Dog Health & More
The Australian Terrier was developed in Australia, as his name implies. Bred to hunt and exterminate rodents and snakes, Australian Terriers were also prized as watchdogs and companions. Today, the Australian Terrier dog breed maintains those same characteristics: he is a delightful companion, a fierce earthdog competitor, and a conformation and obedience showman.
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The Australian Terrier, called an "Aussie" by his admirers (although he's not to be confused with an Australian Shepherd), is a small terrier with upright ears and a rough, shaggy coat. He is the littlest of the working terriers, but don't let his size fool you. He's definitely a lot of dog in a tiny package, with a typical terrier slant on life: tenacious, independent, hardworking, and lively.
With a spirited, mischievous personality, the Aussie jumps into life with attitude. But he's usually strongly attached to his family — so strongly attached that he'll often match his mood to yours. If you've got the blues, he is calm and quiet. If you're happy and excited, he turns frisky and playful.
Mostly, the Aussie is upbeat, active, and silly, clowning around and entertaining his owners. He has an affinity for the young, the elderly, and the disabled. He makes an excellent playmate for a child, although adults should supervise interactions with very young children: Australian Terriers are not snappy or aggressive, but they do have limits on the handling and roughhousing they will tolerate.
He may be small, but the Australian Terrier has the confidence of a large breed. He is a wonderful watchdog and will bark to alert his owners of the approach of anyone or anything new and different.
Since they're so intelligent, Australian Terriers will readily learn whatever you're teaching (so be sure you don't inadvertently teach your Aussie pup that it's okay to jump up on you or chase the cat — or he'll keep up the behavior throughout his adulthood as well). Repetitive training is a bore for these bundles of energy, so lessons must be fun and increasingly challenging. Also, the independent Aussie likes to think the schooling is all his idea. Positive, reward-based training works wonders.
Since the breed was developed as a working terrier, the Aussie instinct to chase and kill small animals — including squirrels, rabbits, mice, and cats — is strong. A securely fenced yard is essential, as is leash training. If you have rodents or other small pets, you need to introduce your Aussie to them when he's a young puppy, and teach him from the start that they are off limits. This can be very difficult — in truth, the best strategy is to never allow the Aussie to gain access to them. He can live with cats if he grows up with them and is taught to leave them alone, but he's likely to consider all felines outside your household to be fair game.
If you like a pristine lawn or showplace garden, an Australian Terrier may not be the breed for you. Like all terriers, he loves to dig — it's in his breeding — and if left unsupervised for too long, he'll decide that tearing up the lawn is an ideal way to amuse himself.
Even though he stands a mere 10 inches tall and weighs about 14 pounds, this is one confident breed. The spunky Aussie will challenge other dogs, including those much bigger than he is. He can be aggressive and bossy to other dogs in his household.