By Robert Cole



Place these six Australian Terriers in order of merit.  Take into consideration - eyes, body length, tail, leg length, colour markings, height of hocks, and front pastern slope or absence of.  The following is a description of ideal.



You are looking for a dog with a long flat skull of moderate width the same length as muzzle.  There is a slight fill under the small, dark brown to black oval eyes.  Ears are small, erect, pointed, and set high on the skull but well apart.  Nose is black, nostrils are open.  Bite is scissors with teeth of a good size.  A desirable breed charasteristic is the inverted V of "leather" a continuance of skin of the same black color as the nose that extends to the bridge of the muzzle.  A soft silky top knot is another distinctive breed characteristic.


The long slightly arched neck flows into well laid back shoulder blades.  The upper arm slopes rearward and appears to be the same length.  There is a distinctive keel and the deepest part of the brisket is slightly below the elbow.  Elbows are close to the chest and forelegs are perfectly straight, of round bone and medium size.  There is a slight slope to the front pastern (AKC only)



The topline is level.  The loin is strong and fairly short with a tuck-up.  The tail sets high at 12 o'clock or 1 o'clock.  The body is long in proportion to height.  This vague description has been expanded in the revised American Standard to include "the length of back (topline) from withers to the front of the tail is approximately 1 - 1 ½ inches longer than from withers to ground (height was also increased from 10 inches to 10 - 11 inches).


Hindquarters are strong and well angulated at stifle and hock.  The buttocks produce a shelf under the tail.  Hocks are well let down, the rear pasterns are perpendicular.  Feet front and rear are small and cat like, the toes arched and compact turning neither in nor out.


The outer coat is harsh and straight, the undercoat is short and soft.  The topknot is soft and silky



In Australia the blue colors are; dark blue, steel blue or dark grey blue with rich tan markings and a silver or lighter shade topknot.  In the United States the color silver-blue has recently been added and is defined as each hair carrying blue and silver, alternating with darker color at the tips.

Black has been eliminated from permissible colors except of course in puppies but is still found in some adults.  When judging in Australia in 1985, I spoke to Trevor Robb President of the Australian Terrier Club of New South Wales, and came away with the impression that the biggest problem for some judges is the definition of the color blue.  Later that week at a breed seminar the color blue was discussed in sufficient detail that I have included Mrs. Joyce Edworthy's definition in the paragraphs describing the blue and tan Dog C.





The sandy or red (can be any solid shade or sandy or red, the clearer the better) has two faults.  His muzzle is short (should be the same length as skull) and his legs are shorter than short.

His shorter than short legs do not cause this example to be less than 10 inches - that would be too obvious.  Instead his shorter than short legs are shown to produce a balance quite different from typical.  No country's Australian Terrier Standard is specific in regard to leg length.  The Australian National Kennel Council (ANRC) asks for a "low-set" dog when describing body as did the previous AKC 1970 Standard.  Tom Horner in his Terriers of the World interprets "low-set" for the Aussie as "the legs are moderately short but not so short as to lose activity or speed."  I have gone a few steps further and in addition to correct have interpreted too short in pen and ink.

When confronted with this form of Aussie departure you should ensure with your hands that this kind of example is not low-set because his body (perhaps overly heavy) is low-slung between the front legs.  The 1988 AKC provides direction in this regard i.e…."chest reaching slightly below elbow…" More than slightly would position the elbows too high on the body (similar to that of a Pembroke Corgi) and cause the forearm to wrap around ripcage.  Your hands should find the elbow close to ribcage, only slightly above brisket and the leg bone straight.



The rectangular blue and tan is about three inches longer in body from forechest to buttocks than he is tall.  Compared to a square Lakeland he is long but compared to the other Aussies in this class his body appears short.  He has the correct length of leg in my opinion for this breed but does he have the correct length of body?

His forelegs differ from the previous dog in that his front pasterns are without slope.  All Australian Terrier Standards except the AKC describe the front pasterns as "strong without slope."  The AKC Standard asks for "strong, with only a slight slope."

Strong without slope produces a foreleg in profile straight from elbow to heel the dog appearing up-on-his-toes Fox Terrier fashion.  This stance has appeal in many quarters but not with the 1988 AKC Revision Committee. For those not aware of the difference between a Kerry Blue Terrier's front where there is a slight slope to the front pastern and that of an Airedale where there is none, the importance between without slope and a slight slope might be thought of as a minor consideration.  It isn't. Without pastern slope signifies a type of digging front where the shoulder blade is well laid back but the upper arm is short and steep bringing the elbow forward on the body and reducing degree of forechest. This type of straight front on the Wire and the Smooth Fox Terriers, the Lakeland, the Welsh, the Airedale and the Irish Terrier.  All six trot with the feet the same distance apart as the elbows


This blue and tan has the same correct length of leg as Dog B but instead of "strong without front pastern slope" he is AKC "strong with slight slope.  He is also longer in body and his tail is carried at a different angle.

This example's topline is about one inch longer than Dog B's.  Is this the ideal length of body?
As for his 1 o'clock tail carriage, well not only the 1988 AKC revision sees it as correct, earlier Standards also promoted a slightly backwards carriage.
The blue marking on this dog could be expanded to leave only rich tan on face, ears, under body, lower legs and feet, and around the vent.  As for the color blue some judges (and fanciers) have a problem defining Aussie blue.



This sandy example’s balance departs from typical because his legs are longer than correct, not much but just enough to illustrate the importance of correct foreleg length. Neither the ANKC, the AKC or the revised TKC Standard advises as to how long the foreleg should be. The 1988 AKC revision does add about an inch to the foreleg by having the elbow slightly above the bottom of chest. As mentioned, the country of origin only advises that this breed is “low-set” which could be interpreted either as low-slung or as short-legged. Notice also that the rear pasterns are too long, a recognized (by all) departure from “hocks well let down” or “short from hocks to ground.”

His docked tail is longer than the usual length of slightly less than half, however the error is man-made, and it does perhaps balance with his longer legs.

His sandy coat is not clear. The dark shading on his left hip is undesirable. Color ranges from palest of light sandy to the deepest of rich reds, the clearer the better.



This correctly and fully marked blue and tan combines the "without slope to the front pasterns" of Dog B with the body length of Dog C providind an option to the former.

As mentioned earlier, the more forward on the body position of the straight from elbow to heel from legs is due to a short, steep upper arm in conjunction with a well laid back shoulder blade.  The AKC revision reduces this structure possibility by (in addition to a slight slope to the front pastern) asking for a length of upper arm comparable to the shoulder blade, a 90 degree angle between the two, and the presence of a distinct keel, all contriving to position the front legs further rearward than this example's front legs


His faulty large, round (should be small and oval) eyes are foreign to this breed.  The white marking on his chest is penalized.  His curled forward tail is also penalized but not to the extent that it would be if it was set on low or if it curled toward to a greater extent.

Aside from all his faults, does his longer body (about one inch longer than Dog C, two inches longer than Dog D) have appeal?  His legs are the correct length, does this ratio of height to body come closer to your image of ideal?


First place is between Dogs B, C and E.  My choice for first place is Dog C, his slight slope to front pasterns and length of body both appeal.  I chose Dog E for second place and Dog B for third.  Fourth place went to Dog D, fifth place to Dog F and sixth place to Dog A.