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Australian Terrier

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The Australian Terrier is a small but fierce and spirited purebred, developed in Australia to be a companion and to hunt snakes and rodents. In the US this is a rare breed, less than 500 are registered each year, (compared to over 60, 000 Golden Retrievers). Today it does will at performing tricks, watchdog, agility and tracking.

The Australian Terrier at A Glance
Name Australian Terrier
Other names Aussie Terrier
Nicknames Aussie, Australian
Origin Australia
Average size Small
Average weight 9 to 14 pounds
Average height 9 to 11 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Harsh, rough, medium, wiry, water repellant
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Blue, red, tan
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 130th by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent – above average
Tolerance to heat Very good – can handle hot climates but not extreme
Tolerance to cold Good – can live in moderately cold climates but not too cold
Shedding Low – good for people who do want a lot of loose hair around the home
Drooling Low – not prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – could gain weight if allowed to overeat
Grooming/brushing Low to moderate maintenance but does need regular trips to a groomer
Barking Occasional – some barking should be expected but not constant
Exercise needs Quite active – fairly easy to meet its needs though due to its size
Trainability Moderate – experienced owners may find it easier, but new owners may find it hard
Friendliness Good but need socialization
Good first dog Good but best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good with socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate – socialization is needed as is supervision
Good with other pets Moderate to good, socialization needed as it has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Good but need socialization as is suspicious
Good apartment dog Excellent due to size – some bark more than others though and that might be a problem
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy though some issues include cancer, diabetes, patellar luxation and allergies
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic medical care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $495 a year for basic training, miscellaneous items, license, toys and grooming
Average annual expenses $1005 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $750
Rescue organizations Several including the Australian Terrier Rescue
Biting Statistics None Reported "
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The Australian Terrier Beginnings

The Australian Terrier was developed in Australia in the early 1800s using dogs brought over from Great Britain such as the Yorkshire Terrier, Irish Terrier, Cairn Terrier and some other terrier breeds. They wanted a dog that was fearless, hardy, able to handle harsh conditions and difficult terrain and hard working. At the time of its development, around 1820 it was called a Rough Coated Terrier. It was bred to be a companion dog as well as one good at hunting vermin like rats and snakes and was popular on the waterfront, at sheep stations and in gold mines.

It was one of the smallest working dogs and was also used was a watchdog and by shepherds. It was recognized by the Australian Kennel Club in 1850. It was the first dog breed recognized as an Australian developed dog, in 1868. It was in the late 19th century when its name was changed to the Australian Terrier.

New Lease on Life

The Australian Terrier was brought to England by British aristocracy and foreign service workers in the early 20th century. It was recognized in the UK by the Kennel Club in 1933. It then came to the US in the late 1940s and the Australian Terrier Club of America was started in 1957. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1960. Today it is ranked 130th in popularity by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Aussie is a small dog weighing 9 to 14 pounds and standing 9 to 11 inches tall. It has a medium length coat that is wiry, harsh, rough and water repellant. Common colors are red, blue and tan. The coat is shorter around the feet, lower legs, and muzzle but around the neck there is a longer ruff. On top of the skull is a topknot that is a lighter shade. It is a sturdy dog and has short legs and in places where it is still allowed the tail is docked. Its body is a bit longer than it is tall and it has a deep chest. Its feet are small and well padded and its dewclaws are usually removed. The nails are black and its toes are arched. Its head is long and it has v shaped ears, a back nose and dark eyes.

The Inner Australian Terrier


Aussies make a good watchdog as they will bark to let you know of someone approaching or if someone tries to break into your home. It is not an especially protective breed though so may not act to try and defend you. That is not to say that it scares easily, in fact it is a bold and courageous dog, spirited, curious, lively and very confident. It can be a good dog for new dog owners, though terriers in general can be tricky in terms of independence so it needs confident and firm owners able to stay in control.

It is not as demanding as some terriers can be and when well raised it is friendly, loyal, loving, energetic, social and sensible. It can be somewhat sensitive and it does not like being left alone for long periods, so needs a home where its owners are not at work all day long. It is an intelligent dog and is reserved with strangers but needs socialization or it can become suspicious. Some are more likely to be barkers than others. It is feisty, independent and stubborn and also mischievous, entertaining and playful.

It is very affectionate with its owners and will in fact it can get very attached and will be responsive to the moods you are in, follow you around the home, and gets sad when he is alone. It is a great companion dog and loves to have some snuggle time but also needs play, mental stimulation and physical activity to stay happy.


Living with a Australian Terrier

What will training look like?

