Karmala Kelpies - Registered Australian Working Kelpie Stud

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The Karmala Working Kelpie Stud


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Karmala Kelpies are bred from old bloodlines concentrating on clever mustering dogs. Emphasis is put on a friendly, calm temperament, natural working ability and enough strength to get a job done. The dogs are of good type, fed a raw diet for future soundness, and bred carefully to avoid known health problems as much as possible. The stud has been based in Queensland for over fourteen years.

I have accessed old Kelpie families through the Karrawarra and Riana studs and I am very grateful for the help I have received from these experienced stud masters. Tony Parsons (Karrawarra) was responsible for seeking out and preserving Kelpie bloodlines after the fiasco of two World Wars, during which many ‘studs’ disappeared. His books on the Working Kelpie are an invaluable record of these dogs and are collectively known as ‘The Kelpie Bible’. Tony has always selected dogs with eye, style and distance. More recently he has published ‘Kelpie’.

The late Arthur Hazlett (Riana) founded his stud on Karrawarra kelpies and was one of the few Kelpie breeders of recent years who finessed the fine art of line breeding. Outside dogs were rarely introduced, and as a result his dogs were defined in type and prepotent. The old Riana dogs retained the stock minding ability that was required by all drovers; they were bred for many years in very tough country and selected for their brains and ability. The Glenville dogs bred by Bert Bromham had a big influence at Riana. Frank Scanlon was another breeder and stockman held in highest regard there.

It is the relentless culling by these old studmasters, and their singleminded search for their perfect dog, that has improved the breed over the years. No breeder of stock will achieve their ideal unless they have a very clear mental picture of exactly what they want to breed…. and pursue their aim relentlessly. I recently went delving through some old photos and came up with these archival images, below.

The Australian Working Kelpie is a breed developed to suit our demanding climate and large pastoral areas, but has proved an amazingly adaptable dog. Originally intended to work sheep, kelpies are now used to herd just about every variety of stock and are found world wide. The Working Kelpie is not to be confused with the Australian Kelpie which has been bred as a show dog, and has lost much of its herding ability and many of the original traits the breeds originally shared.
My aim is to breed sensible dogs who can work naturally and cause their owners as few headaches as possible. I have no time for very excitable, stock-crazy animals. They must value their relationship with their handler and be prepared to keep him in the picture when working, even from a young age. Highly respected Kelpie breeder, John White, wrote in the WKC newsletter:
“I always select a dog that is friendly, wants to be with you, to work as a team with you. You can tell those characteristics at a fairly young age.” I couldn’t agree more.

I like dogs that can work with a little distance off their stock when young and keep a small mob together.They should be happy to hold when they have them balanced. My dogs should also be capable of firing up for yard work… I don’t guarantee that every pup will comply exactly with this description, but some do, judging by this email received recently entitled ‘Zen and the art of sheepdog handling’…..
“The experience of working her is exactly the opposite of any other I have had with kelpies. It is veritably tranquil; I can hear the wind blowing and the birds chirping instead of myself yelling and screaming obscenities…. it is akin to zen!”

I know just how he feels. It was many years before I owned a really good, well bred dog. Once your stock work becomes a pleasure and you start looking forward to taking your dogs out, you’ll never settle for second best again.

In the last few decades, with the increasing use of bikes for mustering, some old kelpie traits are starting to disappear. Many dogs are now used mainly for yard work, and backing, barking, full-on kelpies are in the majority. I prefer an all-round dog that retains its heading instinct, has some eye, and is capable of mustering difficult country. With this in mind, I have sought sires with bloodlines that have been proven in hard conditions where brains and stamina are essential.
With the decline of the Merino in Queensland I have found that most clients need a dog that can work cattle as well as sheep, and that is my aim.

I noticed that a recent stud dispersal labelled dogs with similar breeding to Karmala dogs as Heritage Kelpies; they are our heritage from these old breeders and we should value their legacy and strive to maintain and improve it. I have tried to improve the strength of my original lines by the judicious use of related outcrosses to increase strength for cattle work. Breeding “best to best” doesn’t necessarily produce world beaters, and I am really happy with the consistent type of worker coming through the stud these days. ‘Type to type’ is more successful, and if the IB% can be around 15-18% that’s ideal.

The plethora of cooking shows on TV make it very plain that even the finest ingredients can give a disappointing result unless combined carefully, and the same applies to breeding animals. Each mating here is thought out with one aim in mind…to breed pups that have the potential to be better than their parents. I am indebted to David Hart for his help in working out possible matings with the help of Breeders’ Assistant. David has also been extremely generous in allowing me to use his sires, and my thanks also go to other studmasters who have helped me so much. It fast tracks progress enormously to have access to proven sires.
Recently Grant Hutchings has been kind enough to set up a computer for me so I can do my own pedigrees; it’s a challenge after using a Mac for so long, but I’m getting there!

