Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier Image courtesy of Anna Kapustina

Welcome to our article all about the Australian Terrier! In this article, we will explore the fascinating history and origins of this breed, delve into its size and appearance characteristics, discuss its life expectancy, and uncover its unique temperament. We will also delve into the trainability and adaptability of Australian Terriers, their exercise requirements and energy levels, grooming needs, and potential health issues to be aware of. Additionally, we will highlight some comparable breeds and introduce you to some notable dogs from this wonderful breed. So, whether you’re a current Australian Terrier owner, considering bringing one into your family, or simply an admirer of these delightful dogs, this guide is for you. Let’s dive in and discover all there is to know about the Australian Terrier!

History and Origins of the Breed

The history and origins of the Australian Terrier are fascinating, as they provide insight into how this breed came to be. Let’s take a closer look at the journey of the Australian Terrier:

Early Development

The Australian Terrier, also known as the “Aussie,” is believed to have originated in Australia in the 19th century. The exact origins of this breed are not well-documented, but it is thought to be a result of the breeding of several terrier breeds brought to Australia by early settlers.

Terrier Ancestors

The Australian Terrier is believed to have been developed from a mix of terrier breeds, including the Cairn Terrier, Skye Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier. These terriers were brought to Australia by British immigrants, who needed sturdy and versatile dogs to help them in various tasks.

Working Dog

Originally, Australian Terriers were primarily used as working dogs on farms and ranches. They excelled at tasks such as hunting small game, guarding livestock, and keeping the property free from vermin. Their small size, agility, and intelligence made them well-suited for these tasks.

Recognition as a Breed

The Australian Terrier was officially recognized as a breed in the late 19th century. The first breed standard was established in 1887 by the Australian Terrier Club of Australia. The breed gained popularity not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world, including the United States and Europe.

Popularity and Purpose

Over the years, the Australian Terrier’s popularity grew beyond its working abilities. Its charming personality, loyalty, and adaptability made it a beloved companion and show dog. Today, the Australian Terrier is still appreciated for its versatility, whether as a working dog, a family pet, or a competitive show dog.

Australian National Treasure

In 1991, the Australian Terrier was even recognized as a national treasure of Australia. This prestigious recognition highlights the breed’s significance and contribution to the country’s history and culture.

The history and origins of the Australian Terrier provide a rich background for understanding the breed’s characteristics and traits. From its humble beginnings as a working dog to its current status as a cherished companion, the Australian Terrier has carved its place in the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

Size and Appearance Characteristics

When it comes to the size and appearance characteristics of the Australian Terrier, there are specific features that define this breed. Let’s explore the size, physical attributes, and overall appearance of the Australian Terrier:


The Australian Terrier is a small-sized breed, known for its compact and sturdy build. On average, male Australian Terriers stand about 10-11 inches (25-28 cm) tall at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring around 9-10 inches (23-25 cm) in height. In terms of weight, males typically weigh between 14-16 pounds (6.4-7.3 kg), while females weigh around 12-14 pounds (5.4-6.4 kg).

Body Structure

The Australian Terrier has a well-balanced body structure, with a straight back and a deep chest. Despite its small size, this breed has a robust and muscular build, allowing it to perform various tasks with agility and strength.

Head and Facial Features

The Australian Terrier has a distinctive head shape, characterized by a moderately long and flat skull. Their eyes are small, dark, and almond-shaped, giving them an alert and intelligent expression. The breed is known for its keen and expressive eyes. The ears are erect and pointed, adding to their attentive appearance.

Coat and Colors

One of the most notable features of the Australian Terrier is its weather-resistant double coat. The outer coat is harsh and wiry, providing protection against the elements, while the undercoat is soft and dense. This combination helps to keep them warm in cooler climates. The breed comes in a variety of coat colors, including shades of blue and tan, sandy, or red.

Tail and Limbs

The Australian Terrier has a moderately short tail, which is customarily docked, although docking practices vary by country and region. The breed has straight and strong front legs, enabling it to move with agility and confidence. The hindquarters are muscular and well-developed, contributing to their overall balance and power.

Overall Appearance

In summary, the Australian Terrier presents a compact and well-proportioned silhouette. Its distinctive head, expressive eyes, and weather-resistant double coat make it easily recognizable. This breed’s small size should not be underestimated, as it is packed with energy and a robust build that allows it to adapt to various environments and tasks.

