A now long established terrier dog breed, the Australian Terrier could be described as a scruffy, fun loving, cute little fur ball that is loyal, pleasant and a marvellous pet for the home whether your 9 or 90 years old. Maybe he should have been the lead in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.
Quick facts about the Australian Terrier
Lifespan 12 to 14 years
Pedigree Recognised by the KC
Height 10 to 11 inches or 25 to 28cm
weight 12 to 14 pounds or 5 to 6kg
Colours Blue and Tan, Solid Sandy and Solid Red
The Coat is harsh straight medium length
Area of origin Tasmania/Australia
History of the Australian Terrier
Originally bred for killing small vermin the Australian terrier originated in Tasmania where its forebears were all purpose companions used for killing vermin, snakes and controlling livestock. They also are good at sounding the alarm at intruders.
A large cornucopia of other terrier dogs, mostly terriers such as the Skye Terrier, the Cairn Terrier were crossed with this rootstock producing a dog that was both useful and striking in appearance.
The first of the breed was shown in the late 1800s as a broken coated terrier of Blackish Blue Sheen the name was soon changed to Blue and Tan, the Toy, and then the Blue Terrier, then in the 1900 the rough coated terrier, Blue and Tan.
Although mainly known for its blue and tan coloration or red or Sandy colour was also found among the early representatives of the breed soon afterward the breed made his way to England. It appeared in America in 1925 and gained AKC recognition in 1960.
Temperament of the Australian Terrier
Australian terriers are plucky tough, fun loving comma and adventurous. They are eager to please, making them one of the more obedient terriers. They get along fairly well with other dogs and household pets. They are reserved with strangers.
Despite coming from a hunting background, they really show very little aggression and as such they make really good family dogs or companion dogs, they will happily integrate with other small animals in the household when they are introduced at a young age.
These little dogs are really good at being trained and love to have a good integration with their owners, happy to please and be included in what you are doing.
Because of their eagerness to please and their keen sense of learning they make very good first time pets they really are very good with both young children and the elderly making them very much a true lapdog.
Caring and Exercise of your Aussie
Despite their size these dogs tend to be quite alert and active and thus they need a reasonable amount of exercise, if you’re not able to walk them then playing games indoors is an ideal substitution. In fact Playing games is ideal for their mental wellbeing when these dogs are kept active they are usually very happy.
Don’t be fooled by their small size though, they will happily walk a couple of miles on a daily basis and regular exercise will help to avoid all those unpleasant conditions that are obesity related. Besides the exercise will be good for you too.
Grooming of your Australian Terrier
The hair is not particularly soft, but when shampooed and conditioned on a regular basis their coats will have a silky feeling to them. They don’t moult a great deal and could do with a brush on a regular basis. You will only need to visit to the grooming parlour two or three times a year just to stop them looking scruffy.
Because you only need to take them to a professional groomer a few times throughout the year it is easy to forget that they still need some grooming attention. To avoid their hair becoming matted and tangled try to groom them at least every other day. If nothing else, it will have a calming effect on them being handled every time you do it.
Despite the fact that they do not lose a lot of hair, they are not in the list if dogs that are hypoallergenic.
General Health of the Australian Terrier
When you consider these dogs have a life expectancy of 14 years then as a general rule they are reasonably fit and healthy dogs. There are though some things to be aware of as they are pure breeds and any pure breed has a tendency toward some kind of health problem.
The general list is here, and we will deal with the details further below:
- Allergic Dermatitis
- Ear Infections
- Luxating Patella
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
- Ruptured cruciate ligaments
1. Allergic Dermatitis is a common problem with many breeds. There is often speculation that this is caused by incorrect diet or lack of good grooming. In general very few Austalian Terriers have problems in this area.
2. Ear Infections for the Aussie are again often down to grooming first. Due to the length of hair, if you were to simply clip the hair around the ear you would quite possibly avoid any ear problems. Their stand up pointed ears can be known for waxing so the other thing you can do is clean them regularly and for heavy build up use ear drops.
3. Diabetes is again not a common feature with this breed and for the most part correct diet would avoid this problem as most dogs with diabetes tend to have what in humans would be class 2 which is generally avoidable through good diet and good exercise.
4. Cataracts is an opacity of the lens in the eye of the dog. Whilst it can be attained from birth via heritage this is rare, one cause can be diabetes which we have already covered but generally it is an age related condition and can be surgically treated but you may have to consider the dogs age and possible fitness for recovery.
5. Luxating Patella can be a very debilitating condition and it is treatable. Very common in small dog breeds the kneecap (back legs only) tend to dislocate or become dislodged. This can happen due to injury from over exercise or rough and tumble play but no more than you and I if we play rough games.
6. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is more common in Yorkshire Terriers and Westies, usually noticeable between 3 months to 12 months it affects the hips and thus they have a tendency to walk strangely or refuse to walk because of the pain it causes.
X-rays would be required for confirmation of the disease which is an osteo arthritic condition believed to be caused by a lack of blood supply to the head of the femur during early growth. The ball then does not fit the socket correctly leading to lameness.
7. Ruptured cruciate ligaments is a fancy name for torn ligaments. As a rule it is caused by an injury received from maybe landing too hard from a height or landing incorrectly at an awkward angle, a bit like twisting or spraining your ankle. It can however be caused by rough play, so be a little gentle with your excitable friend.
Conclusion to owning an Australian Terrier
Australian Terriers make a great choice as family pets whether you have children, or you are elderly. They are well known to be patient little dogs and are good with small children.
As companion pets even in apartments they make a good choice because they can be easy to exercise indoors, make good alarm dogs and are patient and light enough to sit on your lap.
With a huge appetite for life these lapdogs are great little characters with very few real health problems when exercised and fed properly, they have a rich ancestry and can be relied upon to create fun and affection in your house.
This information is part of our A to Z of Lap Dog Breeds