The Australian Terrier

descriptive textDog breed info
Australian Terrier
Weight: 12 — 14 lbs
Height: 10” — 11”
AKC Rank 2008 #111
Lifespan: 12—14 yrs
Group: Terrier
Origin: Australia

Dog Breed Info - Australian Terrier

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Breed Overview

Origin 1900;s. Original function: Killing small vermin. Today: Earthdog trials, companion.
Colors: Blue and tan, Solid sandy, Solid red.

The Aussie is the national terrier of Australia. The breed started in Tasmania from various European breeds and shared a background with the Silky terrier. In Tasmania the Rough Coated Terrier was an all purpose terrier controlling livestock and killing rodents and acting as watchdogs. The Skye, Dandie Dinmont, Scotch, Yorkie and Manchester Terriers were a pleasant mix that made up the Australian Terrier. This resulted in a useful and good looking dog. The first of the breed was shown in the 1800’’s as a Broken-Coated Terrier with a blackish-blue sheen. Then in 1900 the Rough-Coated and the blue and tan and sandy and red were also discovered in the group. By 1925 the Aussie’s had arrived in America and in 1960 the AKC registered the breed.


Yes. Most are quite trainable as a rule. Always eager to please but you must be firm and not harsh. Use a dominate tone of voice, as this breed tends to want to lead the pack. and go her way. Use clicker training and good old positive reinforcement training and your Australian Terrier will learn anything you teach.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Australian Terrier? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

With a little effort, Australian Terrier puppies are easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


This breed is a rough and tumble, active, bouncy, lively little bundle of courage and joy that is loyal to family, full of energy, a great watchdog and generally all ‘round house pet rolled up in one 12 pound package. She is fairly easy to obedience train and if started young, is good with children of most ages. The kids needs to be taught how to behave around dogs though. The Aussie, as this dog is sometimes referred to, is always looking for a juicy rodent to chase.

A super choice canine pet for an active, on-the-go family that likes to travel, hike, camp or party in the backyard. The Australian Terrier is a bundle of energy that wants to be in the middle of everything the family does, including the car trips, campgrounds and backyard picnics.

The Aussie is a fun-loving, adventurous dog that must have adequate mental and physical exercise daily or will become antsy and bark, dig and tear things up a bit. That said, this is one of the most obedient and quiet of all the terriers and does fairly well with other house pets but is known to chase cats and small objects that move and look like rodents. The Australian Terrier MUST know she is NOT the dominate figure in the house. As a good watchdog, it is wary of strangers.

If you happen to get an Australian Terrier with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Does amazingly well with other dogs. She may pick and choose her dog friends but usually she will accept other house and neighboring dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Surprisingly accepting of household pets but may try to chase cats around. Rodent-looking pets are a NO. Introduce to cats very slowly and keep watch over the situation closely. The Australian Terrier can coexist with a cat but it may take time.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Wary and standoffish with strangers, The Aussie is not always sure whether to embrace the stranger or not. This makes her a good watchdog.


Yes, quite playful little dog. Loves too run and romp. Perky and active.


Moderately affectionate. The Aussie may not be a true couch potato, but she will cuddle after the chores are done.

Good with children

Yes, fairly good with kids. Children must be taught manners around a dog and the Australian Terrier is no exception. They are tolerant, but to a point. Very small kids need to be supervised so no fur-pulling or ear-pulling takes place. It’s best if the dog is raised with the kids and the children must be taught to maintain a superior, ”alpha” dominance over the dog when playing., lest the Aussie takeover.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Australian Terrier is a good match for seniors. Exercise needs are not extreme and the dog is affectionate and playful enough to satisfy a senior. The Aussie is loyal and protective and a great little companion so it would work for seniors. This is a fun dog to own.

Living environment

Apartment, condo, farm, ranch all okay.

If in a house, a doggie door would be good and a medium size fenced backyard would allow the dog to chase balls and play games of fetch.


