13 Australian Dog Breeds That Work Hard and Play Harder

Sure, Australia is home to the world’s most venomous species, but the continent is also the birthplace of some of the hardest working dogs in the world. These breeds are smart and refuse to give anything less than 110 percent. Australian dog breeds – which vary greatly in size, shape, and temperament – know how to work hard and play hard. Adding one of these puppies to your family requires steadfast training and plenty of time to keep them occupied mentally and physically. When you’re ready, these trusty dogs will love and protect you whether it is raining or shining.

A Brief History of the Australian Breeds

To understand why Australian races are often so intelligent and hardworking, you need to know a little history. English and European immigrants ventured into Australia in the 1700s and 1800s in hopes of banking cattle. To keep cattle and sheep at bay, dogs such as collies, deerhounds and foxhounds accompanied the settlers. However, they quickly discovered that no one was fit for the heat in the outback, including the poor pups. So the settlers began to breed dogs they knew and trusted (collies, deerhounds and foxhounds) either with wild dogs such as dingoes or other breeds in order to achieve an ideal combination for the unfamiliar climate.

The Australian breeds on our list, developed later in the 20th century, have similar origins, albeit without the need for herding skills. Several breeds, such as the Australian Bulldog and the Cobberdog, were developed to enhance certain traits of their English and American counterparts. Not all dogs on this list are recognized by the American Kennel Club or the Australian National Kennel Council, although most have organized clubs that oversee breeding practices across the continent.

The result of all that hard work? Extremely smart, athletic, tireless companion animals who live to work and protect their families. And further proof that dogs and humans need each other and thrive when they work in tandem.

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Average size: 18.5 in

Average weight: 42 pounds

Temperament: Attentive, loyal

Release factor: Regular

Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Australian Cattle Dogs, also known as Blue Heelers, are incredibly intelligent, energetic animals. Bred to herd livestock (duh), they require a great deal of mental and physical exertion (they become destructive when bored). Although they are suspicious of strangers, loyalty to their family is second nature. These hard-working dogs were bred by English settlers in the 19th century who crossed their herding dogs with wild Australian dingoes to create a breed better suited to the heat of the outback. Because of this, many Australian Cattle Dogs have a rich red color mixed in with blues, grays, and browns. For more information on the fascinating history of this breed (Australia’s first!), See The Dogs that Made Australia by canine behaviorist Guy Hull.

Average size: 18.5 in

Average weight: 38.5 pounds

Temperament: Energetic, silly

Release factor: Occasionally

Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Contrary to what the name suggests, the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog isn’t just an Australian Cattle Dog with a different tail. This is a unique breed with lots of energy, intelligence, and personality of its own as described by the U.S. Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog Society. Their large, pointy ears and curved tail are hallmarks of the breed. Their coats are typically red or blue merle. Basically, if you are looking for a reliable companion with a thirst for adventure, the Stumpy is for you.

Average size: 18.5 in

Average weight: 38 pounds

Temperament: Intelligent, playful

Release factor: Regular

Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

With an undying devotion to their families, it’s no wonder Australian Kelpies make great companion dogs – as long as they get enough exercise. Bred to herd sheep in the vast, hot, and dusty Australian outback, these dogs can spend long hours outdoors (and they love it). Give them a job like guarding your home or conducting search and rescue and they will be happy. You will usually see them in black or brown coats.

Average size: 10.5 in

Average weight: 17.5 pounds

Temperament: Loving, dear

Release factor: Low

Life expectancy: 11 to 15 years

These little guys love to chase anything that moves. Fortunately, Australian Terriers train well and do anything for their favorite human. This addiction can become territorial, so introducing this puppy to many new faces (or having multiple pets) at the same time is not advisable. Unlike Kelpies and Cattle Dogs, routine bores with Australian Terriers, so make sure you mix up your gaming activities.

Average size: 9.5 in

Average weight: 10 pounds

Temperament: Cheeky, friendly

Release factor: Occasionally

Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

It’s hard to ignore the Silky Terrier’s luxuriously soft blue-brown fur. Let it grow to show or cut it off to avoid tangles and matting. Allegedly bred in Sydney by combining Yorkshire Terriers and Australian Terriers, these tiny, silky favorites have been around since the early 1900s. They love play time and exercise (this is not a lazy lap dog) and adapt well to all types of households.

