Last Updated: August 11, 2017
As the name implies the Australian Terrier was developed in Australia. These dogs were actually bred to hunt and exterminate rodents and snakes. They also make great watchdogs and companions. The Australian Terrier of today still maintains those same characteristics that make this dog breed great. He makes a great companion, a fierce competitor, and a perfect showman.
The Australian Terrier is often called the "Aussie" by his admirers, but don't confuse this dog with the Australian Shepherd. He is the littlest of the working terriers, but don't let his size fool you. This little terrier is all dog. This is a very tenacious, independent, hardworking, and lively dog.
The Australian Terrier is a dog full of attitude. He is spirited, mischievous, and lively. He is a dog that becomes strongly attached to his family. This is a type of dog that will match your mood.
Most of the time this little dog is upbeat, active, and silly. He will often clown around and entertain his owners. His is a great companion for young, old, and disabled people alike. Children will love him as he loves to play with children and will place his own limits on the handling and roughness that he will tolerate.
He may be a small dog but her has the attitude and personality of a large dog. This characteristic alone makes him a great watchdog as he will bark to alert his owners of the approach of anyone or anything that is new and different.
Australian Terriers are very intelligent dogs and they are ready to learn whatever you are teaching. Just remember that any type of repetitive training is a bore to these dogs. Keep changing things up with him and he will always be willing to please and show you just how intelligent he really is. Rewards go a long way in training these dogs.
Keep in mind that this is a working terrier. He was trained and developed for the sole purpose to hunt and kill small animals. This is a very strong instinct in these dogs so a securely fenced yard is essential, as is leash training. If you have other pets like small rodents it is best to keep your Australian Terrier away from them. He can, however, be trained to coexist with cats in the house. Any other cat outside is fair game to him.
These dogs love to dig and will tear up your gardens and lawn. It is best to maintain close supervision while he is playing out in the yard.
The Australian Terrier is a very confident dog breed. So confident that he will challenge dogs that are bigger than he is. He can also be aggressive and bossy to other dogs in the house.
Australian Terrier FAQs
- Does the Australian Terrier adapt well to apartment living?
- Even though this little dog can be a bit yappy at times they can easily be trained to keep the barking down to a minimum allowing him to be a well-behaved dog for apartment life. (See List of Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living.)
- Do Australian Terriers make good dogs for the first time dog owner?
- Although these dogs can sometimes be a little challenging, they are relatively good dogs for new dog owners. All what's required is a little patience on your part.
- Are Australian Terriers sensitive to discipline?
- Some dogs couldn't care less about being disciplined. The Australian Terrier, on the other hand, does not like to be disciplined and may become nervous or sulky if disciplined too often. (See List of Dogs That Have A Low Sensitivity Level.)
- Can the Australian Terrier tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time?
- These dogs bond very closely with their family members. As a result they are more prone to worry and panic when left alone by their owner. These dogs crave human companionship and constantly need a human presence around them. If you must leave him alone for an extended period, consider having a dog sitter or another member of the family stay with him. (See List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited To Being Alone.)
- Do Australian Terriers tolerate cold weather well?
- Although this is a small dog he has a coat that allows him to tolerate cold weather to a certain extent. This is not an outside dog and should never be left outside for extended periods of time when it is cold. (See List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited To Cold Weather.)
- Do Australian Terriers tolerate hot weather well?
- Contrary to popular belief due to its wire coat, this breed of dog actually does quite well in hot weather. Just remember that if you intend to let your dog stay outside in hot weather for an extended period of time that you need to provide a place that is shaded and cool for him to go and cool off.
- Is the Australian Terrier affectionate with the family?
- As mentioned, these dogs crave human intervention and affection. This is a trait that makes them very loving and affectionate to all members of the family.
- Is the Australian Terrier a kid friendly dog?
- Sometimes you come across a breed of dog that is a very kid friendly dog. The Australian Terrier is in the middle in this respect. Although he absolutely loves children, he also won't tolerate too much handling and roughness from children. It is important to remember that all dogs are individuals. There is no guarantee as to whether a dog will be kid friendly or not. For this reason you should always supervise your dog when they are around children. It's also a good idea to teach a child how to behave and treat a dog to avoid accidents. (See List of Dogs That Are Not Kid Friendly.)
