The Australian Terrier is a small breed within the Terrier group, originating in Australia. The breed was developed in the mid-1800s as a ratter, through the mixing of several breeds like the Cairn, the Yorkshire, the Skye and the Dandie Dinmont. It was bred to suit many tasks, like pest control (rodents or snakes), as well as shepherding, guarding and as a companion pet.
A cheeky, inquisitive and excitable breed, they are an excellent companion dog and can suit a number of roles and tasks. They stand around 25 centimetres tall fully-grown, and have a short, rough-haired coat. Top coat is wiry with a softer undercoat. Colouring can be blue and tan, sandy and rust.
It is a hardy breed, with few genetic defects, and a life expectancy of about 15 years. Litter size is usually four to five.
Temperament and Hygiene
This Terrier is bright, alert and active. Can be aggressive towards other dogs and can be bossy. It can display the same problematic behaviour that other terrier breeds exhibit, however is generally quite hard wearing and less snappy and yappy.
May not get on well with dogs of the same gender, especially adult male Terriers to other adult male dogs.
Hygiene is low, consisting of a weekly brush, with a small amount of trimming required around eyes and ears occasionally. Nail clipping should also occur regularly depending on the pet’s activities.
As a Pet
While it is a breed that’s suited for a smaller home, there are some factors to consider. The Australian Terrier requires a great deal of mental stimulation and physical activity to be properly exercised, and it may still embark on some troublesome behaviour anyway (like digging holes and barking). As they are independent and stubborn, training and reinforcement can be quite a challenge. Strong fences and solid leash control are required to contain this energetic, inquisitive and impulsive breed. With regards to the Terrier’s chase instinct, they especially need to be watched where there are other pets to consider - smaller pets like guinea pigs, cats or rabbits will be ideal game. The breed also does not suffer well to physical intrusion or clumsiness, so a small, inquisitive child may be nipped if he or she does not treat the animal with care.
Due to an enthusiastic, alert and active nature, this breed can be trained well, but care must be taken to reinforce and remain constant with control. An owner who is willing to step into the role as pack leader and to keep the Terrier within consistent boundaries will be beneficial to the animal and create a harmonious relationship. Poor discipline and training on the owner’s part can lead to the animal following its own rules and ideas, and can lead to other issues such as human-induced behaviour problems and Small Dog Syndrome. The Terrier, while not as yappy as other terriers, can still bark a great deal, especially out of boredom, if the owner has not taken steps to avoid this. This dog also benefits greatly from a great deal of socialisation as a younger animal.
The Terrier would suit a young family with a small backyard – the breed is not big enough to knock kids down, and they love to be interactive with a playing group of children. Even a smaller home would suit if given enough leashed walks. ‘Leashed’ is the golden word here - taking the Australian Terrier off the leash at a dog park is not recommended unless you have brought your running shoes!