Australian Terrier

A complete breed guide for Australian Terrier Dogs

LAST UPDATED September 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Gillian Hill BVSc (Hons)

The Australian Terrier is a friendly, playful breed known for it's shaggy coat, intelligence and courageousness. Initially bred as a working terrier predominantly for hunting rats and snakes, the Aussie Terrier is now kept mainly as a pet, but retains it's hunting instincts. Given their intelligence, the Australian Terrier responds keenly to training and makes a beautiful family pet.

Take a read through our complete guide for all things Aussie Terrier!

Facts About the Australian Terrier
Health Concerns
Related Breeds
Further reading

1. Facts About the Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier puppy
Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Small Australia Aussie
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Terrier Moderate 5 - 7kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
11 - 15 years Moderate 23-28cm at the shoulder
Drool factor: Coat length: Colours:
Low Medium Blue and tan, red or sandy shades.
Shedding factor: Social needs: Overall grooming needs:
Low High Low maintenance

Do Australian Terriers shed?

Australian Terriers shed only a little. They have a double coat with a harsh, dense top coat and short soft undercoat. Gentle brushing a few times a week will help to keep the coat looking glossy. Bathing should be infrequent to avoid stripping the coat of it's natural oils. It is not necessary to clip the coat, however regular trimming around the eyes and ears with blunt-nosed scissors is recommended.

How much is an Australian Terrier?

The cost of an Australian Terrier will vary widely based on the source and pedigree of the parents. For a pedigree puppy, you can expect to pay several thousand dollars.

Are Australian Terriers good pets?

Australian Terriers are delightful family pets. They are fiercely loyal and excellent watch dogs. They are keen and ready to learn, and training and socialisation is imperative given their confidence and self-assuredness. They are well suited to families with small children.

Are Australian Terriers hypoallergenic?

Being a low-shedding breed, Australian Terriers are often considered 'hypoallergenic' and more suitable for allergy sufferers than shedding breeds. However, humans can also be allergic to the dander (skin cells) and saliva rather than dog hair. For these people, the Australian Terrier would not be considered hypoallergenic.

How long do Australian Terriers live?

The average life expectancy of Australian Terriers is 11-15 years.

Are Australian Terriers barkers?

While they are not known for barking, Australian Terriers do make excellent watch dogs, so you can expect some noise from them! Barking can become problematic if they are not afforded the physical and mental stimulation they need. A daily walk is essential, as well as games and interactive toys. Being a small breed and not needing a large amount of space, they are well-suited to apartment living as long as their physical and mental needs are met. For more information, take a look at our Tips for Keeping Your Dog in an Apartment. For help on managing excessive barking, take a look at How to Stop Your Dog Barking.

How do I know which Australian Terrier Breeder to choose?

Choosing a reputable breeder is a crucial initial step in bringing home a healthy, happy dog. Take a look at How to find a good breeder for questions you should be asking of any breeder. Responsible breeders should be committed advancing the health of the Australian Terrier breed, pairing dogs to breed away from inheritable diseases and conformation issues, and selecting for good temperaments.

Australian Terrier History

The Australian Terrier was the first Australian dog breed to be recognised internationally and received official recognition from The Kennel Club of England in 1933 and the American Kennel Club in 1960. Thought to be the product of interbreeding English Terrier breeds such as the Cairn, Scottie, Norwich, Skye and Yorkshire Terriers brought to Australia by British settlers in the 1800s.

The Australian Terrier was highly valued by the early settlers, as they hunted vermin which ate precious food supplies and crops. Being small, the Aussie Terrier did not require much food, and their rough coat was well suited to the harsh Australian bush.

historical photo of australian terrier
historical photo australian terrier conformation
historical photo australian terrier begging with cockatoo

Australian Terrier Personality

The Aussie Terrier's courage and ingenuity coupled with it's loyal and companionable nature made it the perfect mix of working dog and companion for tough pioneer life. Adept at killing rodents and snakes, these dogs easily transitioned to loving and devoted pets to cuddle up with after a long day's work was done.

Today, Australian Terriers make excellent pets for families and are generally good with children. Although their Terrier energy levels mean daily walks are non negotiable, this breed will happily adjust to apartment living so long as adequate mental stimulation and room to move are provided. The Australian Terrier learns quickly and can excel at activities such as agility or nose Work.

Australian Terrier Diet and Nutrition

Australian Terrier Puppies

It's hard to resist the gorgeous puppy eyes of these scruff-balls! A premium, complete and balanced small breed puppy food is the best way to ensure that your Aussie puppy is receiving all the nutrients they need for their intense growth period.

As for any puppy, the first few weeks after bringing an Australian Terrier into your home are an exciting time, and often a steep learning curve. Socialisation in the first 12 weeks of a puppy's life is crucial to ensure they become confident and well-behaved canine citizens. Exposing them in a positive way to new people, animals, environments, sounds and situations will help to prevent fear and anxiety in later life. We recommend puppy preschools as a great way to introduce these new things in a safe way.

