On 1st January 2002 the Tenterfield Terrier received recognition as a new breed by the Australian National Kennel Council and was placed on the development register. From 1st June 2002 keen owners have been showing these dogs in all States of Australia to national and international judges. The Tenterfield Terrier is shown 100% naturally with only minimal grooming required to remove loose hair during the seasonal change of coats.
The Tenterfield Terrier traces its origin back to the now extinct Old English White Terrier that was common in England as early as the 1700’s. At that time an Old English Black and Tan Terrier also existed. These Terriers came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes as well as in a variety of coat types – from quite smooth through to rough or wire-haired.
In the early 1800’s when the various different terrier types began to emerge, there were no formal registration records. Terriers of various sizes were born in the same litter. At that time, any dog that was adept in a particular task was mated to another adept in that task. Huntsmen and farmers did not seem to care what the terrier looked like as long as it did the required job.
Hence Terriers that specialised in killing rats came into existence. Rats carried disease for both dog and man and were a health threat to both country and city communities in the days before insecticides. Ratting terriers had to be quick and agile so that they killed the rat before they were bitten. These dogs were usually athletic, small in stature and smooth coated. As The rats being hunted generally lived in filthy conditions that would have become caked in long or rough coats, smooth coated terriers were preferred.
Small ratting terriers that were used to kill the rats and mice on board early sailing ships came to Australia with our first settlers. Once the ships docked, rats and other vermin escaped into our pristine countryside. Originally, many of these dogs would have been left behind specifically to kill this foreign vermin. But as Australia became more populated, these little dogs became established throughout the country not only as vermin killers, but also a popular family companions. These terriers became known as the "mini foxies".
Around 1990, a group of interested owners held a meeting that resulted in a breed registry becoming established. By 1992 it became obvious that the name "mini foxie" was inappropriate as this implies miniaturization of the Smooth Fox Terrier. After consultation with those who had dogs registered, a ballot of owners was taken resulting in 85% favoring the name "Tenterfield Terrier". This was in recognition of George Woolnough, otherwise known as the "Tenterfield Saddler". George and his dogs were well known throughout the Tenterfield district in NSW. Additionally, he is commemorated in the song, ‘The Tenterfield Saddler’ written by his famous grandson Peter Allen.