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The smallest of the dutiful working terriers, Australian Terriers, also make devoted companions and excellent watchdogs. They will sound the alarm when a strange dog or person trespasses on their turf. Australian Terriers, not to be confused with the Shepherd, Cattle Dog, or the Silky Terrier, is the epitome of a small package jam-packed with beautiful traits.

AT A Glance

  • Breed: Australian Terrier
  • Breed Group: Terrier
  • Temperament: Spirited, Affectionate, Brave
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: 4/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: Australia

General Information And Breed History

History

There is some dispute about the breeding history of the Australian Terrier. Still, most can agree that this dog came from interbreeding with other terriers in the 1820s. From these British roots, a fierce, loyal, devoted, and fearless little dog was born. Early settlers used these dogs as helpers and companions during their expansion across the hostile lands of Australia’s outback. 

These hardships forged a strong bond between the dogs and their human counterparts. Today’s dog loves nothing more than spending their time inside with the rest of their human pack. They love attention and do not perform well when left outside alone while the rest of their humans are inside.  

Specializing in rodent and snake control. They were also well suited as watchdogs alerting their owners to intruders in the difficult remote regions of Australia. Aussies were even known to tend to their farmer’s flocks from time to time. Whether working on farms or in goldmines or at the waterfront docks this versatile pooch was up to the challenge. Indeed, “Australia’s dog,” they were the first natively bred dog to be recognized in their homeland and abroad. 

The breed was officially recognized in 1850, as the rough-coated Terrier. It was then renamed in 1972 as the Australian Terrier as we know it today. This new breed had its first appearance in a dog show in Melbourne in 1906. The American Kennel Club finally recognized the breed in 1960. Eventually, the Australian Terrier became recognized by all the English speaking clubs worldwide. Along with being listed in many of the minor clubs and registries.

General Appearance

Standing 10-11″ at the withers and weighing in at an average of 15 to 20 pounds. Australian Terriers are energetic, rugged little dogs, with a long torso and short, strong legs. Their unique coat is coarse and weatherproof throughout. They have a soft top knot on their heads and a distinctive ruff and apron. 

The Aussie comes in three colors: Blue and Tan, Solid Sandy, and Solid Red. With dark-rimmed, dark, oval eyes, their expression is smart and alert. They have a spirited and confident attitude to match.

Body

The Aussie’s sturdy little frame is long compared to their height. Their long and slightly arched necks add a touch of elegance to their appearance.  And their powerful loins and short, muscular legs are perfect for giving chase to small mammals and reptiles. Their ribs are well-sprung but not rounded, and they have a distinct chest that reaches just below the elbows.

Coat

The Aussie sports a rough, straight outer coat that is about 21/2″ long. As well as with a soft short undercoat. However, the tail, lower legs, and feet sport shorter fur. A more delicate, furry neck that blends into the apron and a soft top knot adds to their distinct look. 

The Blue and Tan variation displays dark blue hair with darker tips. Along with a rich tan on the face, ears, undercarriage, lower legs and feet, and the rump. Solid Sandy or Solid Red coloring variations should be vibrant and bright overall with a lighter top knot as well.

Legs & Feet

The Aussie’s legs are straight, short, and robust. Cat-like feet with arched toes are great tools for digging and jumping, which was necessary for small animal extermination, and was their original purpose. 

Tail & Hindquarters

The Australian Terrier’s tail is docked in proportion to the dog’s size and high set. It stands at attention perpendicular to their body. Historically the tail was docked to protect these dogs from any spinal damage. This could occur from catching a longer tail on fences, brush, and other things.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Male Height: 10-11 Inches
  • Female Height: 10-11 Inches
  • Weight Male:  15-20 Lbs
  • Weight Female: 15-20 Lbs

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 10 inches
  • Door Width: 11 inches
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 12.1 inches
  • Interior House Length: 7.7 inches
  • Interior House Width: 14.9 inches

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $700USD

Starter Costs: $2,000

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500 – $1,000

How Australian Terriers React to

Babies/Children: 

High-energy Aussies are playful, smart, and durable, so they are generally excellent with children. However, there is a limit to the amount of roughhousing they will endure. Supervised play with children is best for the safety of both the dog and the child. They are outgoing, people pleasers that display special affection and patience. Especially for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Australian Terriers have a seemingly heightened sensitivity to their owner’s emotions, they are especially loving and sympathetic little companions. 

