Sharing a striking resemblance to the Yorkshire Terrier, from which it descends in part, the Australian Terrier is a unique and surprisingly tough little dog. Though its unpopular ranking of 140 in a pool of 193 American Kennel Club dogs doesn’t do it justice, these dogs are quite special, and were actually the first breed recognized by the land of its namesake. What the Australian Terrier lacks in size, it makes up for with loyal devotion to its family and intrepid courage when clashing with snakes and small mammals.
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Australian Terrier Appearance
The Australian Terrier is a small dog breed reaching 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weighing 15 to 20 pounds. With a body that is longer than it is tall, the Australian Terrier is stable and moves quite easily, enabling it to track small animals close to the ground. A long, yet proportional, strong head allows this breed to root out its prey from holes in the ground. Like some of the other small terrier breeds, the Australian Terrier has a set of small, pricked ears.
The coat of an Australian Terrier is wiry and rough on the outside and comes in three standard AKC colors: blue and tan, red, and sandy. Other colors may include blue, red, sable, black, brindle, or combinations like red with white, tan, or black; blue black and tan; and black and red. Though no markings are standard, black markings or black points can occasionally be seen in the coat of Australian Terriers.
The Australian Terrier is quite the anomaly and isn’t the least bit discouraged by its size. This breed is fearsome to small mammals and snakes, and will seldom shy away from a fight. Unsurprisingly, the Australian Terrier is likely to be extremely territorial and defensive of its family and home turf. The Australian Terrier is always on high alert and will bark at the first signs of trouble, making it a fantastic watchdog. Nevertheless, its skill and courage in battle seem to have no effect on its undying love for members of the family.
Australian Terriers are affectionate little dogs and generally live from 11 to 15 years of age. This breed loves to spend time with its family and is very sociable. A likely result of its genetic inclinations to root out and hunt small animals, the Australian Terrier doesn’t generally take kindly to other dogs or cats.
Another unique quality of the Australian Terrier is its adaptability and intelligence. This breed seems to thrive in any situation, and has a tremendous intellect, both emotionally and generally. An expert strategist when it comes to pursuing small animals, the Australian Terrier knows when to shut off its hunting instincts. In fact, the breed is specifically known for its ability to connect with children and senior citizens, as well as individuals with handicaps, making the Australian Terrier a wonderful therapy dog. As a lover or a fighter, a working dog or a family dog, this breed is capable of adapting and thriving in just about any environment.
Caring for an Australian Terrier
The Australian Terrier can certainly fend for itself, but proper care will go a long way in giving the Australian Terrier a happy and healthy life.
The Australian Terrier loves to eat, and will almost always leave an empty dog bowl. Unfortunately, obesity is unhealthy for these little dogs and it is important to maintain a healthy weight. Choosing a high-quality food for small dogs will aid in helping to ensure adequate nutrition and a balanced diet to prevent weight gain and obesity. Care should also be taken when giving treats to the Australian Terrier, and portion sizes should be kept small. As always, check to make sure that the Australian Terrier is only fed human food that is safe to share with dogs.
Australian Terriers have plenty of energy and need to expend it through regular exercise to promote a healthy lifestyle and minimize boredom. Since Australian Terriers are very versatile and adaptable, this breed will enjoy just about any activity, indoors or out. While the Australian Terrier will need at least one or two walks per day, a dog playpen with some interactive dog toys or puzzle toys for dogs should help alleviate boredom for owners with busy schedules. Ensuring the Australian Terrier gets enough exercise is of the utmost importance given this breed’s penchant for digging holes.
The Australian Terrier, like any dog, will require some training. Since Australian Terriers are very alert and can be easily distracted, it’s best to keep training sessions brief. In addition, the breed’s high level of intelligence can result in stubbornness, making consistency and patience two essential components of a successful training regimen. For apartment dwellers, it may also be necessary to train the Australian Terrier to restrain itself from barking unnecessarily. All Australian Terrier owners should begin training from a young age, and consider enrolling their dog in a training course or obedience classes, and encourage good habits through positive reinforcement.
The Australian Terrier is an all-around salubrious dog with relatively few major health problems. Anyone considering the addition of an Australian Terrier to the family should work only with reputable breeders who provide full disclosure on the breed’s health risks.
Since all dogs are prone to genetic illnesses, a dog DNA test can prove beneficial for any dog owner. In particular, Australian Terriers are at greater risk for Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a condition involving a malformed hip joint and treated with surgery. Australian Terrier puppies can also fall victim to a painful condition called luxating patella, which is similar to a dislocation of the kneecap in humans.
Particularly with Australian Terriers that spend a lot of time outdoors and in heavily wooded areas, extra attention needs to be paid to the symptoms of fleas and skin conditions. Always monitor the Australia terrier for any signs of excessive itching, and administer a prophylactic flea medication or flea treatment for dogs.
To help maintain the good health of an Australian Terrier, or any dog for that matter, teeth and ears should be checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Owners should also be sure to bring their dog to a veterinary professional for frequent checkups as a puppy, and at least once per year for healthy adult dogs.