These first few weeks will also involve your puppy's vaccinations, flea and worming control, toilet training and the start of obedience training. For detailed tips and advice in these areas and more, take a look through our New Puppy Guide. For tips on combatting those problematic puppy behaviours that might occur, like digging and chewing, check out our Puppy Training Guide.

Best food for Australian Terrier Puppies

Our Vet Squad recommend the following premium diets for Australian Terrier puppies, to ensure they thrive during puppyhood. Premium diets contain consistent, highly digestible ingredients, and often contain additional beneficial ingredients such as omega fatty acids and antioxidants for skin, coat and immune health.

With their tendency towards skin allergies, for adult Australian Terriers we recommend feeding a premium diet formulated for small breed or terrier dogs with high levels of omega fatty acids to support skin barrier function. Topical products such as Paw Blackmores Essential 6 and Aloveen Leave in Conditioner can also help to keep the skin and hair coat nourished and in top condition.

Advance Adult Terriers Ocean Fish

Made with fish as an alternative protein source, this super premium, Australian made, dry dog food is complete and balanced to support the unique nutritional requirements of small Terrier breeds.

Hill's Science Diet Adult Small and Toy Breed

This premium dry food contains an exclusive blend of omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients to support healthy skin and a shiny coat as well as optimal levels of calcium and high quality proteins to support bone and muscle strength.

Pro Plan Adult Small & Mini Fussy & Beauty

A small breed specific formula fortified with key nutrients and antioxidants to highlight natural coat colour as well as omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and a shiny, lustrous coat.

Royal Canin Mini Dermacomfort

Royal Canin Mini Dermacomfort is enriched with an exclusive nutrient complex that helps to support the skins barrier role, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids widely known to promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Australian Terrier Health Problems

australian terrier licking lips

Australian Terriers were bred to be tough and are overall a very hardy breed with few significant health issues. More common health problems affecting Aussie Terriers include:

Luxating patella

Patellar luxation occurs when the dog's kneecap does not fit in its groove properly, leading to it popping in out and out of place. This can cause pain and changes to the dog's gait. Mild cases typically do not require treatment however surgery may be necessary in severe cases.

As with any type of joint disease, arthritis can be a concern. Take a look at our article Arthritis Care in Dogs for tips on managing arthritis if it should occur.

Legg Perthes Disease

Legg Perthes Disease is a developmental disorder of the hip joint where the blood flow to the 'ball' of the hip joint (the femoral head) is interrupted, causing it to collapse and fracture. Some dogs respond well to medical management with medication and restricted exercise, though most affected dogs require surgery to remove the femoral head in order to relieve the pain and lameness.

The condition has been linked to a recessive gene, so reputable breeders will be sure not to breed affected dogs.

Skin allergies

Skin allergies such as atopic dermatitis (also called atopy) do tend to affect Aussie Terriers more commonly. Atopic dermatitis is a generalised allergy caused by items in the environment such as pollen, dustmites or grasses. It usually results in itching, hairloss and red, inflamed skin. Often affected dogs may lick their paws excessively and have recurrent ear infections. Contact allergies can cause similar symptoms in dogs however the reaction is limited to areas where the dog has come into direct contact with the allergen (usually plants). Diagnosis of allergic skin disease in dogs can take some time as the underlying cause needs to be discovered, usually through a process of elimination. Management involves reducing or eliminating the allergen from the environment if possible, alongside potentially desensitisation and medication, dietary changes and topical therapies to manage symptoms.


Australian Terriers tend to have an higher than average incidence of diabetes. Similar to diabetes in humans, dogs with diabetes have an insulin deficiency, and are therefore unable to properly control their blood glucose levels. The symptoms you might see include increased appetite, thirst and urination. Despite the increase appetite, diabetic dogs often lose weight. For more information, take a look at our article on Feeding Diabetic Dogs.

Related Breeds

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds, which has contributed its genes to many other Terrier breeds. The breed originated in Scotland, where, like it's Australian Terrier descendant, was involved in hunting vermin.

Yorkshire Terrier

The beautiful Yorkie is thought to be descended from the English, Scottish and Maltese terriers. It is a very spirited little dog, who takes it's job as a watch dog very seriously.

Scottish Terrier

The Scottie Dog hails, as it's name suggests, from Aberdeen in Scotland. Scottie's are strong and sturdy, make good watch dogs and can be stubborn, so consistent training is necessary.

Norwich Terrier

The Norwich Terrier is alert, smart and easy to train. They originated in East Anglia in the UK. They have short, sturdy bodies and thrive on being active.

Further Reading

dog paws on novel

Premium pet food: Is it worth it?

Does your dog have a food allergy?

New puppy guide

What's in your pet's food?

How to read the label on a bag of pet food

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