Top 9 Dog Breeds from Australia Dog-Gone-Down-Under Canines!

There's more to Australia than kangaroos and "Crocodile Dundee." Some of the world's most unique canines hail from Australia. And like everything else in the "world down-under," these canines are tough and built for the rugged conditions.

Let's take a trip to Australia to discover the top 9 dog breeds inspired by our Aussie friends.

Australia's Top Dog Breeds

1. The Australian Cattle Dog

australian cattle dog

Bred in the 19th-century by Australian settlers, this dog was "designed" to herd the sometimes difficult (almost wild) cattle on expanding ranches. The quietly aggressive traits of the Australian Cattle Dog controlled these large animals with nips and bites.

To get the Australian Cattle Dog to the breed it is today, canines brought from England were bred to the native Dingo. This resulted in a tougher dog that could handle the harsh climate and conditions of the Australian region.

  • Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: Up to 20 inches
  • Temperament: Active, high-energy, devoted, strong prey drive, protective
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Fun Fact: In 2009, an Australian Cattle Dog named Sophie was tossed from her family's boat when a huge wave hit the vessel. Sophie managed to swim five miles to an island where she lived off the land by hunting feral goats until she was rescued.

2. Australian Kelpie

australian kelpie

The Australian Kelpie breed started with imported black Collies from England that were most likely bred with the local Dingo population. However, the first dog to carry the name of "Kelpie" was purchased in 1872 by a Scottish man named George Robertson. Since then, the Kelpie was crossbred with many other canines to finally become the dog it is today.

Kelpies were later exported to the United States where they are still working as herders, detection dogs, therapy animals, and are excelling in dog sports.

  • Weight: 25 to 46 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 15 to 20 inches
  • Temperament: Resilient, energetic, vigilant, intelligent
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Fun Fact: In 2016, a Kelpie named Maggie set a world record for the oldest living dog. She was 30, which is 200 in human years!

3. Australian Silky Terrier

australian silky terrier

This truly Australian dog was developed in the 19th century. The early examples of this breed were just "broken-coated" or "rough-coated" Terriers, which were crosses of the British Terriers. As the breed progressed, the Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terriers lent their genetics to the mix, then even later the Yorkshire brought its silky coat and small size to the canine we know today as the Australian Silky Terrier. But it wasn’t until 1956 that this dog was officially named and recognized.

  • Weight: Up to 10 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: Up to 10inches
  • Temperament: Friendly, agile, alert, playful, mischievous, loving, and playful.
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Fun Fact: The Australian Silky Terrier's long, silky, blue/tan coat is considered to be hypoallergenic.

4. Australian Terrier

australian terrier

This cute little Terrier is believed to have descended from the Rough-Coated Terrier of Britain. Settlers to Australia needed a hardworking ratter to hunt vermin in the gold mines and sheep stations, as well as a dutiful watchdog, herder, and companion, so the “Aussie” breed was “born.”

The Australian Terrier was the first breed to ever be recognized and shown in Australia. Starting in the late 1940s, this little dog was brought to the United States by travelers and servicemen. In 1957, the Aussie made its first appearance at the Westminster Kennel Club Show and was officially recognized by the AKC in 1960.

  • Weight: 14 to 16 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: Up 10 inches
  • Temperament: Friendly, brave, intelligent, easy to train, lively, devoted, a bit stubborn at times.
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Fun Fact: This breed loves to dig, chase, and bark.

5. Australian Staghound

australian staghound
Photo alfie_and_billy_the_staghounds on Instagram

Another dog breed that dates back to the 18th century is the Australian Staghound. The early specimens of this “running” dog were thought to be Greyhounds mixed with the Scottish Deerhound and brought to Australia by European Colonists. In the early 1800s, the Staghound started to make its way into America and was being bred to chase larger aggressive prey like wolves and coyotes.


The breeding of the Staghound has varied depending on what was available and also what traits the breeder was inspired by. Today, the lineage of the Staghound could contain Bloodhounds, Foxhounds, and other large breeds.

  • Weight: 45 to 90 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 24 to 32 inches
  • Temperament: Calm, loves attention, good hunters, smart, excellent watchdog, energetic,
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Fun Fact: General Custer used Staghounds as a part of his hunting pack.

6. The Tenterfield Terrier

tenterfield terrier
Photo by David Nemirovsky

This tenacious little Terrier originated in the South of England - they were known as “Miniature Fox Terriers.” As time went on (early 19th century), these small canines were brought to Australia on ships by European settlers. The breed was later developed by a man named George Woolnough, who fell in love with the hardworking Terrier. The breed’s name was later changed to “Tenterfield” in reference to the New South Wales town by the same name.

  • Weight: Up to 10 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 10 to 12 inches
  • Temperament: Confident, friendly, active, intelligent, bold, outgoing, and playful.
  • Lifespan: Up to 14 years

Fun Fact: Because the Tenterfield possesses a high prey drive, it is not recommended for families with other small pets or cats.

7. The Bull Arab

australian bull arab
Photo by savantk9 on Instagram

The Bull Arab was developed by an Australian breeder named Mick Hodgens in the early 1970s. He was trying to produce a dog that would be capable of hunting wild pigs. Although Hodgens refused to disclose what breeds he used to produce this pig-hunting canine, DNA tests revealed 25% of Greyhound, 25% of either English or German Shorthair Pointer and 50% of English Bull Terrier.

Today, this sturdy breed is rarely found outside of Australia.

  • Weight: Up 95 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 24 to 27 inches
  • Temperament: high-energy, hardworking, strong hunting instincts, calm, even-tempered, and a great watchdog.
  • Lifespan: 10 to 14 years

Fun Fact: Some Bull Arabs have Bloodhound in their genetic makeup. This breed’s traits were introduced by Paul Paulsen to increase the dog’s scent--hunting abilities.

8. The Koolie

black merle koolie

It is presumed that this working breed was first introduced to Australia by German immigrants. This rugged canine was used for herding sheep, cattle, and goats. Up until the 19th century, the dog remained relatively the same that is until the Australian Dingo was accidentally introduced into the lineage. The end result was a shorter-haired version of the all-purpose working canine that is better suited to the warm climates of Australia.

  • Weight: 33 to 53 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 13 to 23 inches
  • Temperament: Alert, intelligent, loyal, brave, playful, and tend to be dominant.
  • Lifespan: 12 to 18 years

Fun Fact: The Koolie is so named because German immigrants could not pronounce the word “Collie.”

9. The Miniature Fox Terrier

miniature fox terrier

This lively low-maintenance dog was developed to hunt vermin. Although many Fox Terrier breeds have their roots steeped in British soil, the Mini Fox Terrier was further developed in Australia by crossing the Whippet, the Italian Greyhound, and the Smooth Fox Terrier (among other Terrier breeds). This little breed is quick and agile and thrives on love and positive reinforcement.

  • Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 8 to 11 inches
  • Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, protective, high prey drive, good watchdog, may be active or a couch potato.
  • Lifespan: 14 plus years

Fun Fact: This small dog has a huge personality and will have no problem challenging larger breeds.

If you’re looking for a unique canine companion, then perhaps one of these top 9 dog breeds from Australia may be your perfect fit. Before you bring home any dog (or animal) be sure to thoroughly research the breed to ensure you are ready for all it entails. Once you have chosen your perfect pal, look for a reputable breeder, so you can be sure your new fur baby is healthy and well-adjusted.

Further reading and references:

  1. FCI Australian breeds
  2. Dog breeds originating in Australia
  3. Top dog breeds in South Australia


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