Smooth Fox Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Fox Terrier is one of the very oldest terrier breeds. Like other terriers, the Fox Terrier was developed as a hunter, in this case of fox (and rats) in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The dog’s job wasn’t to actually attack the fox. Instead, its goal was to “bolt” a fox from its den or hiding place by barking and lunging at it until it finally fled. As such, this breed had to be small enough to get into a fox’s hole, but long-legged enough to keep up with fox hounds.

A standard for the Smooth Fox Terrier has existed since 1876, although it was considered to be a variety of the same breed as the Wire Fox Terrier in the United States until 1984. Today, the Fox Terrier is primarily a companion animal, despite its somewhat irascible temperament.


The Smooth Fox Terrier is a very lively, smart, and active little dog dressed in a short white coat with black or brown markings. Though small, this breed should convey a sense of power and strength, such as would be required for fox hunting. The Smooth Fox Terrier has a flat, tapering, narrow skull, and ears that fold forward, making “V” shaped flaps. The tail is normally docked to three-quarters its length and stands on top of the dog rather than hanging out behind. The head should appear delicately chiseled and wedge-like with eyes that are full of fire and passion. The neck is thick and strong. The strong back is short, and the loin is muscular and slightly arched. The entire body should be balanced and powerful, while still expressing a general sense of gaiety and energy. The coat is smooth, flat, and hard and should be predominantly white.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Should not exceed 15-1/2 in.
  • Size:  Small
  • Weight:  17 to 19 lbs. (male); 15 to 17 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Might take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, watchdog, hearing dog, agility, earthdog, and performing tricks


One of the more aggressive breeds toward other dogs, the Fox Terrier has a pronounced tendency to pick fights with other dogs, and an equally pronounced tendency to refuse to back down. Be careful, as he is often bitten! It’s best to keep this breed leashed or in an enclosed area, to protect both the dog and potential prey. Prone to patellar luxation, and Legg-Perthes disease. There is also some deafness in the breed. Don’t overfeed. Barks a lot, especially if there is more than one in the home. Unlike the Wire Fox Terrier, the Smooth Fox Terrier does shed and needs to be brushed about once a week to pull dead hairs out of the coat (and keep them off your clothing, floor, and furniture). The hairs, though short, tend to stick to fabrics and carpeting very tenaciously. The Smooth Fox Terrier generally blows its coat twice a year.


This bold, energetic, loyal breed can be enthusiastic, playful, and affectionate with family and older, considerate children. Smooth Fox Terriers are excellent at learning tricks. Due to their independent, aggressive, and tenacious nature, Smooth Fox Terriers need to be trained with a firm hand, watched carefully around other dogs, and monitored closely around non-canine species, including toddlers. Training is essential to ensure that the Smooth Fox Terrier knows who is “top dog,” but it’s best to use positive training techniques because this breed does not respond well to harsh or domineering treatment. The key to training a Fox Terrier is to keep it fun and to avoid doing the same drills over and over. These dogs are better behaved when given plenty of exercise, either via walks or ball games or other sports. Fiercely protective, the Smooth Fox Terrier can be a good guard dog, although the breed also might become possessive of his food dishes and other belongings.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability:  Moderately easy to train
  • Independence:  Fairly independent
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Might be aggressive with same-sex dogs. Do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Very dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Docking/Cropping:  The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A fairly good jogging companion though small
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with at least an average sized yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Fairly long lifespan (about 12-15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Smooth Fox Terrier Breed Standard

Smooth Fox Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Smooth Fox Terrier

Smooth Fox Terrier Gifts