Looking for a lively and cheerful companion who is energetic enough to join you on long walks, yet small and affectionate enough to cuddle up in your lap? Meet the Australian Terrier! This working Terrier breed is a small dog with bags of personality, known to be intelligent, alert, active and playful. Famed for being truly in tune with its owners, this breed is a great choice for families with children, active couples, and elderly owners alike.
Key facts about the Australian Terrier
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Origins and history
Way back in the early 19th century, travellers from the UK travelled to Australia, bringing along their rough-coated terrier dogs for protection against disease-ridden rodents and snakes. Once there, the dogs bred with other Terrier breeds, including the Cairn, Skye, Dandie Dinmont, Irish and Yorkshire, which eventually resulted in the Australian Terrier which we know today.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 3 - Terriers
Section 2 : Small sized Terriers
Physical characteristics of the Australian Terrier
Female : Between 9 and 10 in
Male : Between 9 and 10 in
Female : Between 51 and 55 lb
Male : Between 51 and 55 lb
The coat can be sandy, red, or blue and tan.
Type of coat
The coat is mid-length.
The eyes are dark brown in colour.
The Australian Terrier is a small yet robust dog with a typical Terrier appearance. The body is low-set, with short but sturdy legs and a deep chest. The head is long, with a short muzzle, a black nose, pointy, erect, triangular ears and expressive eyes. Its rustic appearance is typified in his shaggy stylings, with a well-defined collar that reaches to the sternum. This is a scamp you can’t help but fall for!
Good to know
Despite its name, the Australian Terrier’s ancestral roots are actually British!
Loyal and loving, the Australian Terrier is truly devoted to its family. In fact, this emotionally intelligent pup is known for being completely in tune with its owners and adjusting its mood to suit theirs.
The Australian Terrier is lively, energetic and upbeat, loving nothing more than playtime with its family. With its clownish character and small size, it makes a fantastic playmate for kids.
This dog is upbeat, lively and energetic for the most part. However, while it’s not the calmest breed in the books, it does seem to react well to its owner's mood and will calm down whenever it deems it necessary.
The Australian Terrier is a clever little pup, but not necessarily docile. It needs to be educated with a firm and consistent hand to get the best results.
Bred as a working Terrier, this bold dog is a hunter by nature and instinctually chases small animals, including mice, rabbits, hamsters, squirrels and cats.
Fearful / wary of strangers
While the Aussie is often wary and shy around strangers at first, it normally doesn’t take long for it to warm up and make friends.
If you’re not careful, the Australian Terrier will end up in charge of the household. This small yet bold pooch is independent, strong-willed and will try to dominate. Firm yet fair training from the get-go is essential.
Behaviour of the Australian Terrier
The Australian Terrier thrives as part of a family, and as such, doesn’t cope well with extended time spent alone. It may manage well with short periods of solitude, but its needs must be met in advance.
Easy to train / obedience
While independent and sometimes stubborn, the Australian Terrier is clever and highly trainable. The key with this breed is confidence. Be firm but fair and establish yourself as the leader from the start. With patience, consistency, a positive approach, and plenty of rewards, you’ll end up with an obedient friend. Because of the Aussie’s strong prey-drive, early socialization is particularly important.
The Australian Terrier barks a lot at the slightest suspicious noise and for this reason can be a good alert dog.
Tendency to run away
As a skilled digger with a significant prey-drive, the Australian Terrier could be expected to escape at any given moment. However, if this dog is well-educated, it will stick close to its master.
To put it simply, the Australian Terrier loves to dig, and this is a habit which is hard to shift! Therefore, if you’re garden-proud and can’t stand any mess, you’d be better off choosing another breed.
Greedy / Gluttony
The Aussie has quite an appetite, but thankfully, doesn’t tend to overeat. Treats are welcome, of course.
This fearless little Terrier might be small, but it makes for a brilliant watchdog! Highly protective of its family and super alert, you’ll immediately be warned of anything or anyone new or suspicious.
For all terrier lovers, this is a solid option. In terms of body and character, the Australian Terrier’s got the goods!
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Australian Terrier in a flat
The Aussie can live a happy life in a flat or apartment if its owner can commit to multiple walks per day, in order to prevent boredom.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Even though the Aussie Terrier is a small dog breed, it does require ample exercise. As a working terrier, it has buckets of energy and loves to live an active lifestyle. Aim to exercise a dog of this breed for at least an hour per day, ideally split up into two half hour walks. On top of this, plenty of active playtime and obedience sessions are essential to keep its clever brain ticking over.
Travelling / easy to transport
This small and confident pooch is super easy to transport, especially if it has got used to it from a young age.
Australian Terrier and cats
Since the Australian Terrier was bred to hunt, living with felines may pose a challenge. If you’re set on having a dog of this breed and cats in the house, it’s essential to put them together while the dog is still a young puppy.
Australian Terrier and dogs
The Aussie might be small, but it’s got quite an attitude! This breed is known to challenge other dogs and, if kept in a multi-dog household, is likely to try and rule the roost. This dog will get along fine with other dogs if they learn to communicate respectfully from a young age.
Australian Terrier and children
A well-socialized Aussie pup is a great playmate for children, but should still be supervised around very young kids.
Australian Terrier and the elderly
This loving pooch is known to be caring, gentle and protective of the elderly. It can make the perfect companion for older owners, as long as they can commit to meeting the Aussie’s high exercise needs.
Purchasing an Australian Terrier will cost you between £250 for Non-KC Registered dogs, and £500 for KC-Registered dogs. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £60 to £90 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.
Thankfully, the Australian Terrier is fairly low-maintenance in terms of grooming. As a low shedder, all that’s required is a brush over a couple of times per week to remove debris and prevent tangles. Bathe this breed only when it’s absolutely necessary. Remember to clean the ears bi-weekly, trim the nails as needed and brush the teeth daily.
The Australian Terrier is a moderate shedder.
Nutrition of the Australian Terrier
Feed the Australian Terrier a high-quality, complete and balanced dog food which is formulated especially for small dog breeds, or a traditional diet of raw meat, vegetables, and rice.
Health of the Australian Terrier
This is generally a hardy and healthy dog, with a few minor health concerns to be aware of. The average life expectancy for this breed is 13 years.
Strong / robust
Despite its small size, the Aussie Terrier is known to be a hardy breed.
Bred to work in the Australian heat, the Aussie is impressively tolerant of hot weather. However, remember to provide cold water and shade at all times to prevent heatstroke.
Despite being a small dog, the Aussie Terrier, with its rough coat, does tolerate the cold rather well. However, it’s by no means an outside dog and should always have a warm place to shelter.
Tendency to put on weight
As a small breed, the Aussie can be prone to weight gain in his senior years. Make sure to provide adequate exercise and avoid letting it overindulge on treats.