Australian Terrier Dog Breed


Pronunciation: [ Ah-strayl-yən tare-ee-ur ]

The Australian Terrier is a rough-coated, ever-vigilant and too-cute dog that is also one of the smallest Terrier breeds in the world. Despite their lapdog size, they are scrappy even as they are great little show dogs. They have weather-resistant coats that help protect them in tight spots when they are killing rats or hunting snakes.

Australian Terrier Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred11-14 yrs.9-11 in.12-16 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Bred as much for companionship as for ratting and other pest extermination, these dogs are not quite the best for first-time dog owners. Australian Terrier problems tend to come from neglect. They can live well enough in small apartments, but the smaller the home, the bigger the responsibility. These dogs need a great amount of attention and activity. The ideal home is a sprawling ranch.

Here are some Australian Terrier facts to help you understand if you really want to adopt one of these great little dogs:


  • Very sturdy
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Great guard dog
  • Few health issues
  • Doesn't shed much
  • Low grooming needs
  • Perfect for highly active people


  • Difficult to train
  • Extremely hyperactive
  • Needs a lot of exercise
  • Loud and frequent barking
  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Expensive to adopt and keep
  • Remarkably destructive if bored
  • Will chase cats and other creatures

Australian Terrier Breed Description

The Australian Terrier is a spunky little dog whose perky ears, adorable look and easy grooming will appeal to many people. On the other hand, they are independently minded dogs whose sharp bark and habit of chasing cats will be frustrating during puppyhood and training. If you are looking to adopt one of these cute little dogs, you'll first want to research as much Australian Terrier information as possible.

Like many Terriers, the Australian breed has an above-average intelligence. They are uncanny in their ability to take on frighteningly venomous snakes — and win. As a breed, they quickly learned how to outwit and outmaneuver rattlesnakes, allowing them to get behind them quicker than said serpents can twist.

The loyalty of the Australian Terrier is significant, but there will be times when it seems they just want to annoy you. These dogs are hyper-aware, ever-ready to bark and always looking for something significant to occupy their time. Be sure to reciprocate their loyalty by making them feel needed, or they will destroy your house or at least everything in it!

These dogs are accustomed to non-stop action, and the many and present dangers to which their breed was bred to guard against requires they be active pretty much all the time. They'll need a lot of daily exercise as well as things to do, agility toys to play with, and a lot of attention.

Australian Terrier Breed History

Australian Terrier history can be traced to 1820 when the development of the breed began in Tasmania, a large island south of Australia. These dogs were initially called Rough Coated Terriers. Although they have a kinship to the then-popular Scotch Dog that was popular in the region, the Australian Terrier ultimately came from cross-breeding a number of dog breeds. Among those used were the Cairn Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Irish Terrier, the Shorthaired Skye Terrier, and the Yorkshire Terrier. There may have been other breeds from Scotland used, namely the Manchester (previously called the Black-and-Tan), the Norwich, and the Scottish Terriers. By the 1850s, the Rough Coated Terrier was itself a popular breed in Tasmania.

Just as many Terrier breeds were known to produce this feisty little ratter and snake-catcher, so too did this breed have many names in the first few decades. Before a formal breed name was made, these dogs were informally called the "broken-coated terrier of blackish blue sheen." Some of the breed's early monikers were Blue and Tan Terrier and the Toy. Nearly a century later (in 1900), some people still called it the "Rough-Coated Terrier, Blue and Tan."

In 1896, the Rough Coated Terrier breed was re-named the Australian Terrier, and the breed standard was established too. It wasn't long before these dogs were being taken north to the "mainland," Australia. A 1906 dog show held in Melbourne was when this nearly century-old breed was first shown. Back in England, the dog was also being introduced to the dog show circuit. Still, it took a few decades before they were fully acknowledged. In 1933, The Kennel Club formally recognized the Australian Terrier.

In America, this hard-working little range dog took even longer to be understood, apparently. They were said to have first arrived around 1925. The American Kennel Club finally recognized the dogs in 1960. In 1970, the United Kennel Club followed suit.

