The Australian Terrier traces its roots back to Tasmania. Invasive rodent populations created the need for tough, rough coated little working terriers. These dogs were eagerly adopted at the waterfront areas and in gold mines. Australian owners needed a dog that was capable of hunting down vermin and that could also serve as a watchdog and help with herding sheep in the field. This led to the interbreeding of the small Tasmanian Terrier with various British terriers, including the Scottish, Manchester, Yorkshire, Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terriers.
The result was a rough-coated watchdog capable of working in the fields, catching rodents and providing companionship. The breed soon became the first Australian dog to be officially recognized in its homeland (a standard was established in 1896), and spread to the United States and England shortly thereafter. The Australian Terrier entered the American Kennel Club’s registry in 1960 as the first new terrier in over 20 years.
The “Aussie” is essentially Australian. It is the only true terrier evolved outside the British Isles and should not be confused with the Australian Silky which is a Toy Breed.
Early free settlers in Australia needed a small, hardy, alert dog, keen enough to hunt and kill its own food, for killing vermin such as snakes, rats and rabbits and as a guard dog. Several terrier breeds were combined over a number of years to produce the hard-bitten “Aussie.” Those believed used were the old Scotch (not to be confused with today’s Scottish Terrier), Dandie Dinmont, Black & Tan, and Yorkshire Terriers, amongst others. By the late 1880’s a definite new breed type had emerged, and a standard was set for it in 1896, since then slightly revised, but the breed remains virtually the same.