DESCRIPTION AND BACKGROUND OF THE AUSTRALIAN TERRIER
Australia's own terrier breed, this hard bitten little dog evolved from a variety of British terriers that had been brought out to this country by early settlers. Specifically bred for Australian conditions, this tough little terrier was used for killing rats and snakes but soon endeared himself with his engaging ways to become a popular companion.
One of the smallest of the terrier breeds, the Aussie has spirit, courage and an air of his own importance. He believes himself to be a much larger dog.
Equally suited to town or country living, the Australian Terrier is noted for his loyalty, intelligence and even disposition. He is neither highly strung nor a persistent barker, but with his inbuilt spirit, courage and air of self assurance, happily assumes the role of protector for home and household. Sturdy, with a harsh easy-to-care for coat, and a history of longevity, the Australian Terrier finds much favour as both an indoor and outdoor companion.
The origins of the Australian Terrier are not documented but it is thought that his beginnings were in Tasmania - the island state.
Breeds thought to have played a role in its development are the Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terriers. There is also record of six Cairn Terriers being taken to Tasmania in the 1840's. Early Australian Terriers were known as rough or broken coated terriers and there was also a dog known as the Tasmanian Rough Coated Terrier. The first record of a rough coated terrier being shown in Australia is in Melbourne in 1868. These dogs were blackish with tan markings. A standard for the breed was drawn up in 1887. In 1889 the breed became known as the Australian Rough Coated Terrier and for the first time sandy coloured dogs were shown.
The Australian Rough Coated Terrier Club was formed in Melbourne in 1889 and the standard revised. By 1901 the club had 50 members and Australian Rough Coated Terriers were drawing close to the largest entry at most shows.
Noted canine writer "Freeman Lloyd" wrote in the English sporting magazine "The Field" in 1901: "There are large classes of Australian Terriers. They are bigger than Yorkshires and should be short and harsh in coat, but do not seem particularly attractive dogs, These dogs are however, very plentiful, possess "type" and are game and excellent ratters. If one cares to take a stroll on the esplanade at St. Kilda, the suburban and seaside resort of Melbourne on a Sunday, he may observe as many as forty to fifty following enjoyment seekers. From this one can easily see they are in great requisition as companions, and I have noticed many carried as lapdogs by ladies in carriages."
Australian Terriers were taken to England early this century but they did not gain public recognition until the Governor of Victoria, the Earl of Stradbroke, returned to England and took his little dogs back with him. By 1933 they had gained English Kennel Club status as a breed. It was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1960 and became the first Australian breed to be officially recognised as a breed by overseas canine associations.
A sturdy, low-set dog, rather long in proportion to height the Australian Terrier is essentially a working terrier with strong terrier character, alert and active. His coat is harsh straight and dense and approximately six centimetres in length with a soft undercoat. The coat is untrimmed with a definite ruff around the neck extending to the breastbone. The muzzle, lower legs and feet are free from long hair. The topknot is blue, silver or a lighter shade than the head colour.
Permissible colours are:
blue, steel blue or dark grey blue with a rich tan on face, ears, underbody, lower legs and feet and around the vent. The richer the colour and the more clearly defined the better.