The Working Kelpie Council of Australia

Breed Society for the Australian Working Kelpie

Dingo Involvement in the Kelpie

Bill Robinson comments in reply:
Just read the report in the Newsletter, re Dingo involvement in the Kelpie,
I have spoken to Professor Claire Wade at length, at no point did Claire suggest there was “no dingo blood in the Kelpie breed” as the has media sensationally reported. She explained to me, her tests were to see if, ‘the colour and ears of the Dingo had any relationship to the Kelpie breed.” The result was negative. I have also read Claire’s report with keen interest and sought the opinion of an eminent Professor, confided to me, she had read Professor Wades report and said she considered the test used only “had a few markers” and the purpose of the test was “to compare Dingo ears and colour with that of the Kelpie.” In my book on the Origins of the Australian Kelpie I showed a complete test conducted by Professor Allan Wilton, then reputed to be Australia’s foremost geneticists specialising in Dingo research. Back then Allan identified a “small percentage of Dingo markers in the Kelpie breed” Allan’s research also confirmed not only mainland dingo, but also Dingo DNA from Fraser island. The result of Allan’s independent tests, didn’t matter to me one way or the other. Since Professor Wade’s report, I have asked for another Geneticist using many more DNA markers to redo Allan Wilton’s tests. There are a couple of details that I should point out to your readers. For the past 110 years the scientific world was absolute, the only colour of a pure Dingo was ‘Reddish orange.’ Now, with all the modern DNA technology they finally concede, ‘Dingo’s do in-fact come in various colours.’ The reason for making this point is to confirm that even the best technology is only as good as the quality of product tested; results can and do vary. If for example, test swabs are not meticulously harvested variation occurs. To my mind, the renown American author Mark Twain once stated, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.


Currently I am writing the final chapters of the Border collie history. I have sort confirmation of their genetic history through various international laboratories to confirm if my early records correspond with the current science. It was interesting that one of the laboratories noted that, ‘a dog may be matching to a purebred signature does not rule out the possibility of other breeds having been introduced into their family lines further back beyond the third generation.’ Another laboratory stated, any breed that makes up less than 12.5% of your animal simply doesn't show up on certain tests. I have no doubt science will eventually find out some unexpected secrets in the canine world. Still let us remember, the Kelpie is a working type that is genetically subject to performance selection, popular inclusion has and will continue to be witness with a blind eye. Thanks for giving me the chance to respond

All the best to all your Kelpie supporters and members, that is with or without dingo genetics. Bill Robertson

EdNote: Bill Robinsons response was referred to Prof.Claire Wade who commented as follows

“Bill Robertson told me that he had provided the DNA to Alan Wilton. My sense was that Bill Robertson had specifically chosen lines that he believed contained Dingo in their ancestry.

Alan Wilton tested only a few dogs (according to what I could see in the video). He used only a few markers so far as I could tell. No hard data relating to the study has been made available to me or the public at large. In summary, at this time, there are some data from Alan Wilton (that can be viewed only in a video) that suggest that some lines of Kelpies may contain a tiny amount (he said 4%) dingo. If there was dingo in the founder of the breed then I would expect it would be much more apparent in the DNA - particularly if the infusion had any real benefit to working capacity.

The genes studied in our analysis were specifically chosen because it is those aspects of Kelpies (the ears and the ginger/cream colours) that lead most everyday people to presume the relationship between Kelpie and dingo. The evidence of our study proves conclusively that at least for those characteristics there is no evidence for relationship to be found. The dogs that we tested came from several elite working lines and also ANKC kelpies. One should also note that our laboratory is working extensively with working traits in the Kelpies and so we have a good idea of the regions of the genome that are important there. Once we publish those, then we will be able to test whether the dingo contributed to the regions important in working success.

I had not actually seen either Alan Wilton’s or Bill Robertson’s publications until our paper was in review, so there was no ill intent to demoralise their work in our publication. It just showed what we found when we looked. Best wishes, Claire