Breed At A Glance


Intelligent, active, affectionate, playful, hunters, watchdogs

Life Expectancy
12 – 15 years

Average Height
Females 13.5” Males 15.5”

Average Weight
Females 16 lbs Males: 18lbs

Coat Color
Mostly white with black, brown or liver markings

Coat Length/Texture
Smooth, flat, hard, dense, and abundant

Shedding Propensity
Moderate year round

Also known as Fox Terrier, SFT, Foxie

General Temperament

Smooth Fox Terriers are full to the brim with intelligence, enthusiasm, and affection for their human families. A high energy level and desire to play makes this breed a good companion for an active family who can make time to keep the dog active. Foxies are excessively loyal and protective of their family and home territory, and therefore make excellent guard dogs.

Given their ancestry flushing out game from underground dens, Fox Terriers are relentless diggers. Additionally, they have a strong prey instinct and are full to the brim with self confidence. They will chase after anything and everything that catches their eye, which can put the dog in harm’s way. So, although owners can rest assured that their home will be kept free from vermin, suburban fences will need to be buried deep and checked frequently to keep the dog from digging an escape route.

Although they are sweet with their human pack members, they tend to have significant dog aggression, often picking fights for no apparent reason, even with dogs that are much larger than them. Extensive socialization from an early age is essential if a Foxie is to be trusted around other pets, particularly smaller ones.

This is a breed that needs lots of attention and activity, otherwise they can become destructive or prone to excessive barking. And although they are quite intelligent, they are also willful and can be difficult to housebreak. They are not recommended for first time dog owners, or for those who cannot spend plenty of time giving the dog a chance to use their wits.

This breed is a big barker, and therefore may not be well suited for apartment life.

Breed History

Fox Terriers were developed in the late 18th century, when fox hunting became popular in England. Sportsmen of the time needed a dog that could enter underground dens and flush out foxes to the awaiting larger dogs and men on horseback. These enthusiastic little hunters proved to also be handy around the farm, keeping vermin populations at a minimum. The exactly ancestry of the breed is largely undocumented, but it is thought that they were developed from smooth black and tan terriers, with some Beagle, Greyhound and Bull Terriers thrown in along the way. Smooth Fox Terriers have changed little over the last 200 years.

Though Smooth Fox Terriers and Wire Fox Terriers were long thought to be different variations of the same breed, it is now thought that the Wire Foxies descend from wire-coated Black and Tan Terriers from different areas of the United Kingdom. The two breeds were interbred for quite some time, but have been bred separately for many years. They were officially recognized as separate breeds by the American Kennel Club in 1985, 100 years after joining as the same breed.

Body Structure and Composition

A sense of balance is extremely important with the overall appearance of a Fox Terrier. Both the Smooth and Wire version have a sturdy yet graceful structure and well-muscled hind legs that allow for a powerful, even gait. This breed is approximately equal in length and height, giving the dog a square appearance. The muzzle of a Fox Terrier is long and tapered, and meets the skull with a very gradual stop. The ears are quite distinctive, set high and folded over noticeably above the skull. The chest is deep and the back level, leading to a tail that is carried straight up and slightly curved over the back when the dog is at attention.

The Smooth Fox Terrier’s coat is predominantly white with black, brown or liver markings. The white coat allows the dog to be easily distinguished from the fox in the frenzied pace of the hunt.

Medical Information

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a relatively healthy breed with few inherited health problems; in fact, this breed is more likely to be injured on the hunt or while fighting another dog than to suffer a serious illness. Hip Dysplasia, a condition that causes degeneration of the hip joint, has been seen in some Foxies, though not to an alarming degree. Individuals that are nearly all white have a higher likelihood of deafness or significant hearing problems. Glaucoma and cataracts have also been seen in this breed.

Obesity can be a problem for Fox Terriers, particularly if they are not given enough activity to counteract their big appetites.

Anecdotal Information

The American Fox Terrier Club, which represents both the Smooth and Wire-Coated Fox Terrier, was the first specialty club to join the American Kennel Club in 1885.

King Edward VII of England had a Smooth Fox Terrier named Caesar, who marched behind his owner’s casket when the king died in 1910.

The title character in the book My Dog Skip by Willie Morris is a Smooth Fox Terrier (although it is played by a Jack Russell in the film version).

Smooth Fox Terriers have won four Best in Shows at Westminster.

Fox Terriers are among the least common breeds outside of the Show ring and agility training circles, though it is believed that many of the other terriers are derived from them.

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