Getting To Know You – Australian Terrier

Are you planting trees in your yard? Do you need to do some digging, but don’t own a shovel? Then borrow your neighbor’s Australian Terrier. These natural born diggers will have your yard aerated and full of holes in no time. Unfortunately, they may also aerate your couch, your favorite armchair, and the living room carpet. Developed in Australia to eradicate mice and rats, these little dogs have been described as sensitive, spirited, loyal, alert, intelligent, sociable, confident, energetic and quick to learn. Though the breed was first shown in Australia 1868 under the name Australian Rough-Coated Terrier, it wasn’t officially recognized in Australia until 1933. It made its first appearance in U.S. breed rings in 1925 and was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1960.

Australian Terriers are small, with males and females both measuring between nine to eleven inches. Males weigh between fourteen to sixteen pounds, while females are slightly lighter weighing twelve to fourteen pounds. Their diminutive size and need to be in close contact with their family, make them good apartment dogs. Do not take this to mean that they don’t need exercise, as Australian Terriers become easily bored. They require physical and mental stimulation to keep them from becoming destructive. As with most terriers, these dogs are vigilant watchdogs ready to bark at a moment’s notice. Still, they are considered one of the quieter breeds of the AKC’s Terrier Group. They have a highly developed prey drive and love to chase anything that runs from them. They will give chase to any and all small animals, whether it’s the squirrel in the yard or the family hamster through the kitchen. Therefore, they must be trained to respect other household pets, even so, they may still try to chase the family cat.

This Aussie, not to be confused with the Australian Shepherd, is a sturdy breed. It has the distinction of being Australia’s first native dog breed. It is believed that it was developed by mixing – though not in a blender -Cairn Terriers, Norwich Terriers, Irish Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Skye Terriers, and it was recognized in England in 1933. Aussies have a lifespan of twelve to fifteen years, with the median age being eleven. Health issues for which to evaluate include patellas, eyes and thyroids. According to a 2002 Australian Terrier Club of America survey, the most commonly reported health problems are endocrine, allergic dermatitis, and musculoskeletal. Care must be taken to ensure that they are properly and regularly groomed, so as to curtail their proneness to allergies. They have shaggy, rough coats with soft undercoats and are considered non-shedders. The waterproof nature of their coat does its job of repelling mud and dirt well. Their lovely, fairly low-maintenance, two-inch-long coats come in three colors; blue and tan, sandy, and red.

For more information on this spunky little breed, contact the Australia Terrier Club of America.