Tenterfield Terrier

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
fast facts

About Tenterfield Terrier

10-12 inches
7-10 lb
12-14 years
not applicable
active, playful, hard working, confident
Best Suited For
active singles, active families, house with a yard, hunting
Comparable Breeds
Miniature Fox Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier
Tenterfield Terrier Basics

When you think of Australian dog breeds you probably picture the Australian Cattle Dog or the Australian Shepherd – you don’t picture a small terrier. Even so, the Tenterfield Terrier was developed in Australia and it is just as popular for its ability to hunt small prey as for its aptitude as a family companion. These little dogs are much more than meets the eye.

The Tenterfield Terrier is just as popular for its ability to hunt small prey as for its aptitude as a family companion.


The origins of the Tenterfield Terrier can be traced back to the South of England where small terriers were used to hunt and kill vermin in a way that any larger dog would be incapable of doing. Early specimens of the breed were known as Miniature Fox Terriers and they were brought to Australia via ship during the 19th century, accompanying the first European settlers. These small terriers were given the name Tenterfield Terrier in reference to Tenterfield, a town in New South Wales were a man name George Woolnough became known for his love for the breed.


The Tenterfield Terrier was developed from Miniature Fox Terriers.


As a small-breed dog, the Tenterfield Terrier should be fed a high-quality dry food formulated for small breeds. This terrier is also an active breed, so he may respond well to an active or working breed formula. You still need to be careful about overfeeding, however, to prevent obesity.

Tenterfield Terriers are highly adaptable, so they often do well in various dog sports.


The Tenterfield Terrier is similar to many terrier-type dogs in that he has a high prey drive and high energy levels. These dogs can sometimes be a challenge to train, though they are smart. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement training, though they do require a firm and consistent hand in leadership. These dogs are highly adaptable, so they often do well in various dog sports. Despite their small size, the Tenterfield Terrier is a tenacious breed and may be likely to test the boundaries, so stay strong and curb problem behaviors before they become set.


The Tenterfield Terrier is a small dog, standing 10 to 12 inches tall and weighing up to 10 pounds.


As a terrier type dog, the Tenterfield Terrier is an active and energetic breed. These little dogs are particularly talented in hunting small prey, so they have a high prey drive – your dog may need extra socialization and training in order to get along with small household pets. These dogs do well with other dogs, however, and they are amenable to cats when raised together from a young age. These terriers are loving and loyal as family pets and they make a great companion for children as well as older individuals. As long as this breed’s needs for exercise are met, he can make a wonderful companion and house pet.

Common Health Problems

The Tenterfield Terrier is a healthy breed, evidenced by its long life expectancy. Like most dogs, however, the breed is prone to certain health problems which may include patellar luxation and hypothyroidism. Due to their small facial structure, these dogs may also be prone to dental problems.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan for the Tenterfield Terrier is between 12 to 14 years, though this breed has been known to live for 20 years.

Exercise Requirements

Originally bred for hunting rats and other small prey, the Tenterfield Terrier has high energy levels and high needs for exercise. These dogs are playful and they require a lot of training to keep their energy under control. This breed loves to participate in dog sports or any other physical activity.

Tenterfield Terriers are playful and they require a lot of training to keep their energy under control.


The Tenterfield Terrier is not currently recognized by the AKC but it is recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) and the New Zealand Kennel Club in the Terrier group.


Like most terriers, the Tenterfield Terrier has a short coat that comes in a variety of colors. Most Tenterfield Terriers exhibit a combination of white, black, and tan. Full-color coats are not accepted and brindle coats are not preferred. The coat texture is smooth and, due to its short length, it is fairly easy to groom. These dogs have a naturally occurring bob tail which may vary in length.


The average litter size for the Tenterfield Terrier is around 5 puppies. Because this breed is so small, puppies reach their maximum size quickly – this is why it is important to feed your puppy a high-quality small-breed puppy formula, to ensure that he gets the nutrients he needs. Once your puppy reaches full size, switch him over to a small-breed adult formula to ensure that he gets the protein and energy he needs to sustain his fast metabolism. Tenterfield Terrier puppies also require early socialization and training to control their prey drive and to make them better house pets.

Photo credit: Roman Belogorodov/Shutterstock; Cavan-Images/Shutterstock

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

More by Kate Barrington