9 Australian Dog Breeds for Aficionados

These canines originated from the land Down Under

Australian cattle dog
Verena Scholze / Getty Images

When you think of Aussie dog breeds, you might think of the hard-working cattle dogs or wild dingoes. As it turns out, quite a few breeds originated from the land Down Under. Although, don't be surprised when you do not find the Australian shepherd listed as a native Australian dog; despite its name, this popular breed originated in the United States.

What Is an Aussie Dog?

While the term "Aussie dog" is commonly used to reference the Australian shepherd, there is a variety of similar dog breeds, like Kelpies, Koolies, and Australian cattle dogs, that are actually native to the continent. Many Australian breeds are working dogs with a high-energy drive suited to homes with active lifestyles.

If you enjoy adventures in the great outdoors and have the time to offer them the exercise, stimulation, and training that these dogs need, then an Australian working breed could be a great fit for you.

Here are 10 dog breeds that originated in Australia.


Some people get a dog to go on their runs with them in the morning, while others prefer a pooch that will lounge with them at home. When getting a dog, make sure the breed you choose matches your energy level. Otherwise, you might end up with a depressed or destructive pup.

  • 01 of 09

    Australian Cattle Dog

    Australian cattle dog in leaves

    Carmelka / Getty Images

    Also often referred to as blue heelers, these dogs are famous for their working drive and trademark heel-nipping of cattle. The first cattle dogs to be introduced to Australia came from England. They weren't suited to the extreme temperatures and vast, arid terrain they had to cover. They were crossed with other breeds, including wild dingoes, to develop into hardy, tenacious, and brilliant cattle dogs. This breed isn't for a novice owner or one who leads a sedentary lifestyle. They're driven, athletic, and energetic. They are best-suited for being outside much of the day, given a job to do, or participating in dog sports. They excel at agility and flyball. Their incredible intelligence, loyalty, and eagerness to please make them readily responsive to positive training methods. Because of their herding nature, you may need to work on curbing inappropriate chasing and herding behaviors.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 20 inches

    Weight: 35 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth, hard double coat; color is usually blue, blue mottled, or blue speckled; also comes in a less common red speckled variety

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 02 of 09

    Australian Terrier

    Australian terrier standing on grass

    LOJ5407 / Getty Images

    Like the blue heeler, the Aussie terrier descended from working vermin hunters that came from Britain. Those terriers struggled to cope with the extremes of Australian weather and landscapes. The result was a hardy Aussie terrier full of fearlessness and self-determination in a more rugged little package with an easy-to-maintain coat. They were the first native breed to be officially recognized in Australia. They remain popular today for their people-orientated nature and spunky personality. They're a high-energy terrier that is affectionate and smart. Aussie terriers are strong-willed with a high prey drive, have a passion for digging, and don't always get along with other dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 11 inches

    Weight: 15 to 20 pounds

    Coat and Color: Rough outer coat and smooth, shorter undercoat; three main colors are blue and tan, solid sandy, and solid red

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 15 years

  • 03 of 09

    Silky Terrier

    Silky terrier lying in autumn leaves

    dizzyun / Getty Images

    It's easy to mistake the silky terrier with the more well-known and more miniature Yorkshire terrier. They're closely related: The Yorkie was one of the main breeds that developed the silky in Australia in the early 20th century. This breed is smaller and less rugged than an Aussie terrier and has a fine, long coat similar to a Yorkie. Silkies are people-orientated but are not to be mistaken for lapdogs. They're active, independent, and very bright. True to their terrier lineage, they will require training and an outlet for their desire to dig. They also have a strong prey drive, a propensity to being vocal, and a tendency to acting reserved around strangers. Its coat will need more grooming than the rough-coated Aussie terrier.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 9 to 10 inches

    Weight: About 10 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long, straight coat in blue and tan

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 04 of 09

    Australian Kelpie

    Australian Kelpie lying on bench

    Tara Gregg / Getty Images

    Kelpies are a sheep-driving breed that was developed much like the Australian cattle dog. They are descended from Scottish border collies and were crossbred with dingoes to produce a hardier working dog. They share many traits with the Australian cattle dog, but the smaller Kelpie is more mild-mannered, less intense, and not as whip-smart. They aren't suited to a sedentary household. They have a strong desire to herd and work, are incredibly active, and have lots of stamina.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding; not officially recognized by the AKC (as of 2021) but allowed to participate in the herding category for trials (as of 2015)

