The Australian Terrier (or “Aussie”) – not to be confused with the Australian Shepherd, the Australian Cattle Dog, or the Australian Silky (known as the Silky Terrier in the United States) – was the first Australian-bred dog ever to be recognized and shown in Australia. Persistent efforts over the years produced an ideal terrier to suit Australian conditions and resulted in a rugged, hard-bitten, fearless dog that was equally at home, indoors or out.
Beginning in Tasmania, the earliest efforts at breeding a native rough-coated terrier soon spread to Victoria on the mainland, and then on to the other Australian states. When the Australians needed help controlling rodents on the waterfront, in the gold mines, and on the sheep stations – or to herd sheep and to serve as watchdogs, they began breeding these small terriers from the rough-coated, short-legged dogs from Britain that originally came with the first sailing ships to the Land Down Under.
The Australian Terrier, a small working terrier, was bred to be both a helper and companion in rough times and terrain. A native dog (known as the “rough-coated terrier”) and a close relative of the old Scotch dog of Great Britain (not to be confused with the present-day Scottish Terrier) are believed to have been cross-bred with a number of other breeds of British stock to produce the fast, sturdy, weather-resistant and fearless little dog that the settlers needed as they expanded the frontiers of their country. The breeds chosen for cross-breeding were selected to promote specific desired traits.
Although there are differences among writers of the histories of the breed, there is a consensus of opinion that the breeds used included the precursor of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Skye Terrier, the Yorkshire Terrier, and the old Black and Tan Terrier.
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