The Making of a Pure Breed

Tenterfield TerrierTenterfield Terrier

By the 1970's, transporting dogs by air instead of sea had become quicker and more affordable. This made it much easier to export and import dogs between countries. Within each country, some types of dogs were further developed, resulting in new, modern, country specific, breeds having their beginnings about this time. But it takes decades for a new breed to become recognised because it must comply to the regulations set by the incumbent dog registration body. This can be a difficult journey. A good example is the recognition of the Tenterfield Terrier by ANKC (Australia)[2].

Country of Origin

Below is a timeline of some of the breeds that originated from the Old English White Terrier.

Terrier TimelineTerrier Timeline

Early Fox Terrier Early Fox Terrier

In the early 1800s, the now extinct Old English White Terrier became a Fox Terrier, similar to the one pictured. These were one of several all-purpose early types of Terrier known centuries ago.

By the late 1800's ratting terriers had developed separately from those used for Fox Hunting. The latter were made famous by Parson Jack Russell. His success in breeding his strain of terrier lasted throughout his long life and beyond. Simultaneously, in the late 1800s, the UK Stud Books began, founding some of the oldest Pure Breeds like Fox Terrier.

But the Stud Books did not record the Fox Hunting Terriers belonging to Parson Jack Russell who meticulously kept records of these quite separate from the UK Stud Books. His 'working strain' was kept pure until a century or so after he died, when his working Fox Hunting terriers were finally recognised as a pure breed in UK in 1990, bearing his name,  Parson Russell Terriers.

Jack Russell TerriersJack Russell Terriers

By the 1900's the ratting terriers that sailed the world had developed separately. Many have become pure breeds in the country in which they landed. These countries now have their own Registries or Stud Books. As the transition into pure breeds is complicated and varies from country to country, below is what happened in Australia.

Country of Development

In 1964, when the famous Roycroft Equestrian Olympians introduced what they called Jack Russell Terriers into Australia, neither the Parson's Jack Russells nor the Mini Foxie was recognised as pure breeds. Chapter 5 of this book described how, by 1991, the ANKC had recognised the Jack Russell Terrier as a pure breed with England as its "Country of Origin" but Australia its "Country of Development'.

Because of the publicity created when they were first introduced, the Jack Russell and Mini Foxie became hopelessly interbred by the pet market. With no checks or balances in place, a good deal of harm was done to both breeds. Even today, decades after both breeds have gained pure breed recognition, the general public and many others including animal welfare organisations still confuse these 2 breeds! Because of this, below is a brief chart of the major differences.

Comparison between the Jack Russell Terrier and the Tenterfield Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier Tenterfield Terrier

Jack Russell TerrierJack Russell Terrier

Tenterfield TerrierTenterfield Terrier
Ideally: 25 cms (10 ins) to 30 cms (12 ins)
Ideally: 28 cms (11 ins) to 30.5 cms (12 ins)
Balance Ratio of body length to height at shoulder is 60:40 Squarely built, ratio of body length to height at shoulder is 50:50
Coat Ranges from smooth through to rough Smooth coat only
Colour White MUST predominate with black and/or tan markings. The tan markings can be from the lightest tan to the richest tan (chestnut). Predominantly white coat with black, tan, blue or liver markings. Tri-colouring is also common. Skin should always be pigmented.
Jack Russell TerrierJack Russell Terrier Tenterfield TerrierTenterfield Terrier
Head The skull should be flat and of moderate width tapering to a wide muzzle with very strong jaws. The length of the muzzle should be slightly shorter than the skull. The wedge-shaped head has a slightly rounded skull and a strong muzzle the same length as the skull. The planes of the skull and muzzle are parrallel.
Stop Moderate Moderate
Nose Black Preferably black but may be self coloured
Ears Button or dropped Erect or semi-erect
Mouth Normal scissors bite Normal scissors bite
Jack Russell TerrierJack Russell Terrier Tenterfield TerrierTenterfield Terrier
Forequarters Forelegs straight from the elbow to the toes with sufficient length of upper arm to ensure elbows are set under the body with sternum clearly in front of the shoulder blades. Forelegs strong with round bone with elbows set under the body.
Body The body should be marginally longer than the height at shoulder. Chest deep rather than wide, with the brisket mid-way between ground and withers. The girth behind the elbows must be capable of being spanned by two hands. (about 40 - 43 cms). A short, compact, squarely built body with a level topline. Chest of moderate width, reaching the level of the elbows, but not below.
Hindquarters Strong and muscular with hind legs parallel when viewed from behind. Stifles well angulated and hocks short. Rump well rounded supporting long and powerful thighs, well bent stifles and vertical hocks.
Tail High set and of natural length. High-set naturally occurring bob-tail, equally correct at any length.
Gait/movement True, free and springy. Forelegs carried straight forward with elbows working clear of the sides. Good drive from the rear with short hocks not too close.

