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Australian Terrier Temperament (Loyal, Courageous, Spirited): How To Make the Best of It?

The Australian Terrier temperament is spirited, even-tempered, and courageous. It was Australia's first show dog. However, Australian Terriers, or “Aussies,” weren’t only bred for show.

Photo of Spirited Australian Terrier Sitting on Grass | Dog Temperament

Australian Terrier Temperament and Personality

The following temperament traits will help you decide if the Australian Terrier is a good match for your household and lifestyle. Note however that each individual dog is different and as far as temperament goes there is no substitute for meeting and spending some time with the dog before you commit.

Read On:

Good-natured Temperament

The Australian Terrier dog is famous for their upbeat personality and joy for life. They are also extremely adaptable and lively.

Great watchdogs

In true terrier fashion, Australian Terriers are alert and love to bark at anything they deem “suspicious”. They make a great watchdog but don’t count on them to be great guard dogs due to their size.

They love to chase

Thanks to their history as natural hunters, Australian Terriers love to chase anything that catches their eye: squirrels, cats, rabbits, etc. They have a strong prey drive, so be sure to always keep them on a leash or secure in a fenced yard.

They love to dig

Like all terriers, Australian Terriers love to dig. If you’re a big fan of your lawn, they may not be the right breed for you. Left unattended for too long, the lawn will become his own personal entertainment. If you have a naughty digging Australian Terrier, read this to find out how to stop digging.

They are attached to their family

Australian Terriers are loyal and very family-oriented. They tend to gravitate towards the elderly and young children. However, they should always be supervised with small children. They are not aggressive or snappy, but they don’t enjoy too much rough-housing.

Photo of two Companionable Australian Terrier in Park with Woman and other dog | Dog Temperament

Australian Terriers are intuitive

Because they are so attached to their humans, they tend to match the mood with yours. If you are happy, they’ll be playful and lively. If you’re sad, they’ll be calm and quiet.

They Can Be Bossy Sometimes

A common trait of the Terrier personality is that they can be bossy. With the proper training, though, you can help calm them down of this.

Generally speaking, Australian Terriers can coexist well with other pets in the house. However, don’t be surprised if he becomes a little fighty with members of the same sex.

The general rule is that the more you socialize your Terrier, the better he will become with all animals – and strangers too, for that matter.

Something important to note here is that while an Australian Terrier will not necessarily go out looking for a fight, he also won’t back down from a fight when challenged. This could get him into trouble if the dog who happens to pick a fight with him is significantly larger than he is.

They Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Cats

As for cats, the Aussie can certainly learn to live with them. However, because of his strong prey drive, he may consider all cats other than the one(s) he knows to be prey.

So, you’ll have to watch him when you’re out on walks to ensure he doesn’t terrorize the local cats in the neighborhood.

A Brief History of the Australian Terrier

Breeders created the Australian Terrier – the smallest of the Terrier group – to hunt snakes and rodents, serve as a watchdog and tend sheep.

Breeders developed them from the rough-coated Terrier but also crossed them with various other Terriers to create the Australian Terrier we know today.

The Australian Terrier is a sturdy little dog, and that’s mainly due to the European settlers who created him. They needed a dog who could work in both mild and harsh weather conditions to keep down the rat and snake population – and the Australian Terrier delivered.

His strong prey drive lives on even now, which is why he makes such a great watchdog and loves the thrill of the chase.

How Do You Train an Australian Terrier?

Australian Terriers mischievous and spirited temperament is all fun and games until it comes time to training the Aussie.

Establish a leadership role from the start and your training endeavors will be successful. He needs to know that you’re the boss around here – not him.

A firm, yet consistent approach is necessary and it does help that the Australian Terrier is extremely intelligent.

Repetitive training won’t work on Australian Terriers so keep training lessons fun yet challenging. Positive reinforcement and reward-based training is the way to go.

Australian Terrier puppies benefit from puppy training and obedience classes with treats, praise, and toys. Just go easy on the treats – you don’t want to make your dog overweight, as this can lead to a host of health problems.

Sometimes even with the best training, they don’t like to share. So be careful with two males in a household.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Havanese dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

The Australian Terrier Appearance

While sometimes mistaken for a Cairn Terrier or Border Terrier, the Australian Terrier is quite different. They have an unmistakable shaggy coat that comes in three colors: blue and tan, red, and sandy.

Photo of an Alert Australian Terrier on Park Bench | Dog Temperament

As far as size goes, the Australian Terrier is just in between the Cairn Terrier and Border Terrier, weighing between 15-20 pounds and standing 10-11 inches tall.

The Australian Terrier lifespan is between 11-15 years.

Finding the Perfect Australian Terrier

Ready to add an Australian Terrier to your family? To find the perfect Australian Terrier dog for your family, first, consider your lifestyle.

If you are an active family with enough time on your hands, an Australian Terrier puppy would be perfect for you. But, if you don’t have the time or resources to raise a puppy, an adult Australian Terrier might be the better option.