- Is the Australian Terrier friendly with other dogs?
- Although they can get along with other dogs if trained well, they usually don't get along. The Australian Terrier wants your attention completely. If another dog is in the house, or near you, he will become jealous and a confrontation will break out.
- Is the Australian Terrier friendly toward strangers?
- Again, because all dogs are individuals, this depends on the dog's own personality. For the most part they will often greet the stranger with a wag of the tail and then go and stay near their owner. Proper socialization is the key here. A properly trained dog will tolerate many different people.
- How much does the Australian Terrier shed?
- Contrary to popular belief these dogs are really low shedders. As with all dogs there will be some hair around the house but unlike dogs like the Australian Shepherd, who sheds constantly, it will not be as noticeable. So go ahead and let him on the couch, or sleep with you in bed.
- Do Australian Terriers drool a lot?
- Drool-prone dogs, like the Saint Bernard, tend to leave pools of slobber all around the house. If this is something that is not to your liking then the Australian Terrier is a good fit. Probably the only time that your dog will show any signs of drooling is when you are preparing his dinner.
- Is the Australian Terrier an easy dog to groom?
- Some breeds of dog are brush-and-go dogs; other require constant bathing, clipping, and grooming just to stay clean. The Australian Terrier is a brush-and-go type of dog. Probably one twenty minute session once a week is all you will need for the most part.
- Is the Australian Terrier a healthy dog breed?
- Many breeds of dog are prone to genetic conditions and illnesses. Some are even more prone than others. The Australian Terrier is a relatively healthy breed. There are a few conditions that they are susceptible to and you can read about them below. Before purchasing your dog it is always a good idea to ask the breeder about the background of the parents and the results of any medical tests that have been performed. (See List of Dogs That Are Prone To Health Problems.)
- Does the Australian Terrier gain weight easily?
- All dogs have the potential to gain weight. Most of the times it is the fault of the owner. The Australian Terrier is no exception. Although, this dog is normally an active breed and tends to stay around its ideal weight. But given the chance these dogs will gain weight if overfed or if they do not get enough exercise.
- Is the Australian Terrier a big dog?
- The Australian Terrier is considered a small dog but it is in the upper middle range for small dogs.
- Is the Australian Terrier an easy dog to train?
- With a little patience any dog can be trained. How easy they are to train depends on the dog's attitude and temperament. The Australian Terrier falls in the middle of the road on trainability. They are dogs that like to please and are very attentive when trying new things. However, if you tend to lose patience with your dog during training you will find that he can be as stubborn as some of the other breeds that are very independent. Giving rewards for a job well done will go a long way in training this dog breed.
- Is the Australian Terrier an intelligent dog?
- Intelligence in a dog refers to their ability to figure things out on their own. In this respect the Australian Terrier is near the top of the list. Give them a puzzle that has a treat hidden inside and they will spend hours trying to figure a way to get to the treat.
- Is the Australian Terrier a mouthy dog?
- Mouthiness in a dog refers to their tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite. The Australian Terrier plays more with its paws than its mouth and is considered low in the mouthiness department. They are also quite vocal when playing as a way of edging you on to continue with the game.
- Does the Australian Terrier have a high prey drive?
- Keep in mind that the Australian Terrier is a small working dog that was used to hunt small rodents and snakes. This dog will chase anything small and needs to be kept in a fenced-in yard and on a leash while walking. If not you will spend many hours trying to find your dog as he is off on the hunt. And if you live in an area where there are a lot of birds don't even bother trying to get his attention.
- Does the Australian Terrier have a high tendency to bark or howl?
- Yes. These dogs do not do well in an area where there is a lot of activity as he will constantly bark. If you live in an apartment building this is not a good trait. Also, some localities have by-laws in place about noisy dogs. And if you live near a lot of people your neighbors may not appreciate a constantly barking dog.
- Do Australian Terriers have a high tendency to wander?
- Because these are little hunters the answer is yes. If you do not have a fenced-in yard for this dog to play in they will roam around the neighborhood in search of prey to chase. Also, if you walk your dog off leash they will wander away from you in hopes of finding something that is good to hunt.
