The AKC Standard calls him “spirited, alert, courageous, and self-confident, with the natural aggressiveness of a ratter and hedge hunter.”
Developed in Australia and one of the smallest working terriers, the Australian Terrier was first shown as the Australian Rough-Coated Terrier in 1868 in Melbourne, Australia. Officially recognized in 1933, the breed was probably created by crossing many terrier breeds including the Irish, Cairn Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, and the Skye Terriers. He was used for rodent and snake control, as a watchdog, and even as a shepherd and as a companion. The Australian Terrier was the first breed to be recognized as native to Australia in 1868. It was first recognized by the AKC in 1960. Some of the Australian Terrier’s talents are watchdog, tracking, agility and performing tricks.
The Australian Terrier is a small dog with short legs, weighing around 6.5 kilograms (14 lb) and standing about 25 centimetres (9.8 in) at the withers, with a medium length shaggy harsh double coat that is not normally trimmed. Fur is shorter on the muzzle, lower legs, and feet, and there is a ruff around the neck. The coat colours are shades of blue or red with a lighter coloured topknot, and with markings on face, ears, body and legs of a colour described in the breed standard as “tan, never sandy”. The tail was traditionally docked. As with most pet dog breeds, all proportions and aspects of the body and head as well as colours and markings are extensively described in the breed standard.
Aussies rank 34th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, being of above average “Working and Obedience” intelligence, indicating good trainability. As with other terriers, they can be dog-aggressive and somewhat bossy, and care must be taken when living in a multi-pet household. In general, adult male terriers do not get along well with other adult male dogs.Since the Australian Terrier was also bred for companionship, they tend to be very people friendly, and enjoy interacting with people.
If you like a pristine lawn or showplace garden, an Australian Terrier may not be the breed for you. Like all terriers, he loves to dig — it’s in his breeding — and if left unsupervised for too long, he’ll decide that tearing up the lawn is an ideal way to amuse himself.
The Aussie makes a wonderful family pet, well suited to families with kids. He loves to play but, like all dogs, should be properly socialized and supervised around very young children. He prefers to be with his people and can become destructive when left alone too long. He also has a penchant for chasing cats and small animals, so he isn’t best suited to homes with rabbits, mice, or hamsters. However, with patient training, the Aussie can be taught to respect and leave alone the animals he lives with — but only those he lives with. He will eagerly chase the neighbor’s cat or a squirrel at a park.