Herding Dog Sold for Record-Breaking $35,200 AUD at Auction

Training kelpies, a breed of herding dog popular among ranchers and farmers, has paid off in spades for the Lees of Victoria, Australia.

On Sunday, the family watched in "disbelief" as their two-year-and-four-month-old kelpie Eulooka Hoover sold for a staggering $35,200 AUD at the Casterton Kelpie Association's (CKA) Annual Working Dog Auction, smashing several records. The previous auction record, which was set in 2018, was $22,200; the previous national record, which was set in 2019, was $25,000, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Eulooka Hoover, fondly known as "Hoover," has a special way with livestock, his original owner, David Lee, says. Lee, his wife Sarah, and their two children reside in Edenhope, a town in western Victoria. Finding people willing to work in such rural areas these days is difficult, Lee says, so dogs as skilled as Hoover are more in demand than ever. "With the worker shortage and people not wanting to be on the farm, people are starting to recognize their worth," he told ABC.

Lee was offered what he calls "a fair bit of money" for Hoover prior to the auction and declined, he says. Close friends told him he was nuts for not taking the offer, but he had a feeling Hoover would be popular among bidders—a feeling that has since been proven right. Even though Hoover has fetched an excellent price, no pun intended, Lee has mixed emotions about the dog's departure from his household.

"The money's great, but it's still a piece of my life going out the door. But he's going to the right hands, someone that really recognizes good stockmanship," he told ABC.

Lee believes that Hoover's demonstrated well-roundedness was the source of his appeal. Most herding dogs, according to ABC, have an special knack for one facet of herding—paddock work or yard work. But Hoover is adept at both, making him a rare and, evidently, valuable talent.

"He's a super paddock dog, he's a powerhouse in the yard...he's just the complete package and it showed yesterday," CKA chairman Rob Pilmore said, according to 9 News.

Regardless of ability, $35,200 might seem like a lot to pay for a single dog. But Hoover's breeder, Robert Macklin, said Hoover was well worth it, according to 9 News.

"Worth every cent—what that dog will do for the next person will save him that money in two years," he said.

Bred specifically to withstand the harsh environmental conditions of southern Australia, kelpies have short hair and pricked ears. Like their progenitors, collie-esque dogs that were brought over from Scotland, they are alert, active, and extremely intelligent, according to the American Kennel Club.

Herding dogs corral sheep in northern England.
Herding dogs corral sheep near the town of Ambleside in northern England. On Sunday, an Australian kelpie was sold at the Casterton Kelpie Association's (CKA) Annual Working Dog Auction for a stunning $35,200 AUD. OLI SCARFF /AFP/Getty Images