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14 Australian Dog Breeds That Come From The Land Down Under

There are many dogs across the world, but some are specific and more common in certain geographic locations. Australia is known for its very unique terrain. As such, certain dog breeds were bred to be able to navigate it. In this article, we examine the most popular dog breeds that come from Australia.

Kelly Wilson

Last Updated: August 1, 2021 | 15 min read

Australian Kelpie Looking at Camera

Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, after all, with many different species of plant and animal life being endemic to it. When you think about animals in Australia, a few iconic marsupials come to mind, like the kangaroo, koala, and wombat. However, there are countless other species that have taken to thriving in Australia’s harsh wilderness.

Given the variety of animals in the country, it’s only logical to think they’d have their own dogs, too. And that thinking is correct! There are quite a few breeds that originated in the Land Down Under, or at least did most of their development there.

You’ll find that many of the Australian dog breeds were created for the purpose of navigating the country’s rough terrain and harsh conditions. Most are working breeds, that also make great companion dogs. There is a great amount of variety in how each breed looks, behaves, and interacts with others. It’s almost certain that there is an Australian dog breed that will suit the needs of any family! Let’s take a look at the most popular Australian Dog Breeds!

Blue Heeler

Spotted Gray Dog Standing in Dry Grass
The Blue Heeler was bred to be an efficient cattle herding dog.

The Blue Heeler, otherwise known as the Australian Cattle Dog, is probably the most recognizable dog on this list. They were bred in the 1800s to answer the need for an energetic and intelligent dog that could herd cattle efficiently, even on the rough terrain of the wilderness.

These dogs may be small at around 19 inches at the withers, but they have huge personality and loyalty! These dogs are among the most competent in the world; they truly thrive when they have a job they can prove they are good at. They are fairly independent and prefer being outdoors to a sheltered lifestyle, so they’re better for families who are always on the go.

The Blue Heeler will need a lot of time allotted for exercise each day. They are incredibly high energy dogs who will want to run around as much as they can. They are really best suited for homes in more rural areas where there is plenty of wide, open space to let loose and be free. Don’t be too alarmed if this dog displays herding behavior even around humans; they are simply trying to be as good at their jobs as they can be.


Australian Terrier

Small Tan and Black Dog with Pointy Ears
The Australian Terrier is one of the smallest working terriers in the world.

This fluffy friend is one of the first breeds to be properly recognized by Australian kennel clubs. They are a true Terrier breed, and considered to be one of the smallest working Terrier breeds in the world. They are proud of a job well done, but will always want you to be the first one to acknowledge. Truth be told, Australian Terriers are absolutely needy little dogs! They will always want you to be near them so you can observe their good work.

They have a spunky personality that endears them to everyone they meet. This dog may have a job to do, but they’re also a fantastic companion with no shortage of affection! Just bear in mind that they are natural hunters; their original purpose is hunting vermin. As such, they should be socialized thoroughly from puppyhood to ensure harmonious relationships with other pets who may share the home.

This is another highly active dog who will want to spend most of their day running around. While it’s good that they like to seek their own exercise, owners should consider taking them out for walks while they are leashed, too. This lets them explore beyond just their homestead, while keeping other smaller animals safe from their desire for the hunt.

As they are small dogs, at 11 inches tall at the withers, they don’t need too much space when they are within the home. An apartment would suit them fine, provided there is plenty of time to explore the outside world, too.


Australian Kelpie

Brown Dog with Pointy Ears Standing on Dock
The Australian Kelpie was bred for herding cattle and sheep for farmers.

The Australian Kelpie is a dog of medium stature, originally bred for farm and ranch life. They do a great job as herders for cattle and sheep. They also serve as protectors of their homesteads. Sometimes they do too good a job at herding, and will adorably extend this behavior to their humans or other pets in the household.

They are excellent watch dogs due to how alert they are to even the slightest things that may be amiss. This can often cause false alarms, though, so you will have to train them to be more careful.

These dogs live for work, and as such will always need something to keep them occupied. Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, they easily become restless and frustrated, which leads to destructive behavior. As such, owners must take extra care to give their Kelpies all the action they need to stay happy.

This extends beyond just work; they will also need plenty of training exercises and toys to maintain their satisfaction. When they are outdoors, they will need a large space to roam, provided that it is securely fenced-in. Otherwise, this breed’s wanderlust can get the best of them; they may go off exploring and causing mayhem on their own!


