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Australian Terrier Breed Guide: Temperament, History, Care, & More!

australian terrier

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The Australian Terrier, or Aussie, is a feisty dog breed with irresistible charm. Its small body can hardly contain its large personality. This rough-coated Terrier isn’t afraid to make its opinions known! Aussies love to dig, excel at sports, and are well-suited to all sorts of lifestyles.


This guide has all the information you need on Australian Terriers. Whether you’re curious about training or merely wish to make your family one member bigger, HolistaPet has you covered. What are we waiting for? Let’s meet the Australian Terrier!



Australian Terrier Characteristics

The Australian Terrier is a small, medium-boned dog. Its double coat is rough, which is characteristic of many Terrier breeds. They may have tan markings on their face, ears, body, and legs.


Aussies share many features with other breeds in the Terrier Group. Their ancestors include the Yorkshire, Scottish, and Norwich Terrier. The life span of the Australian Terrier is 12-14 years.


Unlike the iconic Airedale or Irish Terrier, the Australian Terrier’s small stature and shaggy coat resemble the smaller dogs of the terrier family. You may mistake an Aussie for a Cairn or a Dandie Dinmont Terrier.


You can distinguish an Australian Terrier from similar-looking breeds by their hair. Dogs such as the Norwich Terrier generally have a tight-cut coat that hugs the body, while Yorkie’s hair is typically left long and flowing. Aussies sit right in the middle with medium-length hair on their body and a shortcut on their face.



Australian Terrier Size

The Australian Terrier is a small dog, though its body is long compared to its short height of 10-11 inches. Females grow about 10 inches tall, while males stand 11 inches tall. A dog’s height is measured from its front paws to the top of its shoulders.


Fully grown males weigh about 14 pounds. Adult females weigh somewhat less, though they can reach up to 14 pounds, too.


Even though this is a small breed, they are not as dainty as some might assume. These dogs were bred to withstand harsh environments and stressful situations. What the Australian Terrier lacks in height, it more than makes up for with its personality.



Australian Terrier Personality

Aussies served as watchdogs and ratters, like many other breeds in the Terrier Group (such as the Rat Terrier). “Terrier” comes from the French word of the same spelling, which means “to burrow.” The breed’s former ratting career made them courageous and eager to please.


As a working Terrier, the Aussie had to alert their owners to intruders. The modern Australian Terrier is still cautious of strangers, and they may bark at people they don’t know. Socialization is beneficial for this breed, especially for puppies.


Ratting is not a widespread occupation like it was in years past, but Aussies still have the knack for it. Australian Terriers would chase away rats, mice, and even badgers that would threaten livestock or crops. As a result, Terrier dog breeds still have a high energy level and an instinct to chase small animals.


This predatory instinct can make an Australian Terrier a tough pet to have in a household with other animals. If the dog is not properly socialized, it may be confrontational with a smaller breed. Regular mingling with dogs of all sizes is necessary to keep Terriers well-behaved.



blonde australian terrier in grass



Australian Terrier Exercise

The best way to care for any dog’s health is with routine exercise. Even though Australian Terriers have a high energy level, these small dogs are satisfied with 20-30 minutes of exercise daily. If a Terrier grows restless, their confrontational side could show itself.


Find a good schedule for you and your pet to go on walks, play in a fenced yard, or mingle in a dog park. Dog parks are excellent for socializing this occasionally stubborn breed. These activities will stimulate your Australian Terrier mentally and physically.


If gloomy weather or other circumstances keep you from getting outside, indoor playtime is a good substitute. But, house play should not be a dog’s only source of exercise. They should have a chance to run around outside at least three times a week. Proper exercise can keep your pet happy, reduce the risk of health conditions, and ensure your Aussie lives its best life: a long one!



Australian Terrier Training

Australian Terriers are very intelligent and will learn new commands quickly. Like with any dog, they respond best to positive reinforcement. Some breeders recommend training puppies as early as four weeks to ensure they form good behaviors.


Dog sports are an excellent way to teach an adult Australian Terrier commands. Training for canine athletics requires memorization, stamina control, and discipline from your dog. These activities channel their high energy and make training fun.


Agility Course

Agility events are obstacle courses that dogs must memorize. Due to the short height and strong work ethic of many Terrier breeds, Aussies can get good agility training just about anywhere. Find some space in your park, backyard, or even your living room to set up a homemade course.


Barn Hunt

Agility training is very stimulating, but you can also train your Australian Terrier while honing their instincts with barn hunting. Barn hunts recreate Terriers’ former jobs by requiring them to find rats in a barn. The Aussie is eager to please, so it will enjoy a sport that lets it shine!


A barn hunt is perfect for Aussies because it allows them to do what they’re best at. In barn hunt competitions, dogs sniff out rats that are protected from harm within a tube. To train your Australian Terrier for these events, you can create your own rat tubes for your dog to find.


