Australian Terrier

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australian terrier portrait
Welcome to the feisty world of the Australian Terrier! This lively, pint-sized powerhouse is packed with personality, offering a unique blend of terrier tenacity and Aussie charm. Whether it's their scruffy good looks or their spirited nature, there's no denying that these little dynamos have captivated hearts worldwide.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Australian Terrier is a perfect match for those seeking a small, high-energy companion with a dash of cheekiness. Their loyalty and affection make them great for families, while their independent streak suits those who appreciate a dog with a bit of “can-do” Aussie spirit.


OFFICIAL NAMEAustralian Terrier
BREED GROUPTerrier Group
HEIGHT10-11 inches
WEIGHT14-16 lbs
LIFESPAN11-15 years
australian terrier on green grass
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images


The Australian Terrier is a delightful bundle of energy encapsulated in a compact, sturdy frame. Standing at a height of 10 to 11 inches and weighing around 14 to 16 pounds, this breed is small but undeniably robust, exuding an aura of strength and agility.

A glance at an Aussie Terrier reveals a long head that’s proportionate to its body size. This is topped with pointed, V-shaped ears standing erect, always alert to the slightest sounds or movements.

Their sparkling, dark brown eyes are alive with curiosity, reflecting the intelligence and keen interest that these dogs take in their surroundings. The expression on their face is often one of spirited determination, a nod to their tenacious terrier ancestry.

One of the distinct features of the Australian Terrier is its rough, shaggy coat. It’s double-coated, with a harsh, straight outer layer that’s about 2.5 inches long and a short, soft undercoat. This gives them a somewhat scruffy, yet utterly endearing appearance. Their coat comes in several colors, including blue and tan, sandy, and red, offering a delightful variety within the breed.

Look closer and you’ll notice their compact body, which is slightly longer than it is tall. This gives them a well-balanced, rectangular silhouette. Their strong, short legs are ideal for quick movements, while their high-set tail is usually carried erect, adding to their confident demeanor.

But it’s not just about looks. The physical characteristics of the Australian Terrier speak volumes about their personality too. Their agile bodies, sharp senses, and expressive faces are all indicative of a dog that’s brimming with life and ready for any adventure that comes their way. Their rough-and-ready coat showcases their hardiness and adaptability, traits that have made them beloved companions across the globe.

australian terrier walking on a green meadow
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images


The Australian Terrier is as spirited and lively as they come. These dogs may be small in size, but they are brimming with personality, tenacity, and a zest for life that’s hard to match.

At first glance, their alert, sparkling eyes and confident stature hint at their spirited nature. They’re always ready for action, eager to explore their surroundings and engage in playful antics.

Their energy is infectious, making them a delightful presence in any home. But don’t let their size fool you; these little dynamos are often described as ‘big dogs in small bodies’ due to their audacious spirit and boundless courage.

Australian Terriers are also renowned for their intelligence. They are quick learners and enjoy engaging in activities that stimulate their minds. Their keen senses make them highly perceptive, and they often surprise their owners with their ability to pick up on subtle cues and changes in their environment.

Despite their independent streak, Australian Terriers are also incredibly affectionate and companionable. They form strong bonds with their human families and thrive on companionship. They love nothing more than being involved in family activities and spending time with their loved ones. Be it curling up on the couch for a movie night or accompanying you on your daily errands; they’re happiest when they’re by your side.

But it’s not all about fun and games. Australian Terriers have a serious side too. Originating from Australia’s harsh environments, they were bred to be tough, resilient watchdogs and ratters.

This background has instilled in them a natural protectiveness and vigilance, making them excellent watchdogs. They’re always on the alert, ready to protect their family if necessary. Their barks are surprisingly loud and authoritative for such small dogs, often catching intruders off guard.

However, despite their protective nature, Australian Terriers are generally good-natured and sociable. They get along well with people, including strangers and children, making them a great choice for families. They can also coexist peacefully with other pets, especially if they’ve been raised together.

