11 Australian Dog Breeds That Are the Heart of the Outback

Australia is a huge, rugged country known for the Outback, the Great Barrier Reef, its rainforest, the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the iconic Uluru red rock, Vegemite, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, the Hemsworth brothers, Barbie’s own Margot Robbie, and so many others people and things.

Australian dog breeds vary in size, coat, personality, origins, and groups. There are small Australian dog breeds, medium dog breeds, and some large breeds. Quite a few breeds originated in Australia.

Some are commonly known, and other breeds that haven’t been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the Australian National Kennel Council yet and/or haven’t made their way to the US.

Aussies love their dogs and take them with them out in the great outdoors for adventures.

What Is an Aussie Dog?

An Aussie dog is an Australian dog breed that originated there.

History of Australian Dog Breeds 

Many canines were brought from England and bred with local Australian dog breeds to create new Australian dog breeds.

Australian breeds are very hard workers because English and European immigrants in the 1700s and 1800s had cattle and sheep and needed canine herders and guardians to direct and protect them.

Many Australian dog breeds are high-energy working dogs that need to live an active lifestyle.

Australian Dog Breeds

Let’s embark on a journey Down Under and meet the 11 Australian dog breeds that are not just surviving but absolutely thriving in the sun-kissed landscapes and rugged terrains of Australia.

1. Australian Cattle Dog

australian dog breeds
DOG’s SIZE17-20 inches tall
WEIGHT35-50 pounds
SHEDDING FACTORDon’t shed excessively
FUR AND COLORSmooth double coat in blue, blue mottled, blue speckled, red speckled, red mottled
LIFE SPAN12-16 years

The temperament of the Australian cattle dog is loyal, very smart, tenacious, affectionate, athletic, trainable, and energetic, and they need stimulation. This breed is also called Red or Blue Heeler or Queensland Heeler and is related to Australia’s wild dog, the Dingo. Blue heelers are born with a white coat that turns blue-gray.

The muscular Australian cattle dog loves to run, do agility exercises, and herd. Australian cattle dogs have to be exercised/played with or will become destructive (save you throw pillows!).

Australian cattle dogs were bred to withstand the Outback heat so they could herd cattle and help cattle ranchers. The Australian cattle dog can also hunt.

They love a huge backyard to run around in. They need regular exercise to burn off their energy. Aussies can be strong-willed, so you may as well exhaust that out of them. Regular exercise will keep them mentally and physically fit.

The Australian Dog was the first of the Australian breeds and has a fascinating history. Australia’s first cattle dogs were from Britain and called the Smithfield.

They descended from wild dogs like dingoes and Scottish Highland collies to handle the cold weather and produced the Australian cattle dog. They made vital contributions to the growth of the continent’s beef industry.

2. Australian Terrier

australian dog
DOG’s SIZE10-11 inches tall
WEIGHT15-20 pounds
FUR AND COLORwiry and short coat inblue and tan, red, sandy
LIFE SPAN11-15 years

Australian terriers are little cuties, and their temperament is brave, affectionate, good with kids, friendly, playful, very smart, protective, trainable, energetic, loyal, and need stimulation. The Aussie terrier barks a lot. The Australian terrier is quite perky.

Favorite pastimes of the Australian terrier include digging and chasing little animals. The Aussie terrier also needs attention and cuddles.

The Australian terrier was created when British settlers brought working terriers like Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, Norwich, Scottie, Skye, and Yorkies to Australia. The Australian terrier resulted from breeding those terriers. They have an easy-to-maintain coat. The Aussie terrier is fearless and kills rodents as well as snakes.

This breed has a spunky personality and was the first native breed officially recognized in Australia. Unlike Kelpies and Cattle Dogs, Australian Terriers are bored by routine.

Take them everywhere and keep them entertained because they are your best friend, and make sure they don’t become territorial.

3. Koolie

australian dogs
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
DOG’s SIZE13-23 inches tall
WEIGHT33-53 pounds
SHEDDING FACTORDoesn’t shed much
FUR AND COLORShort/medium coat in black or red/chocolate; black and white; bi-merle in red and white or red or black with white markings, normally with brown points; tri-merle grey, black, red/chocolate or white undercoat with large splashes of darker colorings of red/chocolate for red merles or black; grey
LIFE SPAN18 years plus

The Koolie is energetic, very trainable, and needs activity. They are intelligent, alert, eager to please, easy to train, and need mental stimulation. They love herding, running, walking, and competing in sports.

They are devoted to children and adults and good with other species when socialized with them. Their jobs include alert dogs for seizures, search and rescue, customs, sports, farm work, and companion.