If you don’t have a live rat, you can train your Australian Terrier to search for the tube rather than an animal. Hide a tube around your home or yard and keep a second tube nearby. Allow your Aussie to sniff the second tube if it gets distracted or loses the scent. Reward your dog each time it finds a tube.



Australian Terrier History

The Australian Terrier descended from rough-coated Terriers. This breed came to Australia from Great Britain in the early 19th century. Many Terrier breeds originated from these dogs. This is why the Aussie resembles the Cairn, Shorthaired Skye, and Dandie Dinmont Terrier.


The Aussie was originally called the Rough Coated Terrier due to its ancestry. The name changed to the Australian Terrier in 1892. The breed was recognized in Australia in 1850, and the first Australian Terrier Club was formed in the continent in 1887.


Aussies were bred as working Terriers, chasing rodents and snakes away from properties. As a ratter, these Terriers worked in remote areas of Australia.


In the early days of the breed, an Aussie spent all its life only knowing its owner. This tradition resulted in the fierce loyalty Aussie Terriers feel towards their families today.


These dogs started gaining recognition outside of Australia in the early 20th century. The UK Kennel Club accepted the Aussie in 1933, and the AKC followed suit and recognized them in 1960. Of course, the breed was placed in the Terrier Group.


The official kennel club for this breed in the United States, the Australian Terrier Club of America (ATCA), was established in 1957. The ATCA became an American Kennel Club (AKC) Member Club in 1977. Today, the ATCA has roughly 160 members.



Australian Terrier Health Problems

Accustomed to the harsh terrain of the Outback, Australian Terriers are hardy dogs that don’t suffer from many health issues. However, diabetes and a luxating patella are not uncommon in this breed. Though they are strong, being aware of these issues will keep your Aussie healthy and happy.


Luxating Patella

This condition, commonly called “slipping kneecaps,” causes your Australian Terrier’s patella to dislocate. General signs include limping, lameness, and a “bunny-hopping” walk. Patellar luxation is usually not painful for your dog, though it can cause discomfort in some cases. Surgery can correct the issue.


Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, or LCPD, is more common in miniature and toy breeds than larger dogs. Unfortunately, it also affects dogs in the Terrier group. LCPD causes the head of the femur to degrade, leading to hip collapse and arthritis.


Medical professionals are not sure what causes the disease. An affected dog will limp on one of their hind legs—it is rare for both hips to be affected. Limping, pain and lameness are all symptoms of LCPD. A vet can diagnose this disease through x-rays.


Mild cases of Legg-Calve-Perthes are treatable with physical therapy and pain medication. In instances of severe LCPD, surgery may be necessary.



Aussies are more likely to get diabetes than other dogs. This condition may occur from a lack of the antidiuretic hormone or abnormal blood sugar regulation.


Australian Terriers with diabetes lose weight while eating more than normal. The dog eats more because it tries to make up for the small amount of glucose in its body. It loses weight because its body is unable to use the food properly.


Symptoms include frequent urination, dehydration, increased appetite, and weight loss. You can manage diabetes with a healthy diet and controlled amounts of insulin. However, there is no cure.



Australian Terriers are prone to allergies. A food allergy could be the reason for your pet’s upset stomach. However, many things can cause poor digestion. Be sure you’re paying attention to all aspects of your dog’s life if they start having problems.


Itchy skin, repeated ear infections, and chronic vomiting or diarrhea are all symptoms of a food allergy. If you see your Australian Terrier itching or pawing at their ears, you may need to change their diet.


If symptoms persist after you introduce a new food, take your Australian Terrier to the veterinarian. The vet can prescribe a specific medication to your pet so they can eat their food without anyone having to see it a second time.



aussie with tongue out



How to Care for an Australian Terrier

Australian Terriers require the same basic attention, nutrition, and exercise any other dog breed needs. Establishing a routine for workouts, grooming, and feeding will keep your pooch in good health for years to come. As former working Terriers, Aussies will also enjoy socialization training.


When your dog is a puppy, this breed should be taught that strangers are not a threat. Walks and parks are a great way to desensitize your Australian Terrier to new situations and people. When you first take your pooch to the dog park, keep them leashed until they’re properly trained.


If your dog is still having trouble when they meet strangers, find a behavioral expert. These canine trainers work with dogs, either one-on-one or in a group setting. Quality CBD oil for dogs can also help keep your puppy calm when they’re confronting new people and experiences.



Nutrition and Feeding for an Australian Terrier

Every dog has its own nutritional needs. However, a general guideline for feeding your Australian Terrier is to give them 2-3% of their body weight in food each day. So, if the average adult weighs 14 pounds, they need roughly 0.35 pounds of high-quality dry dog food daily.


