- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Group: AKC Terrier
- Best Suited For: Apartments, families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
- Temperament: Playful, clever, obedient, quiet
This little feller from the land Down Under is a happy dog that loves everyone. Fond of children, the elderly, and the handicapped, the Australian Terrier makes the ideal companion for a variety of households. From its origins as a vermin catcher, the Australian Terrier is the smallest of working terriers. But don’t let its size fool you – this breed is full of pep and energy. That means it needs a good amount of exercise every day, so long walks or an unleashed run in a safe area are essential.
There is so much to love about the Australian Terrier. It fits in with families and likes being outdoors. Just a few of its endearing traits include that it is fairly quiet, fun, energetic, tough, eager to please, and adventurous. If you plan on leaving it in the backyard, be warned – the Australian Terrier likes to dig up a storm. Does the Australian Terrier sound like a fit for you? Read on and find out.
Fond of children, the elderly, and the handicapped, the Australian Terrier makes the ideal companion for a variety of households.
Bred to be both a hard worker and a companion, the Australian Terrier (also affectionately called the Aussie) originated in Tasmania in the early 1880s. These terriers are believed to have been cross-bred with a number of other British terrier breeds. The purpose was to develop a fast, tough and weatherproof dog to use for Australians who worked on farms. The Australian Terrier’s job was to hunt rodents and snakes, as well as to tend sheep and alert farmers to the presence of strangers.
The Australian Terrier can trace its roots back to a number of different dog breeds. These include Dandie Dinmont, Skye, Yorkshire, and Black-and-Tan Terriers (known now as Manchester Terriers). It’s also suspected that Irish and Cairn Terrier are mixed in as well. The reasoning behind the crossbreeding was to promote specific desired traits to produce a sturdy, weatherproof and fearless little dog that would not only take care of vermin such as rodents and snakes, but also to tend flocks, guard the homestead and be a wonderful family companion.
Food / Diet
The Australian Terrier isn’t a picky eater – it likes to chow down on anything you feed it. However, you should stick to a premium dry dog kibble. Be sure to feed your dog according to its weight and size – you don’t want to over feed your Aussie. In order to keep your dog looking and feeling its best, a healthy, nutritional diet is always your best choice. If it does’nt get this kind of diet, it could lead to flaky, itchy, dry skin, kidney or liver problems, or ear yeast infections. A proper diet includes all-important nutrients, minerals, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and water.
Just a few of its endearing traits include that it is fairly quiet, fun, energetic, tough, eager to please, and adventurous.
When you bring home an Australian Terrier, you need to set up leadership roles right away. Only then will you be successful in your training endeavors. This breed can be independent and will try to take on the leader role, but stand your ground. Overall, it’s an eager-to-please breed and this dog will want to win your praise and attention. To establish your leadership role, start training early and exude an air of confidence. When your Aussie completes a task to your satisfaction, give positive reinforcement and rewards – it makes training go a lot smoother.
This is a terrier, so expect barking and a dog that lives for the chase. The Aussie is a good listener when it’s just you and the dog, but if it goes after another animal, it won’t stop and listen to your commands. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so keep your Australian Terrier on a leash or in a fenced-in area.
Once an Australian Terrier hits maturity, it will stand about 10 to 11 inches and weight anywhere from 14 to 16 pounds.
Temperament / Behavior
Happy go lucky and eager to please, the Australian Terrier is full of personality. As a terrier, the Aussie likes to bark, but less so than its counterparts. And don’t let its size fool you – even though this is a small dog, the Aussie makes an excellent watch dog.
Intelligent and always on the go, Australian Terriers love to dig. If you leave them in the backyard unsupervised, don’t be surprise to come back to an unearthed garden. Because of its background of herding cattle and hunting vermin, this breed is fearless and has endless amounts of energy. Even though it isn’t used for the same tasks these days, the instincts are still the same. With its independent streak, this breed may try to dominate small children. Early training should prevent this bad habit.
When it comes to meeting new people, the Australian Terrier can be a bit stand-offish. Don’t worry – that will soon wear off and your Aussie will make friends after a pat on the head and a scratch behind the ear. If you have other pets in the household, this breed will live in harmony with them. But like other terrier breeds, there may be some tension between dogs of the same sex.
Common Health Problems
A hardy and healthy breed, the Australian Terrier shouldn’t run up your vet bills. However, so health concerns related to this breed include allergies, arthritis, cataracts, diabetes, cancer, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patellar luxation and thyroid issues.
The Australian Terrier has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
For a small dog, the Australian Terriers sure has a large amount of energy. That’s why it needs lots of regular exercise. Because this breed likes to hunt and herd, it helps to have a yard where it can chase toys and birds. If you have an apartment, daily walks or trips to the park are a must.
A dog for a range of lifestyles, the Aussie fits into any household. This breed loves children, so use them to exercise Australian Terrier. Games, jogging, hikes and other outdoor pastimes will keep the Australian Terrier amused. Also needed is mental stimulation – interactions with new people, animals and experiences are good for your Australian Terrier’s mental health.
Intelligent and always on the go, Australian Terriers love to dig.
The American Kennel Association says this about the breed: “They have a keen and alert expression and confident spirit. They are versatile in their work and living situations, making suitable companions in most environments.” The AKC first recognized this breed in 1960.
The thick, course outer coat of the Australian Terrier covers a soft undercoat. All along the dog’s dog, hair is about two inches long, but it does grow longer on the head and chest. When it comes to coat color, there’s not much variety: blue and tan (tan body with a blue saddle), sandy, and red.
This breed only sheds a minimal amount throughout the year. To keep loose hair at bay (as well as tangles and mats), brush the Aussie’s coat several times a week. Don’t subject the Australian to too many baths (once every three or four months), as it will soften its coat (fine for pets, not for show dogs).
This is a small breed to begin with, so be extra carefully when stepping around puppies. Be sure to give your Australian Terrier puppy enough exercise to drain some of that abundant energy.
Photo credit: Andreas Gradin/Shutterstock