5 Things to Know About Australian Terriers

Australia’s first native dog breed, the Australian Terrier is one of the smallest of the terriers. They are active and affectionate dogs who love children.

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Terrier
  • Height: 9–11 inches
  • Weight: 9–14 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years or longer

The Australian Terrier is one of the smaller dogs in the terrier group. The dogs have short legs and a long head. The pointed, V-shaped ears are erect, the small eyes are dark brown or black and the nose is black.

The tail is set high and erect; it may be docked for working terriers (tail docking is outlawed in many countries in Europe, with the exception of working dogs).


The Australian Terrier’s feet are small and similar to those of a cat, with black nails. The weatherproof double coat features a harsh, coarse outer coat and a soft, short undercoat. Coat colors include blue and tan, sandy and red — and may include black points or markings.

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2. Where They Came From

The Australian Terrier first appeared at a dog show in Melbourne in 1868. The dog was shown as an Australian Rough-Coated Terrier. Breeds believed to be responsible for the Australian Terrier’s development include:

The dogs were recognized in England in 1933. Shortly after, they appeared in the United States in the late 1940s. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1960.

By: ljguitar
Australian Terriers are one of the smallest dogs in the AKC’s Terrier Group. By: ljguitar (Top: Mikkel Bigandt)

3. How Friendly Are They?

These dogs are tough and have great confidence. They are energetic and active, yet loyal to their family members and curious. They have superior senses of sight and hearing, making them excellent watchdogs.

They are easy to train but can be prone to excessive barking; train them to know when enough barking is sufficient. You can also train them to perform many tricks.

They get along with other dogs and cats, but because of their prey drive, they may give chase to smaller animals. They love children, travel well and adapt easily to new situations and environments.


4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: Australian Terriers need a daily walk and/or play to expel energy. Exercise them in a safe or enclosed area because of their instinctive desire to chase small prey.

They’re a good fit for apartment living because they’re active indoors. They’re also adaptable to various different climates, making them an all-purpose and all-weather breed.

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Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: The coat sheds little hair and is easy to groom. Brush the coat several times a week, although daily brushing would be ideal. Bathe these dogs only when necessary and no more than once a month.

Trim the hair around the eyes, and the coat should be either stripped by a groomer or hand-plucked as needed. Regular pet maintenance includes trimming the nails, cleaning the ears and brushing the teeth.

Health Problems


MEDIUM: Although considered a healthy breed, Australian Terriers have been known to have a few health issues, including:

  • Luxating patella
  • Legg-Perthes disease (hip joint malformation)
  • Diabetes
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Skin allergies
  • Digestive problems

In this video, Ruby the Australian Terrier showcases her many tricks:

5. Where to Adopt One

While you could find an Australian Terrier in a shelter, they are also available through rescue organizations. Start with our dog search or check with local shelters and rescues for a dog near you.

If you call a breeder, make sure they’re not running a puppy mill — be on the lookout for red flags.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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