    Height: 17 to 20 inches

    Weight: 25 to 45 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double coat with hard, straight, short, water-resistant topcoat; coat colors come in black, black and tan, red, red and tan, fawn, chocolate, and smoke blue

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Tenterfield Terrier

    Tenterfield terrier standing on grass

    kanicon / Getty Images

    Like the silky and the Aussie terrier, the Tenterfield terrier descended from vermin-killing terriers brought over by British settlers to Australia. This breed closely resembles the Jack Russell or the toy fox terrier and is rare to see outside Australia. These terriers were bred extensively in and around Tenterfield, a New South Wales town. They're closely related to the miniature fox terrier, another Aussie native; the two breeds are easily confused. They are friendly, adaptable, bold, loyal, and playful. These canines often have a high prey drive, an independent streak, and can be feisty. The Australian National Kennel Council recognizes the breed but not the AKC.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (ANKC); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 7 to 10 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth, single coat mostly in white with black, tan, or liver markings; tricolors also common

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 09


    Australian dingo profile in front of sunset

    Mike OConnor / Getty Images

    Dingoes are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Their fossils date back more than 3,000 years. Modern-day dingoes remain close to their ancestors in terms of shape and wild temperament; they haven't undergone selective breeding. A feral dog, there's still a lot of controversy surrounding its taming and domestication, the impact it could have on the wild population, and its suitability as pets. They are illegal to own in certain parts of Australia. If kept as pets, it is best to have raised them from a puppy. These independent, intelligent dogs need a lot of space, exercise, and stimulation. They rarely bark but can be prone to roaming and form strong bonds with their pack. They are easily distressed if separated from the pack or if their routine changes.

    Breed Overview

    Group: None (feral)

    Height: 20 to 23 inches

    Weight: 30 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Can have a thick double coat or a short single coat; most common color is ginger, but options include black and tan and creamy white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years (in captivity)

  • 07 of 09


    Australian Koolie dog Running in a field with a disc
    Tatyana Consaul / Getty Images

    The Koolie is a working or herding dog existing in Australia since the early 19th century, when it was bred from imported British working dogs. Its name likely derived from "collie." It closely resembles border collies. The Koolie is primarily a brilliant herding dog with an instinct to circle widely around sheep and bring them back to their owner. Koolies are silent, upright working dogs. They are patient, loyal, agile, and warm. They are also helpful in minding the flock during lamb-birthing season or wool-collecting time.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not recognized by any kennel clubs

    Height: 16 to 24 inches

    Weight: 33 to 53 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, medium, and (rarely) long coats; red or blue merle, solid (red, chocolate, or black), or bicolored

    Life Expectancy: Up to 18 years

  • 08 of 09

    Miniature Fox Terrier

    Toy Fox Terriers
    Sergey Ryumin / Getty Images

    The miniature fox terrier is a small, fine, lightweight working terrier developed as a hunting dog and vermin chaser. In Australia, it's called the mini foxie. It closely resembles the American toy fox terrier, the Jack Russell, or rat terrier. It was bred to root out rats. It's agile, fast, and fun-spirited. It makes a great pet for families with children and the elderly.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not recognized by any kennel clubs

    Height: 9.5 to 12 inches

    Weight: 7 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, fine coat; black, white, brown and tan

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 18 years

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Bull Arab

    Young bull arab dog

    LKR Photography / Getty Images

    Commonly called the Australian pig dog, the bull Arab is a pig-hunting dog developed to locate pigs from miles away, pull them to the ground, and hold them down by the ear. The name was derived from its descendants, bull terriers and sighthound saluki, a Middle Eastern dog. It's medium to large in size, short-haired, and muscular. Bull Arabs are loyal family dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not recognized by any kennel clubs

    Height: 24 to 27 inches

    Weight: 70 to 92 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth, short coat; predominantly white with patches of colors, including include liver (with a red nose), black, red, buckskin, blue, silver, tan, and brindle

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Breeds to Avoid

Most Australian breeds are best-suited to active people who hit the trails and cover lots of ground. These high-energy dogs might not be ideal for first-time dog owners or people with a more sedentary lifestyle. If you're looking for an Australian-type dog, then you want a high-energy pup. Avoid lower-energy dogs that prefer sitting in a lap most of the day, such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Chihuahuas, or dachshunds.