Australian Cobberdog

Tan Curly Dog Standing by Tree
The Australian Cobberdog originally comes from the Labradoodle.

The Australian Cobberdog is unique on this list, primarily because they come from the Labradoodle. They have been bred long enough to create a consistent quality of dog, and have even developed their own unique DNA sequence. As of 2012, the MDBA (Master Dog Breeders and Associates) recognizes the Cobberdog as a pure breed.

The name “Cobber” is Australian slang for “friend”. You can probably guess that this dog is super sweet and lovable. That’s what sets Cobberdogs apart from regular Labradoodles: they are bred to be excellent at providing comfort. They are made for work as therapy and assistance dogs, as they have a great perception of human emotion. They are agreeable, very intelligent, and easily trained. Having a Cobberdog in your life is simply a delight!

These dogs have a very respectful personality. They are always ready to help, but never imposing in their desire to do good. Cobberdogs are perfectly suited for life in many different areas, whether in small apartments or large ranches in the country. They are incredibly patient and have no trouble spending time by themselves if their owners are busy. This makes them an ideal companion for any kind of household. Everyone could use a good friend, after all!


Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Light Brown Spotted Dog Playing
The Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog has a short, stumpy tail, and is very agile.

Another herder on this list is the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, whose name can be a mouthful, so we’ll call them the Stumpy for short! They are closely related to the Australian Cattle Dog, but tend to have longer limbs and a leaner physique. This helps them make tight, neat turns to more efficiently herd groups of cattle. You’ll also notice very quickly– if the name didn’t give it away–that they have very short tails, if any at all!

Training and socializing this alert, active dog from early on will give them a good idea of their role in your family. Despite this, they will always need something to keep them occupied. They are simply happiest when there is a task to complete or a job to do. Not attending to this need will very easily encourage destructive behavior in good ole Stumpy!

These dogs are amazing athletes, capable of running at high speeds and for longer distances. This is because their work as herders simply requires them to stay on top of the livestock! They will absolutely hate life spent indoors, much worse if it’s in a small apartment. These dogs will need a huge amount of space to be able to let loose and enjoy themselves. If you have neighbors, ensure that you have a fence your dog won’t be able to jump!


Australian Kangaroo Dog

Light Brown Spotted Dog Jumping out of Water
The Australian Kangaroo Dog is a very rare breed now days making them very hard to find.

Strictly speaking, there’s no particular breed of dog that is called the Australian Kangaroo Dog. Instead, it’s more similar to the Pitbull: the name is an umbrella term to describe a certain group of dogs. These dogs were likely bred from sighthounds brought to Australia by settlers, such as the Greyhound, the Staghound, or the Deerhound.

They were bred to help families gain access to meat that would have otherwise been too difficult to hunt for themselves. The Kangaroo Dogs did their best to join in on their owners’ hunts and help catch as much game as possible. They were eagle-eyed and could track down their prey with amazing precision.

These days it’s less likely for you to come across them, as they sadly aren’t very popular. As such, they aren’t being actively bred. Many of them live in the more rural parts of Australia, where they still do a good job of catching prey when needed.

If you’re ever lucky enough to own one of these living legends, you will have your hands quite full with fulfilling their exercise needs. They have a deep longing for the wilderness and will need their owners to allow them to run around freely.


Australian Staghound

Two Dark Gray Skinny Dogs Laying in Grass
The Australian Staghound were mainly bred to hunt boar or kangaroos.

Another hunter on this list, the Australian Staghound finds their roots in the Greyhounds and Scottish Deerhounds brought to Australia by settlers from Europe. They were originally bred for hunting large game, such as boar or kangaroos.

Historically, these dogs were also a big reason why many settlers were able to eat meat and survive; they’ve always been adept hunters even amidst the harsh conditions in Australia. They tend to use their eyesight to spot prey, instead of their sense of smell.

While this breed isn’t officially recognized as of yet, they fetch a hefty price at breeders, coming in as the most expensive dog to originate from Australia. The price tag on these dogs can reach up to $1000 USD, which is a hefty sum! These days, while they aren’t very popular, a good amount of people enjoy their company.

Training this dog to be a good hunter begins early on in their puppyhood, though owners should take care that their young pups are ready to be let loose. Many puppies made to run free get injured, which can affect them even when they are older. The Australian Staghound must also be socialized properly so as to be safe around their human family, their pets, and any livestock they may keep.


