THAT most Australian of dogs, the kelpie, has become so popular some are fetching up to $6000 each and breeders cannot keep up with demand.
The Courier-Mail reports Matt Whitley, of Mangoplah near Wagga Wagga in southern NSW, sold a dog last week for $6100 - thought to be a record.
At Belrieve Working Kelpies, in the Plainland area between Brisbane and Toowoomba, breeders Philip Edwards and Sophia Butler cannot meet demand.
"It's just ridiculous," Ms Butler said.
"We've been increasing the price but it's not a problem for people who are after good quality working dogs."
Kelpie breeders say while the sheep boom has helped, the dogs' popularity has ballooned in the past decade, especially overseas.
"We've just sold two to Spain and France," Ms Butler said.
Working Kelpie Council spokeswoman Barbara Cooper said prices had doubled but the demand was for good working dogs, not poorer quality animals.
In 2006, a dog was sold to the US for $8000, although overseas sales usually brought more money than domestic ones.
Mrs Cooper said buyers looked for intelligent multi-purpose dogs, to work with various animals, and ones with a good temperament, confirmation and strength.
Kelpies are herding reindeer, goats and even turkeys.
"Heavens, they are popular," Mrs Cooper said.
"We thought with the drought demand would fall off but it didn't. If anything it got stronger."