The Australian Terrier, which can be blue & tan, red or sandy in colour, was evolved, it is believed, in Tasmania in the 1820s from the cross-breeding of various terrier breeds including the Dandie Dinmont, the Skye and the now extinct Scotch Terrier which is not to be confused with the present-day Scottish Terrier. The old Scotch Terrier was the progenitor of the Cairn and West Highland White Terrier. In those far-off days the old Irish Terrier was a much smaller dog with prick ears and this breed was probably in the mix too, hence the red and sandy Aussies.
The early settlers wanted a dog that had the ability to work and earn its keep in specific conditions. Unfortunately, they never kept any breeding records but the above-mentioned breeds are believed to be behind the Australian Terrier. Aussies have been used for a wide variety of jobs over the years, jobs such as being early warning systems to alert the settlers that potential marauders were heading in the direction of their property, as vermin killers -in particular - snakes, herding dogs, working in the mines, and even as drug-detection dogs in a state prison in the USA. This is a truly adaptable breed.
Aussies are small, fun-loving dogs who absolutely love people – the more the merrier! They are an active breed and will take as much or as little exercise as their owners care to give them. They are very affectionate and love to please. Aussies “talk” with their ears which they can and do use independently of one another and when at peace with the world they will fold their ears back in sheer pleasure.
They have tremendous spring in their hindquarters and are very fast over a short distance.
Australian Terriers are highly intelligent and, in fact, they are one of the few breeds from the Terrier Group that can readily adapt to obedience or agility.
As far as it is known Australian Terriers are a healthy breed although in more recent times a few have reportedly developed diabetes and more recently a small number of cases of epilepsy have come to light. The breeders are aware of these reports but the numbers of recorded incidences are insufficient at present to give any true indication as to whether there is a common denominator. The reports are currently being monitored.