Miniature Fox Terrier

Small Brown and White Dog on Tree Stump
The Miniature Fox Terrier are quick, zippy dogs who were bred to catch unwanted vermin on farms.

The Miniature Fox Terrier, otherwise known as the “Mini Foxie”, is another dog who was bred to catch vermin, particularly… well, foxes. As their name suggests, they tend to be on the smaller side. This is actually ideal; their size makes it easy for them to zip around in order to catch their prey! These dogs love their jobs and are known for their serious demeanors when at work.

They put in a lot of effort to rid their owner’s property of unwanted residents. However, when the workday has ended, they want nothing more than to snuggle up with their owners and give them all the love they have to offer. The Mini Foxie is terribly affectionate and easy to please. This makes them a great choice for families who need a loyal companion.

These dogs are extremely lively and will need you to be able to keep up with their energy! If they don’t have a serious job to do, they will enjoy long walks with you out in the neighborhood. Just be sure to keep them on a leash; their high prey drive can make them wander off when they see or smell anything interesting! Exercising this breed is key to their happiness, so be sure to tire them out as much as you can.


Tenterfield Terrier

Small Brown and White Spotted dog with Pointy Ears
The Tenterfield Terrier is a very loyal dog that adapts easy to any home life.

A descendant of the Mini Fox Terrier is the Tenterfield Terrier, hailing from New South Wales town on Tenterfield. These two breeds are often confused, but there’s an easy way to tell them apart. True Tenterfield Terriers are found in or around Tenterfield; it’s actually quite hard to find them anywhere else!

Despite the specific location of a majority of their breed, the Tenterfield Terrier is known to be strong-willed, bold, and loyal. They are also adaptable to many different kinds of families and living situations, given their sociable temperaments and kind hearts.

These dogs are great at running around at breakneck speeds; it can be difficult to contain their energy. If you’re fortunate enough to own one of these feisty pooches, you will need to give them ample space to let the zoomies pass. Enough time spent playing and exercising outdoors will be essential to their happiness. As soon as they’re tired out, they’re more than content to spend more time with you in the comfort of your home.


Silky Terrier

Small Gray and Tan Long Haired Dog Standing in Grass
The Silky Terriers were bred to hunt, but make for very cuddly lap dogs as well.

Silky Terriers are adorable dogs with beautiful coats that are more than worthy of the name of their breed. Don’t be fooled by their cute, unassuming appearance; the Silky Terrier is one incredible hunter. They are fearless even in the face of larger vermin like rats and snakes. This makes them great protectors of their homes.

The Silky tends to make a good lap dog, as they love to cuddle. This is especially true after a long day spent outdoors! They love being around members of their family who treat them with kindness and respect. As such, they may not have the patience for younger children who have no qualms about playing pranks on them.

These dogs tend to bark a good bit, so you will probably not be able to keep them in an apartment complex. While it’s possible for you to teach them to be quieter, it takes a lot of effort and is pretty difficult to achieve.

It’s simply in the nature of this dog to yap, just as it is in their nature to chase small animals and dig holes in the garden. This means you should always supervise their time outdoors. They have a lot of energy and will need exercise to feel satisfied, but owners should be careful about reigning in their Silky Terrier’s destructive behavior.


Jack Russell Terrier

Small White Dog With Brown Spots Jumping in Air
The Jack Russell Terrier is a very energetic, friendly, outgoing dog.

Surprised to see this dog on our list? Well, you should know that the Jack Russell Terrier has shared origins. They were originally bred in the UK, but the breed was fully developed in Australia. They are wonderfully vibrant, exuberant dogs who like to make friends with anyone they come across.

This makes them ideal for many different types of families, provided that the family also understands that the Jack Russell has many needs they must take care of. For instance, this breed is incredibly needy and will hate being alone. If left to their own devices, they could easily tear apart the garden, or even your prized possessions. It’s best if the family handling them has a rotating schedule of who gets to watch their canine companion. This ensures the JRT’s happiness.

The Jack Russell is incredibly energetic and will need some way to burn off all that extra energy. You should take them out on regular walks of around 60 minutes each day. This is a lot, but that’s where the rotating schedule should come in! When they’re not being walked, it’s always a good idea to give them toys and games to keep their minds occupied and away from thoughts of digging up your prized rose bush.


