Australian Terrier

Breed At A Glance


Courageous, affectionate and intelligent

Life Expectancy
15+ years

Average Height
9-11 inches

Average Weight
9-14 lbs

Coat Color
Blue and tan, red or sandy

Coat Length/Texture
Long and shaggy with a soft undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Very light

Also known as Aussie

General Temperament

The Australian Terrier exudes confidence and an energetic spirit. Boundless energy coupled with a fun-loving attitude make this a very enjoyable companion pet. They are very affectionate with family members and are great with children, as long as the children do not tease the dog. They are almost never snappish.

Australian Terriers are more eager to please their owners than most other terriers, making obedience training a pleasant and simple experience. But the training must be consistent and strict, otherwise this clever breed will follow it’s own ideas. Repetition can cause boredom in the Australian Terrier, and varying up training techniques and games may be helpful. Australian Terriers get along well with other household dogs and pets, although they are very curious and maintain their hunting instincts and may chase small animals in the yard. Be sure that the fence or enclosure is well secured.

The Australian Terrier has acute hearing and eyesight. They are loyal, protective, bold, and love to announce the arrival of visitors. All of these attributes make them excellent watch dogs, but they generally do not attack unless strongly provoked. Visitors nevertheless may find the dog to be unfriendly.

Australian Terriers are well-suited to apartment life as they are active indoors, but they still need daily walks to maintain health and minimize destructive behavior. Be sure to keep them on a leash as they do have an instinct to chase. Dogs of this breed are great travelers and are adaptable to most climates.

Breed History

The Australian Terrier was the first native-bred Australian breed to be recognized and shown in other countries. They were first shown as the Australian Rough-Coated Terrier in Melbourne, Australia, in 1868. It’s origins are not completely clear, but most agree that they were developed from a mix of many of the British terriers including the Irish, Cairn, Norwich, Dandie Dinmont, Yorkshire, and the Skye Terriers. This terrier was selectively bred to be fearless, sturdy, rough and weatherproof to handle the rough terrain of the Australian frontier. They were used to control snakes and rats on ranches, farms and waterfronts, and sometimes even functioned as herders of livestock, particularly sheep. They also proved to be effective watch dogs, barking loudly to announce the presence of intruders.

The Australian Terrier was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1960.

Body Structure and Composition

The Australian Terrier is a sturdy little dog with a long back and short legs. It has a long head and muzzle and erect ears. This breed has a unique desirable feature: a v-shaped area free of hair extending from the nose up the bridge of the muzzle. The dog is longer than it is tall, with a level topline and catlike feet. The tail stands up and is typically docked, although tail docking has been outlawed in many countries.

Medical Information

The Australian Terrier is a healthy and hardy breed with relatively few medical concerns. Skin allergies and hair loss appear to be the most common problems. Some individuals also suffer from Patellar Luxation (also known as “slipped stifle”), a condition which occurs when the kneelike joint above the hock in the hind leg of a dog slips and may require surgery. Many Australian Terriers develop cataracts in their old age, although this is not a condition specific to this breed.

The coat of an Australian Terrier is easy to care for. They should only be bathed approximately once a month to avoid stripping the fur of it’s natural oils (otherwise the coat will become lank, as opposed to hard and rough). The hair around the eyes and ears should be trimmed regularly, and the coat needs to be plucked every three months.

Anecdotal Information

Some of the Australian Terrier’s talents include watchdogging, tracking, obedience, agility, and performing tricks.

Australian Terriers are classified as one of the smallest working terriers.

For Purebred Dogs

Search for DNA tests by your dog’s breed. In 3 simple steps you can find & order all of the tests available for your purebred dog.

For mixed breed dogs, you can identify the key breeds in your dog’s genetic background with a Dog DNA Breed Test. Over 220 popular breeds can be detected!

Learn more about Canine DNA Testing >