Understanding the size and appearance characteristics of the Australian Terrier provides valuable insights into its physical attributes and overall charm. These qualities contribute to its appeal as both a working dog and a beloved companion.

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Australian Terrier is an essential aspect to consider when welcoming this breed into your family. Understanding the average lifespan of the Australian Terrier can help you plan for their care and ensure a long and healthy life for your furry companion. Let’s explore the factors that influence the life expectancy of the Australian Terrier:

Average Lifespan

On average, the Australian Terrier has a life expectancy of around 12 to 15 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may have variations in their lifespan based on various factors such as genetics, overall health, diet, exercise, and the quality of care they receive throughout their lives.

Factors Affecting Longevity

Several factors can influence the lifespan of Australian Terriers. Here are some key considerations:

Genetics and Breeding

The genetic background of a dog plays a significant role in determining its overall health and longevity. Reputable breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their breeding stock can help minimize the risk of hereditary health issues and promote longer lifespans.

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for the overall health and longevity of any dog. Providing your Australian Terrier with a high-quality, well-balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs can contribute to their well-being and extend their lifespan.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for maintaining the physical and mental health of Australian Terriers. Engaging in activities that challenge their minds and keep them physically active can help prevent obesity, promote muscle strength, and improve overall vitality, potentially leading to a longer life.

Veterinary Care and Preventive Measures

Routine veterinary care, including vaccinations, regular check-ups, dental care, and preventive measures against parasites and diseases, is crucial in promoting the well-being and longevity of Australian Terriers. Early detection and treatment of any potential health issues can help improve their prognosis and ensure a longer, healthier life.

Quality of Life

It’s important to note that while the average lifespan of the Australian Terrier is around 12 to 15 years, each dog is an individual, and their quality of life matters just as much as the length of their life. Providing a loving and stimulating environment, proper care, and attention to their physical and emotional needs can greatly enhance their overall well-being and make their years more fulfilling.

Taking into consideration these factors that influence the life expectancy of Australian Terriers can help you provide the best care possible for your furry friend. By ensuring a healthy lifestyle and addressing their specific needs, you can maximize their potential for a long and happy life by your side.


Understanding the temperament of the Australian Terrier is crucial for anyone considering this breed as a companion. The temperament of a dog refers to their general demeanor, behavior, and personality traits. Let’s explore the typical temperament of the Australian Terrier:

Alert and Lively

Australian Terriers are known for their alert and lively nature. They have a keen sense of awareness and are always on the lookout for any potential threats or changes in their environment. This trait makes them excellent watchdogs, as they will not hesitate to alert their owners if they sense something unusual.

Confident and Courageous

Despite their small size, Australian Terriers possess a great deal of confidence and courage. They are not easily intimidated and will stand their ground when faced with challenges. This trait stems from their history as working dogs, where they needed to be fearless and independent in various tasks.

Intelligent and Quick Learners

Australian Terriers are intelligent dogs and have a quick learning ability. They are eager to please their owners and can pick up new commands and tricks with relative ease. This intelligence also means they require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and keep their minds sharp.

Affectionate and Loyal

Australian Terriers are known for their affectionate and loyal nature towards their family members. They form strong bonds with their human companions and thrive on attention and affection. They are often described as being devoted and dedicated to their loved ones, making them wonderful family dogs.

Independent and Stubborn

While Australian Terriers are loyal and affectionate, they also have an independent streak and can be somewhat stubborn at times. This independence can manifest in their strong-willed nature and their preference for making decisions on their own. Patient and consistent training is key to overcoming any stubborn tendencies.

Good with Children and Other Pets

When properly socialized from a young age, Australian Terriers can get along well with children and other pets. However, it is important to supervise interactions and teach both the dog and children how to interact respectfully. Their small size may require extra caution when around younger children to prevent accidental injuries.

Energetic and Playful

Australian Terriers have a high level of energy and love to play. They enjoy interactive games and activities that challenge their minds and provide physical exercise. Regular exercise is crucial to prevent behavioral issues that may arise from pent-up energy.

Understanding the temperament of the Australian Terrier allows potential owners to assess if this breed aligns with their lifestyle and expectations. While they are affectionate and loyal companions, they do require proper training, mental stimulation, and exercise to thrive and be well-behaved members of the family.

