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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Courageous, Spirited
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 136 of 192
  • Height: 10-11 inches
  • Weight: 15-20 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11-15 years
  • Group: Terrier Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Australian Terrier standing in three-quarter view, head facing forward
Australian Terrier head facing left
Australian Terrier sitting, three-quarter view
Australian Terrier coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

A small, sturdy, medium-boned working terrier, rather long in proportion to height with pricked ears and docked tail. Blue and tan, solid sandy or solid red in color, with harsh-textured outer coat, a distinctive ruff and apron, and a soft, silky topknot. As befits their heritage as versatile workers, Australian Terriers are sound and free moving with good reach and drive. Their expression keen and intelligent; their manner spirited and self-assured.

HEAD

The head is long and strong. The length of the muzzle is equal to the length of the skull. Expression – Keen and intelligent. Eyes – Small, dark brown to black (the darker the better), keen in expression, set well apart. Rims are black, oval in shape. Faults – Light-colored or protruding eyes. Ears – Small, erect and pointed; set high on the skull yet well apart, carried erect without any tendency to flare obliquely off the skull. Skull – Viewed from the front or side is long and flat, slightly longer than it is wide and full between the eyes, with slight but definite stop. Muzzle – Strong and powerful with slight fill under the eyes. The jaws are powerful. Nose – Black. A desirable breed characteristic is an inverted V-shaped area free of hair extending from the nose up the bridge of the muzzle, varying in length in the mature dog. Lips – Tight and dark brown- or black-rimmed. Bite – Scissors with teeth of good size.

BODY

Neck – Long, slightly arched and strong, blending smoothly into well laid back shoulders. Topline – Level and firm. Body – The body is of sturdy structure with ribs well-sprung but not rounded, forming a chest reaching slightly below the elbows with a distinct keel. The loin is strong and fairly short with slight tuck-up. Faults – Cobbiness, too long in loin. Tail – Set on high and carried erect at a twelve to one o’clock position, docked in balance with the overall dog leaving slightly less than one half, a good hand-hold when mature.

LEGS

Forequarters: Shoulders – Long blades, well laid back with only slight space between the shoulder blades at the withers. The length of the upper arm is comparable to the length of the shoulder blade. The angle between the shoulder and the upper arm is 90 degrees. Faults – Straight, loose and loaded shoulders. Elbows – Close to the chest. Forelegs – Straight, parallel when viewed from the front; the bone is round and medium in size. They should be set well under the body, with definite body overhang (keel) before them when viewed from the side. Pasterns – Strong, with only slight slope. Fault – Down on pasterns. Dewclaws – Removed. Feet – Small, clean, catlike; toes arched and compact, nicely padded turning neither inward nor outward. Nails – Short, black and strong.

COAT

Outer Coat – Harsh and straight; 2½ inches all over the body except the tail, pasterns, rear legs from the hocks down, and the feet which are kept free of long hair. Hair on the ears is kept very short. Undercoat – Short and soft. Furnishings – Softer than body coat. The neck is well furnished with hair, which forms a protective ruff blending into the apron. The forelegs are slightly feathered to the pasterns. Topknot – Covering only the top of the skull; of finer and softer texture than the rest of the coat.

HINDQUARTERS

Strong; legs well angulated at the stifles and hocks, short and perpendicular from the hocks to the ground. Upper and lower thighs are well muscled. Viewed from behind the rear legs are straight from the hip joints to the ground and in the same plane as the forelegs. Faults -Lack of muscular development or excessive muscularity. Feet-(See under Forequarters.)