Bull Arab

Tall White Dog with Brindle Spots at Beach
The Bull Arab were bred to hunt wild pigs and make excellent guard dogs.

The Bull Arab, despite their name, is 100% an Aussie dog. They were bred in Australia for the purpose of hunting wild pigs. They are also excellent guard dogs as they are very protective of their territory. However, the Bull Arab needs an owner who can be very firm in their leadership.

This isn’t because of any confirmed aggressive behavior; the RSPCA has not confirmed any statistical proof of this assumption. Instead, owners must be careful in their handling of their Bull Arabs because they can be incredibly stubborn! These dogs often want to do things their own way, which can make training them a difficult task. Still, they are calm, friendly, and loyal dogs who make good family companions when they are socialized properly.

Be sure to give your Bull Arab a lot of time for exercise. Like many other dogs on this list, they love to run around. They have seemingly boundless energy and will be happy spending all day outside chasing after interesting sights and scents. Always supervise them in their daily romps outdoors, as they can easily cause trouble for other people and pets in the neighborhood if left unattended!


Koolie

Spotted Gray, White, Black and Tan Dog Standing in Grass
The Koolie were also bred for working and herding and are known to live longer than most dog breeds.

The Koolie is an Australian dog breed for working and herding, bred from British breeds brought to Australia in the early 1800s. This is another breed on this list that isn’t actually a standardized breed.

There’s so much variation within the Koolie family that it’s hard to narrow down things they have in common beyond their ancestry. Depending on the region, their size, color, and shape can vary! Because of the huge variety in their gene pool, Koolies are very healthy. As such, they are long lived dogs, sometimes living 18 years or more with the right care.

While there isn’t a lot that this breed family has in common, it’s safe to say that they are diligent and thorough workers. They show exceptional talent in herding, with a special technique where they circle around the sheep they are herding until they are back with the shepherd. It’s safe to assume that most Koolies are intelligent dogs with a good sense of urgency. Their alertness is key to their talent as herders.


Dingo

Reddish Tan Dog Walking on Sand
The Dingo is the oldest native dog in Australia and are known to be highly intelligent hunters.

Dingos are likely the oldest dog native to Australia, with a history spanning back an incredible estimate of 3,000 years! As such, they’re often considered their own animal, as opposed to being an actual breed of dog. For this reason, while many people have domesticated Dingoes, it’s still controversial to do so, with the argument that they aren’t made for a family setting.

While it’s unlikely you will get to keep a Dingo as a pet, they are still incredible creatures worth learning more about. These wild dogs are quite vocal, though they don’t bark so much as they howl. Their sturdy bodies and lithe limbs allow them to run at high speeds for long periods of time.

As they have existed in the wild for thousands of years, it’s expected that Dingoes are massively talented hunters. They are known to have an immensely high prey drive with the territorial instincts to match. They travel in packs and are able to sustain their health with the help of their friends. Despite their natural instincts for pursuing their prey, Dingoes dislike contact with humans and would much rather prefer to shy away from human interaction. Because of this, there are hardly any reports of Dingo attacks on humans.


Bonus! “Australian” Shepherd Dog

Spotted Long Hair Dog in Forest
The Australian Shepherd were bred in America with the purpose to herd Australian cattle.

The final dog on this list is our mystery 15th breed– the Australian Shepherd. The catch is that, despite their name, Australian Shepherd Dogs didn’t come from Australia. With the nickname “Aussie”, it’s all the more confusing! In reality, the Australian Shepherd Dog is an American breed.

They were bred for the purpose of creating a highly efficient shepherd dog who could herd sheep better than dogs that came before them. The reason they’re called Australian is that they’re meant to herd Australian cattle!

While they don’t really belong on this list, we thought it’d be a good idea to clear up the misconception, as many of us would naturally look for the Australian Shepherd Dog on a list about Australian dog breeds. Isn’t it cool to learn new things?


Final Thoughts

While Australia may be a country long-renowned for its unique (and often dangerous!) wildlife, it’s great to know that this country has produced some really incredible dogs, too. While each of them is one-of-a-kind, they all have a similar sense of adventure that truly makes them some of the most fun dogs on the planet.

These dogs are best suited for experienced owners who know how to handle canine companions who may be more spirited than others. As they all have a penchant for working, you will need to provide them with tasks to keep them feeling fulfilled. They will also need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. It’s a lot of work to keep even one of these dogs, but the effort is well worth it.

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