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Honest FAQ for Australian Terriers (2021)

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Australian Terrier

Terriers are not for everyone! Take heed of their high energy level, strong chasing instincts, and independence.

What kind of temperament and personality does the Australian Terrier have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Australian Terrier temperament and behavior are:

quick to bark/chase, lively, feisty, clever, curious, independent, persistent, impulsive

I give you my honest opinions about Australian Terrier temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Australian Terrier Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

What were Australian Terriers used for?

Virtually all terriers were developed for the same reason – to hunt and kill vermin such as mice and rats, and to be a keen watchdog.

What traits would help Australian Terriers accomplish their work? That's right... keen senses, strong drives to chase and grab things that run, spunkiness, agility, toughness, determination, persistence, independent thinking, territorial instincts, and loyalty to his owner.

How big are Australian Terriers? Height and weight?

About 11 inches at the shoulder, and 12-18 pounds, which puts them in the SMALL category.

What colors do Australian Terriers come in?

The most common color in Australian Terriers is blue & tan, where the "tan" covers the dog's head, chest, and legs, and should be a rich reddish tan. The "blue" saddle may range from dark steel blue to light silvery.

Australian Terriers can also be solid red or sandy.

How much exercise do Australian Terriers need?

Moderate exercise. All terriers need brisk walks, plus a decent yard for romping and exploring. Play games of fetch and tug. Set up a miniature obstacle course and run around it with him. Get your Australian Terrier involved in two AKC activities called Earthdog  and Scentwork.

Do Australian Terriers need a fenced yard?

Yes, preferably with a high solid fence. Why a fenced yard? and best and worst fences.

Are Australian Terriers easy to train?

To be honest, no terrier breed is "easy" to train. Terriers are hardwired with an independent mind of their own. However, that doesn't mean you should just let them do what they want. It means you should expect more resistance than if you were teaching, say, an eager-to-please Poodle. But you should hold terriers just as accountable for bad behavior as you would any other breed.

The great news is that IF you have a confident personality and are prepared to be firm and assertive with your Australian Terrier, you should be able to establish a healthy leader-follower relationship with this clever little dog. With the proper pecking order in place, terriers can be great fun to own.

Are Australian Terriers easy to housebreak?

They're okay. A few terriers are a little slow with the concept of not dirtying their sleeping quarters, but if you patiently confine them for however long it takes, they'll get the idea and be fine going forward.

Are Australian Terriers friendly with people?

Some Aussies are outgoing, but most are loyal to their own family, and standoffish with strangers. But they should still be required to be polite. You don't want to allow a terrier to develop the bad habit of confronting people or "telling people off", as this tends to escalate, over time, to outright aggression.

Are Australian Terriers good with children?

I never recommend terriers for children younger than about age 10. These breeds have a strong sense of pride and fairness and don't tend to put up with pushy children who step over the line. If you want a terrier, your kids should be older and have the kind of personality and behavior that can be relied upon to treat a dog with respect.

Are Australian Terriers good with other dogs?

Australian Terriers are usually fine with other dogs in their own family, but it's safest if they're the opposite sex.

With dogs they don't know, the vast majority of terriers will stiffen and stand up on their toes, leaning toward the other dog and making hard eye contact. You can clearly hear their thoughts, "My sidewalk! Either back down, or fight right now." Scrappy, scrappy dogs – not every terrier, but most.

Are Australian Terriers good with cats?

They're usually fine with cats in their own family. But they have excitable chasing instincts, so don't keep one with pet rodents or rabbits. Some Australian Terriers will even stalk birds.

How much do Australian Terriers shed?

Australian Terriers are light shedders. You will find some wiry hair on your clothing or furniture, but not much.

Are Australian Terriers hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. If you're allergic to dog dander... some people with (usually mild) allergies aren't too badly affected by the Australian Terrier. So no, Aussies are not really hypoallergenic in the same way a Poodle or Bichon Frise is hypoallergenic, but people with minor allergies to dog dander might be okay.

How much grooming do Australian Terriers need?

Brush and comb his hard wiry coat once a week. Keep his bottom trimmed for cleanliness. Every 3 or 4 months, you'll need to clip the entire coat.

What's a good training schedule for training Australian Terrier puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Australian Terriers: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Australian Terriers tend to have?

Most commonly I see excitability, darting around on the leash, chasing things, digging holes, possessiveness of toys, and excessive barking. Also pugnaciousness toward strange dogs, and sometimes suspiciousness toward strangers. Here's how to handle behavior problems.

What health problems might Australian Terriers have?

The two leading health problems in Australian Terriers are chronic itchy allergies, and luxating patella (loose knee joints that can require expensive surgery).

What breeds are similar to the Australian Terrier?

Where can I buy an Australian Terrier puppy?

Show breeder, pet breeder? Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Australian Terrier?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new Australian Terrier. Which pages should I read first?

  • Australian Terrier Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Australian Terrier puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Australian Terriers, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Australian Terrier puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Australian Terriers have pros and cons, and female Australian Terriers have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Australian Terrier puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible Australian Terrier breeder would ever place one of their Australian Terrier puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Australian Terrier puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Australian Terriers?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Australian Terrier to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Australian Terrier until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Australian Terrier, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Australian Terriers that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my books:

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.