Because I have little real work for my dogs these days, I try to ensure that any young dogs kept for breeding are tested in the real world. I have been most fortunate in finding some very kind, like minded stockmen to help me do this, and can’t thank them enough for their efforts. It surely proves their dedication to the Kelpie breed. It’s sad that some fall by the wayside in the process; Karmala Spike, Riana Quill II, Karmala Swags, Karmala Codger, Karrawarra Quince and Karmala Pride all died far too young. This has changed my mind a bit about ‘proven’ breeding dogs. I am now quite anxious to get a litter from a very promising young dog/bitch in case it doesn’t live very long. Snakes are the curse of any dog breeder in Queensland.
With the cooperation of other kelpie breeders and by working within the Fairdinkum Kelpie Breeders Group whose members are breeding the same type of dog, I hope to preserve those Kelpie traits that originally made the breed such an invaluable asset. You might like to visit David’s blog: http://fairdinkumkelpie.wordpress.com

When breeding stud animals of any description it seems to follow that ‘only the good die young’.

As the centenary of the ANZAC tradition approaches, we could also ponder what Australia would be like now if such an enormous percentage of our bravest and finest young men had not been killed in two world wars.

Please view a page describing the small nucleus of bitches and a page describing sires used recently.

Or view some of the kelpies for sale or pictures of some of the Karmala puppies.

The sketch of Akubra is © to Pieter Zaadstra. http://www.zaadstra.com.au/

The maquette of Kelpie for which Karmala Akubra was the model is available from the Bodo Muche studio.

Shearing at Karrawarra 2003. Tony Parsons, the late Godfrey Schnitzerling and Karrawarra Rip III.

Tony Parsons and friends, 2003.

The late Arthur Hazlett in 2006 with sires Riana Lohti and Riana Raddle.

A nice Riana pup looks up to the boss.

The late Arthur Hazlett with some weaners by Karmala rams and a couple of nice stockhorse mares looking on.

Sculptor Bodo Muche used Karmala Akubra as the model for Kelpie.

Pieter Zaadstra's study of Karmala Akubra with some of my old show rams.

Three foundation brood bitches(left) Karrawarra Gift, Woorivale Spice and Riana Delta Dawn have handed over to the next gen. below...

Karmala Lily(Riana GlidexKarrawarra Gift IV)

Karmala Brandy(Glendon BennyxWorrivale Spice)

Karmala Cozzie(Karmala AkubraxKarmala Peggysue)Peg is exDelta.

Karmala Kahlua(Tracker Gibbs x Karmala Brandy)

Karmala Gemma (Riana Glide x Karrawarra Gift IV)

Karmala Remy(Riana Glide x Karmala Brandy)


You will be seeing a revamped website shortly, my son Richard is arranging it but I have to do the swapping over of info so it could take some time. It’s got a bit out of hand with my random updates, and some sections have morphed into totally different regions from those originally intended. I was told recently that it was more like a book than a website!

Well, after a hectic few weeks in June when Lily, Brandy, Cadelle and Chanel all came on heat things have calmed down again. Too many males around thinking they were top dog made for some drama I didn’t need. Brock decided he should have every bitch to himself but he only got Lily! He has now gone off to get some real life experience, many thanks to John Clothier for offering to give him some work on his weaners. Wilson and Chopper had a blue, luckily little damage was done as Chopper’s teeth aren’t too good and Wilson went easy on the old boy; his ego took a bit of a beating though, and he went around looking very sad for a week or two.
I am hoping Brandy’s in pup to Wilson. Cadelle was mated to Riana CashII, many thanks to Marina and Bob for bringing Cash over for lunch!

I was most fortunate to find Mat Larkings two good old dogs bred along Scanlon lines last year. Scanlon’s/Baldwin’s Chopper is a most impressive old dog, now twelve years old, but certainly doesn’t look it. He’s worked all his life and can do any job asked of him, one of those old fashioned, practical dogs with no hang ups, a cool head and a great attitude to life in general. I’d been told for years now that the Scanlon dogs had all but vanished, so was thrilled and excited to ‘find’ Chopper. The three pups are quite special, showing a lot of personality and individuality. He was bred by Frank Scanlon’s grandson Bob Baldwin who has been very helpful filling me in on the dogs’ breeding.
Josh Lines, Crystalea Kelpies in SA, reports that his ChopperxLily pup Mack is going really well. Hopefully he’ll live up to expectations and can be used as a sire later on. His brother Timber is doing well with Emma and Derek Zeimer. Heli, the only bitch in the litter, is being handled by John Clothier; she’s a nice leggy type, athletic and loves jumping up…will likely back later. She loves working cattle.

