Physical appearance and personality traits of the Australian Terrier.

Choosing an Australian Terrier

The Australian terrier is one of the smallest terriers and is a good pet for the active family with older children. These dogs are rugged little dogs that love their families.

History and Origin

The Australian terrier originated in Australia as a dog used to control rodents at sheep stations, in mines and along the waterfront. They were also used to herd sheep and as a watchdog. It is thought that the Australian terrier was developed by breeding rough-coated terriers that came from England on sailing ships and local rough-coated terrier dogs. Other British breeds, such as the Skye terrier, cairn terrier and Yorkshire terrier were used and eventually the Australian terrier was born.

This breed was the first native Australian dog to be recognized and shown in that country. Consistent breeding over the years have resulted in a tough, fearless dog that does well in the city or country.

Popular in Australia, the breed was finally exported to England in the late 19th century and made it to the United States in the 1940s.

In 1960, the Australian terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the terrier group.

Appearance and Size

The Australian terrier is a short-legged, compact little dog. The head is long with small prick ears and small cat-like feet. The tail is docked and there is a soft and silky top knot between the ears.

The coat of the Australian terrier is straight and harsh, a little over 2 inches in length with some feathering of the legs and a ruff around the neck. The coat can be blue and tan, solid sandy or solid red.

The adult Australian terrier stands around 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 10 to 14 pounds.


The Australian terrier is an affectionate and playful little dog. They are generally loyal family companions, however, they can be hesitant around strangers. The Australian terrier is an active dog that enjoys chasing small quick animals such as rabbits or squirrels.

Home and Family Relations

The Australian terrier is a great dog for active families. They have a lot of energy and need to be kept active and mentally stimulated. The breed can do well with children if introduced to them at an early age. They can also do well with the elderly. This terrier is very protective of his family and will bark when strangers approach.

The Australian terrier can live happily in an apartment as long as he is taken on daily walks. This breed can live with other pets but is likely to chase any small creature, including family cats and may have some dominance issues with other dogs.


The Australian terrier is easy to train and can excel in obedience, tracking, agility and performing tricks. When compared to other terriers, the Australian terrier may be easier to train.

Special Concerns

The Australian terrier does not like to be left alone with nothing to do. They are intelligent dogs and need mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors. As with other terriers, this breed tends to dig and bark if bored. This dog should not be allowed to roam off leash since he may chase small quick little creatures.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Australian terrier is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. The most common are:

Medial patella luxation (MPL) is a condition in which the patella (knee-cap) no longer glides within its natural groove (sulcus) in the femur. Lameness can vary from an occasional hitch of the leg, like an intermittent skipping, to a persistent weight bearing lameness.

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.

In addition, the australian terrier is prone to allergies, atopic dermatitis, and otitis.

The average life span of the Australian terrier is about 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.