How many Australian dog breeds are there

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Australian Cattle Dog, portrait
Australian Cattle Dog, Portrait

When you think of Australian Dog Breeds, you might think of the hard-working cattle dogs and even the wild dingoes. There are, however, quite a few other breeds that originate from Down Under.

You won't find the Australian Shepherd on the list, though. You may be surprised to learn that, despite their name, this popular breed was actually developed in the United States.

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    Australian Cattle Dog

    Australian Cattle Dog lying in autumn leaves
    Australian Cattle Dog Lying In Autumn Leaves

    Also often referred to as Blue Heelers, these dogs are famous for their working drive.

    The first cattle dogs to be introduced to Australia came from England. These dogs weren't suited to the extreme temperatures and vast, arid terrain they had to cover. They were crossed with other breeds, including dingoes, to develop the hardy, tenacious and seriously smart Australian Cattle Dogs.

    ACDs aren't dogs for a novice owner or one that leads a sedentary lifestyle. They're incredibly smart, super driven, athletic and energetic.

    They would suit a home where they can be outside much of the day, can be given a job to do, or are given the opportunity to take part in activities like dogs sports. They often excel at agility and flyball.

    Their incredible intelligence, loyalty and eagerness to please means they're very responsive to positive training methods.

    Because of their background, however, you may need to work on curbing inappropriate chasing and herding behaviors.

    Breed Overview


    18 to 20 inches (male); 17 to 19 inches (female)


    35 to 50 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    An athletic, muscular and broad dog; smooth, hard double-coat; coat color is usually blue, blue mottled or blue speckled; do also come in a less common red speckled variety too

  • 02 of 06

    Australian Terrier

    Australian Terrier standing on grass in front of a forest
    Australian Terrier Standing On Grass In Front Of A Forest

    Like the Blue Heelers, the Aussie Terrier came about after working terriers were brought over from Britain, but they struggled to cope with the extremes of the weather and landscapes. The Aussie combines the fearless, determined aspects of these vermin hunters in a more rugged little package.

    They were the first native breed to be officially recognized in Australia, and their people-orientated nature and spunky personality mean they remain popular to this day.

    They're a high energy terrier that is affectionate and smart. Their coat is easy to maintain too.

    Owning an Aussie Terrier isn't for the faint-hearted though. They're determined little dogs that can have a high prey drive, a passion for digging, and they don't always get on well with other dogs.

    Breed Overview


    10 to 11 inches


    15 to 20 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Small and sturdy little dog with a rough outer coat and smooth, shorter undercoat; three main colors: blue and tan, solid sandy and solid red

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    Silky Terrier

    Silky Terrier lying in autumn leaves
    Silky Terrier Lying In Autumn Leaves

    It's easy to mistake the Silky Terrier with the more well-known and smaller Yorkshire Terrier. They're closely related because the Yorkie was one of the main breeds that made up the cross of terriers used to create the Silky in Australia in the early 20th century.

    This breed is smaller and less rugged than the Aussie Terrier, and they have the fine, long coat that the Yorkie is known for.

    Silkies are people-orientated but don't expect them to be a lapdog. They're active, have an independent streak and are very bright.

    True to their terrier lineage, you may need to do some training or offer an outlet for their desire to dig. They can also have a strong prey drive, a propensity towards being vocal, and may be reserved around strangers.

    Their coat will need more grooming than the Aussie Terrier too.

    Breed Overview


    9 to 10 inches


    About 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    With small v-shaped ears, and a long, straight coat in blue and tan

  • 04 of 06

    Australian Kelpie

    Australian Kelpie lying on a bench
    Australian Kelpie Lying On A Bench

    Kelpies, like the Australian Cattle Dog, were first developed after collie dogs were brought over from Scotland and they were crossbred to produce a hardier working dog.

    They share a lot of similar traits to the Australian Cattle Dog but, the smaller Kelpie perhaps doesn't have quite such extreme levels of intelligence. They're also often more mild-mannered and less intense.

    They still require a home that has the experience to handle their desire to herd and work, and they're incredibly active and have lots of stamina. They aren't suited to a sedentary household.

    Breed Overview


    17 to 20 inches


    25 to 45 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Active, muscular dog with a double coat that has a hard, straight, short, water-resistant topcoat; coat colors come in black, black and tan, red, red and tan, fawn, chocolate, and smoke blue

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    Tenterfield Terrier

    Tenterfield Terrier
    Tenterfield Terrier

    Like the Silky and the Aussie Terrier, the Tenterfield Terrier was developed from the vermin-killing terriers that were brought over by the British settlers to Australia.

    This breed, though, more closely resembles the Jack Russell or the Toy Fox Terrier.

    The name came about because these terriers were bred extensively in and around the New South Wales town on Tenterfield. They're very closely related to the Miniature Fox Terrier, which is also native to Oz, and the two breeds are easily confused.

    It's rare to find a true Tenterfield out of their native country, but that doesn't stop them from being known for being friendly, adaptable, bold, loyal, playful and tenacious. They can also, however, have a high prey drive, can be independent and sometimes even feisty.

    The breed is recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council, but not by the AKC.

    Breed Overview


    10 to 12 inches


    7 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Short, smooth, single coat and come mostly in white with black, tan or liver markings; tri-colors also common

  • 06 of 06


    Australian Dingo profile in front of blurred sunset
    Australian Dingo Profile In Front Of Blurred Sunset

    Dingoes are often regarded as one of the oldest pure forms of dog in the world, with their fossils being found over 3,000 years ago in Australia. Modern-day dingoes remain close to their ancestors in terms of shape and temperament as they haven't undergone any selective breeding.

    The dingo may be the most famous dogs in Australia, but their feral nature means there's still a lot of controversy surrounding their taming and domestication. There are concerns about the impact it could have on the wild population and their suitability as pet dogs.

    Dingoes can legally be kept as pets without a permit in New South Wales and Western Australia. In Northern parts of the country, they can be kept, but a permit is required. It's still illegal to own dingoes in parts of Southern Australia.

    If they're kept as pets, it is best to have raised them from a puppy. These independent and smart dogs need a lot of space and plenty of exercise and stimulation. They rarely bark but can be prone to roaming and bond incredibly strongly with their 'pack'. They can become distressed if separated from them or if their routine changes.

    Breed Overview


    20 to 23 inches


    30 to 40 lbs

    Physical Characteristics:

    Medium-sized dog with an athletic and hardy appearance; most common coat color is ginger, but also come in black and tan and creamy white too; can have a thick double coat or a short, single coat

Many of the breeds native to Australia retain strong working drives, and they aren't necessarily suited to novice or sedentary homes. If you enjoy adventures in the great outdoors and have the time to offer them the exercise, stimulation and training that these working breeds need, then a Blue Heeler, a Kelpie or a Silky or Aussie Terrier could be a great breed for you.