The ancestors of most Kelpies were British dogs known loosely as collies (sometimes spelled colleys). These were mostly black, i. e. dark brown, dogs – hence the name collie, which has the same root as coal. (The official collie breeds were not formed until about 10 or 15 years after the Kelpie was established as a breed, and the first recognised Border Collie was not brought to Australia until after the Federation in 1901. ) Some collies were imported to Australia for stock work in the early 19th century, and were bred with other types of dogs – usually with an eye to working sheep without direct supervision.
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