The German Tiger, a German working breed that is part of the Old German Sheepdogs, is thought to be the ancestor of the Koolie. Koolies also descend from the smooth-coated Collies from the Scottish Highlands (where they got their merle dog breed coloring) and arrived in Oz in the early 1800s.

Some people say that the breed name Koolie came from German settlers pronouncing “collie” “Koolie.” The Koolie closely resembles Border Collies and is very cute

4. Silky Terrier

aussie dog breeds
DOG’s SIZE9-10 inches
WEIGHT10 pounds
FUR AND COLORSilky and long coat in blue, silver, and tan; gray and tan; silver and tan; silver, black and tan; blue and tan; black and tan
LIFE SPAN13-15 years

The Silky terrier has a friendly temperament. They are affectionate, quick, alert, feisty, good with children and dogs, playful, protective, easy to train, and energetic. Silky terriers like to bark.

Silky Terriers make great family pets. The Silky Terrier enjoys chasing small animals. Two breeds, the Silky Terrier and the Yorkie, look alike because the Yorkie was used to develop the Silky.

Silkies are a great addition to a human family. This breed needs a lot of grooming to avoid tangles. Some people say that a mix of breeds, including Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and Skye terrier, are in the Silky terrier because those three were brought to Australia by English settlers.

5. Australian Kelpie

australian breed
DOG’s SIZE17-20 inches tall
WEIGHT35-50 pounds
SHEDDING FACTORNot much shedding, need weekly brushing
FUR AND COLORShort double coat in black, black and tan, fawn, red and tan, red, chocolate, blue
LIFE SPAN10-13 years

The Australian Kelpie’s temperament is alert, loving, loyal, intelligent, protective, trainable, energetic, and needs mental stimulation. Kelpies were bred to herd sheep.

The Australian Kelpie descended from a mix of Scottish Collie-type dogs and developed to withstand the oppressive heat and dryness of the land down under.

When New South Wales and Victoria opened up, the sheep population grew astronomically. The Australian Kelpie breed was needed to herd them.

They work tirelessly. Kelpie owners need to make sure they get enough exercise, or they’ll have a hyperactive Kelpie on their hands.

6. Dingo

aussie dog breed
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
DOG’s SIZE20-24 inches
WEIGHT22-44 pounds
SHEDDING FACTORDingoes in Australia don’t shed much
FUR AND COLORshort coat in ginger, sable, black and tan, brindle, black, rarely white or were white with spots of ginger or black
LIFE SPAN12-15 years

In some parts of Australia, it’s illegal to own dingoes. In others, you need a permit, although some don’t require a permit. Dingoes are illegal in the US.

Dingos are very smart, but they aren’t interested in impressing humans, so they can be very difficult to train. They are prone to roaming.

Dingoes have a long history and are believed to be descendants of Asian dogs brought to Australia from Southeast Asia around 4,000 years ago. These muscular pooches are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

Their temperament is independent, very smart, they can form emotional bonds, and they are semi-domesticated. They were crossed with several breeds to create dogs that could work in Aussie weather.

7. Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

australian hunting dog
DOG’s SIZE17 to 20 inches tall
WEIGHT32-45 pounds
SHEDDING FACTORModerate, brush weekly
FUR AND COLORdouble short hair coat in blue, red, blue mottled, blue speckled, red speckled, red mottled, blue merle
LIFE SPAN12-15 years

The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle dog’s temperament is alert, active, good with children, protective, playful, energetic, and needs mental stimulation.

The Australian Stumpy-tail Cattle dog puppy is born with a short tail — it isn’t docked. The Australian Stumpy-tail Cattle dog was bred for herding.

Some people think that during the 1840s, two breeders in different states in Australia were crossing local working/herding pooches with imported drover’s dogs that may have carried the stumpy tail gene.

A few more breeds were introduced into the breeding, and the Australian Cattle Dog breed was created for herding.

8. Tenterfield Terrier

australian breeds
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
DOG’s SIZE10-12 inches tall
WEIGHT7-10 pounds
FUR AND COLORshort coat in combinations of white, black, and tan
LIFE SPAN12-14 years

The Tenterfield Terrier’s temperament is confident, athletic, active, loving, loyal, playful, friendly, hard-working, good with pups and children, needs socialization and training with small household pets, and good with cats if they are young when they meet them. They need exercise to stay healthy.

The Tenterfield Terrier is closely related to the Mini fox terrier and closely resembles them. This breed is only found in its native land. The Tenterfield terrier breed includes very intelligent dogs and is recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council.

The Tenterfield terriers’ ancestors, Miniature fox terriers, hailed from the South of England and were vermin hunters. They arrived down under in the 19th century with settlers.

