Learn All About the Companionable Fox Terrier (2022)

A mainstay of traditional British fox hunts, Fox Terriers are small-to-medium dogs from England with long faces, short legs, and either wiry or smooth coats. This strong, short-backed hunting breed has a distinctive expression. While they possess typical terrier traits of feistiness and a powerful prey drive, Fox Terriers are a great match for owners seeking playful, amusing companions with big personalities. Fox Terriers are known for both their sense of humor and intelligence. Their athletic, graceful features also make them master show dogs.

What’s unique about this breed is that there are actually two Fox Terriers—one is known as the Wire Fox Terrier, and the other is the Smooth Fox Terrier, based upon the texture of their coats. Another distinguishing physical trait is the head: A Smooth Fox Terrier's head is more V-shaped. Otherwise, the two breeds are essentially identical.

Breed Overview

Group: Terrier

Weight: 15 to 18 pounds

Height: 14 to 15 1/2 inches

Coat: Smooth or wired

Coat Color: White with black or tan, black-and-tan mix

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Playful, bold, intelligent, active, courageous

Hypoallergenic: Yes (Wire Fox Terrier), No (Smooth Fox Terrier)

(Video) All About the Breed: Toy Fox Terrier

Origin: England

Characteristics of the Fox Terrier

Like other terrier breeds, the Fox Terrier is known for its unique antics and spirited personality. These dogs have plenty of courage packed into their small size thanks to their origins in hunting, which also makes them likely to be fearless with other animals (both large and small). Your Fox Terrier can be a great companion dog for adults and children, but because of the breed's high prey drive, it might not be suitable for living with cats or other dogs. With plenty of energy and enthusiasm, these dogs love playing and do best with owners that are prepared to provide them with plenty of exercise.

Affection LevelMedium
Exercise NeedsMedium
Energy LevelHigh
Tendency to BarkMedium
Amount of SheddingLow

History of the Fox Terrier

These bold, courageous dogs originated in the late 1700s during the heyday of British fox hunts. Fox Terriers have coats that are predominantly white with a mixture of black or tan markings, bred specifically without red fur so the hunting dogs could avoid being mistaken for foxes.

It was this dog's job to coax the fox from its lair, allowing the hounds and horsemen to begin their pursuit. The Fox Terrier would essentially harass the fox by growling and lunging until it retreated from its hole.

Fox hunting is now banned in England, but it was a passion of the British gentry for generations. These hunts consisted of full-dress events marked by pageantry and ritual with eager terriers riding in saddlebags. These dogs were specifically bred to “go to ground”—that is, to chase small game from their dens. It’s believed that the Wire Fox Terrier descended from the Rough Coated Terrier and Tan Terrier, while the Smooth Fox Terrier is considered a mix between Old English Terriers, smooth-coated Black and Tan Terriers, Bull Terriers, Greyhounds, and Beagles.

Both the Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers are successful show dogs with more than a dozen Westminster Kennel Club "Best in Show" awards. Matford Vic, a Wire purchased from a farmer for only 10 dollars, won Westminster in both 1915 and 1916. Known as the “gentleman of the terrier world,” a Smooth Fox Terrier was named "Best in Show" three years in a row from 1907 to 1909.

In England, both Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers have been recognized as separate breeds since the late 19thcentury, and the AKC recognized them as distinct breeds in 1985. Though the Wire Fox Terrier is considered the more recent variety, historic paintings suggest both coat types have been around since the mid-18th century. Interbreeding of Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers ceased in the early 1900s.

Among the many well-known Fox Terriers of history was Caesar, the favorite dog of King Edward VII. Herbert Hoover had two Fox Terriers known as Big Ben and Sonnie. The breed became especially popular in the 1930s and 1940s thanks to Asta, co-star of William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man movies. The breed’s looks, features, and natural skill to perform have made these dogs a familiar presence in both movies and television.

