AKC Dog Breeds: Australian Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height: 9-12 inches   Weight: 9-16  pounds  Color: blue and tan, sandy or red

The Australian Terrier was developed to assist its owner during work in the rugged Australian Outback. He worked side by side with pioneers to control vermin and snake populations, sound the alarm when intruders approached, and help tend livestock. The Australian Terrier dog breed is a true child of Australia, unlike some other dog breeds with the word "Australian" in their name. The Australian Terrier breed is in fact the first breed developed in Australia to be formally shown in competition. It was the first breed to be recognized as native to Australia in 1868. The American Kennel Club has recognized this breed since 1960 as Britain's official kennel club did nearly 30 years earlier. Today, Australian Terriers remain common in Australia and are gaining in popularity in other countries, too. The breed's friendly and fun-loving nature makes them ideal for a great many city and suburban dwellers that want a companion who can chase rats that isn't a cat.

General Appearance
Aussies look a lot like many of the breeds they're descended from. As such, they may be black like a Scottish Terrier or black and tan like a Yorkshire Terrier or silvery like a Cairn Terrier or, even pure white like a West Highland terrier. However, they always have a coarse outer coat over soft under-coat that makes them good in inclement weather. This is a small dog, but also has a sturdy and robust build.


Australian Terriers tend to have a lot of energy, but not so much that the average person can't keep up. With their heritage of hunting small animals, terriers can be aggressive. In the nineteenth century, Australian Terrier dogs were often put to work as guard dogs. Like the stereotypical Australian human, the Aussie Terrier is an easy-going and happy-go-lucky dog that loves the company of others. Since they were bred to protect buildings from vermin, they are fully adapted to living in close quarters with human beings. Like all other terriers, the Aussie loves to dig - rarely confining tunnelling practice to appropriate times and places. It is generally a good idea not to put garden space anywhere near the dog run, especially if you bury fish heads or use some other sort of compost that's animal derived. Quite intelligent and always on the go, some people have described them as the "clowns" of the dog world, even going so far as trying to cheer up sad meters of their human family. Unless they are on "duty" protecting the house or chasing off an interloper, they will be very attentive. Aussies are usually good with older children who have been trained not to mess with the dog, though you should never leave young children and toddlers alone with any terrier. The children may fall over onto or otherwise injure there rather small dogs. Though the Aussie dog is sturdy and quick, he or she may also nip children that pull or squeeze the ears.


The stiff, long, shaggy coat is easy to care for and does not need clipping. Simply brush several times a week, being gentle with the soft undercoat. Brushing stimulates natural oils and will soon bring the coat to a high gloss. Because the breed standard is for a hard coat, don't wash this Terrier too often - any more than about once a month will make the coat lank. The coat should be brushed while it dries. Be sure to trim around the eyes and ears, if necessary, with blunt-nosed scissors. It also requires plucking about every three months. The nails should be clipped regularly. The Australian Terrier sheds little to no hair.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Australian Terrier is a hardy, healthy breed. It is long lived and free of any major hereditary diseases. The life expectancy of the Australian Terrier is around 11-15 years. Amongst the health problems and issues associated with this breed are luxating patella, Legg Perthes, diabetes, allergies, and skin problems.

Activity Level
Since Australian Terriers are small, they don't need nearly as much exercise as a real horse of a dog, but they do require some sort of constant, even low-level activity. In short, they need a job and if you don't give them one, they'll make one for themselves, be it digging or barking or just becoming bitter and resentful. Even mental exercise is adequate, though a combination of both is ideal. Nice long walks are just as important as is regular playtime, especially with puppies. Aussies are very spunky and are often found playing with toys and balls when left to their own devices.


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