Average size: 28 inches

Average weight: 68 pounds

Temperament: Gentle, attentive

Release factor: Low

Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Australian Staghounds are not yet recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club or the Australian National Kennel Council. However, Dog-Learn says they were bred by combining greyhounds with Scottish deerhounds and foxhounds in the late 18th century. Staghounds have long, slender bodies with deep chests; They are incredibly gentle and cute as long as they can burn energy regularly throughout the day. Designed to hunt rabbits and wild boars, they may not do well in households with other small pets.

Average size: 21 inches

Average weight: 42.5 pounds

Temperament: Intelligent, energetic

Release factor: Regular

Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years

According to Australian Koolie Breeders International, these dogs thrive when there is a job to be done and space for it. You may hear people refer to these dogs as German coolies, a name left behind by 19th century German settlers in Australia and their herding collies. Koolies were bred from these dogs and can be found in brown, black, white, and merle-colored coats.

Average size: 25.5 in

Average weight: 80 pounds

Temperament: Sweet, brave

Release factor: Regular

Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Bull Arabs, also known as the Australian Pig Dog, were bred to hunt wild boars, pigs, and wild animals. Although strong and aggressive when hunting, Bull Arabs are known for their balanced behavior when they are at home with their families. Coats are usually white with brightly colored markings that emphasize their muscular bodies. Again, don’t be fooled by her tough exterior! They are true lovers at heart.

Average size: 11 inches

Average weight: 10 pounds

Temperament: Confident, loyal

Release factor: Occasionally

Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Tenterfield Terriers live to learn and learn new skills. Recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council, they are likely descendants of foxhounds that were brought to New South Wales centuries ago. Tenterfields have short, white coats with black, brown, or blue markings. Definitely high energy and intelligent dogs, they shouldn’t be left alone for long. Include them in the action! Much like staghounds, smaller pets are wary of the Tenterfield’s hunting instincts.

Average size: 10.5 in

Average weight: 10 pounds

Temperament: Curious, adaptable

Release factor: Occasionally

Life expectancy: 12 to 18 years

Affectionately known as the Mini Foxie by the Mini Foxie Club of Australia, these little terriers are very similar in appearance and behavior to the Tenterfield Terriers. Some have tiny bobtails; most are white with brown or black markings. Since the mid-19th century, these fast pups have kept farms and houses rabbit and rodent free. Get ready for a loyal, playful and sprightly companion.

Average size: 22 inches (standard size)

Average weight: 50 pounds (standard size)

Temperament: Kind, gentle

Release factor: Low, hypoallergenic

Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Say hello to Australia’s Labradoodle! Cobberdog is recognized by the Master Dog Breeders and Associates and literally means “dog lover”. The breed was developed for therapeutic purposes in the 1990s. They vary in size from miniature to extra large and have wavy or curly fur in a variety of colors. Basically, they are an ideal family and therapy pet because they don’t bark a lot, are incredibly affectionate, and learn and remember commands well.

Average size: 19 inches

Average weight: 70 pounds

Temperament: Happy, loyal

Release factor: Seasonal

Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

If you know English Bulldogs, you know that high heat isn’t good for their short snouts. It is for this reason that Australian breeders developed the Australian Bulldog in the 1990s. They wanted all the joys of the English version (affection, loyalty, playfulness) without endangering the animal’s health in a harsher climate. So breeders combined Bull Arabs with English Bulldogs and voila. Ideal canine family members who are team players and get on well with children.

Average size: 20.5 in

Average weight: 52 pounds

Temperament: Intelligent, sporty

Release factor: Seasonal

Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

We added Australian Shepherds to our list even though they are technically an all-American breed. Aussies were perfected in California, but Basque shepherds in Australia began the breeding process before moving their flocks to the west coast of America in the 19th century. Aussies have weather-resistant coats with white underbelly with various blotches of blue, black, gray, brown, and red on their backs and faces. They also have tiny bobtails. The Australian Shepherd Club of America says these pups are definitely favorites who enjoy a hard day’s work.

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