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The Koolie or Coolie (also known as the Australian Koolie or by the misnomer German Koolie) is an Australian dog breed. The Koolie is a working or herding dog which has existed in Australia since the early 19th century when it was bred from imported British working dogs. Robert Kaleski, in an article on Cattle Dogs in the August 1903 issue of the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, describes the "Welsh heeler or merle, erroneously known as the German collie," as a "blue-gray dog about the size and build of a smooth-haired collie, generally with wall eyes." The British background predominated in the dogs that came to be associated with the "German collie" name.
There is substantial variation in the Koolie population, as Koolies were bred to exhibit different characteristics in different regions. The Koolie Club of Australia defines the breed based on its ability to work rather than on its conformation. However, most Koolie breeders refer to the Koolie as a breed rather than as a type, and assert that it "breeds true", with various types or strains.
The Koolie is a 'heading dog', one which has a natural instinct to cast out (i.e., circle widely), round sheep and bring them back to their owner. Koolies are known as silent, upright, working dogs. They are used for "heading" sheep and also for quiet careful work at close quarters at lambing time or for "shedding" (cutting out) sheep.
The Koolie is as diverse as the country it originates from, Australia. In the north of Queensland and New South Wales they are tall, medium boned and agile, bred for mustering Simmental cattle and Brahma over many miles. In The Hunter Valley region and Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, they're thicker set and shorter to flush low lying cattle from the dense bush and gullies. In Victoria, one finds the smallest variety of the Koolie. Koolies are bred to meet the needs of the stockman, grazier and farmer, all agile, all with the same ability to adapt to any situation, all with a strong willingness drive. The Koolie vary from 40 to 60 centimetres (16 to 24 in) in size and are a contrast of coat, colour and body type, although they are merled coat pattern. The solid red or black Koolie are often mistaken for Kelpies, and some bi coloured Koolie have been taken for Border Collies by the general public, rarely if ever by breeders. As all of these breeds share Collie ancestry, they resemble each other.