One of the most charming aspects of the Australian Terrier’s personality is their cheekiness. They’re known for their playful antics and sense of humor, often amusing their families with their quirky behaviors. Whether it’s chasing their own tails, playfully stealing your slippers, or performing tricks for treats, their cheeky nature is sure to bring a smile to your face.

australian terrier sitting on a park bench
Photo: No-longer-here/Pixabay

Ideal Environment

The Australian Terrier is quite adaptable and can thrive in various environments. However, there are certain elements that can significantly enhance their quality of life.

Physical Environment

Firstly, let’s talk about the physical environment. While these dogs are small and can adjust to apartment living, they do appreciate having some outdoor space to explore and burn off their energy. A home with a yard where they can sniff around and play is ideal. But remember, these terriers are known for their digging prowess, so be prepared to find unexpected holes in your backyard!

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate, Australian Terriers are quite resilient. They were bred in Australia’s harsh conditions, which has made them adaptable to both hot and cold climates. Their rough, dense coat provides some protection against the elements.

However, extreme temperatures can still be challenging for them. During particularly hot or cold days, it’s important to ensure they have access to shelter and fresh water, and avoid strenuous exercise.

Ideal Owner

As for pet parents, Australian Terriers best suit those who appreciate a dog with a strong personality and a zest for life. They thrive with owners who can match their energy levels and engage them with stimulating activities.

Despite their independent nature, they’re social creatures who crave companionship, so they do well with families or individuals who can spend a good amount of time with them.

Other Pets

If you have other pets, an Australian Terrier could still be a great fit. They generally get along well with other animals, especially if they’ve been raised together. However, their strong prey drive might make them chase smaller pets, so supervision is advisable during their interactions.

australian terrier walking on green grass
Photo: Kyle Reynolds/Getty Images


When it comes to grooming, the Australian Terrier presents an interesting mix of needs. These dogs are equipped with a rough, shaggy coat that gives them their distinctive scruffy appeal. But don’t be fooled by their rugged appearance; beneath that tousled exterior, these terriers require a fair bit of grooming to keep them looking their best.

Coat Care

Let’s start with their coat. The Australian Terrier has a double coat – a harsh, straight outer coat and a soft, short undercoat. They’re not heavy shedders, but they do require regular brushing to keep their coat healthy and free from matting.

Aim for a good brush-down at least once a week using a slicker brush or a comb with both coarse and fine teeth. This will help remove any loose hair and keep their coat looking neat and tidy.

Bathing your Aussie Terrier doesn’t need to be a frequent affair. Due to their harsh coat, they don’t tend to get as smelly as some other breeds. A bath every 3-4 months, or when they’re particularly dirty, is usually sufficient. Remember to use a dog-friendly shampoo to keep their skin and coat healthy.

Nail Trimming

Now, let’s talk about their nails. Like all dogs, Australian Terriers need their nails trimmed regularly. If you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. For many pet parents, clipping their dog’s nails can be daunting, but with a bit of practice and the right tools, it can become a straightforward part of your grooming routine.

Dental Care

Moving on to dental care, this is an area that shouldn’t be overlooked. Regular brushing of your terrier’s teeth is crucial to prevent dental disease. Aim to brush their teeth several times a week using dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush. If your Aussie Terrier isn’t a fan of having their teeth brushed, dental chews can also help keep their teeth clean.

Ear Care

Lastly, don’t forget about their ears. Australian Terriers have perky, erect ears that can be prone to dirt build-up. Check their ears weekly and gently clean them with a vet-recommended cleaner to prevent infections.

Grooming your Australian Terrier is not just about keeping them looking good. It’s also an excellent opportunity to check for any skin issues, lumps, or parasites. Plus, it’s a great bonding activity that can help build trust between you and your furry friend.

australian terrier on a garden
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images


Australian Terriers are small but oh-so-energetic. They are a bundle of energy waiting to be unleashed, and regular exercise is crucial to keep them happy and healthy.

Exercise Amount & Types

So, what should you expect when it comes to exercising your Australian Terrier? Well, these jaunty little dogs are not couch potatoes. They require around 45 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. This can be split into two or three walks, along with some playtime.

These dogs love a good walk but remember they’re terriers at heart. They have a strong prey drive and a keen sense of curiosity, so they might try to chase after squirrels or explore every nook and cranny on your walking route. A sturdy leash and vigilant supervision are essential during outdoor adventures.

