5 Things to Know About Australian Terriers

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Terrier
  • Height: 9–11 inches
  • Weight: 9–14 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years or longer

The Australian Terrier is one of the smaller dogs in the terrier group. The dogs have short legs and a long head. The ears are erect and pointed in a V-shape, the small eyes are dark brown or black and the nose is black.

The tail is set high and erect and may be docked for working terriers (tail docking is outlawed in many countries in Europe, with the exception of working dogs).

The Australian Terrier’s feet are small and similar to those of a cat with black nails. The weatherproof double-coat features a harsh, coarse outer coat and a soft and short undercoat. Coat colors include blue and tan, sandy and red, and may include black points or markings.

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2. Where They Came From

The Australian Terrier first appeared at a dog show in Melbourne in 1868. The dog was shown as an Australian Rough-Coated Terrier. Breeds believed to be responsible for the Australian Terrier’s development include:

The dogs were recognized in England in 1933. Shortly after, they appeared in the United States in the late 1940s. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1960.

Australian Terriers are one of the smallest dogs in the AKC’s Terrier Group. By: ljguitar (Top: Mikkel Bigandt)

3. How Friendly Are They?

These dogs are tough and have great confidence. They are energetic and active, yet loyal to their family members and curious. They have superior senses of sight and hearing, making them excellent watch dogs.

They are easy to train but can be prone to excessive barking; they must be trained to know when enough barking is sufficient. They can also be trained to perform many tricks.

They get along with other dogs and cats, but because of their prey drive, they may give chase to smaller animals. They love children, travel well and adapt easily to new situations and environments.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

MEDIUM: Australian Terriers need a daily walk and/or play to expel energy. They should be exercised in a safe or enclosed area because of their instinctive desire to chase small prey.

They are a good fit for apartment living because they are also active indoors. They are also adaptable to various different climates, making them an all-purpose and all-weather breed.

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Grooming Needs

MEDIUM: The coat sheds little hair and is easy to groom. The coat should be brushed several times per week, although daily brushing would be ideal. These dogs should only be bathed when necessary and no more than once a month.

The coat may need to be trimmed around the eyes, and the coat should be either stripped by a groomer or hand-plucked as needed. Regular pet maintenance includes trimming the nails, cleaning the ears and brushing the teeth.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Although considered a healthy breed and not prone to health problems, Australian Terriers have been known to commonly have a few issues to be aware of, including:

  • Luxating patella
  • Legg-Perthes disease (hip joint malformation)
  • Diabetes
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Skin allergies
  • Digestive problems

In this video, Ruby the Australian Terrier showcases her many tricks:

5. Where to Adopt One

While you might be able to find an Australian Terrier in a shelter, they are also available through rescue organizations. Start with our dog search or check with local shelters and rescues for a dog near you.

If you call a breeder, make sure they are not running a puppy mill by being on the lookout for red flags.

Additional Resources

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