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australian terrier illustration

About the Australian Terrier

Australian Terriers are small but sturdy, self-confident terriers known for a longish torso, distinctive coat furnishings around the neck and forequarters, and a topknot of soft, silky hair that contrasts in texture with an otherwise harsh coat. A long neck lends a dash of elegance to this rough-and-ready terrier, and the dark eyes sparkle with a keen intelligence. Coat colors are blue-and-tan, or solid red or sandy. Aussies move with the free and easy gait of a working dog. They are alert watchdogs and said to be quick studies when training. True terriers, Aussies love digging, and the urge to chase small, furry critters has never left them. Not always a great fit in multi-dog households, Aussies want you all to themselves.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Australian Terrier

Find a Puppy: Australian Terrier

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Find Australian Terrier Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Australian Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Australian Terrier’s harsh, weatherproof, double coat does a good job of repelling dirt and mud, and is very easy to maintain. A quick brushing once a week is usually enough to keep it in fine shape. The long hairs that grow in front of and between the eyes can irritate the eyes if left unchecked; fortunately, they are easily plucked out with tweezers or fingers. An Aussie should have a bath only when needed. Shampooing softens the harsh coat, rendering its dirt-shedding capability ineffective, and too much bathing can also make the Aussie’s skin dry and flaky. As with all breeds, the Aussie‘s nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Infrequent

EXERCISE

Terriers in general have a high energy level, and the Aussie is no exception. The breed is very active and requires regular exercise to keep from becoming bored and unhappy. Boredom leads to undesirable behavior. Daily play sessions, indoors or out, will keep an Aussie happy and well adjusted. However, these sessions must take place is a securely fenced yard, and when on walks or hikes, an Aussie must be on a leash. Aussies should never run loose—their instinct to hunt is very strong, and they might not be able to resist running off to chase a cat or squirrel, and might pursue their prey so far from home that they can’t find their way back.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Aussies, like many terriers, benefit greatly from  puppy training classes and introductory obedience with treats, toys, or praise. Aussies are easily bored with routine, so training sessions will be short, whether the owner wants them to be or not. They are also willful and stubborn, so a firm, consistent approach is necessary. Even with training, though, an Aussie can be reluctant to share toys or human attention, and two males may not be able to share a household.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

In general, the Aussie is a sturdy breed with few health problems. A responsible breeder will test breeding stock for health conditions such as luxating patella (a dislocated kneecap called a “trick knee” in humans) and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a malformation of the hip joint that manifests early and can be corrected with surgery. Some dogs can develop itchy skin conditions, and flea control is essential. As with all breeds, the ears should be checked regularly, and the teeth should be brushed often.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Australian Terrier
Australian Terrier
Australian Terrier
Australian Terrier
Australian Terrier
Australian Terrier
Australian Terrier

History

Among the touches of home that 19th-century British settlers brought to Australia were several breeds of working terrier. The Aussie is said to be the result of interbreeding such British mainstays as the Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, Norwich, Scottie, Skye, and Yorkshire terriers—and a practiced eye can spot aspects of these and other terriers in the Aussie makeup. Aussies were bred to be fearless, all-purpose exterminators, working on small mammals and snakes. (A breed historian says that the Aussie employed a “leap-twist-and-pounce” approach to snake killing.)

Life in the remote regions of Australia with little company forged a tight bond between Aussies and their people. These tough little frontier dogs, among the smallest of the working terriers, proved to be cuddly, eternally devoted pets when the day’s work was done.

To this day, outgoing Aussies are people-oriented companions who don’t do well when neglected—they practically demand to be part of the family.

The Australian Terrier can make a fair claim to being “Australia’s Dog.” It was the first native breed to be officially recognized in its homeland, and the first Australian breed to be recognized in other countries. The first club devoted to the breed was founded in Melbourne in 1887, a breed standard was devised, and imports to America and Britain began soon after. The Kennel Club (England) granted the Aussie breed status in 1933, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1960.

Did You Know?