Other Dogs:   

While Charming and outgoing Aussie’s tend to be bossy and sometimes aggressive with other dogs, especially if they are males. Therefore they’re not always well suited to a multi-dog household. Australian Terriers would much rather have their humans to themselves!

Cats: 

The instinct to give chase to small mammals like squirrels, rabbits, cats, is extremely strong in an Aussie. This almost impossible to train them not to. As well as being a bit bossy, this combination makes it unlikely that they will peacefully coexist with cats. 

Other Animals:

Generally amenable with larger pets these little firecrackers initially took the role of vermin exterminators.  So, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, and other small pets may trigger that deep-seated drive to hunt. Therefore making it dangerous to keep them in the same family with your Australian Terrier. Having said all of this, they are more willing to co-exist with other pets than other Terrier breeds.

Care Requirements

Exercise 

These little wonders from down under are high energy and very active dogs, and the average owner can usually meet their exercise needs, however, those traits also may not make them suitable companions for everyone. 

The Australian Terrier loves to dig.  The dogs are quick and great jumpers, so their play sessions must be in a securely fenced yard or on a leash. These persistent little pups are often clever escape artists. Owners may need higher fences than would be expected for such a small dog. A wire buried underground along the bottom of the fences is recommended to thwart them from digging themselves free. 

Supervised play with a ball or toy is preferable. This is due to their deep-seated instincts to chase small animals that catch their attention. These small animals may compel them to leave the security of their property, into traffic or far from their home. 

They also benefit from a daily walk but never let them off their leash! While definitely a dog that aims to please their owners, their instinct to chase may override their desire to listen.

Grooming & Coat Info

The Australian Terrier has a rugged coat that is great for repelling water, dirt, and mud, which makes them very easy to maintain. Aussies aren’t heavy shedders, so give them a proper brushing once a week. Groom around their eyes, vent, tail, and feet, as needed, is all they require.

Bathing is only required when necessary since shampooing softens their coats too much and reduces their natural water and dirt repellent properties. Frequent bathing can also cause their coats to become matted. Maintaining their nails to keep them on the shorter side is also recommended.

Another bonus? While no dog is completely hypo-allergenic, some are less allergenic. Minimal shedding places the Aussie into this category and makes them a good choice for those with an allergy to dogs.

Health & Nutrition

Just like all dogs, the Australian Terrier will do very well on high-quality dog food. Portions should be based on the size of the dog. Make sure to not overfeed your Aussie, as it may cause them to gain weight.

Make sure you know which foods are safe if you are going to feed your dog human food. If you are unsure contact your veterinarian.

Australian Terriers are a generally healthy dog breed. There are a few minor health issues like patellar luxation and diabetes. A good breeder will look for these health conditions in the breeding stock.

Training

Aussies are smart and active little dogs. They would benefit from puppy training classes and generally respond well to introductory obedience training. Positive reinforcements such as treats, toys, and praise work very well with this breed. Variety is the spice of their lives as they tend to get bored very quickly. Therefore short and fun training sessions are the most effective for them.

A small package with an abundance of personality. Australian Terriers are a willful and often stubborn dog. They will require a firm, consistent hand to nurture the behaviors you want to install in them. Contrary to their opinion, you’re the boss, not them and they must be taught their place in the pack. Terriers, in general, have the reputation to be a “barky” lot and while some Aussies can fit this bill, most are quieter than other Terrier breeds. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Australian Terriers Like To Swim?

Australian Terries do like to take a dip in the drink. The Aussie should always be supervised when swimming. A good personal floating device for your Aussie would be a good investment. We keep our children safe in the water, so we should keep our dogs safe as well. Your dog will feel more safe and comfortable with a floating device. No one likes to feel insecure in the water.

Does The Australian Terrier Shed A lot?

Aussie Terries do not generally shed a lot. Their coat is similar to that of a Yorkie. Not much shedding, but they do require daily brushing to avoid mats. Mats can cause discomfort to your dog, as well as skin conditions. It really does not take long to brush this coat. I have a Yorkie, and it takes less than ten minutes for a good thorough brushing. Trust me, your dog will appreciate the daily brushing!

Bibliography

  1. The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds – D. Caroline Coile. Ph.D
  2. American Kennel Club
  3. Wikipedia
  4. The Australian Terrier Club of America
  5. Canadian Kennel Club

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