Trainability and Adaptability

The trainability and adaptability of the Australian Terrier are important factors to consider when welcoming this breed into your home. Let’s explore the trainability and adaptability characteristics of the Australian Terrier:


Australian Terriers are generally intelligent and eager to please, which makes them trainable. However, they do have a stubborn streak, so consistent and patient training methods are necessary. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, work well with this breed. They respond best to firm yet gentle guidance and consistency in training sessions. Early socialization is also crucial to help them develop good manners and positive interactions with people and other animals.

Obedience Training

While Australian Terriers can excel in obedience training, it’s important to keep in mind their independent nature. They may occasionally challenge authority or test boundaries. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and using engaging training methods can help keep their attention and motivate them to learn. Enrolling in puppy obedience classes or working with a professional dog trainer can also be beneficial for both the dog and the owner.

Adaptability to Living Conditions

Australian Terriers are adaptable dogs that can thrive in various living conditions. They can be suitable for apartment living, provided they receive enough mental and physical exercise. However, they do have a moderate to high energy level, so regular exercise is necessary to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Australian Terriers can also adapt well to living in houses with fenced yards, as long as they have opportunities for supervised outdoor activities.

Socialization with People and Animals

Proper socialization is essential for Australian Terriers to develop good manners and positive relationships with people and other animals. Exposing them to various environments, sounds, sights, and different types of individuals from an early age will help them become well-rounded and confident dogs. This socialization should continue throughout their lives to ensure their comfort and ease in different situations.

Separation Anxiety

Australian Terriers are known to form strong bonds with their human family members. They may be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Early training to gradually introduce them to alone time, providing mental stimulation and using strategies like crate training can help minimize separation anxiety issues.

Travel and New Experiences

With proper socialization and training, Australian Terriers can adapt well to travel and new experiences. They may enjoy accompanying their owners on adventures and exploring new environments. However, it’s important to ensure their safety, provide them with familiar comforts, and manage their energy levels during travel.

Understanding the trainability and adaptability of the Australian Terrier is crucial for providing them with the guidance, structure, and environment they need to thrive. With consistent training, socialization, and attention to their needs, Australian Terriers can become well-behaved, adaptable, and cherished companions.

Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

The Australian Terrier has moderate exercise requirements and a moderate to high energy level. Providing them with regular physical activities is vital to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit. Let’s explore the exercise requirements and energy level of the Australian Terrier:

Daily Exercise

Australian Terriers benefit from daily exercise to burn off their energy and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise each day. This can be accomplished through activities such as brisk walks, play sessions in a securely fenced yard, or interactive games like fetch. Mental stimulation is equally important, so consider puzzle toys or obedience training sessions to engage their minds.

Playtime and Interaction

Australian Terriers have a playful nature and enjoy interactive playtime with their owners. Incorporating activities that challenge their problem-solving skills, such as hide-and-seek games or treat-dispensing toys, can keep them mentally stimulated and prevent boredom. Regular play sessions also help strengthen the bond between the dog and their family members.

Dog Sports and Activities

Engaging in dog sports and activities can be an excellent way to fulfill the exercise needs of Australian Terriers. They excel in activities like agility, obedience trials, flyball, or even earthdog trials, where they can showcase their natural instincts and abilities. These activities not only provide physical exercise but also mental stimulation and a sense of accomplishment.

Mental Stimulation

In addition to physical exercise, Australian Terriers require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Incorporate training sessions, interactive toys, and puzzle games into their routine to challenge their minds. Teaching them new tricks or providing them with tasks that tap into their problem-solving abilities can help keep them mentally sharp and content.

Energy Level

The Australian Terrier has a moderate to high energy level, which means they possess a good amount of stamina and enthusiasm for physical activities. They are not typically hyperactive dogs but do require regular exercise to prevent restlessness or behavioral issues that may arise from pent-up energy. Providing them with outlets for their energy is key to their overall well-being.

Age and Health Considerations

It’s important to consider the age and health condition of your Australian Terrier when determining their exercise requirements. Puppies may have shorter bursts of exercise with more frequent rest periods, while older dogs may require more gentle activities. If your Australian Terrier has any health issues, consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate exercise regimen.

Understanding the exercise requirements and energy level of the Australian Terrier will help ensure their physical and mental well-being. Regular exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation are essential for this breed to thrive and lead a happy, balanced life. By providing them with appropriate outlets for their energy, you can help create a healthy and content companion.