But exercise for an Aussie Terrier isn’t just about physical activity; it’s also about mental stimulation. They’re intelligent, quick-thinking dogs that thrive on engaging activities. Incorporate games into their routine, like fetch or hide and seek, which can stimulate their mind as well as burn off energy. Puzzle toys can also be a great way to keep them mentally sharp.

Dog Sports

For those who enjoy dog competitions, Australian Terriers can excel in various canine sports. Their agility, intelligence, and eagerness to please make them well-suited to activities like agility trials, obedience competitions, and even earthdog trials, which tap into their natural instinct to hunt vermin.

australian terrier at an agility trial
Photo: herreid/Getty Images


Training an Australian Terrier is an adventure in itself. These dogs are intelligent, quick to learn, and full of energy. But they also have an independent streak that can make training a fun challenge.

Australian Terriers respond best to positive reinforcement methods. They’re eager to please their owners, so praising them when they do something right or offering a tasty treat as a reward can be very effective. Harsh training methods, on the other hand, can discourage them and make them less willing to learn.

Start with basic obedience training. Teach them commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘leave it’. Not only will these commands make your life easier, but they can also help keep your Aussie Terrier safe. Remember, these dogs have a strong prey drive and may be prone to chasing after small animals. A well-timed ‘leave it’ command can prevent them from getting into trouble.

Socialization is another important aspect of training. Australian Terriers are generally friendly and sociable, but exposing them to a variety of people, places, and experiences at a young age can help ensure they grow into well-rounded adult dogs. Take them to dog parks, invite visitors over, and let them experience different environments. This will help them become more comfortable in various situations.

Despite their small size, Australian Terriers can excel in various dog sports. Training them for activities like agility, obedience competitions, and earthdog trials can be a great way to channel their energy and intelligence.

One thing to remember when training an Australian Terrier is to be patient and consistent. Training might not always go as planned, and there may be days when your Aussie Terrier seems more interested in chasing their tail than learning commands. But stick with it, maintain a positive attitude, and over time, you’ll see progress.

australian terrier's face close up
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Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding an Australian Terrier is not just about satisfying their appetite; it’s about providing them with the nutrients they need to thrive. These small, energetic dogs have specific dietary needs that should be met for them to remain healthy and active.

In terms of what to feed your Aussie Terrier, high-quality dog food that follows the AAFCO guidelines is a good starting point. Whether you choose dry kibble, wet food, or even a raw diet, ensure the food is rich in protein to support their growth and energy levels. Also look for foods that contain a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals for overall health.

The amount you feed your Australian Terrier will depend on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies generally require more food than adults as they’re growing and developing.

As a guideline, most adult Australian Terriers do well on about 1/2 to 1 cup of dry food per day, divided into two meals. Always check the feeding guidelines on your dog food packaging and adjust as necessary based on your pet’s condition and activity level.

Treats can be a great training tool, but remember to give them sparingly. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake to prevent weight gain and nutritional imbalances. Opt for healthy treats like pieces of fruits or vegetables, or dog-specific treats that are low in fat and sugar.

Don’t forget about water. Your Australian Terrier should always have access to fresh, clean water, especially after exercise or during hot weather.

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to consult with your vet about your Aussie Terrier’s diet, especially if you’re considering a major change like switching to a raw diet or if your dog has specific nutritional needs.


The Australian Terrier is a small breed with a big heart and a zest for life. These little dogs typically live between 11 to 15 years, but with the right care, they can enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life.

However, like all breeds, Australian Terriers can be prone to certain health issues. Here are common ones to be aware of:

Allergies: Some Aussie Terriers suffer from allergies that can cause skin irritation and discomfort. Allergens can include certain foods, dust mites, or environmental factors.

Luxating Patellas: This condition, also known as ‘trick knee’, occurs when the kneecap dislocates out of its normal position. It’s a common issue in many small dog breeds.

Diabetes Mellitus: This metabolic disease affects the way the body uses glucose. It can be managed with a proper diet, regular exercise, and medication if necessary.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: This bone disorder affects the hip joint and can cause lameness and pain. Treatment usually involves surgery and physical therapy.