The Australian Terrier, one of the smallest of the working terriers, was bred to be both a helper and companion in rough times and terrain.
The Australian Terrier has an affinity for children, the elderly, and the handicapped.
The Australian Terrier was the first Australian breed to be recognized and shown in its native land.
The Australian Terrier was admitted to the AKC registry in 1960, the first terrier addition in 24 years and the 114th breed entered into the AKC stud book.
The Australian Terrier is adaptable to most climates.
Australian Terriers were introduced to the U.S. in the late 1940's.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

A small, sturdy, medium-boned working terrier, rather long in proportion to height with pricked ears and docked tail. Blue and tan, solid sandy or solid red in color, with harsh-textured outer coat, a distinctive ruff and apron, and a soft, silky topknot. As befits their heritage as versatile workers, Australian Terriers are sound and free moving with good reach and drive. Their expression keen and intelligent; their manner spirited and self-assured.

HEAD

The head is long and strong. The length of the muzzle is equal to the length of the skull. Expression – Keen and intelligent. Eyes – Small, dark brown to black (the darker the better), keen in expression, set well apart. Rims are black, oval in shape. Faults – Light-colored or protruding eyes. Ears – Small, erect and pointed; set high on the skull yet well apart, carried erect without any tendency to flare obliquely off the skull. Skull – Viewed from the front or side is long and flat, slightly longer than it is wide and full between the eyes, with slight but definite stop. Muzzle – Strong and powerful with slight fill under the eyes. The jaws are powerful. Nose – Black. A desirable breed characteristic is an inverted V-shaped area free of hair extending from the nose up the bridge of the muzzle, varying in length in the mature dog. Lips – Tight and dark brown- or black-rimmed. Bite – Scissors with teeth of good size.

BODY

Neck – Long, slightly arched and strong, blending smoothly into well laid back shoulders. Topline – Level and firm. Body – The body is of sturdy structure with ribs well-sprung but not rounded, forming a chest reaching slightly below the elbows with a distinct keel. The loin is strong and fairly short with slight tuck-up. Faults – Cobbiness, too long in loin. Tail – Set on high and carried erect at a twelve to one o’clock position, docked in balance with the overall dog leaving slightly less than one half, a good hand-hold when mature.

LEGS

Forequarters: Shoulders – Long blades, well laid back with only slight space between the shoulder blades at the withers. The length of the upper arm is comparable to the length of the shoulder blade. The angle between the shoulder and the upper arm is 90 degrees. Faults – Straight, loose and loaded shoulders. Elbows – Close to the chest. Forelegs – Straight, parallel when viewed from the front; the bone is round and medium in size. They should be set well under the body, with definite body overhang (keel) before them when viewed from the side. Pasterns – Strong, with only slight slope. Fault – Down on pasterns. Dewclaws – Removed. Feet – Small, clean, catlike; toes arched and compact, nicely padded turning neither inward nor outward. Nails – Short, black and strong.

COAT

Outer Coat – Harsh and straight; 2½ inches all over the body except the tail, pasterns, rear legs from the hocks down, and the feet which are kept free of long hair. Hair on the ears is kept very short. Undercoat – Short and soft. Furnishings – Softer than body coat. The neck is well furnished with hair, which forms a protective ruff blending into the apron. The forelegs are slightly feathered to the pasterns. Topknot – Covering only the top of the skull; of finer and softer texture than the rest of the coat.

HINDQUARTERS

Strong; legs well angulated at the stifles and hocks, short and perpendicular from the hocks to the ground. Upper and lower thighs are well muscled. Viewed from behind the rear legs are straight from the hip joints to the ground and in the same plane as the forelegs. Faults -Lack of muscular development or excessive muscularity. Feet-(See under Forequarters.)

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australian terrier illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLUE & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 044
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
SANDY Check Mark For Standard Color 168
BLACK 007
BLACK & RED 014
BLACK & TAN 018
BLUE 037
BLUE & BLACK 038
BLUE BLACK & TAN 047
BRINDLE 057
RED & BLACK 141
RED & TAN 250
RED & WHITE 146
SABLE 164

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MARKINGS 002
BLACK POINTS 019

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