The Tenterfield Terrier is named after the town in New South Wales where a man named George Woolnough, who was known for loving the Tenterfield terrier, lived.

9. Australian Staghound

aussie dogs
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
DOG’s SIZE24-32 inches tall
WEIGHT45-90 pounds
SHEDDING FACTORSome have longer coats than others and shed more
FUR AND COLORshort- and long-haired coats in gold, black, gray, brown, sable, brindle, and combinations of them
LIFE SPAN10-15 years

Australian Staghounds are brave hunters who are loving, good with children and other dogs, energetic, need mental and physical stimulation, and love to run. Their prey drive may kick in with a smaller pet.

They descend from Greyhounds. The longer-coated Staghounds need daily brushing if leaves, etc., are stuck in their velcro-like coats. Short-haired don’t need much brushing.

Staghounds are believed to be a cross of Greyhounds and Scottish Deerhounds. They were brought to Oz by European colonists in the late 18th century.

In Australia, different people bred them to achieve whatever needs they had. Some were crossed with foxhounds, bloodhounds, or other dogs. This breed is great at guarding and herding cattle.

10. Bull Arab

farm dogs australia
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
DOG’s SIZE24-27 inches tall
WEIGHT60-95 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort coat in cream or white with patches of brown, tan, black, brindled coats and may be darker.
LIFE SPAN12-15 years

The Bull Arab is calm, gentle, highly intelligent, and needs proper socializing and training. Bull Arabs were created in 1972. They are excellent family pets and good with children due to their loyalty.

If Bull Arabs get excited playing, they could accidentally hurt a small child. They have a high prey drive, so they might chase cats and small dogs. Like other hound dog breeds, they need exercise and playtime.

They were bred from the English bull terrier, greyhound, shorthaired pointers, and larger dog breeds like Mastiffs and Great Danes, which were later part of their breeding.

Other names for the Bull Arab are Australian Pig Dog and Aussie Pig because the Bull Arab was bred to hunt boars and pigs. This breed has a tough exterior but are sweeties on the inside.

11. Miniature Fox Terrier

breeds australia
GROUPNot recognized by AKC
DOG’s SIZE9.4-12 inches tall
WEIGHT7.7-12 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort coat colors in white and tan, black and white, tri-color
LIFE SPAN12-18 years

The Miniature fox terrier’s temperament is loving, protective, inquisitive, agile, bold, tenacious, and they like kids and canines. The Miniature fox terrier is an alert lapdog that becomes a fearless watchdog if they sense danger.

The Mini foxie was a breed that killed squirrels and other vermin. Now, they are mostly just a great family pet with lots of loyalty.

The Miniature fox terrier is good with children who don’t tease them. The Mini foxie breed needs to be socialized to be well-adjusted. They also need nice walks and/or exercise.

In addition to being the perfect companion, many a mini foxie has performed in circuses and done well in agility competitions. This breed is endemic to Australia and similar in appearance to Tenterfield terriers.

They have some English toy terrier or Whippet in them.

Australian Shepherd’s Non-Australian Origin

According to the AKC, the Australian Shepherd isn’t Australian but arrived in America with Basque shepherds, who were originally from the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain and France.

They lived in Australia for almost a century and then immigrated to America in the 1800s with their herding dogs in tow. They settled in California, and Australian Shepherds were perfected there.

Australian shepherds are adorable and are a breed with blue eyes. Australian Shepherds are technically an all-American breed.

Breeds to Avoid  

Australian dog breeds to avoid are determined by your lifestyle and health issues. Some of these canines need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them healthy.

If you don’t have the time and/or inclination to go for walks or play with them, opt for a couch potato dog breed. I highly recommend taking long walks with your furry friend, which will make both of you healthy.

If you suffer from allergies, find a canine that doesn’t produce much dander or shed a lot.


What Is Australia’s Favorite Dog?

The Cavoodle which is half King Cavalier Spaniel and half Poodle.

What Is the Number 1 Dog in Australia?

The number one dog is the Labrador retriever.

What Dog Represents Australia?

The Dingo, as in “A Dingo’s Ate My Baby” in the 1988 movie “A Cry in the Dark.”


Like other countries, the land down under (cue the Men at Work’s song) has a variety of wonderful Australian dog breeds originally bred for different jobs. Each is adorable, and every breed is precious. They work hard and play harder, so you need to engage them mentally and physically.

Before contacting master dog breeders, check with Petfinder, your local animal rescues, and specific breed rescues because when you adopt, you save the pup you adopt and the one who takes their place at the shelter/rescue group.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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