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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Australian Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Australian Terrier
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Australian Terrier is a happy, intelligent, lively little dog, and one that is hardy, robust and strong too. Always alert, they are true "terriers" by nature and being highly adaptable, they are just at home in a working environment as they are in the home. They thrive in a family environment and love being involved in everything that goes on around them.
These terriers have been popular in their native Australia for decades having worked on rural farms and been kept as pets too. The Australian Terrier first arrived on British shores back in the 19th Century and was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1933. Over the years, the breed has found a fanbase in the UK although Australian Terrier puppies are still hard to find and anyone wanting to share a home with one would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
The Australian Terrier has been around since the 1800’s when they were bred and developed in Australia to work alongside man. People who immigrated to Australia took all their possessions with them which included their dogs. Once over there, small terriers together with other breeds that were introduced to the country at the time were crossed to produce a dog that was more suited to an Australian climate and environment. Once in Australia, these terriers needed to be more versatile and as such they were not just used to keep vermin under control but for other tasks too which included hunting and watching over livestock.
It is thought that the Australian Terrier came about as a result of early 19th Century settlers crossing Scottish terriers with other terriers from the north of England. These little dogs were taken on ships to the New World and their job was to keep the mouse and rat population under control during the long voyages. Their ancestors are thought to include the Dandie Dinmont, Yorkshire Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Skye Terrier and Irish terrier.
They first appeared as a breed in their own right in Australia in 1820 when they were called "Rough-Coated Terriers". It was only much later that the breed was renamed the Australian Terrier before being officially recognised as a breed in its own right by The Kennel Club in 1933.
Over the years, the Aussie has gained popularity in other countries of the world all thanks to their lively and affectionate natures as well as the fact they are robust little dogs even though they are small in stature. They have earned themselves the reputation of being great at letting owners know when there's anyone at the door or strangers around too. As such, they are known to be very good watchdogs.
Height at the withers: Males 25.5 cm, Females 25.5 cm
Average Weight: Males 6.5 kg, Females 6.5 kg
Australian Terriers are sturdy, robust looking little dogs that boast being nicely proportioned. They boast a rough coat and a very defined ruff around their necks which adds to their "hard bitten" appearance. Their heads are long and quite broad with a defined albeit slight stop. Their muzzles are powerful looking and the same length as their heads which boasts a silky and soft top-knot. An Aussie's nose is black and moderate in size having a leathery look to it.
They have quite small, dark brown eyes that are set nicely apart and which have an alert and keen expression. Ears are erect and small in size boasting pointed tips but no feathering and they are set nicely apart on a dog's head. Their mouths and jaws are strong and powerful looking with a perfect scissor bite. Aussies hold their long necks slightly arched which adds to their alert and "ready to go" look.
These little dogs have well-proportioned bodies in relation to their height and boast strong, straight front legs with a very small amount of feathering to the knee. They have well sprung rib cages and a level topline. Their hindquarters are broad and strong with well-muscled back legs. Feet are tidy and small with cushioned pads and tight toes. Their tails are set high and dogs carry them upright which adds to their well-balanced look.
When it comes to their coat, the Aussie boasts a longer, harsh, coarse and dense top coat with a much shorter and softer under coat. Their muzzles, lower legs and feet boast having short hair whereas on the rest of their bodies, it is longer. Acceptable breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
Richer colours and more clearly defined markings are encouraged with "top-knots" being either a lighter shade silver or blue than the rest of a dog's coat.
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
When an Australian Terrier moves, they do so with a springy, free and powerful action. When seen from the front, their forelegs move without any looseness from the shoulder, elbows or pasterns. They have tremendous drive in their hindquarters showing lots of free movement in their stifles and hocks. When seen from behind, a dog’s back legs from their hocks to the ground move parallel without being too wide or close.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
Australian Terriers are alert and very busy little dogs that like being given things to do. However, they are just as happy in a home environment as they are in a working environment, as long as they are given lots of stimulation and daily exercise. They are renowned for their affectionate and loyal natures, being friendly and quite extrovert as well as being eager and willing to please which makes these little dogs highly trainable.
They very rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour unless they feel threatened in which case they will hold their ground and show a lot of courage when they have to defend themselves which is a true small "terrier" trait. They are a great choice as a companion dog or family pet because of their sweet and kind natures being especially tolerant and patient around children.
These little terriers need to be trained from a young age and they respond well to positive reinforcement training. They have to be handled with a fair, gentle yet firm hand so they understand who is the alpha dog in a household. Early training will also help curb their desire to chase small animals although unlike other terriers, the urge to take after prey is less evident because Aussies like to please their owners and will stay by their side when asked.
Australian Terriers are the perfect choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times more especially when dogs are still young.