The second of Mat’s dogs Wilson is a lovely paddock dog with a huge cast. He’s out of a full sister to Chopper(Polly) by Scanlon’s Dom. Mat found a growth in his mouth so I thought it wise to mate Peg to him while he was still fit. Cast is probably the Kelpie trait that is disappearing over the last few decades. Mat is very impressed by a young bitch by Wilson that he’s working at present. He has very generously allowed me to keep the dogs here over winter for some more matings.

The great thing I am finding with the two old boys is the way they are throwing consistently to their own individual physical type. Hopefully the pups’ work will follow that pattern. Bill Scott took his little cream bitch home with him a few weeks ago, and mine is developing into a lovely leggy type.

Mark Wendelborn called recently on his way home from a great caravanning trip and we enjoyed watching Wilson working my rams in a masterly fashion. As an added bonus his daughter Wings decided to have a go for the first time and she looks very promising. Mark is very keen to send a bitch up to Wilson, he said he was the best dog he’d seen for many years. On his way south he helped Matt Bignell do some sheep work and was full of praise for K.Gemma and Telford’s Tally(Delta’s g’daughter) who worked solidly in the yards. Mark had Tally in Victoria as a pup.

Coincidentally, John Gedye wrote of the late Frank Scanlon in the Nov. WKC Newsletter and I’m sure he won’t mind if I quote him. Frank would have liked Chopper.
The late Frank Scanlon was well known throughout the kelpie world. A Scanlon dog was a class dog, a keen dog, a tough dog. Whilst visiting Frank I asked him a similar question, “What do you look for in a dog Frank?” Frank at this stage had long since given up trialling dogs, but his horses, dogs and stock in general were still very much his life, he was at this stage still actively involved in helping run the family 8,000 acre property in the New England Ranges near Quirindi. Frank thought for a little while and said, “A dog has got to be keen John. He’s got to be keen and they have to be correct. A man-made dog is no good to anyone.” One of Frank’s favourite sayings was: “Don’t worry about the pedigree — what’s the good of a dog with a pedigree as long as a mile if he’s sitting under the shade while you’re out there chasing the woollies”.
I’ve been in touch with Bill Scott recently and he emailed this week:“I remember Frank telling me he got his first King & McCleod Kelpie when he was 9 and took it with him cutting Kurrajong for sheep in a big drought his first job after leaving school.”
I asked Tony Parsons how long ago Frank would have started breeding Kelpies, he thought for a few minutes and came up with the 1920s. He also said Scanlon pedigrees were famous for the many blanks! I’ve tracked down pedigrees for Chopper and Wilson that are complete except for Chopper’s grand dam. If anyone knows anything about the dam of Fitzpatrick’s Bea I’d be very pleased to hear from you, that’s the only blank remaining.

I have written a song/poem along the lines of ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ (promo for British Rail, I think) which became so popular on Youtube a year or two ago…only my version is about Kelpie pups.
They must be the most inventive little thinkers when it comes to suicide, these are just a few of the more imaginative ideas they’ve come up with. No matter how I try, they still outwit me at times so I hope this gives you a few ideas of what to look out for. Check out the original version first!
Sadly I have since received material for another couple of verses and written a new one for unwary. Keep Rametin well away from dogs!



Get a fright in a thunderstorm, test out your tree climbing form
Jump up on the kennel roof, to a slippery branch …Oh Strewth!
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die…

That water bucket half full, would make a good swimming pool
Fall in arse over head, next thing you know…you’re dead!
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die…

A wool pack hung up for shade, chew it till a hole’s made
Poke head through the hole and play, hang yourself without delay.
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die…

What’s that wriggling over there? Go check it now without a care…
Sniff it with your nose and nip, get a brown snake bite on the lip!
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die….

Go exploring along the drive, about the worst way to stay alive…
A big truck comes roaring by, another fail-safe way to die!
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die….

There’s the lid off the Rametin drench, just get under the fence…
Lick around inside the top; organophosphates are hard to cop.
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die….

Kelpie pups grow very fast, but frequently they just don’t last
Keep a jump ahead of the pack, or the breeder will see you back!
Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die….

My grand daughter thinks I should give a copy to all my pup buyers….sadly, I have been told of material for a few more verses already.

