Showsight - November 2021

A Guide to Understanding the AUSTRALIAN TERRIER HEAD


B red in Australia to be both a companion and a working Terrier, “Aussies” were first shown as rough-coated Ter- riers in 1868 in Melbourne. In 1909, the breed was offi- cially recognized as the Australian Terrier in all states of Australia. They were accepted into the American Kennel Club registry in 1960. History suggests that they developed from the Terriers of the British Isles that were available in Australia at the time. These include: the old Scotch Terrier (not to be confused with the mod- ern Scottish Terrier), the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Ter- rier, the old Black & Tan Terrier, and the Irish Terrier. It is thought that the colors are derived from the Skye, Dandie, and Irish, with the Dandie Dinmont contributing the topknot. Early breeders developed dogs that hunted vermin (including snakes), guarded gold mines, herded sheep and cattle, and were fiercely loyal and protective companions capable of withstanding the harsh life in the Australian bush. Breeders kept no pedigrees during this time. As settlers created a small, sturdy Terrier that suited their needs, and as breed type developed, so did a standard for the breed. A breed standard is the descriptive words used to guide breeders in maintaining type, temperament, and function. They wanted: 1. A spirited, courageous worker, but also a good companion; 2. Rough-coated dogs with a harsh, outer body coat and an undercoat to withstand all weather; 3. Blue and tan, sandy or red in color; 4. A head that was long and strong, with jaws that were pun- ishing and powerful; 5. A head that was furnished with a soft, silky topknot lighter in color than the head, and a ruff that would protect the head and neck. The Australian Terrier head is distinctive, setting it apart from other small Terrier breeds.

VIEWING THE HEAD FROM THE SIDE Judging and viewing the head from the side, it is long and strong, and the muzzle is equal in length to the skull, with jaws that are strong and powerful. The punishing jaws are important to a working Terrier as they enable a dog to dispatch prey in a quick and efficient manner, lessening the chance of injury while getting the job done. The muzzle appears squared at the front, coming


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