Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Australian Terrier comes from…you guessed it, Australia! These tiny pups are true terriers because they love to dig and bark a lot! Full of energy, this breed is a wonderful companion who loves his owners to keep him busy! Terriers are spunky, upbeat, and love family time. Anyone who has love and energy to give to a dog should look into the Australian Terrier!

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Hunting
Height:10 to 11 inches tall
Weight: 14 to 16 pounds
Life Span:Upwards of 15 years

The Australian Terrier is a spunky little dog that came from Australia and was bred to hunt snakes, rats, and vermin due to the terrible conditions in the early days of living in Australia. They have not lost their touch over the years, either! They are still hunters and watch dogs, and they make wonderful companions to whoever gives them a home.

This breed is known to be a bit bossy so be sure to let them know who is the boss or they will dominate your home, as they think they are the leader in the pack. This is why the males may not get along with other male dogs in the household. Still, they are lively and energetic and love to run, catch things, and be the star of the show!

Careful, though! These tiny pups love to be clever and tend to be sneaky, so watch out if something goes missing! Not only that, but they love to dig and are considered “earth” dogs because of their tendency to love being outside and sniffing or digging around. They are also cat chasers, and will run them up into trees at times!

Terriers have had a long history in Hollywood, appearing in several films such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, all of the Back to the Future films, and The Big Lebowski. So, it is easy to see that they can be trained quickly and will perform on demand, which makes them great candidates for dog shows!

Main Highlights
  • Owners must realize what comes with the terrier breed as Australian Terriers tend to bark a lot. They also like to dig and chase things around. Proper training can curb this behavior if started a puppy because they get bossy as they get older.
  • Be sure to train your pup as early as possible in order to have a happy and emotionally stable dog. Learn to channel their energy by taking them on walks or runs, going to the park, or playing fetch in the backyard.
  • This breed is thought to be a descendant of the Rough Coated Terrier, from Great Britain. Other ideas are that this terrier came from the Skye, Yorkshire, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers, though it is still unclear.
  • Australia decided in 1897 to recognize the Australian Terrier as their first native breed! They later spread to England and they began a kennel club for them in 1933. This breed first appeared at the Westminster Kennel Club showing in 1957.
  • Terriers have appeared on screen in Hollywood since the 1930s in films like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, and The Big Lebowski.
Breed History

In the 19th century, Great Britain took some terriers to Australia, then called Rough Coated Terriers, which were used to rid the harsh environment of snakes, rats, and other vermin. To develop the specific Australian Terrier breed, other breeds of terrier were used in what we know it to be today. Breeds such as the Cairn Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier and Irish Terriers were all used to make up the DNA of what we know to be the Australian version of the terrier.

In 1850, this breed was recognized officially by the the country of Australia and the first Australian Terrier was seen at a dog show in 1906 in the city of Melbourne. The American Kennel Club recognized this terrier in 1960, the UK recognized it in 1933 and the United Kennel Club followed up in 1970. As of 2017, this breed is recognized all over the world.


You won’t see this breed coming in big sizes, as they are meant to be short and thin. Most of this breed will be as tall as 10 or 11 inches and weigh between 14 and 16 pounds. Since these terriers are so active, it is easy to keep them exercised and healthy. While this terrier can eat a lot, it is rare that he will overeat, but he is not picky when it comes to food so be aware of giving him food scraps or leaving food out all the time.

Personality and Character

The Australian Terrier has a spunky, upbeat personality, and loves to have fun and be around family. They want to be the star of the show, getting all of the attention from everyone around. As long as your pup is not bored, he will not tend to tear up the house or your clothing, but they will follow you all around your house because they love to be in the middle of all the excitement, even if it is just taking the trash out!

Their ability to be super clever and on the hunt can land them in trouble! They have been known to chase the neighborhood cats around! They do like to be dominant so it is important to be careful with other pets in the house, especially males. But if trained properly, they will listen to their owner on command, as they are super smart, and would rather be around many people than be alone.

With their tendency to bark, they will alert you of any intruder or anything that is happening around your home. They do tend to bark a lot, but that behavior can be curbed as a puppy with excellent training. On the upside, they do not drool very much and are not vindictive at all!

Training your terrier should be a piece of cake! They are so smart, active, and ready to learn that they will take no time to sit, shake, come, and lie down. As puppies, it is the time to teach them tricks and if they are going to be in dog shows, they should learn agility step by step. Your Australian Terrier may be the next Westminster Dog Show winner!

Health and Potential Problems

While overall healthy and generally live long lives, up to 15 years, there are some health issues to look out for when getting this breed. Even with these health issues, this breed can live a full and happy life with their family.