Aussies are very social by nature and even though they have working and hunting dogs in their lineage, they do not have a high prey drive like many of their other “terrier” cousins. However, this is not to say that a dog would not give chase to a smaller animal when the mood takes them, and this includes squirrels and the cat from next door whenever they get the chance.
Aussies have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly learn how to please and owner so they get their own way. They enjoy playing all sorts of interactive games which includes activities like flyball and agility.
Australian Terriers are highly adaptable and versatile small dogs and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in a house in the country.
Although Aussies form strong ties with their families, they are not known to suffer from separation anxiety providing they are not left to their own devices for too long. Any dog that is left alone for longer periods of time would be destructive around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Some Aussies like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings.
Most Aussies like getting their feet wet and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Australian Terriers were bred to watch over and guard livestock which is a trait that is deeply embedded in their psyche. Aussies are always on the alert to what goes on around them and are quick off the mark when it comes to letting an owner know when something they don’t like is going on although they would rarely do this aggressively.
Australian Shepherds are intelligent with the added bonus being there is nothing they enjoy more than to please. This means these lovely dogs are easy to train once they are taught not to show the more dominant side of their nature. With this in mind, a Aussie's training needs to start as early as possible and they also have to be well socialised from a young age for them to be truly well-rounded, obedient dogs.
Aussies need to know who is the alpha dog in a household because if they don't know their place in the "pack", they will quickly show the more dominant side to their nature and become wilful, unruly and hard to manage.
Like all puppies, Aussies are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Aussie is known to be very good around children of all ages and seem to have a real affinity with them. However, it is always better to keep an eye on any interaction between dogs and children to make sure things stay calm and that nobody gets too excited which is more likely to the kids than the dog. As such any playtime needs to be supervised by an adult at all times to make sure things don't get too boisterous.
As previously mentioned, these little terriers need to be well socialised and introduced to as many animals as possible from a young age in which case they accept being around them. However, Aussies are known to get on well with cats they have grown up with and this applies to other pets too.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an Australian Terrier is between 12 to 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
However, like other pure breeds, Aussies can be prone to suffer from a few health issues that are worth noting if you are going to share your home with one of these little terriers. The conditions the breed are known to suffer from include the following:
Aussie puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some Aussies gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do, bearing in mind that Australian Terriers are known to like their food anyway. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Aussies are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
Australian Terriers are known to be healthy dogs as such breeders don’t have to test their stud dogs for hereditary and congenital issues that often affect other breeds.
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Australian Terrier.
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions set out for all Kennel Club recognised breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Australian Terrier.
As with any other breed, Australian Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Aussie puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Aussie puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Australian Terrier puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Aussies need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with an Australian Terrier in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Aussies don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Aussies need to be groomed regularly to avoid any tangles and knots developing in their coats. Daily brushing also keeps their skin in good condition which is important because they are known to suffer from certain skin allergies. Unlike other terriers, an Aussie does not need to be regularly stripped by a professional groomer.
Aussies only need to be bathed when necessary. Over bathing a dog can result in upsetting the natural pH balance of their skin and it's important to always use a dog-specific shampoo for the same reason.
Puppies need to be introduced to grooming tools from a young age and they also need to be taught that having their paws touched in a nice experience. Puppies and young dogs soon come to look forward to the one-to-one they get when they are being brushed which means that grooming them is never a drama.
Although only small in stature, Aussies need to be given a lot of daily exercise and this needs to include a lot of mental stimulation too. A bored Aussie can quickly develop bad habits which can be hard to correct later on.
Aussies are typical of the terrier breed and need to be kept mentally stimulated which means being given lots of things to do and to play lots of interactive games with them as often as possible is also important. Puppies only need to be given a little daily exercise because their bones and joints are still growing and developing. However, once they have all their vaccinations, it's important that an Aussie be introduced to as many new situations as possible for them to grow up to be well-rounded, confident characters.
As with all breeds, the Aussie needs to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet that suits the different stages of their lives. If you are getting a puppy from a breeder, they will give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to it, feeding the same kind of food to avoid puppy from getting a tummy upset. You can change their diet a little further down the line, but this needs to be done gradually making sure that a puppy does not get the runs and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet. You would then need to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change their diet again.
Older Aussies are not known to be finicky about their food, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. As previously mentioned, it's important to feed these little terriers good quality food and to keep an eye on their weight especially as dogs get older.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, an Aussie puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Australian Terrier should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Aussie can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy an Australian Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £200 to over £400 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3-year old Australian Terrier in northern England would be £19.45 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £42.12 a month (quote as of October 2018). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age, their breed and whether they are spayed or neutered amongst other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an Australian Terrier and this includes their initial vaccinations, their boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an Australian Terrier would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy, well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Australian Terrier puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Finding Australian Terrier puppies can be challenging with few being available every year which means they can often command a lot of money. As such, with Aussies there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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