HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Among the smallest of the working terriers, the Australian is its country’s national terrier. The breed — first exhibited as the “broken-coated terrier of blackish blue sheen” — originated in the late 19th century.
Later names included Blue and Tan Terrier, the Toy, and in 1900 it was named the “Rough-Coated Terrier, Blue and Tan.” Generally, the dog was known for its tan and blue colors, but early representatives also showed sandy or red coloration. Eventually the dog became popular in both British homes and show rings.
A large number of breeds were crossed with the root stock of the Australian Terrier, including the Yorkshire, Dandie Dinmont, Scottish, Skye, and Manchester Terriers, resulting in a useful dog with a striking appearance.
The American Kennel Club would officially recognize the Australian Terrier in 1965, nearly 40 years after the breed arrived to the United states.
Originally bred as a sentinel and for hunting small vermin and tending livestock, the Australian Terrier is small and tough dog. This versatile worker has a a keen, alert expression and is a suitable companion in most environments.
The Australian Terrier has an attractive ruff circling the neck with a crest of longer hair that enhances its intelligent and keen expression. This working terrier has a medium-boned, small, and sturdy body that is longer than it is tall. It can withstand harsh conditions and shows a ground-covering gait.
The Australian Terrier’s coat, which is blue and tan or red in color, is weatherproof. It is comprised of a 2.5-inch long outer coat that is both straight and harsh, and a soft, short undercoat.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
This Aussie breed is always eager to please, quite clever, and among the most obedient of terriers. It mixes well with other household pets and dogs, but is shy around strangers. Being a true “Earth” dog, it enjoys digging.
Even though it is among the quietest of terriers, it is also a tough and spirited dog, on its mark and chasing rodents whenever it can.
CARE of Australian Terrier
A well-behaved housedog, the Australian Terrier should be allowed to spend lots of time with its family. However, in order to prevent frustration, this adventurous and playful breed requires daily exercise in the form of a playful game, a moderate walk, or an off-leash run.
The wire coat requires combing every week and stripping of dead hairs twice a year. For a neat look, the hair around the feet should be trimmed.
This terrier was bred to tolerate harsh Australian weather conditions, thus it can stay outside in warm and temperate climates.
The Australian Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, may be prone to health problems like Legg-Perthes disease, cruciate ligament rupture, and seizures. In addition, patellar luxation and diabetes are just some of the minor problems seen in this breed.
Australian Terriers are generally healthy but, like all breeds of dogs, they’re prone to certain conditions and diseases.
- Patellar luxation. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
- Legg-perthes causes a deformity of the hip joint ball. It starts with a decrease in the blood supply to the head of the femur bone, until the bone eventually dies off, collapses, and becomes deformed. The result is arthritis or inflammation of the hip joint. It’s unclear what causes legg-perthes, but it may be inherited or related to injury. Treatment includes rest, physical therapy, and surgically removing the deformed femoral head and neck. Dogs generally do well after the surgery, and many suffer only minor lameness, particularly during weather changes.
- Diabetes mellitus prevents the body from regulating blood sugar levels properly. A diabetic dog will eat more food to try to compensate for the lack of glucose reaching the body’s cells — but he will lose weight because food is not being used efficiently. Symptoms of diabetes are excessive urination and thirst, increased appetite, and weight loss. Diabetes can be controlled by diet and the administration of insulin.
- Allergies. Aussies can be prone to allergies (though they are common to dogs in general). There are three main types: food allergies, contact allergies (caused by a reaction to topical substances such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, or other chemicals), and inhalant allergies (caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew). Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
While no dog is perfect and these ailments do not affect all Australian Terriers, it is imperative to do your research to find Aussies of good breeding, with a multitude of health tests in the breeding program to ensure you get the healthiest possible dog that you can.
MUST CHECK OUT : DOG BREEDS
Care 101 of Australian Terrier
The Aussie enjoys the company of his human companions and does best when living in the house, not left to his own devices in the yard — which he will dig up like a gopher if given the chance. Your flowerbeds might stand a chance if you can train him to dig only in one designated spot in the yard, but don’t bet on it. Chances are he’ll make up his own mind about the best digging areas.
You’ll be better off if you supervise him closely when he’s in the yard. Don’t leave him alone too long or he’ll be overcome by temptation, and your tidy landscaping will be only a memory. You must also fence your backyard to live amicably with your Aussie, who will take off after any cat, rat, or rabbit he sees if he’s not confined or supervised on a leash.
Since all dogs in the Terrier group tend to be bossy and aggressive around other dogs, proper socialization of your Aussie puppy is a must. Regular obedience training, beginning with puppy classes, is not only fun but is essential with this breed. Keep in mind, though, that the Aussie is a quick study — don’t bore him by practicing the same lessons over and over.
In fact, you may find that your intelligent Aussie is the type who loves progressively challenging levels of obedience classes and agility training. Motivation is key: the task at hand must be challenging and fun, and you must offer an irresistible incentive, such as treats, toys, or verbal praise. You don’t work for free, and neither does the Aussie.
Begin crate training when he’s a puppy. This will help you housetrain him, and it provides him with a welcome refuge as well as a familiar means of safe travel when he’s in the car.
The spirited Aussie needs plenty of exercise — ideally, several brisk walks a day. He remains active well into his golden years.
Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1 cup dry food a day.
Unlike some small breeds, the Aussie is not a fussy eater. He has a hearty appetite, though he doesn’t usually overeat. For more on feeding your Australian Terrier, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Aussie’s shaggy coat is rough to the touch, with a soft undercoat. About two inches in length over most of the body, it is longer on the chest and head. It comes in three color types: blue and tan (tan body with a blue saddle), sandy, and red.
The Aussie sheds minimally, and it’s easy to groom him. Brush him once a week, trim his toenails once a month, and bathe him as needed — usually every three months or so, unless he has rolled in a scent that only a dog could love. Frequent bathing isn’t recommended because it softens the coarse terrier coat. While a soft coat isn’t harmful to any dog and is fine for a pet, it does detract from a show Aussie’s physical appearance.
Check the ears once a week for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. Also wipe them out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems.
Children And Other Pets
The Aussie makes a wonderful family pet, well suited to families with kids. He loves to play but, like all dogs, should be properly socialized and supervised around very young children. He prefers to be with his people and can become destructive when left alone too long. He also has a penchant for chasing cats and small animals, so he isn’t best suited to homes with rabbits, mice, or hamsters. However, with patient training, the Aussie can be taught to respect and leave alone the animals he lives with — but only those he lives with. He will eagerly chase the neighbor’s cat or a squirrel at a park.