When you hear anything about the Australian Terrier, the first few words experts use to describe the breed as is small and sturdy.
This is true, but one can’t help think that description of the dog underscores this breed’s short and historic achievements.
Such as, Australia’s first official breed. But they weren’t just the first breed to hit the country’s registry books.
In fact, the Aussie Terrier’s role is much more significant than just a small lapdog. Their history entails courage, drive, fearlessness and passion.
Here is what you need to know about the Australian Terrier.
There is some doubts as to what breeds were used in the Australian Terrier’s making. Could it have been a cross between the Tasmanian Terrier (which was prevalent during that time) and other terriers? Many believe that to be the case.
While some historical writers link the Irish and Cairn Terrier, old Black and Tan Terriers, Yorkshires, The Skye, and Dandie DInmonts to the breed’s lineage.
Regardless, there was a pressing need in Tasmania and other regions in Australia. There was this rodent infestation. Landowners and ranchers sought out for a solution. This is where the Australian Terrier enters the picture.
Some historic accounts recognize the Australian Terrier around the 1850-1860’s. On the other hand, there seems to be a popular consensus that an official standard recognized the breed in 1896. Then again, there is no doubt the breed made appearances much earlier, and the official date could be more of a technical marker.
For instance, today’s Australian Terrier used to be known as the Rough Coated Terrier, and in 1868 the breed made a show appearance in Melbourne.
Despite all of the jumbling dates, ranchers as well as property owners held a high regard for the Australian Terrier. According to the Australian Terrier International Organization, the Terrier was perfect for the job. They were small enough to chase , hunt, and kill the vermin. Whether it was snakes or rats, the Aussie Terrier had a handle on the crisis.
In addition, the Aussie Terrier held its own herding sheep and cattle. Their rough and harsh coats made them the ideal dog for the tough Australian climate. That was no accident.
Breeders chose to incorporate a breed from Scotland and Great Britain. The old Scotch Terrier and a long list of terriers could very well be the ancestor of today’s version.
On top of the breed’s ability to hunt and herd, they were great companions too. This would add to their popularity. In 1887, the first Australian Terrier group established itself, as the breed would introduce itself to Great Britain shortly after.
The few key dates in the Australian Terrier’s 20th century story are 1933 and 1960.
1933 was the year Aussie Terriers became recognized by the Kennel Club of England.
It was the 1940’s, that saw the Australian Terrier land in America. By then, Aussie Terriers were relatively unknown. After all, this breed is one of the smaller working Terriers. Other Australian breeds like the Cattle Dog would enjoy more public adoration.
Yet there was an interest for the Aussie Terrier. Many would welcome the breed as a companion more than a rat chasing hunting dog. By the late 1950’s, the Australian Terrier Club of America formed and the Terrier became represented.
Shortly after, the Australian Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1960. They became the first terrier in 24 years to gain membership and the American Kennel Club’s 114th breed.
Today, the breed is part of the Terrier Group and sits as 136th most popular breed.
As a working Terrier, the Aussie is one of the smallest in the group. According to the American Kennel Club’s criteria, the Australian Terrier should stand 10 to 11 inches. This breed can weigh as much as 15 pounds, and not any less than 11 pounds.
When the Australian Terrier wants to turn on the aggression they can in a minute. This gave the breed a huge advantage in the late 1800’s and early 20th century. Especially as a vermin hunter. While you may see the Aussie working the fields in other countries; their primary role in the U.S. is that of companion.
It’s better to keep this breed busy and give them just enough exercise. The Australian Terrier is an upbeat breed full of natural spirit and not afraid to share it. If your other dog is doing something adventurous then leave it to the Aussie to top it. They can be very competitive and that’s where the aggression tends to land.
Loving the center of attention, Aussies tend to be lively entertainers. This breed welcomes affection and attention. Expect the same in return. It’s not uncommon to have an Australian Terrier following their master room to room.
When it comes to other pets and smaller children, they are best in a home with older kids and an opposite gender dog. You don’t have to be an expert with dogs to own one, and the breed is fairly good at adapting. Better with space, an area that is fenced in than an apartment. The other side of the coin is the Aussie Terrier’s excavating ability. They love to dig, they enjoy adventure.
