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10 Energetic Australian Dog Breeds That Are Always on the Go

The continent is home to many hard-working pups, from herders to terriers. Here's everything you need to know about each Australian dog breed before you consider bringing one home.

Australian Koolie dog Running and playing in a green open field
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All about Aussie dogs

Australia is home to so many unique animals: koalas (learn how many koalas are left in the world), kangaroos, and wombats, to name a few. But in addition to these wild animal species, many domestic Australian dog breeds also originated in the land Down Under. From the hard-working Australian cattle dog to the high-energy miniature fox terrier, these Aussie pups make prime companions.

If you’re looking to add an Australian dog breed to your family, there are a few things you should know. While each breed varies significantly, many Australian pups were originally bred to herd cattle and hunt rodents on the continent’s vast farmlands. That means they’re often high-energy, hard-working, intelligent dogs that need vigorous exercise and training. If you can provide that, they’ll reward you forever with love and cuddles (and probably a few gentle heel nips). Still doing your research? You’ll want to see how the dogs Down Under stack up against the most popular Russian dog breeds, Italian dog breeds, Japanese dog breeds, Chinese dog breeds, and German dog breeds.

Australian Cattle Dog puppy
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1. Australian cattle dog

As their name suggests, these muscular pups are expert herders. A relative of Australia’s wild dingos and the dalmatian, the Australian cattle dog is faithful, protective, and intelligent. They come in a variety of colors and markings, from red and red speckled to blue and blue speckled. Expect yours to need lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation, such as obedience or agility training. Even when these pups don’t have a farm to manage, they still need a job to do.

Breed Overview
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 31 to 35 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Close-Up Of Australian Kelpie Looking Away While Relaxing On Wood
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2. Australian Kelpie

The Australian Kelpie is another hard-working herder. Instead of focusing on cattle, these guys specialize in sheep. Now considered a rare dog breed, the Kelpie derived from collie-type dogs from Scotland and was developed to tolerate the Outback’s harsh heat. Because of their herding history, Kelpie’s have boundless energy and require intense daily exercise. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that these pups do have an “off” switch and will be happy to curl up on the couch immediately after a rigorous run. Their short coats range from black and blue to chocolate and fawn.

Breed Overview
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 31 to 46 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Australian Terrier Running
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3. Australian terrier

These tiny terriers were bred to be all-purpose exterminators, eliminating small mammals and snakes on the rugged land on which they worked. Because they frequently lived in remote regions of Australia, these pups learned to create tight bonds with their owners. Today, they’re known for being cuddly, friendly, and affectionate, and often take a strong liking to small children and the elderly. The AKC notes that the Aussie isn’t always a good fit for multi-dog homes. But that’s not due to aggression; it’s because these loving pups want you all to themselves.

Breed Overview
Height: 10 to 11 inches
Weight: 15 to 20 pounds
Life expectancy: 11 to 15 years

Australian Koolie dog Running in a field with a disc
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4. Koolie

These medium dog breeds are hardworking jacks of all trades and can herd anything from sheep and cattle to goats, horses, and buffalo. They’re also particularly well-suited for agility, endurance, and tracking work. Koolies require lots of exercise and fare best when they have a job to do. They come in a range of colors and can have a smooth, short, short rough, medium, and double or single coat. While not recognized by the AKC, they are recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council and the American Herding Breed Association.

Breed Overview
Height: 13 to 23 inches
Weight: 33 to 53 pounds
Life expectancy: 18 years

a caramel colored cavoodle breed puppy dog lying on the ground playing and chewing on a stick in a park
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5. Cavoodle

While technically a mixed breed, the cavoodle is one of the most popular Australian dog breeds. A cross between a cavalier King Charles cocker spaniel and a poodle, these cuddly pups were bred in the land Down Under and have become increasingly popular over the last decade. They’re small, teddy bear-like dogs and come in gold, cream, black, and brown. They’re affectionate and gentle and make great family pets. Because of their toy size, the cavoodle is well-suited to city life and is the perfect pup for a novice owner.

Breed Overview
Height: 10 to 15 inches
Weight: 11 to 26 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Stumpy tail cattle dog head portrait
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6. Australian stumpy tail cattle dog

This breed might sound like a shorter-tailed version of the Australian cattle dog, but the two breeds are very different. While they stand at about the same height, the Stumpy has longer legs. And they do, in fact, have stumpier tails. Stumpies are high-energy, easy to train, and love activities such as hiking, backpacking, and obedience training to keep their minds and bodies sharp. Fun fact: These short-tailed pups may have been the first dog breed ever developed in Australia.

Breed Overview
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 32 to 45 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Running Silky Terrier
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7. Silky terrier

These toy terriers make wonderful companions. They’re smart, friendly, and affectionate, and thanks to their small statures, they fair well in urban environments. Native to Sydney, these pups are descendants of the Yorkshire terrier and the Australian terrier. However, they’re larger than the Yorkie and smaller than the Aussie. Aside from their size, their most notable trait is their long, silky coat. Expect them to need a good brushing at least twice a week—you might want to stock up on those grooming supplies now. Silky terriers can be reserved with strangers, which means you’ll want to socialize them early to ensure they get along with other people and dogs.

Breed Overview
Height: 9 to 10 inches
Weight: 10 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Eye level shot of a young fox terrier dog looking off camera, happily.
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8. Miniature fox terrier

These cute pups are known in their native Australia as mini foxies. The breed was originally used to hunt small pests such as rabbits and rodents. Today, their working spirit remains. Mini foxies are agile, energetic, and have a big-dog personality despite their compact size. They come in black, white, tan, and tricolor. While not yet recognized by the AKC, they are recognized by the American Canine Association and the Mini Foxie Club of Australia.

Breed Overview
Height: 9 to12 inches
Weight: Proportionate to height
Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years

Tenterfield Terrier dog standing outside in the grass
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9. Tenterfield terrier

These compact terriers are no-so-distant relatives of the previously mentioned mini foxies. While they’re both small dog breeds, similar in size and weight, their coats differ; a mini foxie’s coat is dense and a Tenterfield terrier’s coat is smooth. Both dogs are great at watching the house, and will likely bark when there’s company. Because the Tenterfield is a former working dog, you’ll want to make sure yours is entertained. (As any trainer will tell you, a bored dog is more likely to get into trouble.) Take them on a few 30-minute walks a day and make sure to engage them in fetch, agility training, or obedience training regularly.

Breed Overview
Height: 10 inches to 12 inches
Weight: Proportionate to height
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Happy Australian Shepherd Dog in a Field
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10. Bonus: Australian shepherd

Gotcha! Contrary to popular belief, the Australian shepherd is actually native to America. The breed’s lineage begins in Europe. From there, they were brought to Australia and moved to California, where the breed was ultimately perfected. Because some California ranchers believed the dogs were originally from Australia, they called them Australian shepherds. So, while the dogs have some Aussie roots, their country of origin is the United States. These dogs are closely associated with cowboy culture and require lots of exercise to stay happy. Novice owners, beware: You’ll probably want to try your hand at a more chill breed before taking on a mischievous Aussie shepherd.

Next: Do you know the most popular dog breed in every state?

Breed Overview
Height: 18 to 23 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years


Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is a lifestyle writer for RD.com covering home, holidays, fashion, and beauty. She is based in New York City and spends most of her time trying new yoga classes and rearranging her tiny apartment.