Grooming Requirements

The Australian Terrier has specific grooming requirements to keep their coat healthy and their overall appearance well-maintained. Let’s explore the grooming needs of the Australian Terrier:

Coat Type

The Australian Terrier has a double coat consisting of a harsh, wiry outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. This weather-resistant coat helps protect them from the elements. Regular grooming is necessary to keep their coat in good condition.


Australian Terriers should be brushed at least once a week to remove loose hair, prevent matting, and maintain the texture of their coat. Use a slicker brush or a comb with wide-spaced teeth to gently remove tangles and knots. Pay special attention to areas prone to matting, such as behind the ears and around the legs.

Hand Stripping

To maintain the characteristic wiry texture of the Australian Terrier’s coat, hand stripping is recommended. Hand stripping involves plucking out the dead hairs by hand rather than cutting them with scissors or clippers. This process helps promote the growth of new, healthy hairs and preserves the natural texture of the coat. It is best to consult a professional groomer experienced in hand stripping for guidance.


Australian Terriers generally require bathing every 4 to 6 weeks or as needed, depending on their activity level and how dirty they get. Use a mild dog shampoo specifically formulated for their coat type to avoid stripping the natural oils. Regular bathing helps keep their coat clean, free from debris, and smelling fresh.

Ear Care

Regular ear care is important for Australian Terriers to prevent ear infections. Check their ears weekly for signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. Clean their ears using a dog-specific ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Avoid using cotton swabs or inserting anything deep into the ear canal, as it can cause injury.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trimming is essential for Australian Terriers to prevent overgrowth, discomfort, and potential injury. Aim to trim their nails every 2 to 4 weeks, or as needed. Use a dog nail clipper or grinder designed for their size and be cautious not to cut into the quick, which can cause bleeding and discomfort. If you are unsure about nail trimming, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian.

Dental Care

Dental hygiene is crucial for the overall health of Australian Terriers. Brush their teeth regularly using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. This helps prevent dental issues such as tartar buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Additionally, providing dental chews or toys can help promote good oral health.

Anal Gland Expression

Some Australian Terriers may require periodic anal gland expression. If you notice your dog scooting or excessively licking their rear, it may indicate that their anal glands need attention. Consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance on proper anal gland expression.

Grooming Professional Assistance

If you are unsure about certain grooming techniques or prefer to have a professional handle your Australian Terrier’s grooming needs, consider seeking the assistance of a professional groomer who is familiar with the breed. They can provide expert guidance on hand stripping, trimming, and overall grooming maintenance.

By following these grooming requirements, you can help keep your Australian Terrier’s coat healthy, prevent matting, and promote their overall well-being. Regular grooming sessions also provide an opportunity to bond with your pet and ensure they look and feel their best.

Health Issues

While Australian Terriers are generally healthy dogs, like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these potential health concerns can help you provide the necessary care and attention to keep your Australian Terrier in optimal health. Let’s explore some common health issues that may affect Australian Terriers:

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap (patella) dislocates or moves out of its normal position. This can cause lameness, pain, and difficulty in walking. Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect this condition, and in severe cases, surgical intervention may be required.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is a condition that affects the hip joint, leading to the degeneration of the femoral head. It can cause pain, lameness, and a reduced range of motion. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to alleviate the discomfort and improve mobility.


Australian Terriers may be prone to allergies, including food allergies, environmental allergies (such as pollen or dust mites), or contact allergies (such as certain grooming products or materials). Allergies can cause skin irritations, itching, and discomfort. Identifying and avoiding allergens, along with appropriate veterinary care, can help manage allergies.

Dental Issues

Dental problems, such as periodontal disease and tooth decay, are common in Australian Terriers. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth, providing dental chews, and scheduling professional dental cleanings, can help maintain their oral health and prevent complications.


Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It can result in various symptoms, including weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and skin issues. Regular blood tests can help detect and manage this condition, usually through medication and ongoing monitoring.


Cataracts are a common eye condition in Australian Terriers, causing cloudiness or opacity in the lens of the eye. This can lead to vision impairment or loss. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian can help monitor and manage cataracts, and in some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Diabetes Mellitus

Australian Terriers may be predisposed to diabetes mellitus, a condition characterized by the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar levels. Symptoms may include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and lethargy. Diabetes management typically involves insulin therapy, dietary changes, and ongoing veterinary care.