The Australian Terrier Club of America is a great resource for finding information on Australian Terriers from breeders or from a rescue. Another awesome resource is Temora Australian Terriers, a breeder and rescue coordinator located in the Midwest. They have been breeding and raising Australian Terriers since 1995.

How Much are Australian Terrier Puppies?

The average cost of Australian Terrier puppies for sale is between $1000-$1500.

The Australian Terrier price depends on litter availability, location, and lineage.

If you’re looking for Australian Terriers for sale with a champion bloodline, expect to pay closer to $1500.

Australian Terrier Rescue and Adoption

Decided to go the Australian Terrier rescue route? A great place to start is the Australian Terrier Rescue website. They have Australian Terriers available for rescue as well as success stories.

Australian Terriers for adoption are great for families who are looking for an adult dog or for one who is already house-trained, and obedience trained.

If you are looking for an Australian Terrier mix, a rescue will be your best bet. Purebred Australian Terriers don’t always find themselves in shelters, but mixes are a different story.

Australian Terrier Breeders

Prefer a purebred Australian Terrier? Check out the AKC Marketplace to find Australian Terrier breeders in your area.

Thoroughly research the breeder before planning a visit – are they reputable? Do they seem knowledgeable about the breed?

Come prepared with questions about an Australian Terrier such as any health concerns or temperament issues. A good dog breeder will be able to answer any question you have.

A reputable breeder will also have a clean home or kennel. Do the dogs and puppies shy away from the breeder? That’s a sign the breeder may mistreat their animals.

Top Australian Terrier Mixes

If a mixed breed is what you’re looking for, there are a few Australian Terrier mixed breeds out there who might tickle your fancy. Consider the following if you’re interested in a mixed breed:

How to Groom an Australian Terrier?

Australian Terriers have a weatherproof, double coat that wicks away dirt and reduces matting, making it extremely easy to maintain.

Do Australian Terriers Shed?

If you’re wondering if Australian Terriers shed, the answer is: Australian Terrier grooming only requires a quick brushing about once per week. So, thankfully, not much. Brushing them once a week also reduces what little shedding they would do anyway.

And because they shed so little, they are what you might call “hypoallergenic” dogs. This means that you are less likely to develop allergies around this dog, but it’s still not impossible. The best way to know is to try – spend some time with one of these dogs to see if you develop a reaction.

Keep the hair that grows near their eyes and ears trimmed, else it could irritate them at worst, and just straight-up look messy at best.


They only require a bath when truly necessary, as shampoo can soften their harsh coat which reduces its ability to repel dirt. It also makes their coat look duller due to reducing its natural oils. Plus, just like humans, too many baths can result in dry skin. Nails

Be sure to trim the Aussie’s nails regularly. Long nails can make walking uncomfortable, even painful. Experts recommend trimming them about every 3 or 4 weeks.

The earlier you start trimming your dog’s nails, the better. Else, he may not let you touch his feet when he gets older, which makes a necessary grooming element more difficult than it needs to be.

You may need to spend the money on a professional groomer if he refuses to let you touch his feet.

Staying Healthy: Australian Terrier Health Issues You Must Know

Australian Terriers are healthy, but they are prone to specific health conditions such as:

Helpful Dog Health Resource

Note: If you are serious about your Dog's health then get a copy of  The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your dog is gonna love you for it. Click the link to take a look.


The Terrier group is high energy, and the Australian Terrier is no exception. They need regular exercises, like daily walks, play sessions, or trips to the dog park.

If an Australian Terrier doesn’t get enough exercise, like many other breeds, they will become bored and will learn to expel their energy in destructive ways. Learn how exercise can help dogs with behavior problems.

Just make sure that when you take your Terrier out to the dog park, you keep him on a leash. With his strong prey drive, all he needs to do is catch a good whiff of potential prey, and he’ll take off like a shot. He may end up miles away from home before he realizes he’s lost – or worse, run out into traffic.

When you let him out into the yard, make sure you have a secure fence and that you supervise him. Since he loves to dig, there’s nothing stopping him from digging under the fence and getting out.

Chances are he won’t do much if you just let him out into the yard anyway since he prefers doing things with you, rather than on his own. Just opening the door and letting him free defeats the purpose of playtime with the Australian Terrier.

Why the Australian Terrier?

The pint-sized Australian Terrier temperament loves life, he but loves his humans even more.

Thanks to their Terrier heritage, they love to chase everything that catches their eye – and dig up anything they can get their paws on. Make sure you have a good fence that is tall enough and sturdy enough to keep him behind it.

The Australian Terrier temperament is intelligent, so this dog will respond well to positive reinforcement training.

He’s also a great watchdog but, for obvious reasons, isn’t exactly the most intimidating guard dog. He’ll alert you of a potentially problematic situation, then expect you to deal with it since you’re bigger than him.

If you’re looking for a loyal and intuitive breed, then the Australian Terrier is perfect for you.