The two criteria I use when selecting pups early on are temperament and breeding, I have confidence that they will work because only a couple of pups I’ve sold have failed to start well. In both cases it was because the pup had not received enough affection/praise/positive affirmation of its actions. These pups are quite sensitive and need that to build up confidence, some more than others of course. Unless you want a lot of arrogant, hard headed dogs it’s essential to retain some sensitivity; the trouble is getting the balance just right. It seems to be a general rule of thumb that the wider working, clever mustering dogs are on average a bit more sensitive than full on yard dogs.

I am mixing my own raw diet and it’s so easy to start the pups on solids, they just get a bit of mum’s. DE(natural wormer, keeps the yards clean) and Big Dog Boost mixed with pet mince from the Allora butcher.They also get lamb bones every day. Everyone who has seen my dogs here asks what I feed them, so I’ll share a few things I’ve learned through referring all my questions on nutrition to Marina Angel Smith who has studied it in detail. Vet students study animal nutrition but it isn’t broken up into herbivores, carnivores and omnivores but treated as one subject; there is a huge difference in the digestion and diet of these groups of animals. Of course most vets are promoting dry foods in their practices(to their financial benefit, treating the resultant health problems). Pet food companies have so infiltrated the vet scene that in the States a text book on nutrition used in Vet. science courses is printed by one of them.

I know feeding raw food on farm can be time consuming and sometimes impossible, and that working dogs are considered ‘ better’ fed these days because of the convenience of dry food….BUT…..the working lifetime of dogs has been considerably reduced by grain based diets which cause arthritis etc from about 8 years. Marina’s dogs that have been on raw all their lives have consistently lived to 20 and she has a 16 year old bitch today who is still working well. Try to give your dogs at least a few raw feeds a week and use a good quality dry food if you have to, most are bulked out with grains and use processed offal for protein.

Many ‘old timers’ remember dogs who regularly lived to 15 and over, fed mainly on rabbits, ‘killer sheep’ and roos. These dogs often looked pretty lean but lived long and useful lives. The calcium in dry foods can’t be absorbed by dogs and their body puts out its own stores until it runs out. The only calcium with correct magnesium and potassium balance so dogs can absorb it is in bones…not surprising really! A bit like the Paleo diet so popular these days…just eating what dogs and humans were originally designed to eat must be better for the health of both.

Be careful feeding roo meat and dry food, it’s not a good mix. Roo meat is OK for fat dogs, or with fat mixed, but takes a lot of digesting because of the high nitrogen fixation and takes as much energy to digest as it contains…in pregnant/whelping bitches this can result in milk fever and fitting, because of calcium being leached from their systems. The only way to remedy this is with bone meal or bones, not calcium syrup which can’t be absorbed by dogs. Often people add the syrup to pup food but they should be feeding them bones; small pups can eat chicken frames from about 6 weeks.

I am also vaccinating with nosodes available from HAMPL online. This homeopathic procedure produces immunity equal to vaccines with no side effects; tests have proven titers of the same level and it is now accepted by domestic airlines.

There seems to be more demand for certain colours when people order pups, with particular demand for blue/tans, creams and fawns, which I have no intention of trying to fill! Even the better coated blue and fawn pups seem to thin out down the sides with age, and those born without an undercoat can finish up with insufficient protection which can lead to infertility… amongst other complaints. Black/tans are much easier to keep looking in top condition as some red/tans get very rusty looking coats despite top feeding regimes. I often think it would be nice to keep another red/tan bitch pup, but as I get to know a litter I almost always lean towards a black/tan based, at that age, on temperament.

I am disappointed that some Working Kelpies are being openly promoted as suitable for pets. I don’t think the way a dog behaves when taken to a cafe should be a selling point for his pups. My point is: if dogs are selected for certain traits above others, they become the dominant ones and in my humble opinion Working Kelpies should be bred for working ability, soundness and temperament. I know some Kelpies have a wonderful life in ‘pet’ homes, but only if the owners understand the enormous amount of time and energy they require when young. I field quite a few phone calls from people in town with frustrated kelpies they have bought elsewhere; the average family with both partners working simply hasn’t the time or energy left over after a day at work. Apparently Kelpies are one of the dominant breeds found in pounds in Australia, a result of the dogs’ frustration and their owners’ poor choice of breed. I also found a site where a lady is actively breeding kelpies ‘that don’t work’ for pets. She’s using some sires registered with the WKC, which is a big worry….

A bit of clarification on the WKC Appendix dogs for many of you who might not understand their system. If a dog is classified A2 or A3 it is in the Appendix to the main stud book and may not appear on WKC pedigree forms. This does not necessarily mean that the breeding of the dog is sketchy or unknown, simply that some of the dogs in its pedigree were bred by a breeder who was not a member of the WKC at the time. Karrawarra dogs come into this area, also any dog that has not been tattooed…amongst others. In many cases these dogs have full pedigrees going back many generations, often more complete than some others, but they do not appear on WKC generated pedigrees..