Ear Infections

Due to their drop ears, Australian Terriers may be prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and inspection of the ears, along with proper drying after swimming or bathing, can help prevent infections. If you notice signs of discomfort, redness, or discharge, consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

It’s important to note that not all Australian Terriers will develop these health issues. Responsible breeding practices, regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, proper exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can all contribute to reducing the risk of these conditions. By staying vigilant and addressing any health concerns promptly, you can help ensure a long and healthy life for your Australian Terrier.

Comparable Breeds

If you’re interested in the Australian Terrier, you may also find these breeds to be comparable in terms of certain characteristics and traits. Let’s explore some breeds that are similar to the Australian Terrier:

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is a small, sturdy breed that shares a common ancestry with the Australian Terrier. They have similar wiry coats, spirited personalities, and a love for adventure. Cairn Terriers are also known for their intelligence, loyalty, and compatibility with families and individuals alike.

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is another small, compact breed that shares similarities with the Australian Terrier. They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, as well as their intelligence and independent thinking. Norfolk Terriers are also adaptable and can thrive in various living environments.

West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is a small, white-coated breed that is often compared to the Australian Terrier. Like Australian Terriers, Westies are known for their spirited and confident personalities. They are also intelligent, loyal, and make excellent companions for families and individuals.

Scottish Terrier

The Scottish Terrier, or Scottie, is a sturdy and independent breed that shares some similarities with the Australian Terrier. Both breeds have a strong prey drive, a fearless nature, and a distinctive appearance. Scotties are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and their distinctive bearded and wiry-coated appearance.

Norfolk Terrier

The Norfolk Terrier is another small, compact breed that shares similarities with the Australian Terrier. They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, as well as their intelligence and independent thinking. Norfolk Terriers are also adaptable and can thrive in various living environments.

When considering a comparable breed to the Australian Terrier, it’s important to research and understand the specific characteristics, exercise needs, grooming requirements, and temperament of each breed. This will help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle and preferences. Remember that every dog is an individual, so it’s essential to spend time with the breed you are interested in to ensure compatibility and a lasting bond.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

Throughout history, there have been several notable Australian Terriers that have made a significant impact in various fields. Let’s explore some of the notable dogs from this breed:

Ch. Great Gatsby of Karendon

Ch. Great Gatsby of Karendon, also known as “Gatsby,” was a renowned Australian Terrier in the show ring. He achieved great success and made history by becoming the first Australian Terrier to win the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1969. Gatsby’s victory helped elevate the popularity and recognition of the Australian Terrier breed.

Aust Ch. Taram Kennis

Aust Ch. Taram Kennis, or simply “Kennis,” was an Australian Terrier who had a significant impact on the breed. Kennis produced multiple champion offspring and became a top-winning Australian Terrier in the show ring. His success and influence on future generations helped shape the breed’s standards and characteristics.

Aust Ch. Silhill Redcoat

Aust Ch. Silhill Redcoat, known as “Red,” was an Australian Terrier who made a name for himself as a versatile and talented working dog. Red excelled in various tasks, including hunting small game and participating in earthdog trials. His achievements demonstrated the breed’s working abilities and versatility beyond the show ring.

Aust Ch. Kirkgate Billy Boy

Aust Ch. Kirkgate Billy Boy, affectionately known as “Billy,” was an Australian Terrier who made notable contributions to the breed. Billy was highly successful in the show ring, earning multiple championship titles. His exceptional conformation and temperament exemplified the desirable traits of the Australian Terrier.

Aust Ch. Bradorla Sculptured Ice

Aust Ch. Bradorla Sculptured Ice, or “Ice,” was an Australian Terrier who made a mark in the breed’s history. Ice achieved multiple championships and earned recognition as an outstanding Australian Terrier. His success in the show ring and his influence on future generations further enhanced the breed’s reputation.

These notable Australian Terriers have left a lasting legacy in the breed’s history, whether through their achievements in the show ring, their working abilities, or their contribution to the breed’s standards. Their accomplishments have helped showcase the Australian Terrier’s unique qualities and have inspired future generations of owners, breeders, and enthusiasts.

It’s important to note that while these dogs have made significant contributions, there are countless other Australian Terriers that have brought joy and companionship to their owners and made a positive impact in their lives. Each Australian Terrier, regardless of their fame, has the potential to be a beloved and cherished member of their family.

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