Australian Terrier Dog Breed Guide

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Introduction Of Australian Terrier Dog

The Australian Terrier, originally known as the Blue-and-Tan Terrier, the Blue Terrier, the Broken-coated Terrier or the Australian Rough Coated Terrier, and today affectionately known as the Aussie, is one of the smallest working terriers. Accepted into the registry of the American Kennel Club’s Terrier Group in 1960, the Australian Terrier is known for its small stature, rough long coat and plucky personality. The Australian Terrier Club of America joined the AKC in 1977. This little terrier, whose breed was developed specifically to control vermin, remains spirited, alert, courageous and very self-confident, with all the natural aggressiveness of a rodent-seeking terrier and with natural affection for human companionship.

The average Australian Terrier is 10 to 11 inches in height at the withers, and their average weight is about 10 to 15 pounds. They are longer than they are tall and are described as small, shaggy and short-legged. Their harsh, dense rough outer coat reaches about 2 ½ inches; their undercoat is short and soft. Their coat requires moderate maintenance. Aussies can be prone to skin conditions if they are not cleaned and groomed on a regular basis.

Australian Terrier Dog Breed Quick Facts

Adaptability3/5
Affection Level 4/5
Apartment Friendly 5/5
Barking Tendencies 4/5
Cat Friendly 3/5
Child Friendly 4/5
Dog Friendly3/5
Exercise Need 4/5
Grooming Needs 3/5
Health Issues 2/5
Intelligence 4/5
Playfulness 4/5

Australian Terrier – Appearance & Grooming

Appearance

Australian Terriers are small, sturdy dogs with classic terrier features. They have long heads, erect ears and expressive, twinkling eyes. They are slightly longer than they are tall, and have deep chests. Aussies have a soft undercoat and a thick, coarse outer coat that should feel rough to the touch. Their hair is about two inches long across the body, but grows longer around the head and chest. Their tails are docked and stand upright and alert at all times. The AKC standard states “their expression is keen and intelligent; their manner spirited and self-assured.”

Size and Weight

The Australian Terrier doesn’t come in a wide range of sizes. They stand between 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder and range in weight from 14 to 16 pounds at maturity.

Coat and Color

Australian Terriers have a soft undercoat and a thick, coarse outer coat that should feel rough to the touch. Their hair is about two inches long across the body, but grows longer around the head and chest.

Aussies come in three color varieties: blue and tan (tan body with a blue saddle), sandy, and red. The richer the color, the better.

Grooming Needs

Aussies shed minimally throughout the year, and the regular brushing that is required to keep the coat neat will minimize the amount of hair that is shed to the floor. The coat requires brushing several times a week to avoid tangles and mats. Aussies should only be bathed as-needed, as frequent baths will soften the course terrier coat, which is fine for household pets, but show terriers should never be soft. Unless the dog loves to roll in muck, Aussies only need baths once every three or four months. Some owners prefer to trim the dog’s hair to keep it neat, but this is not required.

Toenails should be clipped monthly, and regular ear and teeth cleanings can keep harmful bacteria from gathering in the ears and mouth.

Australian Terrier – History and Health

History

Australian Terriers are thought to be descendents of the Rough-Coated Terrier, a close relative of the old Scotch Dog of Great Britain, which existed in Tasmania since the early 1880’s. Apparently, the Rough-Coated Terriers were crossbred with a number of other terrier breeds to produce the sturdy, weatherproof and fearless little dog that the Australian settlers needed to control rodents and snakes, tend flocks, guard the homestead and be a beloved family companion. There appears to be a consensus among historians that the breeds used in the development of the Australian Terrier include the precursors of the Dandie Dinmont, Skye, Yorkshire, Norwich, Scottish and Manchester (formerly the old Black-and-Tan) terriers. The Irish and Cairn terriers may also have contributed to the mix. The resulting stout and strong Australian Terrier was an excellent ratter and snake catcher which worked well out in the open countryside with human companions in all kinds of weather and terrain. Today, they are still very popular working and devoted companion dogs for show, city, home or farm.

Health

The average life span of the Australian Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns can include allergies, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patellar luxation and thyroid problems. Generally, Australian Terriers are hardy and healthy little dogs.

Australian Terrier – Temperament & Personality

Personality

The Australian Terrier is the quietest breed of terrier. Eager to please and obedient, Australian Terriers, although less “yappy” than their counterparts, are spunky, scrappy, persistent and full of personality. Though tiny, these working dogs are sturdy and always vigilant, making them excellent watchdogs. And unlike other terriers, Australians can easily coexist with other pets.

Activity Requirements

Though Australian Terriers are small dogs, they require regular exercise. They were originally bred to be herders and hunters of small pests, so they are happy in a yard with room to run and chase toys or birds. Apartment dwellers can raise a happy terrier if they commit to walking their dog regularly, taking trips to the dog park and engaging in plenty of games of fetch.

Australians do well in families of all sizes and ages, so long as they are active. Children can help exercise Australian Terriers by playing fetch, or hiding toys for them to find in the yard.

Trainability

Once firm leadership is established, Australian Terriers can excel in training. Though small and generally possessing the desire to please, Australian Terriers are also independent and like to be the boss. Early training and a confident air can teach the Australian who is really in charge of the home. Positive reinforcement and rewards are the best method to train this breed.

Like other breeds of terrier, Australians are quick to bark and quick to take a chase. Though they may listen to you one-on-one, if an Australian Terrier takes off after a small animal, he probably won’t obey your commands to come home. For this reason they should be kept on a leash or in a fenced-in yard at all times.

Behavioral Traits

Australian Terriers were developed in Tasmania to be cattle herders and hunters of pests like snakes and rodents. Their small size made them excellent ratters, and their boundless energy and fearless nature made them excellent herders. These same drives to run and hunt are still found in modern Australians. If left to their own devices outdoors, they will dig and dig some more. They can exert dominance over small children, but proper training at an early age can prevent bad behavior.

Like other breeds of terrier, the Australian will bark early and often. But they tend to bark less than other breeds. They can be a bit reserved when introduced to a stranger, but generally maintain good manners.

They will coexist pleasantly with other pets, but like other breeds of terriers, the Australian can become aggressive toward dogs of the same sex.

Photo Library of Australian Terrier

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