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Australian Terrier
Characteristics, History, and Health

Australian Terrier

The Australian Terrier is a small, robust breed developed in Australia, with roots dating back to the 19th century. The breed was created by settlers during the 1800s, who needed a dog capable of surviving in Australia's harsh climate, and effective at dealing with vermin and snakes on their properties. Its ancestors are thought to include a mix of several British breeds, such as the Rough Coated Terrier, the Cairn Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and the Yorkshire Terrier.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Life Expectancy
11-15 years
Average Male Height
10-11 inches
Average Female Height
10-11 inches
Average Male Weight
15-20 pounds
Average Female Weight
15-20 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Blue & Tan, Red, Sandy
Coat Pattern
Solid, often with black Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Australian Terriers can suffer from many health issues, including atopic dermatitis, cleft lip/palate, cruciate ligament disease, cryptorchidism, deafness, degenerative myelopathy, diabetes mellitus, hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, glucocerebrosidosis, hyperadrenocorticism, hypothyroidism, juvenile cellulitis, Legg–Calve–Perthes disease, mast cell tumor, megaesophagus, pancreatitis, patellar luxation, patent ductus arteriosus, portosystemic shunts, and von Willebrand Disease (Type I). Eye conditions for which they may be prone include cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal dysplasia, distichiasis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, persistent pupillary membranes. Genetic screening is recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

Australian Terriers are known for their courage, intelligence, and lively nature. Despite their small size, they have a big-dog attitude and aren't afraid to take on challenges much larger than themselves. This tenacity, coupled with their inherent curiosity, can sometimes lead to them getting into mischief if not properly supervised.

They are also known to be affectionate and friendly with their families, and they are good with children, making them excellent family pets. However, their strong prey drive means they might not be the best fit for homes with other small pets unless socialized properly from a young age.

These dogs are quite active and need regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They're also intelligent and respond well to training, although they can be a bit stubborn at times. As with any breed, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended.

Fun Facts

The AKC states that the Australian Terrier is the smallest of the working terriers, and that they have an affinity for children, the elderly, and those with various physical, emotional, and mental challenges.

The breed was officially recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council in 1868, making it one of the first breeds to be recognized and shown in Australia.


DOI: 10.1002/9781119540687