Australian Terrier

"The Original Aussie"

Photo of Australian Terrier


One of just two terriers that don't come from Great Britain (the Schnauzer is the other), the Australian Terrier has gone by many names in the past: Blue and Tan Terrier, Blue Terrier, and for the longest time, Rough Coated Terrier. Not that the Aussie noticed, as he busily dispatched vermin and snakes in his native Tasmania. These small, rough-coated terriers may or may not have jumped ship while traveling to Australia from other countries (they made good ratters on ships). Perfect for controlling the rodent population and warning early settlers of encroaching humans or wildlife, the Aussie soon proved an invaluable housemate. Some even helped to herd sheep. Throughout its development, the Australian Terrier sometimes mixed it up with other British Terriers, including the now-extinct Scotch Terrier (not the Scottie), and some of the dogs that later became the Yorkie, the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and probably a few others - nobody knows for sure. In 1887, the Australian Terrier Club formed in Australia and by the 1940s, Australian Terriers were being exported to America. In 1957, the Australian Terrier Club of America formed, and by 1960, the AKC officially recognized the Australian Terrier. Because the Australian Terrier remains relatively rare, he is frequently mistaken for other more popular breeds like Yorkies and Cairn Terriers. Today, the Aussie is the 113th most popular breed in the U.S.


Happy, sunny, and feisty as all get-out, the Australian Terrier knows he has serious work to do: chase anything that moves, bark at anything that approaches, and keep you in stitches. A fun and friendly companion for people, the Aussie can get scrappy with other dogs, especially of the same sex. Male-female pairings work best, but the Aussie would rather be on your lap or at your side than hang with mere dogs. He will chase small animals, so don't let him babysit the hamster or expect him to ignore backyard wildlife. Because of his strong hunting instinct, the Aussie must be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard, but he'll need to live inside most of the time, where he can be your constant, somewhat vocal, always amusing companion.


Sturdy and small at just 10 to 11 inches tall and about 12 to 14 pounds, the Australian Terrier has a long body, short legs, and a long strong muzzle with big teeth for vermin hunting. With small, pointed, erect ears over bright, intelligent eyes, the Aussie has a harsh, straight outer coat and a short, soft undercoat with a thick ruff of hair around the neck and slightly feathered forelegs. Australian Terriers may come in three colors: blue and tan, sandy, or red.


Fetch? O.K. Fetch again? So five-minutes-ago. The Australian Terrier learns quickly but finds drilling interminably boring, so keep training fresh, fun, positive, and full of exciting rewards. It's the best way to get results from the sensitive Australian Terrier, who can be maddeningly stubborn now and then, but won't respond well to harsh treatment, anger, or punishment. Several short daily training sessions work best.

Grooming & Care

Aussies have that rough-and-ready look, and they really don't take much grooming at all to stay looking true to form. Brush the wiry coat about a once a week, and pluck out long stray hairs with your fingers, especially around the eyes and ears, to keep these harsh wiry hairs from irritating the sensitive Aussie. You or a professional groomer can trim neatly around the feet and tail, give the Aussie a bath every month or two, and trim nails. Brush those big teeth every day or two, and that's about it. Otherwise, give the Aussie plenty of daily exercise in safely contained areas, along with lots and lots of love.

Health Concerns

Generally healthy little terriers, Australian Terriers can be prone to diabetes, thyroid disorders, and epilepsy. Like many small dogs, they can also be prone to luxating patellas (kneecaps slipping out of place), and Legg-Calve Perthes disease (a degenerative hip disease). Ask your breeder and veterinarian about these issues.

Famous Australian Terrier

Ch. Benayr I Believe in Love Alfie, 2007 Westminster Kennel Club Best Australian Terrier

Ideal Owner
Activity Level Active
Schedule Full-time but comes home for lunch
Personal Style Easygoing and casual, Playful
Training Style Consistent, Firm, Patient, Creative and fun
Home Anything goes with enough exercise
Children Gentle and respectful kids
Experience Not necessary
Quick Facts
Size Small
Grooming Brush a few times a week
Exercise Moderate - needs to walk or play every day
Training Learns well but bores easily
Temperment Enthusiastic, Alert
Challenges Barks a lot; will chase small animals
Height 10 to 11 inches
Weight 14 to 18 pounds
Life 12 to 14 years
Home Alone Fine with lots of exercise first
With Kids Fine with older kids
With Strangers Reserved
Availability Rare and may have a waiting list

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