- Do Australian Terriers need a lot of exercise?
- All working dogs have a lot of energy to spare. The Australian Terrier is no exception. These dogs need at least two twenty minute periods per day of high activity. Obstacle course training is a great activity for these dogs.
- Does the Australian Terrier have a high level of intensity?
- Intensity in a dog refers to how much energy they will put into doing some task. The Australian Terrier is a very intense dog in this respect. Training your dog properly will be a great help in this area. If not, you will find yourself in a constant battle with your dog over authoritative matters. For instance, who bosses who.
- Is the Australian Terrier a playful dog?
- Some dogs remain puppies all their lives. The Australian Terrier is one of them. This dog is always begging for you to play a game with them. For this reason this breed of dog does well with a person that is high energy and playful themselves.
- Dog Breed Group: Terrier Dogs
- Height: 10 inches to 11 inches tall at the shoulder
- Weight: 14 to 16 pounds
- Life Span: Up to 15 years
Highlights of the Australian Terrier
- The Aussie is all terrier, and not everyone finds his favorite hobbies endearing: he loves to bark, dig, and chase.
- Bossy is the Aussie's middle name. He wants to be the dominant dog in a multi-dog household (males can be cranky with other male dogs). In fact, he'll happily take over the role of pack leader among people, too — so be sure to establish yourself as the boss before he does.
- Early training and socialization are musts to keep this dog happy and well-liked by family and friends, both human and animal.
- The Aussie's personality is active and lively. If you prefer a dog with a more subdued nature, look at other breeds first.
- To get a healthy pet, never buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Find a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs for genetic health conditions and good temperaments.
History of the Australian Terrier
The Rough-Coated Terrier, a relative of the old Scotch dog of Great Britain, is believed to be the direct ancestor of the Australian Terrier. It is believed among breed researchers that this Terrier was crossed with other British Terriers who were brought to Australia, including the precursor of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Skye, the Yorkshire, and the Black and Tan Terrier.
Because early European settlers in Australia faced harsh conditions, they needed a hardy, fearless dog that could work in all kinds of weather. Conditions were not great for these new settlers back then. The land was full of rats and snakes which threatened human life and their livestock. So the Australian Terrier, or Aussie, was bred to exterminate these vermin. They were also used as watchdogs and shepherds as well as companions.
This Terrier dog was the first native breed to be recognized and shown in Australia. In his first showing he was shown as the Australian Rough-Coated Terrier in 1868 in Melbourne. It wasn't until 1897 that he was renamed the Australian Terrier.
Members of the foreign service and the British aristocracy eventually brought the Aussie to England where he was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1933. Then in the late 1940s he was brought to the United States. There he eventually debuted at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 1957.
Recognition of the Australian Terrier in the United States was the result of Nell Fox of Pleasant Pastures Kennels, the author of Australian Terrier (THF Publications, 1997). Fox was a native of New Zealand and had been familiar with the Aussie in her youth. She also imported some of the first Australian Terriers that arrived in the United States.
In 1960, the Australian Terrier became the 114th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, the first new terrier breed in 21 years. The Australian Terrier Club of America formed in 1957 and became a member club of the AKC in 1977.
Size of the Australian Terrier
Both males and females stand 10 to 11 inches (25.4cm to 27.94cm) tall and weigh 14 to 16 pounds (6.35kg to 7.26kg).
The Australian Terrier Personality
This is a fun-loving and upbeat dog. A great companion for any person or family who wants to share an energetic lifestyle. He is very devoted to his owners and is happiest when he is made part of the daily family life. He prefers to be in the house playing with the family, especially the kids, and following you all over the place. He even likes to greet people when they come to the front door. He is a very clever dog and is usually easy to train. He does best when he is constantly occupied. Never let him get bored as he can also be very destructive in his own self entertainment.
Health of the Australian Terrier
Australian Terriers are generally healthy but, like all breeds of dogs, they're prone to certain conditions and diseases.