10 Popular English Dog Breeds

Fox Terrier Care

Fox Terriers can live happy, well-adjusted lives with the proper care. Ensure your dog is allowed plenty of exercise along with training and socialization. When it comes to grooming, the Fox Terrier's needs depend on its coat type and whether it will perform in dog shows.


Like most terriers, the Fox Terrier requires an ample amount of daily exercise (about 30 to 45 minutes per day) to stay mentally and physically fit. This specific breed is known for its boundless energy, which can become a hassle inside the house when it isn't allowed enough activity. Because of their strong prey drive, these dogs require leashed walks and supervised play in safely fenced-in areas. This instinct also means that your Fox Terrier will love to chase, so throwing a ball in the yard is a great way to provide entertainment.

(Video) Smooth Fox Terrier - AKC Dog Breed Series


Grooming a Wire Fox Terrier will depend on whether your dog is a show dog or a family companion. Showing these dogs will require hand-stripping the coat, while a pet’s coat can be clipped into a trim with minimal effort. Though they are not big shedders, Wire Foxes will require regular brushing to avoid matting in their coarse, hypoallergenic coats. The Smooth Fox Terrier’s hard, dense coat should be groomed weekly with a thick brush to remove shedding hair.

Both Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers should have their nails trimmed monthly and ears checked weekly. These dogs also have a penchant for digging, so while a monthly bath is generally sufficient, more frequent bathing may be required if they gain access to a garden or mud in the backyard.


Training these spunky, playful dogs will require a great deal of consistency and patience, but it also helps to have a sense of humor. Although the breed is highly intelligent, they are also independent and easily bored, so training sessions must be kept brief, positive, and engaging. Proper socialization is a necessity. Some Fox Terriers can become jealous or aggressive towards other pets in the home.

As potential show dogs, Fox Terriers are highly adept for performance events like agility sports that require athleticism, speed, and intelligence. Naturally alert, they also tend to make excellent watchdogs.

Common Health Problems

Fox Terriers are generally healthy dogs, although they have been associated with some common problems that potential owners should be aware of. To help ensure your dog lives a long, healthy life, adopt from a responsible breeder that provides the medical history of your new puppy's parents. Genetic conditions of the Fox Terrier include:

  • Cataracts: Cataracts are an eye issue that causes your dog's eyes to appear milky or cloudy. Surgery may be recommended by your veterinarian to remove cataracts.
  • Primary Lens Luxation (PLL): Another eye condition, PLL affects the lens of your dog's eye and eventually leads to blindness.
  • Glaucoma: This painful disease changes the pressure inside your dog's eye. If your dog shows signs of glaucoma, consult your veterinarian early on to prevent further deterioration.
  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: While dysplasia is typically associated with large breeds, Fox Terriers may also develop this malformation in the elbow or hip joints that impairs movement.
  • Luxating Patella: This condition can cause your dog's knee to slip out of its joint.
  • Wobbler Syndrome: Suggested by its name, Wobbler Syndrome is a neurological disease occurring in the neck that makes dogs wobble or have difficulty moving around.

Diet and Nutrition

The Fox Terrier should perform well with high-quality commercial or home-prepared (under veterinary supervision) dog food, typically about two cups per day. A diet with plenty of protein is recommended. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times for this active and playful breed.

This breed is prone to becoming overweight or developing canine obesity, so limit your dog's food consumption to a healthy amount. Talk with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate portion schedule based on your specific dog's age, weight, and activity level.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Fox Terrier

If you're interested in adopting this breed, check your local animal shelters and rescue groups for Fox Terriers in need of a forever home. There are plenty of terrier breeds waiting for loving families that can be great companions.

When adopting a puppy, research breeders in your area to ensure your new best friend comes from one that provides genetic testing and comfortable living conditions for their dogs. Puppies typically cost between $1,000 and $2,000, but prices may be higher depending on pedigree and availability.

