Information about the Tenterfield Terrier

Australian in development, the forebears of the Tenterfield Terrier accompanied Australia’s first white settlers who sailed from Portsmouth in England’s South. These small basically white dogs were vermin killers, surviving this harsh country without pampering. Today they are strong, hardy, active and agile, their smooth short coat making them ‘easy care’ family companions. Their unique feature is their naturally occurring bob tail which can come in any length.

Whilst having a square or compact body, no feature of a Tenterfield’s construction should be exaggerated. Hence Tenterfields should not have an elongated head like a Fox Terrier. Rather, the head is wedge shaped with equal length from occiput to stop and stop to the end of the nose. This gives the head parallel head planes, making the head unique in this Group. The Tenterfield Terrier can also have pricked or erect ears or semi-erect ears. Tenterfield Terriers stand around 28cm (11 inches) high and can come in tan and white, black and white, liver/tan/white tri-coloured or black/tan/white tri-coloured.

The forebears of the Tenterfield Terrier accompanied Australia’s first white settlers who sailed from Portsmouth in the England’s South. These small, predominantly-white dogs were vermin killers, weathering the harsh climate.

By the late 19th century a dog type known as the Little Foxie or the Miniature Fox Terrier (known colloquially as “Mini Foxies”) was well established in rural Australia as a vermin killer and family companion. By the 1920s the dog was a fixture in urban households.

The name “Tenterfield” is sometimes incorrectly stated to denote the terrier’s place of origin as Tenterfield, New South Wales. Rather, Tenterfield is only one of many Australian towns and villages in which small dogs of this type were known to exist. The town of Tenterfield is significant in Australian history, and the best-known owner of its saddlery was a man named George Woolnough, who was immortalized by his grandson, entertainer Peter Allen, as the “Tenterfield Saddler”. Mr. Woolnough owned a number of small dogs; however, photographs of these dogs are not available.

The name Tenterfield Terrier was suggested in the 1990s by television gardening personality Don Burke, and was adopted by the South Australian Miniature Fox Terrier club.

In 1991 a group of enthusiasts from the state of South Australia formed the autonomous Miniature Fox Terrier Club of South Australia, separate to the Miniature Fox Terrier Club of Australia, which had been operating for some time. In 1992 they met with owners from other states to discuss the future of the Clubs. At that time, it became evident that there were differences as to the preferred type of dog that would represent the Miniature Fox Terrier breed. Further, challenges to the name ‘Miniature Fox Terrier’ were being mounted, and threatened to preclude recognition by the ANKC which was a priority among some breeders. In 1993 fanciers from South Australia and other states formed the Tenterfield Terrier Club of Australia. In 2002, the Tenterfield Terrier was recognized by the ANKC and placed in Group 2, Terriers.

The Tenterfield Terrier breed standard differs from that of the Miniature Fox Terrier, and although they are sometimes confused, the two dogs have been developing along divergent lines for some time and are now separate breeds.