Australian terrier, breed of small, hardy terrier perfected in Australia c.1885. It stands about 10 in. (25.4 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 12 to 14 lb (5.5–6.4 kg). Its weather-resistant double coat consists of a soft, short underlayer and a straight, harsh outercoat about 2.5 in. (6.4 cm) long. It is silver-black or blue-black in color with rich tan markings on the head and legs. The Australian terrier is descended from the now extinct broken-hair, or rough-coated, terrier, a dog of widespread popularity in the early 18th cent. and believed to be the progenitor of many terrier breeds. For show purposes the rough-coated terrier was crossed with several British sporting terriers, probably the cairn, Dandie Dinmont, Irish, and Skye, producing the Australian terrier of today. Originally used to guard mines and herd sheep, it is now primarily raised as a pet. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.