglers safe if they get lost and / or sick, and understanding the level of force and type of coercion required at any given time during very long days on the range. As such, she can be independent, needs a lot of outdoor space and must have jobs to fulfill lest all that pent-up energy redirect itself to very destructive behavior.

Despite the long and hard work to which they are accustomed, the Koolie dog temperament is not naturally aggressive. Another aspect of their temperament is the first couple of years of seeming shyness that may make them seem slow; don't be fooled by it, as this is a natural development. The Koolie is a late bloomer, but when she blooms — look out! They love to play endlessly and are great dogs for families who have the room to roam, the time to exercise and the other resources required to maintain this wonderfully multi-talented dog. Even those Koolies that may not have the ability to work as herders have been found to be perfect as service dogs for search-and-rescue, bomb detection and personal assistance.

Koolies and Children

With children, your Koolie will play all day and then some. Due to their inherent stamina, they'll seem to never tire. They are great with children, and while they shouldn't be left alone with very young kids or babies, they will be fine with older children.

It should be firmly understood that Koolies are highly intelligent as well as can and will successfully herd anything from ducks to cattle. Because of this, they need to understand that kids are not to be herded – as funny a YouTube video as that may make. (There is a story or two out there about Koolies that have escaped their yards and taken to herding neighborhood kids.)

Koolie and Other Pets

Your Koolie should get along well with other pets so long as you have properly and patiently trained and socialized them from an extremely early age. You should be aware that there may always remain the desire to herd other pets, so you should keep a watchful eye out for this behavior. Koolies are rather domineering, however, and while they are not naturally aggressive, they may be very pushy if they do start herding your other pets.

Koolie Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Koolie dog breed.

Blue Merle Koolie
Black Koolie

Koolie Health

The Koolie is a dog that suffers few health problems, but those that can occur or develop are very serious. Topping the list are blindness, deafness and muscle / ligament tears.

  • When two merle-colored Koolies are bred, the chances are very high for their pups to be blind and / or deaf. Either of these inherited ailments can usually be determined by a puppy's whiteness — be it the coat, just the head or perhaps only in the white-striped eyes as a condition known as "wall eye." Good breeders know how to basically avoid this condition, but there are unscrupulous dealers who will ignore the possibility of impaired dogs, so be sure to know all about the breeder from which you may be wanting a Koolie.
  • As Koolies tend to be very active for extremely long periods of time — they are accustomed to 14-hour days of constant running, herding and working — they can injure themselves.
  • The Koolie's life span tends to be around 15-18 years.
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

Koolie Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Koolie as a dog breed:

  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.