Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier

With perky ears and personalities, Australian Terriers are a delight. They fit right into city or country lifestyles and have a zest for life that is difficult to dampen. Aussies were bred to control rodent populations on their property and they retain that skill today. They are strong competitors in Earthdog trials and will chase every squirrel or bird who crosses their path. Highly intelligent, Australian Terriers learn quickly and are more willing to please than most terriers. Leaving your Aussie alone and allowing boredom to take hold, however, are sure ways to undermine their agreeable natures. Australian Terriers are sweet, playful dogs who want to tag along on every adventure.


Other Names

Australian Terriers are also called Aussies.

Physical Description

Coat

Australian Terriers have a harsh double coat that gives them an appealing, shaggy look, and protects them from the elements. The outer coat is straight and kept at about 2½ inches long over the body. Feathering on the tail, legs, and feet is shorter and softer than the body hair. The hair on top of the head grows a bit longer, and is soft. The coat colors are blue and tan, solid sandy, or solid red. In the blue and tan variety, the blue can range from steel gray to light silver.


Height

Average Height: 10-11 inches


Weight

Average Weight: 15-20 pounds

Breed Standard & History

The Australian Terrier is rugged enough to withstand the harsh conditions of the Australian Outback. He has a sturdy frame longer than it is tall, and short, medium-boned legs. Aussies are well-muscled but not encumbered by bulk; they can spring and turn on a dime after their quarry. Their triangular ears stand erect, and their dark eyes are alert and denote a lively intelligence. Aussies are brave and self-confident on the hunt, and loving and playful on the homefront.


Australian Terriers originated Down Under from a mix of working terriers brought to the continent by British colonialists in the 1800s. Among the Aussie's ancestors are the Norwich Terrier, the Yorkshire Terrier, and the Scottish Terrier. Initially they were known as 'Rough Coated Terriers.' Their job was exterminating rodents and snakes on remote farms in the Australian Outback. Aussies were the first Australian breed officially recognized by their country of origin. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1960.


AKC Breed Category

Terrier Group

Personality

General Temperament

Australian Terriers are outgoing and intelligent. They are usually well mannered and willing to follow directions, as long as they are always included in the family activities. While Aussies share the mischievousness of most terriers, they are more mellow than their cousins. Aussies are loyal and loving with their people, and always eager to play or head outside on an adventure. With strangers, they can be somewhat shy, though not overly timid, and they warm up in due time.


Family Life

Are Australian Terriers Good with Kids? Australian Terriers adore the kids in their family and appreciate having extra playmates around. They will protect themselves from children who are too rough, however, so they are best matched with older kids who are respectful of dogs.


(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)


Are Australian Terriers Good with Other Pets? Aussies do best as only dogs, though they will usually tolerate other dogs with whom they're raised from an early age. They shouldn't live with cats and other small animals, however, because their prey instinct is too strong—and a danger to other pets.


Protective

Australian Terriers are protective of their territory and will make noise if they see or hear interlopers.


Are Australian Terriers Good Guard Dogs? Australian Terriers are keen, watchful dogs who will bark when man or beast enters their territory. Beyond sounding the alarm, however, they are too little to provide much protection.


Energy Levels

Aussies are zippy little dogs who are still only when sleeping, and even then their legs may be going as they dream of chasing down their quarry.


Specific Concerns:

  • High energy
  • Need abundant exercise
  • Prone to barking
  • Excessive diggers
  • Will chase after small animals
  • Always walk on leash
  • Territorial



Requirements

Indoor

Aussies want to live indoors with their pack and will develop problem behaviors if you leave them outside for too long. Keep your Aussie busy and challenged with indoor games of fetch, hide and seek, and puzzle dog toys so they don't become bored. They don't shed much, so fur cleanup is minimal.


Outdoor

Australian Terriers should spend a good deal of time outdoors participating in dog sports, or simply running around the backyard playing games of fetch. These dogs will dig up your yard, no matter how hard you try to dissuade them, so consider creating a 'digging corner.' Also, Aussies shouldn't be outside alone or they'll dig an escape route under the fence in short order.


Exercise

A healthy, adult Australian Terrier requires more than an hour of vigorous physical activity every day. This can be a combination of long walks, hikes, dog sports training, Earthdog training, or even fetch in the living room.


Endurance

Aussies have the stamina for long play and training sessions, walks and hikes.


Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: With their small legs, Aussies aren't contenders for long distance running partners. But they will be happy to bound by your side for up to a mile.
  • Hiking Miles: Australian Terriers can hike for two to three miles. Always keep them on a leash, or they'll race off-trail after critters that cross their path.


Food

Australian Terriers require approximately ½ cup to 1 cup of good quality dry dog food every day, given in two meals. The quantity can vary significantly based on your dog's age and activity level. Talk with your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Aussie.


Alone Time

Though brave and independent, Aussies don't ever enjoy alone time. They will resort to problem behaviors, such as constant barking or chewing on chair legs if you leave them for too long. It's possible to steal away an hour or two if you crate train your Aussie and leave him with his favorite dog treats.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

11-15 years


Grooming

The Aussie's harsh, wiry coat requires only one brushing a week. Pay extra attention to the longer hair on his head and legs to prevent tangles. A bath about once a month is enough to keep his coat clean and healthy. Wash your Australian Terrier's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush his teeth several times a week, and trim his nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.


Common Health Issues

Some breed-specific health conditions may affect Australian Terriers, including:


  • Luxating patella, a misalignment of the leg bones
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Diabetes
  • Allergies

You can minimize serious health concerns in an Australian Terrier by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.

Trainability

Basics

Start training your Australian Terrier young, and you'll be rewarded with a dog who understands (and follows) basic obedience commands like a champ. Aussies are stubborn and become bored easily, so keep training sessions interesting and offer plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of praise and dog treats.


Advanced Training

Advanced training is a smart way to keep Aussies active and mentally stimulated. They are excellent pupils in advanced obedience training, agility trials, and most other dog sports.


Sporting Dog Training

Australian Terriers are adept at Earthdog trials, a dog sport in which they track rodents placed within cages in underground dens.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Australian Terriers.

Explore Other Breeds

Yes. Because of their small size and light shedding coat, Australian Terriers do not produce much pet dander, the cause of most pet-related allergies.

Terriers are known barkers, and Aussies are no different if left to their own devices. However, with patient behavior training and frequent exercise, the issue is manageable. Aussies can even live in apartments without driving your neighbors to distraction.

Many Australian Terriers enjoy swimming, and others would rather pass on a dip in the pool. Take your dog's lead when it comes to swimming and watch him closely in or near water.