To start your search, check out these resources for Fox Terrier rescues, the national breed club, and American Kennel Club breeders:

Fox Terrier Overview


  • Intelligent and trainable

  • Playful personality

  • Great family dog for kids

(Video) Smooth Fox Terrier | Crufts Breed Information


  • Needs considerable exercise

  • Might become aggressive without socialization

  • Shouldn't be off-leash

Terrier Dog Breeds for Every Dog Lover

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

It's best to research before choosing a dog breed to find the best fit for your home. Talk to other Fox Terrier owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar dogs, check out these terrier breeds:

(Video) Wire Fox Terrier - AKC Dog Breed Series

  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Cesky Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier

There are plenty of dog breeds to suit all types of people. With a little research, you can discover a great breed to join your family!


  • Are Fox Terriers Good Pets?

    Fox Terriers have a devoted following thanks to their unique personalities and fun antics. However, they're best-suited for experienced owners who can commit to their exercise and training needs. This breed does well with children and can be a wonderful family pet with proper care.

  • Are Fox Terriers Aggressive?

    Fox Terriers are usually very friendly with adults and children, but they have been known to become jealous of other dogs. Because of their high prey drive, these dogs may also be aggressive toward cats and small pets.

  • What's the Difference Between a Fox Terrier and a Jack Russell?

    (Video) Hand-Stripping the Rolled Coat on a Wire Fox Terrier Part 1

    While the two breeds share some common lineage, Fox Terriers are larger and have slimmer faces than Jack Russell Terriers. Smooth Fox Terriers can resemble Jack Russells thanks to their similar coats, but the Wire Fox Terrier's fur is more course.


Are Fox Terriers difficult to train? ›

Fox Terriers are intelligent terriers but can be a bit stubborn, like most terriers. Training is relatively easy but owners must be consistent and firm. They like to bark and dig so must be trained to stop these actions on command. They can be quite dominant over other dogs so should be properly socialised as puppies.

Are wire fox terriers easy to train? ›

The wire fox terrier is an alert dog and will let its owner know if a stranger is approaching. These dogs are easily trained, and obedience classes are recommended to curb the strong hunting instinct. They can learn to get along with other pets, but males can be aggressive toward other males.

How often should you walk a fox terrier? ›

Exercise Requirements

The Fox Terrier simply loves to run and play and will need a fair amount of exercise to keep him happy. Two brisk walks daily will keep him content. It's good to remember that their hunting instinct is pretty strong, so care must be taken when running off-leash.

How do you calm a fox terrier down? ›

Teach him to lie down on his bed or blanket using treats or the toys to reward him when he goes there. Close doors to other rooms at first, but keep calm and try to teach him what he should do. He also needs to be groomed, brushed or massaged once a day firmly all over his body to calm him down.

Why are terriers so hard to potty train? ›

In addition to their small bladders, Yorkies simply need more time to learn the ropes of proper bathroom behavior. Yorkshire terriers can be hard to house train because owners become frustrated by how slow-moving the process can be, so don't lose hope.

Do wire fox terriers bite? ›

Wire Fox Terriers have a strong tendency to nip, chew, play-bite, or herd people. It's a common habit during puppyhood, not aggressive behavior. These "bites" don't hurt, but Wire Fox Terriers need to be taught for a good attitude.

Are Fox Terriers aggressive dogs? ›

Training. Smooth Fox Terriers are bold but not aggressive toward people. They make excellent watchdogs in the home. New owners should be aware that the breed's innate sense to dig may affect the family yard or flowerbeds unless the dog is taught otherwise.

Are wire fox terriers clingy? ›

Independent. The stubborn and tenacious side of the Fox may make him seem like an independent dog, but he can be clingy too.

Do fox terriers like to swim? ›

Wire Fox Terriers also enjoy a good swim!

What do fox terriers like to play with? ›

A tennis ball or rubber ball will work great for this activity. If you have not already done so, introduce your Wire Fox Terrier to the ball. Let them play with it if they choose. Getting to know the ball will peak their interest and they will want to get that ball again and again!