Energy level

Moderate energy. Give this dog 6 bars out of 10.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. A good walk or a brisk game or two of fetch with a ball plus the walk would be fine. The Australian Terrier needs something to do all day and should be provided with chew toys like rawhide or a Kong filled with goodies. Maybe even some moderate jogging with you would be good. Just keep in mind she’s got little short legs.


Yes, Excellent watchdog. Loves to bark anyway, so any excuse is a good one.

Guard dog

No. Maybe a bit to small to kill an intruder. She IS protective of family though.


No. Very little at most.


Has a wiry coat. Needs combing or brushing twice a week to keep looking nice. The coat can be shaped, especially around the feet, with scissors, about 3 or 4 times a year.
Get a metal comb or a stiff bristle brush from your pet store.



Suggested Reading For - Australian Terrier
Click on the cover photo for more book information and editor reviews.

  • 2nd book from left - "A Dog Who's Always Welcome. How to train your dog far beyond normal obedience as the therapy dogs are trained. You'll be able to take your little dog anywhere, anytime and he'll be the perfect angel with people.

  • 3rd book from left. 101 tricks to teach your dog. Great mental stimulation and keeps the dog busy. There are things for a dog to do I had never thought of!

  • Book on far right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog illness, emergencies and injuries. It's as valuable reference manual for all dog owners.

Australian Terrier Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Australian Terrier puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training.
Australian Terrier Breeders with puppies for sale. If necessary, go online and search for Australian Terrier Breeders or clubs.

Australian Terrier Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older and are looking for an Australian Terrier Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Australian Terrier Rescue When you adopt, try to locate any previous dog health papers on your new pup.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas.

Dog Health Issues For The Australian Terrier
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Aussie by various vets.

The Aussie is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture—A ruptured Cranial Cruciate ligament affects the hind leg and is very painful. It will prevent the dog from walking or placing any weight on his rear end. At Best, the Aussie will limp severely. Lameness will happen immediately after the injury but should subside in several weeks, only to return later. A FEW symptoms include the sound of bones rubbing together, decreased range of leg motion, rear leg extended when sitting, resists exercise, movement or mobility.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Legg-Perthes—A disease of the hip joint in young dogs. It is a deforming of the head of the femur head where it fits into the pelvic socket and is generally noticed at around 6 to 8 months age. The disease affects small and toy breeds and can range from mildly debilitating to totally debilitating. It’s very painful and the Australian Terrier will have a lame leg at the affected hip. Pain can become severe in some dogs and the dog will go from occasional limping to continuous carrying of the leg. Severe muscle atrophy can set in with the appearance of shortening of the affected leg. Restricted joint movement is also a common sign of Legg-Perthes. Surgery will usually restore a dog to a fairly normal life but prevention at the breeding stage is the right solution.

  • Otitis externa—Ear infections—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

  • Diabetes—The pancreas manufactures the hormone INSULIN. If the pancreas stops making, or makes less than the normal amount of insulin, or if the tissues in the body become resistant to the insulin, the result is called “diabetes.” The dog can NOT control her blood sugar without injections of insulin on a regular basis, but given the insulin, the Australian Terrier can live a normal life like a human can. If the dog does not receive the insulin injections at the same time each day of her life, the dog will go into a coma and she will die. Some causes of diabetes may be chronic pancreatitis, heredity, obesity or old age, but no one is sure. Symptoms are excess drinking and urination, dehydration, weight loss, increased appetite, weight gain, and cataracts may develop suddenly. Treatment is in the form of the insulin injections daily and a strict diet low in carbohydrates and sugars. Home cooking may be suggested in some cases. Frequent trips to the vet for blood monitoring will be needed but diabetes is not a death sentence.

  • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The Australian Terrier may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

  • Seizures - A serious disorder that appears at around the age of 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in the dog.

Other health problems could occur with your Australian Terrier. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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