Recognising a new Pure Breed

Tenterfield TerriersTenterfield Terriers

It would create an impossible situation if the registration bodies in charge of each country allowed all fads and fancies in the world to become pure breeds. Thus, pure breed recognition needs to be controlled by strict rules. In Australia, these rules are administered by our ANKC.

The journey to get a particular type of dog recognised as a pure breed can be long and arduous. It requires a group of enthusiasts with a lot of dedication, even to the point of obsession, to meet all the ANKC requirements. This includes providing proof that the type of dog's progeny can reproduce itself in both character and its physical appearance for a minimum of five generations on a 'Development Register' containing a minimum of 500 different dogs.

To this end, the Jack Russell enthusiasts formed the Jack Russell Club of Australia and almost simultaneously, the Mini Foxie enthusiasts formed the Mini Foxie Club of Australia. Both had Breed Clubs in every State, both wrote their own Breed Standards and both held dog shows where they could compare the direction of their breeds. Both had 'Development Registers' which contained pedigrees, pictures of the dogs and their measurements[4].

The Naming of the Tenterfield Terrier

By 1992, those who had dogs registered on the Development Register began seriously campaigning to obtain breed recognition by the ANKC. Although a Breed Standard had been agreed upon, it had become increasing obvious that the name "Mini Foxie" was inappropriate as this implies miniaturisation of the Smooth Fox Terrier. To this end, a ballot of owners was taken resulting in 85% favouring the Tenterfield Terrier.

Replica of Tenterfield Saddler's ShopReplica of Tenterfield Saddler's Shop

This name was chosen in recognition of George Woolnough, whose Terriers were famous throughout the Tenterfield district in New South Wales. Affectionately known as the "Tenterfield Saddler", because of his profession making horse saddles and other leather goods. His name was immortalised in the song of the same name written by George Woolnough's famous grandson, entertainer Peter Allen.

Under the new name, the Tenterfield Terrier Club of Victoria Inc became the first breed club to become affiliated. By 2009, the ANKC National Breed Council had been formed and the first National Show was held which I had the honour of judging[3]. What a Show it was, with a uniquely Australian post and rail fencing surrounding judging ring. Setting the atmosphere was a characterised George holding a model of a Tenterfield on a leash, set in front of a replica of the Tenterfield Saddler's Shop! Here the official photographs were taken.

The Modern Tenterfield Terrier

Supreme Champion thanking the judge!Supreme Champion thanking the judge!

When recognizing any new Australian breed, the ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council Inc) Rules demand 5 generations. With no Tenterfield Terriers anywhere else in the world, our ANKC Development Register is the only way 'new' blood can be introduced. So, although ratting terriers of other countries have often been likened to Australia's Tenterfield Terriers, it must be remembered that Tenterfield's have had a separate gene pool for 2 centuries!

In 2018, 'Supreme Champion', the highest show title possible in Australia was obtained was gained[1]. So we have now proved  that our Tenterfield Terrier is certainly a Dinkum Aussie that  can hold its own against any of Australia's other recognized pure breeds.

References and Further Reading

[1] 2018 - Jane Harvey - "Supreme Champion Rangeaire John Farnham' Lets Talk Terriers (Tracy Murphy, Dean Park NSW) Vol 14 No 3 2018 Pages 18 - 19

[2] 2017 - Jane Harvey "Australian Breeds" in Dog News Australia (Top Dog Media Pty Ltd Austral NSW) February 2007 Page 10

[3] 2009 - Jane Harvey, "A Word from the Judge (of the First Tenterfield Terrier National Show)" in National Dog, the Ringleader Way ((Published by Sahjobe Pty Ltd, Menangle Park NSW ABN 86 075 412 761) Vol 12 No 11 November 2009 Page 14

[4] 2007 - Jane Harvey, "Jane Harvey with WHAT?" in National Dog the Ringleader Way (Published by Sahjobe Pty Ltd, Menangle Park NSW ABN 86 075 412 761) Volume 10 Number 3 Page 30