Are fox terriers snappy? ›

They're scrappy and will pick fights with other dogs, even those that are much larger than they are. Be sure to keep your Fox Terrier on leash when he's not in a secure area. Fox Terriers should not be trusted alone with non-canine pets unless they have been trained to get along with them.

Who is no 1 dog in world? ›

The Labrador Retriever holds the top spot, and this friendly favorite has been No. 1 since 1991. Below, find ranked annual lists of AKC-recognized breeds.

What is the smartest dog on earth? ›

Border Collie

Their intelligence, enthusiasm and willingness to work has seen them awarded the top spot in canine psychologist Stanley Coren's intelligence rankings , so they deserve their place at the top of a list of smartest dog breeds.

How long should you walk a fox terrier? ›

The length of the walk is only limited by your time and energy as a Fox Terrier can go all day long. Ideally, the minimum should be 20 to 45 minutes daily at a brisk pace. This can be just once a day, or two walks a day would be better if your schedule allows.

How much exercise does a fox terrier need a day? ›

A healthy Smooth Fox Terrier requires about one to two hours of daily physical activity. Exercise is an important part of keeping your SFT fit and well behaved.

How do you potty train a fox terrier? ›

Hook your pup on his leash, give him the cue, and then take him outside to his reserved spot to go potty. Stay there letting him wander around on the leash until he goes. When he does, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.

How do I get my dog to tell me to go outside? ›

Approach the door and cue your dog to touch the bell with your command word. When they do, react with excitement, open the door, and take them outside. With enough repetition, your dog will learn that you will open the door and take them out whenever they ring the bell.

How do you house train a dog in 7 days? ›

Take your puppy to a potty area (outdoors or indoors) on leash at least once every 30 minutes while you are home and awake. At night, one or two outings are enough for most puppies. Stand still and quietly watch to see if the puppy pees or poops. Praise and offer a treat as soon as the puppy pees or poops outside.

Can you leave a Wire Fox Terrier alone? ›

Alone Time

Wire Fox Terriers can spend time alone for a few hours each day, but they will turn to destructive behaviors if it drags on too long. Crate training can help minimize damage. Just make sure they are comfortable in their den, and have their favorite toys in the dog crate with them.

What is a foxy poo? ›

Foxes produce dog-like droppings that are usually pointy at one end and full of fur, feathers, tiny bones, seeds and berries. In rural areas, fox poo is quite dark, but in urban areas, where foxes eat human food waste, it can be lighter. Fresh droppings have a distinctively musky or 'foxy' smell.

Do wire fox terriers bark? ›

Wire Fox Terrier Personality and Temperament

The Wire Fox Terrier is bright and brave. It loves to play games and is generally hyper by nature. It is very protective of its human family and will bark at strangers, making them good watchdogs.

Do Fox Terriers shed a lot? ›

If you're someone who hates dog hair everywhere or suffers from allergies, then take heart because Wire Coat Fox Terriers are a low-shedding breed. They do shed some hair, it's just not as prevalent as their smooth-coated counterparts.

Are Fox Terriers stubborn? ›

Fox Terriers can be stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things.

Are Fox Terriers territorial? ›

They are typically territorial and "quick to react" so they often don't get along well with other dogs if they haven't been well socialized, especially dogs of the same sex. In fact, many rescued Fox Terriers must be placed as the only dog in their new home. Most Fox Terriers will chase cats. Some will even kill cats.

Do fox terriers run away? ›

Because of the WFT's high prey drive, running away is a common concern. In fact, many owners never let their dogs off of their leash, because most (but not all) Wire Haired Fox Terriers will take off if they see something interesting and refuse to return to their owners.

Do fox terriers feel the cold? ›

As a general rule, dogs with a lean build and short coat are most likely to be susceptible to cold temperatures. So single coated-breeds such as Greyhounds, Vizslas, Fox Terriers and Dalmatians, will generally feel the cold more than breeds with thicker coats.

How long does a wire haired fox terrier live? ›

The Wire Fox Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years, may suffer from patellar luxation and deafness.

