Australian Terrier

Posted in Terrier Group

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.  Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.


One of the smallest of the working Terriers, was bred to be both a helper and companion in rough times and terrain. 


Although produced from British ancestors, the Australian Terrier is one of the few breeds in the terrier group to have been developed outside the United Kingdom. It can also rightly claim to be the first breed developed in Australia. It appears reasonably certain that both the Australian Silky Terrier and Australian Terrier had a common ancestry from stock in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria, namely the Broken Coated Terriers. It is assumed this type of dog originated from a mixture of British breeds, namely: the Skye Terrier, Scottish Terrier (Aberdeen) and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier.  At intervals the Yorkshire Terrier was introduced.  It is reported that in the early 1800's free settlers around Campbelltown and Ross in Tasmania were breeding broken coated dogs of a blue sheen body colour and tan markings. They were renowned for their prowess as watchdogs and weighed about ten pounds. 

A sturdy low-set dog, rather long in proportion to height with strong Terrier character, alertness, activity and soundness.   Its untrimmed, harsh coat with definite ruff around the neck extending to the breastbone and its long strong head assist in developing its hard bitten, rugged appearance.   
Essentially a working terrier, but its loyalty and even disposition make it equally suitable as a companion dog. 
Skull:  Long, flat, of moderate width, full between the eyes. Covered with a soft topknot. Stop: Slight but definite.  
Nose: Black, of moderate size, the leather extending to the bridge of muzzle. 
Muzzle: Strong and powerful, equal in length to that of the skull; the muzzle must be strong and not fall away under the eyes. The length and strength of the muzzle are essential to give the strong, punishing jaw. 
Lips: Black, tight and clean. 
Jaws/Teeth: Jaws strong and punishing, teeth large and evenly spaced, the upper incisors fitting closely over the lower (scissor bite). 
Eyes: The eyes shall be small, oval, with keen expression, and of dark brown colour, set well apart and not prominent. 
Ears: The  ears  are small,  erect, pointed, well  carried, set  on moderately wide,  free  from  long hair  and  sensitive  in their  use  (puppies under six months excepted). 

The neck is of good length, slightly arched, strong and flowing into the well angulated (well-laid) shoulders. 

Long in proportion to height, strongly constructed. In considering the body, attention must be paid to the opening description, "a sturdy low set dog, rather long in proportion to height". 
Back: Level topline. 
Loins: Strong. 
Chest: Of moderate depth and width, with well sprung ribs.  Forechest well developed, brisket relatively deep. 

Traditionally docked. Whether docked or natural, the tail should be set on high, and well carried, but not over the back. 

[*refer note below]
General appearance: Well boned, straight and parallel when viewed from the front. The legs are slightly feathered towards the wrist. 
Metacarpus (Pasterns): Strong, without slope. 
Forefeet:  Small, round, compact, well padded, toes closely knit and moderately arched. Turned neither in nor out, with strong black or dark toenails. 
General appearance: Moderate length of quarters, broad. Viewed from behind they should be parallel from hock to feet, neither too wide nor too close. 
Thigh: Strong and muscular. 
Stifle (Knee): Well turned. 
Hock joint: Well bent and let down. 
Hind feet:  Small, round, compact, well padded, toes closely knit  and moderately arched. Turned neither in nor out, with strong black or dark toenails. 

The action to be free, true, springy and forceful. When viewed from the front, the forelegs should move truly without looseness of shoulder, elbows or pasterns. The hindquarters to have drive and power, with free movement of stifles and hocks. Viewed from the rear the legs from the hocks to the ground to be parallel, neither too close nor too wide.


 Hair: The body coat consists of a harsh straight dense top coat approximately 6cm long with short soft textured undercoat. The muzzle, lower legs and feet to be free from long hair. 
a)    Blue, steel blue or dark grey blue, with rich tan (not sandy) on face, ears, under body, lower legs and feet and around vent puppies excepted).  The richer the colour and more clearly defined the better.  Smuttiness is objectionable. Topknot blue, silver or a lighter shade than head colour. 

b)    Clear sandy or red, any smuttiness or dark shadings objectionable. A topknot of a lighter shade is acceptable. 
In any colour, white markings on chest or feet must be penalised. 
Height at the withers: The desirable height is approximately 25cm, with bitches slightly less. 
Weight: The desirable weight is approximately 6,5kg for dogs, with bitches slightly less. 

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog. 
Aggressive or overly shy dogs. 
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. 

*Regardless of the provisions of the current KUSA-adopted standard, docked or formerly docked breeds may be shown at all FCI- and KUSA-licensed shows in South Africa, whether their tails are docked, or natural. Under no circumstances are judges permitted to discriminate against exhibits on the grounds of docked, or natural tails and equal consideration for awards must be given to either. (Fedco 12/2017 amended DR/02/2018)