- Patellar luxation. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
- Legg-perthes causes a deformity of the hip joint ball. It starts with a decrease in the blood supply to the head of the femur bone, until the bone eventually dies off, collapses, and becomes deformed. The result is arthritis or inflammation of the hip joint. It's unclear what causes legg-perthes, but it may be inherited or related to injury. Treatment includes rest, physical therapy, and surgically removing the deformed femoral head and neck. Dogs generally do well after the surgery, and many suffer only minor lameness, particularly during weather changes.
- Diabetes mellitus prevents the body from regulating blood sugar levels properly. A diabetic dog will eat more food to try to compensate for the lack of glucose reaching the body's cells — but he will lose weight because food is not being used efficiently. Symptoms of diabetes are excessive urination and thirst, increased appetite, and weight loss. Diabetes can be controlled by diet and the administration of insulin.
- Allergies. Aussies can be prone to allergies (though they are common to dogs in general). There are three main types: food allergies, contact allergies (caused by a reaction to topical substances such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, or other chemicals), and inhalant allergies (caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew). Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
While no dog is perfect and these ailments do not affect all Australian Terriers, it is imperative to do your research to find Aussies of good breeding, with a multitude of health tests in the breeding program to make sure you get the healthiest possible dog that you can.
Caring For Your Australian Terrier
The Australian Terrier is a house dog. He enjoys the company of his human companions. He should never be left to his own devices in the yard as he will tear it up in no time. If you like to keep your flowers you will need to constantly supervise this dog while he is in the yard.
Short play periods and outings in the backyard are best. If he is left alone too long he will definitely start doing his own thing. Like digging up all your beautiful plants. You also need to have a fenced-in yard to keep your dog from wandering off. The fence should go below ground so that he cannot dig his way out in search of prey. And when you go for a walk you must keep him on a leash. These are quick dogs and trying to catch your Aussie is a challenge.
All dogs in the Terrier group tend to be bossy and aggressive around other dogs. For this reason your Aussie must be properly socialized starting at a very young age. Taking them to regular obedience training is not only a fun thing for both you and your dog, it is an absolute essential thing for this breed. Remember that these dogs will get bored if you keep practicing the same lessons over and over. Spice up the training by making it a little harder each time. As long as you keep your Aussie motivated he will always want to learn new things. And don't forget to give a little treat when they carry out their task.
If you are in to crating your dog you must start the training when they are young. This will not only help in housetraining, it will also give him a place to go when he wants some alone time. This is also a safe way to transport this dog in a car.
And remember that this is a high-spirited dog that requires plenty of exercise. Several brisk walks a day will make sure that he remains active well into his senior years.
Feeding the Australian Terrier
These dogs do not need a lot of food and should never be allowed to self-feed. The recommendation here is to give him a 1/2 to 1 cup serving of good quality dry food per day.
Some small breeds of dog are very fussy eaters. This is not the case with the Australian Terrier. He has a very healthy and hearty appetite and is usually not prone to overeating.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Coat Color and Grooming Your Australian Terrier
This dog has a shaggy coat that is rough to the touch. The undercoat is soft and smooth.
The coat of the Australian Terrier is about two inches in length over most of the body, it is longer on the chest and head and usually comes in three colors: blue and tan (tan body with a blue saddle), sandy, and red.
Shedding is not a problem with this breed of dog and grooming is a snap. All that is required is a good brushing once a week. Once a month you should also trim the toenails.
Bathing should be kept to a minimum as doing so too often will soften his coat. Although this is not a big problem with a companion dog it detracts his appearance if he is a show dog.
Check the ears once a week for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. Also wipe them out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems.
Children And Other Pets
The Australian Terrier is a wonderful family pet. He is well suited to families with kids. He will play all day long with children. Being a family dog he prefers to be around people and can become destructive if he is left alone for long periods.
This dog loves to chase small animals so he does not do well in a home that has other small pets. You may be able to teach your dog to leave other pets in the house alone but once outside all other small animals are fair game.
Australian Terriers are sometimes bought without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one and many are given up by their owners. For this reason you may find Australian Terriers in need of adoption and or fostering.
If you want more information on this breed of dog before purchasing one you can contact the following organizations:
Last Updated: August 11, 2017
Australian Terrier Puppy Pics
Australian Terrier Puppy Pics