Do fox terriers like cats? ›

A protective breed prone to barking at strangers, Smooth Fox Terriers make excellent watchdogs and are not suggested to live in a feline household due to their high prey drive.

Is a fox terrier hypoallergenic? ›

Are fox terrier good with dogs? ›

Fox Terriers are energetic dogs that love to play and explore. They are known to have quite a mischievous streak! They generally get on well with other pets in the household providing they're given adequate socialisation and training as a puppy.

Are Fox Terriers vocal? ›

As a companion, the Smooth Fox Terrier is affectionate and protective. He makes a good watchdog with a tendency to be vocal.

Why does my toy fox terrier shake? ›

This is not just a fashion statement – this breed is a heat-seeker. But the Toy Fox Terrier will also shake just because he's excited. The TFT is so intense sometimes that he can't contain his enthusiasm. You're most likely to see this when he is about to do something he really loves.

How much food should a toy fox terrier eat? ›

Recommended daily amount: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Do smooth fox terriers like to cuddle? ›

They Are Not The Most Cuddly, But Love Family

These little dogs are not really ones for cuddling on the couch. They're active, lively, and even on quiet evenings at home will most likely be patrolling (both to keep a lookout and burn off a little energy).

Do fox terriers chase foxes? ›

Good-natured, playful, and feisty, the Wire Fox Terrier makes a great sidekick and companion. They are loving and affectionate with family and excellent with older children. Alert and fearless, Wire Fox Terriers also love chasing rats and foxes (hence the name).

How much exercise does a miniature fox terrier need? ›

The typical adult Miniature Fox Terrier will only require about 30 minutes of proper exercise per day, depending on its age and comprehensive activity level. You can attain this with a few short walks and a little time for play.

What is the most expensive dog? ›

What is the most expensive dog? The Tibetan mastiff is considered the most expensive dog, as it has sold for thousands and even millions. In 2014, a Tibetan mastiff puppy was sold for nearly $2 million in China, according to AFP, which cited a report in Chinese newspaper Qianjiang Evening News.

What is the toughest dog? ›

Some of the toughest dog breeds are also the hardest to train, including Rottweilers, Siberian huskies, and American pit bull terriers. What's the most aggressive dog breed? Some of the most aggressive breeds include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and American pit bull terriers.

What are the 5 deadliest dogs? ›

Top Five Most Dangerous Dogs
  • 1.1 1. Pitbull.
  • 1.2 2. Rottweiler.
  • 1.3 3. American Bulldog.
  • 1.4 4. Doberman Pinscher.
  • 1.5 5. Wolfdog.

What breed of dog is good for anxiety? ›

Here are seven of the best breeds for anxiety and depression.
  • Poodles. According to Stanley Coren's book The Intelligence of Dogs, poodles are the second most intelligent dogs after border collies. ...
  • Golden Labradors. ...
  • Chihuahuas. ...
  • Yorkshire Terriers. ...
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. ...
  • Pugs. ...
  • Great Danes.
19 Jul 2022

Which dog breeds bark the most? ›

The 6 Loudest Dog Breeds
  1. Golden Retrievers. A golden retriever named Charlie has held the world record for loudest bark since 2012! ...
  2. German Shepherds. German shepherds are great guard dogs and often serve with the police or military. ...
  3. Siberian Huskies. ...
  4. Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers. ...
  5. Terriers. ...
  6. Basset Hounds and Beagles.
22 Mar 2021

Is a fox terrier a good family pet? ›

Best suited for a family with an active lifestyle, the smooth fox terrier is friendly, energetic and outgoing and is a terrific companion for children as the dog never tires of playing.

Are mini Fox Terriers easy to train? ›

Mini Foxies need regular training from a young age or they could suffer from small dog syndrome. They are very easy to train and do not require a lot of effort to be put into this activity.

How do you potty train a terrier? ›

Positive reinforcement is the key to successful potty training. Positive reinforcement will teach your puppy that they get rewarded for going to the bathroom outside. Each time your puppy eliminates outside, immediately reward them with verbal praise, treats, or a favorite toy.