Australian Terrier Coloring

Some dog clubs and societies recognize two basic color classes of this breed. One is the blue and yellow, which was originally recognized and is also called the blue and tan. The other is the sandy and red Australian Terrier, which was recognized later in the official breed standard in 1902, nearly a century after these dogs were first produced. It should be noted that these are only classes for dog show conformations, however, and not varieties.

These dogs can come in many colors. The AKC and most established kennel clubs only recognize the two basic color groups. As this dog comes from a great many Terrier breeds, however, it seems that every now and then an all-white or non-basic color occurs. Some grow to have a silver coat, and then there is the not-quite-rare black Australian Terrier.

Below is a list of all the Aussie Terrier colors that are known:

  • Red
  • Black
  • White
  • Sandy
  • Blue and tan
  • Black and red
  • Black and tan

Australian Terrier Size

When it comes to Australian Terrier size, both female and male stand the same: about 9 to 11 inches tall. There are some differences, however, between the average male and female weights. The mature female Australian Terrier weight is 12 to 14 pounds. The fully grown male is just a bit bigger and tips the scales at 14 to 16 pounds.

Average Adult Height

9-11 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

12-16 lbs

Australian Terrier Variations

There appear to be no acknowledged varieties of the Australia Terrier. There are the infrequent online ads that offer the occasional miniature Australian Terrier. Sadly, the photos tend to show a runt or a not entirely healthy dog. There may also be ads offering a short haired Australian Terrier. There are no such formally recognized dogs unless they've been crossed with another breed, or perhaps merely shaved. As for the wire haired Australian Terrier, all Aussie Terriers are wire-haired. When these dogs were first conceived in the early 19th century, the term "rough-haired" (which is the same as "wire-haired" in canine parlance) was part of this emergent breed's name.

The only variations of this breed might be recognized by coat color, and even then only in passing. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Aussie Terrier was classified under two basic colors at the Sydney Royal Dog Show. (This breed was also classified by weight, and that too is not seen as a variation.) Since those colors are not really types (or varieties) of the Australian Terrier, you can find out more about them under Coloring in this Appearances section.

Australian Terrier Temperament

The Australian Terrier temperament is said to be one of the most amenable of all Terriers. They were bred to be companions as well as ratters and vermin exterminators. While they are dogs whose focus on work is intense, they are not predisposed to being as aggressive as Terriers tend to be. They bond closely with their families, and they are much less impolite. Still, they are Terriers, so they can get somewhat easily irritated and openly exhibit this displeasure. They will be stand-offish with strangers, and children may not be pleased by their personality failing to include playfulness.

They won't hesitate to alert you to anything that is new, moving or remotely threatening. They tend to be fearless too. They live in a land where more poisonous animals per acre are found than anywhere else in the world, and one of the characteristics of these dogs is to kill those venomous creatures.

Living Requirements

Don't be fooled by the Australian Terrier's cuteness. They demand and require a lot of responsibility despite being so small and adorable, and they are quick to develop separation anxiety if left alone.

For all their bounciness, these dogs are fine for apartment living, so long as you reserve a fair amount of time every day to walk and exercise them outside. They are better off on ranches and farms, however, where they are allowed to run freely, kill rodents and tire themselves daily out even as they keep the house in sight.

Despite the rough coat of seemingly broken hair, these dogs are not only hypoallergenic but are easy to groom. They are one of "wash n wear" breeds whose hair is predisposed to repelling dirt and debris. Even if they do get real muddy and dirty, they are easy to wash, and they don't shed much.

Australian Terrier Health

Because they have a couple centuries of living on the harsh outback and desert environs of Australia and Tasmania, this is a pretty healthy breed. The best of the selected breeds were used to produce these when men first crossbred the various Terriers. Nature also got rid of those dogs that were not fast, strong or healthy enough to endure the Australian outback.

Still, there are some health problems that occur. Some are typical among small dogs, and some occur because of the inbreeding needed to stabilize a breed.

Below is a list of most of the concerns that may affect an Australian Terrier:

  • Diabetes
  • Allergies
  • Patellar luxation
  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

The average lifespan for the Aussie Terrier is 11 to 14 years.