Tenterfield Terrier

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Tenterfield Terrier

The Miniature Fox Terrier, Australian Terrier and the Silky Terrier are not the only breeds of terriers developed in Australia. Another breed of lightweight terrier calls Australia home although the breed is rather unknown as to uninformed eyes, this breed can easily be mistaken for a Jack Russell Terrier because of the striking similarity in appearance. The Tenterfield Terrier is as Australian as the other mentioned breeds. The Tenterfield name that was adopted for the breed by the South Australian Miniature Fox Terrier Club was suggested by Don Burke, the famous Australian television host of the Burke’s Backyard lifestyle program. The Tenterfield Terrier has descended from the dogs brought by early Australian settlers from England. These working dogs were utilized to rid the homes of rats and the farms of rabbits and foxes. These English working dogs were developed in Australia and after about two hundred years, the breed was fully established and has spread widely in the land down under. One or more of these terriers are found on nearly every farm… highly valued for being the tenacious and tireless vermin hunters and the loyal and affectionate pets of the family.

The Tenterfield Terrier is a small dog with a well proportioned body. This breed is not as heavily muscled as other terrier breeds but it does have a broad chest and well developed strong thighs. The smooth coat can be tan and white, black and tan or black, tan and white in color. This breed has the typical bold, lively, alert and agile personality of a terrier. A Tenterfield Terrier is a small dog but owners of this breed would attest that this dog has a big personality. This dog is fearless and full of curiosity. These traits often land the dog in trouble as it would not back down from a fight with larger dogs. The curious nature often results to snakebites and ingestion of poisonous substances. This very energetic dog is always on the go but when given a chance to have a cuddle, the dog would switch off its immense energies and would contentedly lie on the lap of its favorite person.


A Tenterfield Terrier is a well proportioned square shaped breed. Measurement of length from the withers to the rear point of the buttocks is equal to the height measured from the withers to the ground. The medium sized wedge shaped head is proportionate to the body, well filled under the eyes and has a moderate stop. The muzzle is strong. A black nose is preferred although liver coated dogs would have a liver nose. Oval shaped dark eyes have an alert and attentive expression. This breed has bat-like ears. Set on at the outer edge of the skull, the thin V shaped and rounded tipped ears are carried either erect or semi-erect. A Tenterfield Terrier has a tight fitting well pigmented lips, strong jaws and complete set of teeth that meet in a scissor bite.

This breed carries its strong, clean and moderately long neck proudly. Moderately short but compact body has a level topline and well sprung ribs. Chest that is moderate in width reaches the level of the elbows. Strong and round boned forelegs are straight. Hindquarters are not too heavily muscled but have long powerful thighs. Compact round shaped feet has moderately arched toes. The tail shows the dog’s bold and gay temperament. Tail can be docked at the 3rd joint. High set natural tail is carried erect but not over the back. A Tenterfield Terrier has a well pigmented skin and a single short coat that is smooth in texture. The predominantly white coat has markings of tan, liver and black in various tones.


A Tenterfield Terrier is generally valued for its working abilities. This outstanding ratter though has the ideal temperament of a good home companion. The dog is loving and affectionate to its people. The lively and playful nature makes the dog a suitable companion and playmate of the children. This is an amicable breed. The dog makes a good companion of larger breeds. It is not uncommon to see a Tenterfield Terrier snuggled with the cat. However, in spite of the well balanced personality, this small dog would not back out from a fight with a much bigger dog. A Tenterfield Terrier is an adaptable breed. Because of its high level of energy, the dog would be most suitable in a farm but the dog would be equally comfortable in an apartment where it can lounge in front of the TV set all day as long as the dog will be taken on its daily walk once the master arrives home. A Tenterfield Terrier is an intelligent breed. Training will not be a problem especially if positive methods of training and lots of praise and treats are used.


The Tenterfield Terrier is a wash and wear breed. The dog needs very little maintenance. Occasional brushing would be sufficient to remove dead hair. Frequent bathing will not be necessary as well but the ears and the teeth must be cleaned regularly and nails must be trimmed at least every two weeks. Brushing must be done more frequently when the dog is shedding its winter or summer coat. A Tenterfield Terrier is a high energy breed. The dog would benefit from a 30 minute brisk walk every day and it would be a good idea to take the dog to a dog park once a week where it can run to its heart’s content without the restriction of a leash. This terrier is a generally healthy breed. Breed life span is from 12 to 14 years although some specimens are known to reach their 20th birthday.


Dogs are utilized in a lot of capacities. These animals have made a great difference on how people live. Dogs are commonly kept as companions but other breeds are hunted, utilized as herders and protectors of both animals and humans. In the dog world, the terriers are recognized for being the vermin catchers. The Tenterfield Terrier is one of these breeds originally utilized to reduce vermin population.

The Tenterfield Terrier is one of the breeds with an obscure origin. This breed originated from England although it was “refined” into its present form in Australia. These terriers developed from the Old English White Terriers that were the choice of fox hunters. These terrier types come in all shapes, sizes and in different coat types as the dogs were primarily selected for their working abilities and not for their looks. Around the 1800s, the hunters realized that they need a smaller dog that can easily go to ground and bolt a fox from its hole. These smaller dogs will be utilized to hunt rats and other vermin as well. During those times, rat infestation is one of the concerns of people as aside from being very destructive pests rats are disease carriers as well. No rat poisons were used back then thus breeds of ratter dogs were highly valued. Smaller specimens of Manchester Black and Tan were crossed with small Fox Terriers. Whippets are said to have been added for speed and stamina. The breeding resulted to a small breed of terrier highly specialized in killing rats. Again, the looks of the dog was not given importance. What counts most is the working ability of the breed. Thus, the terriers’ coats range from smooth, broken or wiry. A white coat though is preferred so that the dog can be easily seen and not accidentally shot by hunters.

These little vermin hunters were brought to Australia by the early settlers. These dogs were purposely taken on the sailing ships to kill the mice and rats aboard. Although some dogs were actually brought by the English to their settlements, many dogs that were left on board escaped to the countryside. These small dogs flourished. After about two hundred years, the small terriers were developed to be “true Aussies” and became well established as vermin eradicators and as home companions. Very seldom would one see a farm without one or more of these dogs. The dogs were then referred to as Miniature Fox Terriers. In 1990s, the Miniature Fox Terrier Club of South Australia was organized. Similar breed clubs were also organized in New South Wales and in Western Australia. The clubs were working for the recognition of the breed but it is apparent that with the present name, it would be impossible to attain the recognition of the Australian National Kennel Council. The dog after all is not the downsized variety of the Fox Terrier. The name Tenterfield Terrier was suggested by Don Burke although Tenterfield, New South Wales is not the place of origin of the breed. The name was suggested because George Woolnough of the famous Tenterfield Saddlery owns a lot of these small terriers. The name was embraced by the breed clubs and in 2002, the Tenterfield Terrier was finally recognized by ANKC.

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