Australian Terrier: History, Temperament, Care, Training & more

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Australian Terrier Breed Information
Also known as the Aussie

Australian Terrier
Level of Energy  
Exercise Needs   
Level of Affection  
Climate Tolerance  
Good With Children  
Tolerance of Animals  
Suitable as Watch Dog   

Australian Terrier – Just The Facts

  • AKC Popularity:  122
  • AKC Breed Group: Terrier
  • Size of Male:  9-14 lbs., 10-11 in.
  • Size of Female:  9-14 lbs., 10-11 in.
  • Color:  Blue and tan, solid sandy and solid red
  • Average Lifespan:  11-12 years
  • Breed Origin:  Australia
  • Purpose:  Rodent and snake control

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General Description

The friendly, affectionate Australian Terrier makes a good family pet. Small and sturdy, the “Aussie” is known for being confident and versatile. These little dogs were developed to control rodents and snakes in the Australian Outback and they worked side by side with Australian pioneers.

They’re hardy and spirited little dogs, able to adapt to both rural and urban lifestyles. The Australian Terrier gets along particularly well with children, the disabled and the elderly.

Origin and History

As you might imagine, the Aussie is native to Australia. It is one of the smallest working terriers. This small dog breed was bred to be companions and helpers in the rugged Australian Outback where they controlled rodents and snakes. They were also used to take care of sheep and stand watch on the farm.

It’s likely that the Australian Terrier was bred from other British terrier breeds brought to Australia by settlers such as the Dandie Dinmont, the Yorkshire Terrier and the old Black-and-Tan Terriers (known today as the Manchester Terrier). Irish and Cairn Terriers may also have been used. An Australian Rough-Coated Terrier Club was formed in Melbourne in 1887 and the breed was soon exported to England and the United States.

Australian Terrier Temperament

Australian Terriers are friendly and affectionate as companions. They have a typical terrier temperament in other ways. They are spirited, alert, courageous and self-confident. They have the natural aggressiveness found in a dog used to hunt rats and other small animals.

These little dogs have loads of energy and plenty of courage. They are very loyal dogs and they are devoted to their families. They are also very intelligent. They usually have a strong desire to please their owners and dog training is generally easy. Aussies usually get along well with other dogs but they may chase other small pets unless they are taught not to do so. Aussies usually get along well with children.

Care, Grooming, Diet & Exercise

Living Environment – This small dog breed can adapt very well to living as an apartment dog. They are usually an active dog indoors but as long as they get plenty of exercise there should not be any problems. They also do well living in a rural setting. However, you should take care that they are properly enclosed and not allowed to run free since they do tend to chase small animals.

Grooming – Grooming the Aussie is not difficult. They have a harsh, “broken” coat which requires brushing a few times per week. They need periodic trimming but they should not be cut down or clippered.

They do need to be stripped or plucked occasionally by someone who knows how to do the job. You can talk to a groomer about having your dog groomed.

Do not bathe this dog too often as it will soften the coat and remove the coat’s protection from the skin. You should trim around the dog’s eyes and ears occasionally to keep these areas tidy.

Diet & Exercise – The Aussie has normal dietary requirements. These little dogs are very active and do require regular daily exercise. They enjoy play and they like to have a chance to run if possible. However, make sure they are not in an area where they can chase someone’s pets.

Health – The Aussie is a generally healthy breed which lives a long life. However, they can be subject to various cancers and to diabetes. Allergic dermatitis, luxating patellas (slipped kneecaps), ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments, and cataracts have also been reported in the breed. If you are interested in this dog breed, you should talk to a breeder about possible dog health problems.

Australian Terrier Trainability

Australian Terriers are very intelligent dogs and they have a strong desire to please their owners. Dog training is said to be easier than with some other terrier breeds.

This dog breed ranked 34th in a ratings list of the intelligence of dog breeds, which is very high, suggesting that they had good trainability. Positive dog training methods are recommended for training your Aussie (praise, rewards) as they work best with this breed.