Are toy Fox Terriers loud? ›

Their size makes Toy Fox Terriers suited to most homes, although their noisy nature and high activity level should serve as a caution to people in apartments or condos who aren't home during the day to keep them entertained.

Are Fox Terriers aggressive dogs? ›

Training. Smooth Fox Terriers are bold but not aggressive toward people. They make excellent watchdogs in the home. New owners should be aware that the breed's innate sense to dig may affect the family yard or flowerbeds unless the dog is taught otherwise.

Do Fox Terriers bark? ›

Fox Terriers bark a lot and their barks typically are high-pitched. Fox Terriers are prone to chasing rabbits, birds, cats, and even other dogs. They're scrappy and will pick fights with other dogs, even those that are much larger than they are.

Are Fox Terriers cuddly? ›

While dogs of this breed are very active, they are loving and cuddly with their owners, though they prefer activities in the outdoors more than lounging on the couch. Smooth fox terriers treasure playtime with family members, including children, and form strong bonds with them over time.

Why does my mini foxy shake? ›

This is not just a fashion statement – this breed is a heat-seeker. But the Toy Fox Terrier will also shake just because he's excited. The TFT is so intense sometimes that he can't contain his enthusiasm. You're most likely to see this when he is about to do something he really loves.

Do mini Fox Terriers bark a lot? ›

Like other terriers, Miniature Fox Terrier has an endless desire to dig, bark, and investigate. They frequently become nuisance barkers, and they can be aggressive towards other dogs, regardless of their size. Their noise level and territoriality make them good watchdogs.

Can toy fox terriers be left alone? ›

A toy fox terrier can live in a home without a yard as long as you exercise them outdoors regularly. TFTs may show separation anxiety when they're left alone for long.

What are the 7 basic dog commands? ›

From there, McMillan explains his playful, careful, and kind approach to training the 7 Common Commands he teaches every dog: SIT, STAY, DOWN, COME, OFF, HEEL, and NO.

How do you stop a dog from peeing and pooping in the house? ›

If the dog begins to poop/pee inside:
  1. Immediately interrupt him by clapping and saying “Ah ah!” Get the dog outside as soon as possible (carry him whenever possible and put the leash on the dog as you head to the door). ...
  2. Once you are outside, take the dog right to the area where you want him to “go.”
8 Jul 2022

How do I get my dog to tell me to go outside? ›

Approach the door and cue your dog to touch the bell with your command word. When they do, react with excitement, open the door, and take them outside. With enough repetition, your dog will learn that you will open the door and take them out whenever they ring the bell.

How often should you bathe a Toy Fox Terrier? ›

The Toy Fox Terrier does require regular bathing and grooming. This courageous and intelligent little dog can be bathed as frequently as every week up to no more than every six weeks depending on his lifestyle. With this smooth coated breed, regular bathing is essential to maintain healthy skin and coat.

How much food should a Toy Fox Terrier eat? ›

Recommended daily amount: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Do toy fox terriers like to swim? ›

Does the Toy Fox Terrier swim? They do not have any problem swimming, the toy fox terrier can learn to swim. However, it depends on your dog's likes and dislikes. Just like some humans, swimming isn't everyone's favorite activity, the same applies to this breed of dog.


1. Wire Fox Terrier Grooming with Dieny Uiterwijk - stage 2 | Groomania 2021 Grooming Demonstration
(Transgroom TV)
2. 'Vinny' the Wire Fox Terrier wins the 2020 Westminster Dog Show terrier group | FOX SPORTS
(FOX Sports)
3. Wire Fox Terrier Handstripping with Costin Stoica | Groomania 2020 Grooming Demonstration
(Transgroom TV)
4. Fox terriers used to hunt rats (1977) | RetroFocus
(ABC News In-depth)
5. Kokoni Dog Breed - Facts and Information
6. Tenterfield Terrier - TOP 10 Interesting Facts

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