< Breed Description

A Description Of A

Tenterfield Terrier

Breed: Tenterfield Terrier

Temperament: friendly and very active

Cost: $200 plus

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Recommended for: families

Maintenance: low

Appearance: This is a small, smooth-coated terrier whose legs are in proportion to their body. Some have

their tails docked however this practice is currently being dispensed with due to pressure from different

animal welfare groups. They stand 27cm (10.5") and weigh around 5kg (10lb). Colours are black and white,

 tan and white, and black, tan and white. While sometimes confused with the Jack Russell, the Tenterfield

Terrier has a finer build and an arched skull.


Temperament: Owners say these dogs are active, bright, outgoing, loyal, curious and bold - the latter

sometimes to their cost (see Health). They will adapt to life with a houseful of kids, or as a companion

for an older adult. Burke's Backyard recommends them as among best dog breeds for children.

Health and lifespan:

  • Luxating patellas (slipping kneecap);
  • Curiosity gets them into more than their fair share of trouble, such as snakebite, poisoning by
    rat and snail bait, car hits and dog fights.
  • They can get plump if indulged too often.
  • Usually live for 12-14 years, but can live up to 20.
  • They generally do not have very much in the way of road sense and so should be enclosed in a
    fenced environment.

Useful qualities: While primarily a companion dog, most would sound the alarm at strangers but are not

big enough to be guard dogs.


Space & exercise: Most Tenterfields get enough exercise running around the backyard but will benefit

from a walk - provided they accept the leash! They will adapt to most situations, from farms to flats.


Training: Tenterfields require extra patience and persistence when it comes to training. Teach them

the basics in fun, short 10 minute bursts with plenty of lavish praise for appropriate behaviour.

Ignore bad behaviour, especially if it looks like an attention-seeking stunt. Some individual dogs have

 been difficult to house train and be inclined to cringe for no reason. With perserverance though it is

possible to train them well with many of the breed competing in obedience trials against German

Shepherds and doing rather well.


Breeding and cost: Litters of three and four are common, however, larger litters risk eclampsia in

bitches. Few birth problems are known. The price for puppies start from $200.This price will vary

depending on wether the dog is for showing or as a pet. Show quality dogs have been known to be

 worth considerably more.


History: Small Fox Terrier-like dogs have been known in Australia for at least 130 years. The Tenterfield

 terrier was first known and bred around the Tenterfield area - hence the name suggested by Don Burke,

of Burke's Backyard. They were originally bred as farm dogs, for chasing rabbits and other vermin, but

 about 10 years ago enthusiasts began to rally to develop breed standards with the long term view of

applying for purebred status by canine bodies across Australia. This recognition was achieved in May

2002. There are about 1600 Tenterfield Terriers now registered with breed clubs.