Breed type: Terrier
Country of origin: Australia
Popular names: Aussie
Size: Small
Height: 24-27 cm
Weight: 5.5-7.5 kg
Best suited as: Companion dog
Lifespan: 10-12 years

The Australian Terrier, affectionately referred to as the Aussie, was the first breed of dog officially recognised as having originated in Australia.  One of the smallest terrier breeds, its original purpose was that of a vermin hunter, though it has since become more popular as a companion dog.  It is also a skilled watchdog, which increases its appeal as a family pet.

Full of curiosity and spunk, this breed possesses self-confidence and an unwavering loyalty towards its family.  Its Australian roots only add to the charm of the beloved Australian Terrier.

The Aussie’s petite stature is among its most notable characteristics.  Its body is visibly longer than it is tall, which is emphasised by its short legs.  This breed averages 24-27 cm in height and weighs between 5.5 and 7.5 kg.

In addition to its small size, the Australian Terrier is recognised by its coat, which is approximately 6 cm in length.  The fur, which is shorter on the muzzle, ears, tail, and lower legs, is seen in a wide variety of colours.  Acceptable colouring, according to the breed standard, is limited to rich shades of blue and tan.  Various shades of brown, red, and gray are common outside of the show dog circuit.

The ears of the Aussie are small and wide-set, standing upright in a triangular shape on either side of the dog’s head.  The thin, tapering tail of the Australian Terrier is naturally long.  Historically, the dog’s tail was docked, but this practice has ceased in many parts of the world, including Australia.

Dark brown or black eye colour is preferred in the Australian Terrier, though light-coloured eyes are not uncommon in those kept as pets.  The eyes of this breed, which are oval in shape, bear an intelligent, alert expression.

The Australian Terrier is thought to have originated in the 19th century in an effort to develop a breed skilled at fleshing out rats, snakes, and other vermin.  Another goal in the creation of this breed was to develop a dog that, in addition to its role as hunter, could also serve as a faithful companion and watch dog.

The ancestors of this breed are of British descent and include breeds like the Cairn Terrier, Irish Terrier, Skye Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier.  The Australian Terrier was first recognised as a breed in the late 1800s, with its first dog show appearance taking place just after the turn of the 20th century.

The Aussie was initially popular in working areas where vermin was a big issue, such as mines and locations near water.  It has since gained worldwide popularity and recognition as a companion dog of Australian descent.

The Australian Terrier is known for several personality traits including stubbornness, intelligence, and eagerness to please.  It is an alert, curious breed that rarely misses a beat.  For this reason, it takes great pleasure in being included in family activities.

As a breed with instinctive watchdog tendencies, the Australian Terrier will not hesitate to bark in an effort to alert its owner to people or animals approaching the home.  Though not naturally aggressive, the Aussie may initially be suspicious of strangers.  It can learn to accept the company of small animals if the dog is well-trained and the animals have been properly introduced, but its inherent prey drive may be hard to suppress.

Without proper leadership from its owner the Australian Terrier may exhibit negative personality traits such as aggression or territorial behaviour.  The dog’s suitability as a family pet is contingent upon the ability of its owner to lovingly establish rules and discipline.  Without these, the Aussie will assume a dominant role and view itself as higher in rank than its family.

Exercise is crucial to the well-being of this breed.  Though it will be content in a small living space such as a flat, daily walks or a safely-enclosed yard in which it can spend time is important.  It will also be happy playing with toys indoors.  The Aussie has a tendency to dig and bark, both of which should be taken into consideration before leaving the dog outside, even in a fenced yard.  This determined breed may also excel at agility or obedience exercises.

Care and Grooming
The Australian Terrier has a double coat that requires a moderate amount of grooming.  Its long, outer coat is naturally shaggy and coarse, while its undercoat is short and soft.  Despite the long length of its coat, shedding does not tend to be an issue with this breed.

Regular brushing will help reduce tangles, though more frequent care, such as hand-stripping, is necessary in show dogs.  It is recommended that bathing be kept to a minimum in order for the coat to retain its natural luster.

Hair around the eyes may require trimming, as it can impair the Aussie’s vision.  Hair around the ears is also kept short, which allows their triangular shape to be seen.

The longevity of this breed is dependent upon its lifestyle, environment, and overall health.  The average Aussie lives to be 10-12 years old.

Common health conditions that may impact the lifespan of the Australian Terrier are diabetes, epilepsy, allergies, and various types of cancer.  Less common problems include cataracts, luxating patella, or infections of the ear.

Sustainability as a Pet
Though originally bred to be a working terrier, the Aussie has an endearing sense of loyalty that cannot be ignored, which makes it a wonderful pet.  It thoroughly enjoys human companionship and will appreciate going for walks, playing fetch, napping, and even traveling with its owner.

If kept as a family dog, the Australian Terrier is likely to retain its hunting instinct when it comes to rodents and other vermin, which owners may appreciate.  Its proclivity for barking as people or animals approach the house adds to its value as a pet, though training may be necessary if these watchdog traits become excessive.

The Aussie should also be well-socialised, which will allow it to be in the company of nonthreatening people and animals without issue.  In comparison to other terriers, this breed tends to have a milder, more relaxed disposition.  Its main skills are that of a hunter and watchdog, but its endearing personality and devotion to its owner makes it an invaluable pet.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.