This paper focuses on the resonance frequency shift characteristic of Terfenol-D rods for magnetostrictive actuators. A 3D nonlinear dynamic model to describe the magneto-thermo-elastic coupling behavior of actuators is proposed based on a nonlinear constitutive model. The coupled interactions among stress- and magnetic-field-dependent variables for actuators are solved iteratively using the finite element method. The model simulations show a good correlation with the experimental data, which demonstrates that this model can capture the coupled resonance frequency shift features for magnetostrictive actuators well. Moreover, a comprehensive description for temperature, pre-stress and bias field dependences of resonance frequency is discussed in detail. These essential and important investigations will be of significant benefit to both theoretical research and the applications of magnetostrictive materials in smart or intelligent structures and systems.