Australian Terriers are thought to be descendents of the Rough-Coated Terrier, a close relative of the old Scotch Dog of Great Britain, which existed in Tasmania since the early 1880’s. Apparently, the Rough-Coated Terriers were crossbred with a number of other terrier breeds to produce the sturdy, weatherproof and fearless little dog that the Australian settlers needed to control rodents and snakes, tend flocks, guard the homestead and be a beloved family companion. There appears to be a consensus among historians that the breeds used in the development of the Australian Terrier include the precursors of the Dandie Dinmont, Skye, Yorkshire, Norwich, Scottish and Manchester (formerly the old Black-and-Tan) terriers. The Irish and Cairn terriers may also have contributed to the mix. The resulting stout and strong Australian Terrier was an excellent ratter and snake catcher which worked well out in the open countryside with human companions in all kinds of weather and terrain. Today, they are still very popular working and devoted companion dogs for show, city, home or farm.
The average life span of the Australian Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns can include allergies, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patellar luxation and thyroid problems. Generally, Australian Terriers are hardy and healthy little dogs.