The Australians and British would use the Aussie Terrier as a watchdog primarily in the early 20th century. and that’s because this breed makes a wonderful guard. Expect a dog that is alert, courageous to honor the home from intrusion, and vocal when the need arises.
Australian Terriers have a great personality. One study has the Aussie Terrier as one of the top 40 most intelligent breeds, that loves communicating with their master. Aussie Terrier handle training in agility or obedience at ease when they choose to engage.
One of the relatively healthier breeds in the “Working Terrier” group. The ordinary life expectancy rate for the Australian Terrier ranges from 11 to 15 years.
There aren’t any major health concerns that are listed with this breed. Issues pertaining to the lower body such as Legg Perthes Disease. Normally, this occurs in younger dogs most common among terrier and small breeds. You see this condition pop up among the Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund and Boston Terrier. A condition that is also called “Avascular Necrosis,” where the head of the femur degenerates spontaneously.
Allergic Dermatits is also something to be aware of with the Australian Terrier. The simpler things such as mold spores, grass, and allergens can trigger this form of contact eczema. If your Aussie Terrier suffers from this they will likely result in skin irritation and a feverish itch.
The breed is at a high risk for Luxating Patella. Essentially, this is loose knee joint which can cause lameness, discomfort and pain. This occurs when the Patella slips out of the normal position in the groove of the thigh bone.
Other issues may include; cataracts, ruptured cranial cruciate, thyroid issues and arthritis.
One survey found that Cancer kills this breed 67% of the time, where Diabetes kills at 13%.
Australian Terrier puppies can be active and hyper. They may want to jump up on others, dig around the yard, chase smaller pets around. This is their nature and nothing obedience training can’t break them of. Once they mature, they naturally reduce a more relaxing role as companion and protector.
It’s a good idea that you keep your fence in tact and yard cordoned off properly. The Australian Terrier can AWOL with the best of them. They love to roam and seek adventure. If you have gardens or flower beds, you’ll need to keep an eye out from the Aussie Terrier digging amok.
Courteous maintenance of their pricked ears, trimming their nails once a month, and bathing when you really need to is the extent of care with this breed. They are rather simple to take care of.
An Australian Terrier needs about an hour of exercise per day. The breed’s need to expend their high energy will become obvious to you immediately. This can translate into boredom when your Australian Terrier isn’t busy mentally or physically. Ultimately, this will turn destructive. To avoid that keep your Aussie busy with plenty of early socialization and a daily task.
Your Australian Terrier may not need this much food nor require the amount of nutritional value. Many dog experts agree that this is breed isn’t expensive to feed. A half cup to 1 cup of dry food should suffice the average Aussie Terrier.
The first ingredient should be meat. Anything from chicken, salmon, turkey, or lamb. Keep away from the grainy dry food. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid will help promote better coat care and skin health.
Your typical Australian Terrier at 11 pounds should consume between 760-960 calories per day. On the extreme side for a working dog at 15 pounds, the Terrier should consume 1691 to 2134 calories.
Finally, the best nutrient that should always be available to your Australian Terrier is water.
The Aussie Terrier has a medium length coat. It’s not uncommon for the breed to grow upwards of 2 to 3 inches. Their coat is a double coat and weather resistant. It’s not hypoallergenic. They have rather easy to groom coats, sheds infrequently. Weekly grooming will keep you ahead of the curb and avoids hair collecting throughout the house.
As far as coat colors are concerned, there are three acceptable choices: Blue with tan, sandy, and red. Other colors, that aren’t according to the American Kennel Club’s standard is sable, brindle, and black.
There are no markings for this breed according to standard.
The Australian Terrier’s purpose in life is helping and companionship. Most people overlook this breed with the Australian Cattle Dog , Kelpie or Yorkshire.
Yet, they can do what the other breeds can and just as well. Nobody will ever assume this breed will fall into the top ten in popularity. And that seems just fine for the Australia Terrier, who is happiest as a protective companion with their family.