Breed Group: Terrier
Temperament and Behavior
The Australian Terrier is one of the least demanding terriers. But he is still a fearless, spunky little dog who enjoys being active both inside and out without the hyperactivity of some in his group. Highly adaptable, they have an attraction to children and the elderly making them reasonable family pets for those enjoy the Terrier attitude. However, they are not suited to living outside or spending long hours in a fenced yard alone. Needing only a modest amount of exercise, they are moderately affectionate house dogs that have a strong sensitivity and a great devotion to their household. Barking less than most dogs, an Australian Terrier is the quietest of all the Terriers. However, they watch strangers closely and quickly sound the alarm with a surprisingly deep voice when they feel they need. This makes them outstanding watchdogs. But their small size allows for them to provide no protection ability. With their terrier attitude, they are dog aggressive. Adult male terriers usually do not get along with other adult male dogs. They will chase any small animal without regard for cars, so a fenced yard is required for a romp off-leash. They are also born diggers. Upon seeing something living underground they will send dirt flying to reach it.
Physical CharacteristicsThey come in the colors of blue and tan, solid sandy, and solid red. Their harsh, straight outer coat is about 2½ inches long. Their undercoat is short and soft. This weatherproof double coat sheds little and keeps them comfortable year-round, even in cool temperatures many small dogs are unable to endure. Their coat should be brushed once a week. But bath them infrequently as regular shampooing can result in dry, flaky skin. With this modest grooming schedule, they shed very little. Australian Terriers measure 10 to 11 inches at the top of the shoulders and weigh approximately 14 to 16 pounds.
Trainer's NotesThese clever, crafty dogs should not be spoiled or they can become little tyrants who are aggressive towards all. An Australian Terrier needs a firm, consistent approach to define good behavior that prevents him from ruling the roost. They typically have a willful, stubborn terrier adolescent which is a trying experience not recommended for a novice dog owner. Intelligent little dogs, they are quick learners who bore easily with repetition. Short training sessions with plenty of motivation in the form of treats, toys, and praise keep them interested. They resist harsh training methods and severe corrections. A strong focus on socialization is a must to temper the dominant, dog-aggressive traits of the breed. Left without it, they can be threatened by new experiences and respond with fear aggression. Both a puppy training class and an introductory obedience class is recommended.
HealthThere are not many genetic health problems that affect Australian Terriers. They are a very sturdy, healthy dog, prone to long lives with relatively few health problems. Many live into their mid to late teens. There is a predisposition for diabetes and 7% have thyroid disorders, easily managed by a committed owner and veterinarian. Like many members of the terrier group, they are prone to allergies, particularly in warmer climates. And like many other small, active breeds, the Australian Terrier is effected by luxating patellas with just over 1 in 10 dogs affected. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is also rarely seen.
PopularityThe AKC ranks the Australian Terrier as the 113th most popular breed. Between 300 and 400 dogs are registered in a typical year. The Parent Breed Club Code of Ethics limits breeding sessions to two within an eighteen month period. As a result, there is often a waiting list for puppies.
Breed HistoryThe Australian Terrier was bred to be both helper and companion in the rough terrain of their native Australia. Native terriers known as rough-coated terriers had been in Tasmania since the 1800s. These dogs are believed to have been bred with a number of other British terrier breeds to produce the sturdy, weather resistant, little dog that people settling the country needed. These high-spirited dogs helped control rodents and snakes, sometimes tended sheep, and were a watchdog and a companion for their owner.
Additional InformationWriter Gore Vidal owned an Australian Terrier named “Rat” that was given to him by Paul Newman. Additional information about the breed is available from the AKC Parent Breed Club which is The Australian Terrier Club of America.
Is An Australian Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?
Three Mistakes Most People Make Looking For A Dog
Six Questions You Must Be Able To Answer Before You Can Find Your Best Dog
The Complete Dog Selection System