The Tenterfield Terrier

The Tenterfield Terrier

It is commonly believed that small terriers of similar type found their way to Australia on the early settlement ships but our early history is undocumented. Being small and agile, dogs of this type have been an integral part of the Australian life. With few early farms or households without a dog of this type due to their amazing ratting ability. 

It is also believed based on early photographs, that small terriers of this type were often used on the hunt being carried in saddle bags and released once the prey went to ground. Their agility making them able to leap up to be caught and placed in saddle bags whilst the handler sat in the saddle and they made short work of the leap from that height. Tenterfield Terriers of today should retain this ability and hence they thrive in agility, flyball and other sporting tasks. Many are also very adept at climbing and are considered to be very catlike in their ability to negotiate obstacles.

Once commonly known as the ‘Mini Foxie’ this name was abandoned on the long road to recognition in 2002. One of the fundamental reasons for this name is that the Tenterfield Terrier is not a miniaturisation of the Fox Terrier and there is little evidence that the Fox Terrier featured heavily if at all in the breed’s development.

The name “Tenterfield Terrier” was chosen after an Australian wide survey was undertaken to determine an appropriate name for this wonderful and truly Australian breed. The reference to Tenterfield is to acknowledge the influence that the ‘Tenterfield Saddler’, George Woolnough, had on the early development of Terriers of similar type to the Tenterfield’s of today. George was often seen and photographed with a multitude of ‘his’ little terriers.


The Tenterfield Terrier is a happy outgoing highly intelligent dog. With appropriate socialising they are equally at home with large & small dogs and although a true terrier can live harmoniously with cats and other small pets. They bond solidly with their human pack and will offer each family member what they need from a dog. That is, they are equally at home sitting on the lounge with dad watching the footy or spending hours running with the kids in the yard. Amazingly sensitive they often also recognise when someone isn’t well and just needs to be watched over.


Standing at 25.5 – 30.5cms (10 – 12 inches) tall their size belies their strength, which shouldn’t be confused with stockiness. They should give an overall picture of agility and balance. They are a single coated breed that should be short and laying close to the body. Predominantly white with black, tan or liver markings in any combination however brindle markings are undesirable. Nose colour and pigmentation on the dog will be reflective of the coat colour. That is, black dogs will have a black nose and true liver dogs will have a liver coloured nose and pigment. 

Tenterfield Terriers are also unique in that they are the only terrier breed in Australia that has a natural bob tail. Therefore tails of any length are equally acceptable in the show ring. However balance should always be the overriding criteria in its assessment.



Tenterfields are considered to be a relatively healthy breed however in recent years Primary Lens Luxation & Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goitre has been identified in a few of our dogs. However the dedicated breeders of Tenterfield Terriers have been extremely proactive in testing and breeding to eliminate these hereditary diseases.

As with other small breeds Patella Subluxation also appeared within the breed but today it is almost non-existent due to extensive voluntary screening that breeders undertake.

Many Tenterfield Terriers are known to live beyond 15 years of age.

Dedicated Tenterfield Terrier breeders continue to take part in appropriate research trials that will enable us to be at the forefront of tackling any health concerns that may appear in the future.


A Tenterfield Terrier is one of the easiest breeds of dog to care for. A regular nail clipping and a quick wash when needed will keep your tentie looking good. We often refer to then as a wash and wear dog. Even a towel off during the warming months isn’t necessary as they take great joy in doing zoomies around the yard which is like a spin dry in a washing machine. Between baths a simple wipe over with a damp cloth will keep your Tenterfield Terrier looking good and remove any loose hair from their coat.


Tenterfield Terriers are equally at home on the farm, in a small suburban back yard or even in an apartment given enough stimulation to occupy their inquisitive nature. An environment void of toys and things to do will find your Tentie discovering their own ways to occupy themselves and this is how they can get up to all sorts of harmless mischief.

Equally at home with the elderly, the recently retired and young kids as they will adapt to the needs of the family they live with. Being highly intelligent they thrive when given a job to do and insist on being an integral part of the family. They will not do well if left to their own devices.

They make ideal travelling companions and are wonderful alarm dogs, letting you know if something isn’t quite right around the home.

Many thrive in agility and obedience and at many other tasks. Their ability to learn and adapt is equal to most working dogs if appropriate training techniques are used. Trick training is a fun way for kids and Tenties to bond.


Contact Details

Leanne Bennett
Mid North Coast, NSW, Australia
Email : [email protected]