Toy Fox Terrier

AKC Toy Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Toy Fox Terrier, previously called the Amertoy (American Toy Fox Terrier), was developed in the United States in the early 1900s from Smooth Fox Terriers crossed with a variety of other toy breeds. Although the addition of other breeds gave the Toy Fox Terrier a gentler disposition than some other terriers, the diminutive TFT still retains terrier-like characteristics, such as high energy, gameness, and delight in hunting. Today’s Toy Fox Terrier is a charming, beloved, and loving companion; however, this breed also has many other talents. The highly intelligent TFT can succeed at obedience, agility, tricks, and even as an assistance dog. Though it was first recognized by the United Kennel Club way back in 1936, the Toy Fox Terrier was just admitted to the Toy Group of the AKC in 2003.


The Toy Fox Terrier is an animated, elegant, athletic little dog, with erect, inverted-V-shaped ears and a soft, glossy, short coat. The dog should be squarely proportioned and well-balanced. The head is refined and expressive, with a moderate, somewhat sloping stop. When seen from the front the head widens gently from the nose to the bottom of the ears. The TFT should never be apple-headed; there should be no possible confusion between the Toy Fox Terrier and the Chihuahua. The top line of the muzzle in profile is parallel to the top of the skull. The eyes are dark, round, and somewhat prominent (but not bulging), with a soft, yet intelligent expression. The nose is black (except for chocolate dogs, which may have self-colored noses). The ears are set high and close together, but they don’t touch. The proudly carried neck widens gradually, blending smoothly into the shoulders. The legs should be straight and parallel, with small, oval feet. If they are present, dewclaws should be removed from the hind legs. The abdomen has a graceful tuck-up, and the back is straight. The tail is generally docked to the third or fourth joint.

Toy Fox Terriers come in tricolor (black head with clear tan markings on the cheeks, and tan dots over the eyes), white, chocolate and tan (mostly chocolate head with tan markings as in the tricolor), white and tan (predominantly tan head), and white and black (predominantly black head). In all cases, the body is more than 50% white but may have body spots with the same color as the spots on the head. The head should not be more than 50% white, and blazes should not touch the eyes or ears.

Key Facts

  • Height:  8.5 to 11.5 in. (9 to 11 in. preferred)
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  3.5 to 7 lbs.
  • Availability:  May take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Obedience, agility, tricks, hunting, going to ground, flyball, service dog (hearing dog and canine companion), and watchdog


The Toy Fox Terrier is an easy-care breed, naturally well-groomed, and pretty much self-exercising. This breed is good for the elderly and those living in apartments. A quick weekly brushing and occasional nail trim and bath are all that’s needed. Shedding is on the light side of average. Though these are very hardy dogs, the TFT’s large ears are highly susceptible to frostbite. Wrap the dog well in cold weather if going outside, only stay out for short periods, and avoid going out at all in extreme cold. Easy to house train or paper train. Good as companions to other dogs, though sometimes males do not get along well with other males. The TFT retains its hunting instinct, so the breed is not recommended for households with small non-canine pets, though cats can sometimes be OK, especially if the dog is raised with them from puppyhood.


The TFT is quite long-lived; owning a Toy Fox Terrier is generally at least a 15-year obligation. Though the TFT is on the whole a very healthy breed, it can be prone to several conditions and diseases. These include: demodectic mange (a skin disease caused by a tiny mite, which causes hair loss), patellar luxation (dislocation of the kneecap), Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (where the head of the femur deteriorates), von Willebrand’s disease (a bleeding disease with characteristics similar to hemophilia), and congenital hypothyroidism with goiter (causes a swelling on the underside of the neck). Be sure both parents have been tested for these diseases and conditions. The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, ) offers a registry for test results for patellar luxation and Legg-Calve-Perthes. DNA testing can be performed for von Willebrand’s disease and hypothyroidism.

Animated, energetic, courageous, and sassy. Not easily intimidated. A big dog in a small package. Dynamos as puppies, Toy Fox Terriers will settle down as they get older. TFTs enjoy children and can be wonderful family playmates, though they must be protected from young toddlers because they are so small. Their keen hearing and fearless personalities make them exceptional watchdogs. Though more often a companion dog today, the TFT still enjoys hunting, going to ground, and chasing rodents. Funny and playful, even as an adult. Devoted and loving. Friendly and outgoing, but very loyal to his family. Highly intelligent and eager to please, this breed loves to tackle challenges, and has been a successful circus dog, performing feats such as walking on a high wire and jumping into his trainer’s arms from a 20-foot-high basket. Behavior with strangers can vary widely with the individual, ranging from friendly to wary, protective, or timid. Socialize early and well, and introduce to other pets when young, if possible on neutral territory.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other dogs in household; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Not generally dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Average barking
  • Indoors:  Very active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Almost no grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping of the coat needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Almost no exercise needed
  • Jogging:  Small, but a fair jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  OK without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Long lifespan (15 years or more)

Useful Links

AKC® Toy Fox Terrier Breed Standard

Toy Fox Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Toy Fox Terrier

Toy Fox Terrier Gifts