Looking forward to this litter, expect classy pups up to any task. Jodi O'Connor took the photo of Hardy.

These Brock x Chanel pups are full of fun at 6 weeks.

Little K.Gucci wasn't upset about getting her tattoo.

Karmala Martini(Riana Glide x Karmala Kahlua) with K. Neon(left)

Emily Crozier with her team of dogs; all bitches except for Karmala Laser(Zac) who's looking pretty happy about the state of affairs!

Karmala Aggie(K.AkubraxK.Tilly) with goats on Karpa Kora Station. Emily and her father have their own teams of dogs and Aggie belongs to her dad.

Tracker WRX(Riana GlidexTracker Bliss)

Karmala Wager(ChancexLily) soaks up the moment!

The two little ChancexBrandy girls, 6 weeks.

Chance working by sound, you wouldn't guess he's blind.

Karmala Lyndy, owned by Lisha Bennett.

Karmala Lyndy.."I can do that!"

Karmala Lace(K.AkubraxK.Lily) "Do you think I look like dad?"

Lyndy and Lace

Akubra entertaining the crowd before the unveiling.

Karmala Lyndy, owned by Lisha Bennett, with her litter by Karmala Clyde. This mating has a lot of meaning for me....Clyde was one of the first litter I bred in Queensland(Driftwood ClydexW.Spice). He was owned by Peter Whiteman who was killed in a mustering accident on Mt Margaret not long after Lyndy was mated. Peter was a highly regarded, experienced manager and was looking forward to retirement. A very sad loss.

Karmala Cozzie(AkubraxPeg), 6 mths.

Karmala Mulga(Birk) is working well for Ewa Jacobsson in Sweden.

Karmala Kelpie Kards and Karmala Local Bird Cards

Singles or sets of cards featuring Kelpie pups and birds from my Gallery show. Choose which pics and colours you prefer.

The Karmala Merino Stud

These are big, productive sheep with quality wool, and can reduce the micron in stronger flocks without loss of cut… and increase production in finer flocks without increasing micron. This is stated with confidence based on the results in clients’ flocks over many years. An excellent selection of rams is guaranteed as I have few ram clients since moving to Queensland.

At Karmala micron, quality and production are the chief selection criteria. The infusion of genetics from Rockbank has given a finer ewe base and more elite-woolled sheep. An AI programme using N.43 has provided a number of ewes which when mated to old NB produced some outstanding sheep. Another Nerstane ram has been used in 2011 and 2 two tooth daughters did well at the recent 2013 State Sheep Show at Roma, the medium wool ewe beating all other Q’land ewes.

Karmala won Queensland Ewe of the Year again this year, 2013, with ‘Maddie’ Reserve Champion Fine wool ewe, 16 mic., that ran second to the Grand Champion Ewe of the Show….this ewe was later the Supreme Exhibit at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show. The fleece from ‘Maddie’ was Grand Champion Fleece at the EKKA, 2013.
This is my final year of showing sheep, it just isn’t a viable option these days.

In 2012 Karmala won Champion Stud Ewe Fleece at the EKKA; this weaner ewe was Res. Champ.Fine Ewe at the State Sheep Show.

The State Sheep Show at Goondiwindi, May, 2010, proved a bonanza for Karmala, Harry and Liz, the Queensland Pair from 2009 are now Queensland Ram and Ewe for 2010, and Harry was Grand Champion Ram! The second time for Liz, who has a big ram lamb as well…she’s certainly not just a pretty face… but it certainly did nothing to improve her underline, which cost her in the judging.

Dubbo is changing to a short wool show with March shorn sheep totally dominant; this is understandable considering the cost involved in preparing a sheep for 12 months, but can give a very misleading picture of how a young ram will finish up.
Meat breeds are also coming to the fore in all shows these days…understandable with the high meat prices.

An article in Bush Telegraph.

Read more about the Karmala Merino Stud

Karmala Maddie, Queensland Ewe of the Year 2013, being admired by the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley.


State Sheep Show 2012, Blackall. My ewe being sashed(l), Will Roberts checks out her wool, Rob Mullen the judge gives me a big surprise(r).

Sale rams March 2012, aged 16 months.

Contact: Jan Lowing <jan@karmala.com.au>
Karmala, M/S 223, Nobby, 4360.
Queensland, Australia
Phone/Fax 07 4696 3291
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