Your Aussie should eat food that mostly contains meat. Modern domesticated canines are descendants of meat-eating wolves. Even though they are omnivores, their digestive system still favors a carnivorous diet.


It is also important to find a dog food that is suitable for your pet’s age. Puppy food fits the nutritional needs of dogs that are still growing. It is higher in amino acids, which help tissue growth, and adult Aussies may not need these compounds.


Puppy kibble also has more nutrients and calories per bite than chow made for adults. These extra calories could result in overfeeding. Since the Australian Terrier is a small breed overfeeding can lead to obesity quickly.


Adult dog food maintains health rather than promotes growth. Keep in mind that a puppy should get 22.5% of its calories from protein. An adult only needs 18% of its calories to be protein-based.


All-stage dog food caters to the average nutritional requirements of a dog at any point in their life. Ask a veterinarian which type of food is best for your specific dog.



Coat Color And Grooming

This breed has a double coat that can be solid red or blue and tan. The Aussie’s double coat consists of an insulating coat underneath their scruffy outer coat.


You may be wondering why you’ve never seen a baby blue outer coat before. The “blue” in “blue and tan” refers to a silvery grey color rather than a sky or royal blue.


It’s best to brush this breed weekly. You must clip or strip their hair every 8-12 weeks. In the wintertime, your Australian Terrier will appreciate a little more length to their coats.


Check the dog’s ears weekly for infection. Signs of an infection include redness or a bad smell coming from the ear canal. When cleaning the canine’s ears, do not insert anything into the ear canal. Only clean the outer ear with a veterinarian-approved cleaning solution and cotton balls or gauze.


Every month, take some time to check your Australian Terrier for sores, rashes, fleas and ticks, or signs of infection. If you find any tenderness or inflammation, report it to a veterinarian. This will increase the chance you’ll catch potential health issues early.


For an amazing coat, skin, and bathing experience, try Holistapet’s shampoo for dogs.


Children And Other Pets

The Australian Terrier is an excellent family breed due to its long history of protecting its owners. However, years of serving as a guard dogs have resulted in a pooch that does not do well with other pets. Terrier breeds are spirited and protective, so they could nip, growl, or unintentionally frighten a child.


People with children or other small animals should separate their Australian Terrier from the rest of the house until they’ve gotten proper socialization training.


Just because this breed isn’t naturally inclined to share its family doesn’t mean they can’t learn. The best time to train any canine is when they are a puppy. Dogs are most influenced by teaching when they are between 3 and 12 weeks old.


Supervise any playtime with your Australian Terrier, whether they’re interacting with other pets or kids. Keep the dog on a leash as they get comfortable with the presence of the other animal or child. Pull back on the leash if their bodies become stiff, aggressive, or if they begin to growl.


After they show calm body language, let them sniff and examine the other individual. Try letting them off the leash, and end the playtime if things get rough. Once your pet knows how to behave around its family, try taking them to the dog park to practice their social skills further.



aussie puppy photoshoot



Rescue Groups

Ready to find your next best friend? If you buy an Australian Terrier from a breeder, choose one recommended by the official Aussie kennel club. Since there is a good deal of Terriers in need of a home, we recommend rescue and adoption.


The official rescue group for this breed is the Australian Terrier Rescue. They are a non-profit organization that takes care of Aussie Terriers that could no longer be cared for by their owners. The Australian Terrier Rescue’s goal is to ensure every Aussie has a warm and loving home.


Websites like Petfinder or Adopt a Pet can help you get in touch with people selling dogs. Their search filters allow you to find exactly the dog you want. Whether you’re looking for a puppy or a specific coat color or a pooch that’s already house trained, Petfinder and Adopt a Pet are the best places to start.


The American Kennel Club (AKC) can help you find an Aussie as well. The AKC has over 450 Rescue Network groups across the U.S. You can easily search their database and get a hold of a rescue group near you.



Breed Organizations

Breed organizations help dog breeds thrive. They connect dog owners, provide news and information, and host canine events. The Aussie’s official breed organization is the Australian Terrier Club of America (ATCA).


The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the largest of its kind in the world. Started in 1884, the AKC initially only consisted of 13 breed clubs. Today, the AKC heads over 5,000 clubs and recognizes 196 breeds.


Once you’ve got your Australian Terrier, consider registering them with the ATCA or the AKC. You can also choose to buy from a breeder registered with the ATCA. They ensure that every Aussie puppy is healthy and up to breed standards.



More About This Dog Breed

With a confident temperament, high energy level, and cuddly charm, the Australian Terrier is one of the most lovable breeds around. They adore curling up next to their owner almost as much as they love digging holes (don’t forget to check your backyard).


Play with some Aussie Terriers! Register your dog with a group like the American Kennel Club (AKC), and find out what makes this breed so special!

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