In terms of training the Aussie is an intelligent dog very capable of learning basic training and then going further. However for the owner there can be difficulties with this breed if you do not have experience as it is stubborn and independent. Experience might take this from hard to moderately easy as long as you are firm, confident, in control and you stick by the rules. Some are more eager to please than others so this means some Aussies are going to be easier to train then others. It responds better to positive techniques like treats and praise than harshness or scoldings. There will be some frustrating times when it tries to make itself the boss but you will have to show them by being consistent, that you are the pack leader. Avoid making the training too long and repetitive as it gets bored easily, keep things interesting for it. Early socialization is also important to see it grow into the best and more trustworthy version of itself.

How active is the Australian Terrier?

Australian Terriers are fairly active, it will need some play time, some time off leash somewhere safe where it can run free, and a couple of walks a day that are both at least of moderate length. Its size means it is well suited to living in an apartment but some bark more than others and that frequent barking will certainly need to be controlled or it could be an issue for the neighbors. Remember this was bred to be a working dog so it will need things to do during the day to keep it stimulated and happy. Engage its mind with some challenging toys, daily training taking it beyond even basic training, and play time. Keep in mind that if there is a yard for it to play in it does like to dig, so an area for it to do so is a good idea. It also needs to have a yard that is well fenced as all terriers have amazing escape skills!

Caring for the Australian Terrier

Grooming needs

With a wiry coat like this there is a moderate to high amount of maintenance involved. It will need regular brushing to take care of debris, tangles and keep the coat looking healthy. If you want to maintain the texture and wiriness you should have it regularly stripped rather than clipped. It is low shedding so there is not a lot of hair around the home and it could be good for allergy sufferers though that is something that should be tested before you buy if it is a concern. Avoid bathing too often as that will dry out the natural oils in its skin.

Its nails should be clipped when they get too long if they are not worn down naturally. Use a proper dog nail clipper and make sure you are aware of where it is safe to cut. There are blood vessels and nerves in the lower part of the nail, should you nick that it will lead to bleeding and pain. If you are unsure have a vet show you how, or you could have a professional groomer do it for you. Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week and check its ears for infection signs and then wipe them clean once a week.


Feeding Time

It will need to eat about ½ to 1 cup of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. Thankfully the Aussie is not a fussy eater usually and while it enjoys its food it does not have a tendency to stuff itself. How much it eats can vary though depending on its weight, build, metabolism, level of activity and age.

How do they get on with children and other animals

In general the Australian Terrier is good with children especially with socialization and when raised with them. It will happily join in random games and bounce around and play together and run together and also it is affectionate towards them too. But it can be snappy and aggressive if teased, played with too roughly or hurt so it is not the best breed around young children, and that socialization is key. It has a high prey drive so when it spots a strange cat or other small animal its instincts will kick in to chase and hunt it down. It can be raised with other pets and learn to accept them in most cases. When around dogs of the same sex it will have more dominance issues, but even in general, this is a breed where socialization and supervision is key.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Australian Terrier should have a life span of 12 to 15 years. It is a fairly healthy dog but there are some issues that could come up such as cancer, diabetes, allergies, eye problems, ear infections, patellar luxation and Legg-Perthes.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dog attacks doing bodily harm against people over the last 30 years in Canada and the US there is no mention of the Australian Terrier as a dog responsible for any incidents. There are not any breeds that are completely safe, there is no breed that under difficult conditions, care or situations would not possibly react with aggression. Be sure you know what your Aussie needs in terms of care, exercise, attention, food, mental challenges, training and socialization. While these things will never make a dog 100% never going to have an off day, it can help lessen the odds.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Australian Terrier puppies cost about $750 but they are not easy to find in the US. Should you want one, you will likely have to join a waiting list, at least for dogs from reputable breeders. If you want a dog of show quality not just pet quality the cost is significantly more – up to several thousand dollars. If you do find one at a rescue or shelter it will cost less, $50 to $400 and medical needs will be taken care of. Places you should avoid are backyard breeder type ads, pet stores and puppy mills, and other breeders that do not seem worthy of your trust.


When you have found a dog you will need to take it a vet for some tests and care. It will need to be examined, given shots, dewormed, micro chipped, spayed or neutered and have blood tests done. This will cost about $260. It will also need some items like a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and such, and these will cost about $120.

Yearly costs are always something that you need to prepare for, a good owner must be able to afford to feed it, give health care when needed and have some items for it. Annual food costs for treats and a good quality dry dog food will be around $75. Annual miscellaneous costs like license, miscellaneous items, basic training, grooming and toys come to about $495. Annual medical care for basics like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance come to about $435. This gives a starting figure annual cost total of $1005.


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An Australian Terrier is a small but sturdy dog that could be a great companion as long as you are not looking for a compliant lap dog! While it will happily share affection with you on your lap at times, it will also need exercise and mental stimulation, and it will have an independent nature and fiestiness that can be funny but can also be frustrating sometimes. Be prepared for some extra effort with its coat and grooming too, and for a lot of digging in the yard! This bossy dog is not a best fit for everyone but if you are looking for dynamic little dog this could be a good fit for you.

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