Dental Disease: Like many small breeds, Australian Terriers can be prone to dental problems. Regular dental care is essential to prevent issues like gum disease and tooth loss.

To help keep your Australian Terrier healthy, a balanced diet is crucial. Feed them high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs, and avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity.

Regular veterinary check-ups are also important. Your vet can monitor your dog’s health, provide necessary vaccinations, and catch any potential health issues early. Remember, early detection often leads to better outcomes.

Exercise is another key aspect of your Aussie Terrier’s health. Regular physical activity can help keep them fit, manage their weight, and even boost their mood.

australian terrier on green grass
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images


The Australian Terrier has a history that’s as unique as the breed itself. This little dog with a big personality hails from Down Under, where it was developed to be a versatile worker on farms and in homes.

The breed’s development began around 1820 in Australia. The early pioneers needed a tough, hardy dog that could handle the harsh Australian conditions, control vermin, and serve as a companion.

Several breeds contributed to the creation of the Australian Terrier, including the Yorkshire, Norwich, Cairn, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. These dogs were selectively bred for their tenacity, resilience, and compact size, creating the breed we know today.

Originally known as the Rough Coated Terrier, this breed was officially recognized in Australia in 1850. It wasn’t until 1897 that the name was changed to the Australian Terrier. The breed’s popularity grew, and by the late 1940s, the Australian Terrier was introduced to the United States.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Australian Terrier in 1960. Despite its many qualities, the Australian Terrier isn’t as well-known as some other terrier breeds in the U.S. As of now, it ranks 136 on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds. However, those who have discovered this energetic, affectionate breed know just how special it is.

Australian Terriers have made a few appearances in popular culture. They’ve been featured in movies like “Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale” and “The Shaggy Dog.” In the world of literature, an Australian Terrier named Toto is a main character in L. Frank Baum’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ series.

Parent Club

The parent club for the Australian Terrier breed in the United States is the Australian Terrier Club of America, Inc. This club is dedicated to advancing and preserving the quality of purebred Australian Terriers.

It was founded in 1958 and became a member of the American Kennel Club in 1977. For more information about the club, its activities, and its commitment to the breed, you can visit their official website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Australian Terrier’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

australian terrier sitting with its tongue out
Photo: No-longer-here/Pixabay


Ready to welcome an Australian Terrier into your life? That’s exciting! Before you bring home this energetic little bundle, make sure you’re prepared. Create a safe, comfortable space for them and stock up on essentials like food, toys, and a comfy bed.

If you’re buying a puppy, choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes health and temperament over appearance. But have you considered rescuing? There are many wonderful Australian Terriers waiting for their forever homes in shelters and rescue groups.

The American Kennel Club and the Australian Terrier Club of America can guide you towards rescue organizations. Rescuing a dog is not only rewarding, but you’re also giving a second chance to a deserving pet.

Whether you buy or rescue, remember, it’s the love and care you provide that truly matters.


Are Australian Terriers good pets?

Absolutely! Australian Terriers are known for their lively, friendly, and affectionate nature. They’re great companions and can adapt well to different living situations. However, they do have a high energy level and need regular exercise.

What are Australian Terriers known for?

Australian Terriers are known for their intelligence, tenacity, and spirited nature. They were bred to be versatile working dogs in Australia, capable of controlling vermin and serving as companions.

How smart is the Australian Terrier?

Very smart! Australian Terriers are intelligent and quick to learn. They excel in obedience training and dog sports, and they’re also known for their problem-solving skills.

Can Australian Terriers be left alone?

Like most dogs, Australian Terriers prefer company and can become bored or anxious if left alone for long periods. If you work full-time, consider doggy daycare or a pet sitter to keep your Aussie Terrier company.

How big do Australian Terriers get?

Australian Terriers are small dogs. On average, they stand about 10-11 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 12-18 pounds.

Are Australian Terriers hypoallergenic?

While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Australian Terriers are considered a good choice for people with allergies. Their hard, wiry coat sheds minimally, which can help reduce allergen levels.

Do Australian Terriers get along with other pets?

Yes, Australian Terriers can get along well with other pets, especially if they’re socialized from a young age. However, because of their strong prey drive, they may chase smaller pets like rabbits or birds.

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