  • Allergies: While very common in dogs and humans, this breed of terrier can have allergies. Suffering from food allergies can be avoided if they are eating a proper dog food. Check with the vet before you switch foods to make sure it will be helpful to your dog. Contact allergies could be from shampoos, powders and other chemicals in the house. Also, inhalant allergies can affect your dog because of pollen outside or dust and mildew. Medications can be helpful for their allergies but it is not life threatening.
  • Diabetes: Like humans, dogs can have diabetes, which is the body being unable to process sugars correctly. Check for the symptoms which include increased appetite, being really thirsty, and going to the bathroom a lot. A dog will live with diabetes for the rest of its life so it is important to get them on insulin shots and control what they eat.
  • Legg Perthes: This is a deformation of the hip joint ball and it will lessen the blood supply to the femur. The femur bone then will die and the dog will begin to show signs of arthritis and inflammation. Getting this disorder is either genetic or due to an injury and will require therapy and surgery to help the dog walk.
  • Patellar Luxation: This is a dislocation of the kneecap due to the knee joint sliding in and out of place. This will cause extreme pain which can be helped by a trip to your vet. Dogs will live normal lives with this but may be affected by the weather.
  • Seizures: Most dogs have seizures because of injury or some type of trauma, abnormalities in the brain, trouble with blood and organs, and being exposed to pollutants. While there is no cure, your dog can be helped with medication and possible surgery. It is also recommended they not swim, as they can have a seizure in the water and drown.
  • Ear Infections: It is very common for dogs to get infections or have odors in their ears. Checking the ears is a must during regular grooming. Causes include allergies, mites, yeast and other bacteria. Signs of an infection can include an odor, yellow or brown discharge, bleeding, scratching, and swelling. Regular cleaning can help prevent the infections, which is done by gently cleaning the dog’s ears with cotton swabs and using ear cleaner when needed. If an infection is apparent, see the vet and they will prescribe medication. If the issue is persistent, surgery will be needed.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is common among dogs, cats, humans, and other species. But if your pup gets diarrhea, make sure to keep them hydrated. Generally, something could be wrong if this lasts more than 24 hours. If diarrhea comes with vomiting, dark stool or fever, get your dog to a vet. Causes of this include Parvo, parasites, food problems, and stress, and many other types of infections or diseases. Pay attention to your dog’s symptoms in case their issue is more pressing.
Care Features

The main thing to know when you get your Australian Terrier is that it loves company! They do their best when they have a friend with them because if left alone, they will do whatever they want, including tearing up the house or your garden! Training them young can curb this, but they should be leashed or supervised because if left alone, you will soon see holes in your yard from all of the digging. Having a fenced in yard will work wonders so you won’t have to worry about your terrier running after squirrels or other animals.

Socializing is mandatory for all dogs, but for this terrier it is important because of their dominant attitude. Using training classes or being firm at home will help them learn what to do and not to do. They are smart so they don’t have to be taught the same thing for too long, as they will be ready for the next task quickly!

It is recommended to crate train this breed initially so they have a safe place to go when people come over or they are riding in the car. They need a source of safety and stability until they can navigate the world. Keep a stuffed toy, blanket or a shirt that smells like you in it so they will be relaxed.

Feeding Schedule

Some small dog breeds are picky about their food. This breed is not! They will eat nearly anything you give them, so it is important to keep them on a proper diet and not go overboard in giving them treats or human food. While they do not generally overeat, they do have big appetites. Since this dog is more active than others, they will require more food, which is normal. For daily feeding, your dog should have 1/2 to 1 full cup of dry food each day and plenty of water.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Since the Australian Terrier came from the breed Rough Coated Terrier, it is not a far stretch to think that they may have a rough coat. Their coat will take up two inches in length all over their body and you will see more hair on the head and chest areas. There are three colors that this breed comes in and they are blue and tan, sandy colored, and red.

They do not shed very much but should be groomed once per week to keep hair to a minimum. Bathing should occur every 3 months as they do not get very smelly nor does their coat need to be real soft, and their nails need to be trimmed monthly. Always check your dog’s ears for infections and dirt, wiping them out with a cotton swab. Sometimes this breed needs ear cleaner to prevent ear infections.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Of course, all small children should be supervised around pets, but this breed is perfect for families. Your Australian Terrier is playful and kind, and loves to be around other energetic people. As long as they are not alone, they won’t cause trouble, and will play with children with no issue. Having other pets in the home may be tricky as males can sometimes have fights over dominance. The same goes for having your dog outside, as they will chase animals like cats, squirrels, rabbits and mice all over the place. Always leash your dog at the park because they will run off to find other animals in a heartbeat.

In conclusion, the Australian Terrier would make a wonderful choice for a pet in your home. They can hunt down small critters which leaves little chance for mice to destroy your home. They love children and always have energy to play and go for walks! They want to be the center of attention all the time, which can be great if you teach them tricks and put them in dog shows! They are very adaptive and do well in most places, but they do better in fenced yards with people to play with and teach them things.

Australian Terriers are full of love and live to please their family. It is not uncommon for them to greet you at the door when you come home! So what are you waiting for? Go find your new best friend in the Australian Terrier!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.