Profile treatment of Toy Fox Terrier

Toy Fox Terrier

Toy fox terriers are smart, playful, and energetic dogs that are a perfect combination of the best traits from terriers and toy breeds. Learn more about living with this tiny, fun-loving pup.
Toy Fox Terrier
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament

Toy Fox Terrier

height
  • 8.5-11.5 inches
weight
  • 3.5-7 pounds
life span
  • 13-15 years
breed size
  • small (0-25 lbs.)
good with
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • outgoing
  • friendly
  • playful
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • occasional
exercise needs
  • high
energy level
  • active
barking level
  • when necessary
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • toy
coat length/texture
  • short
colors
  • black
  • white
  • brown / chocolate / liver
patterns
  • bicolor
  • tricolor
other traits
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • high prey drive
  • apartment-friendly
  • high potential for weight gain
  • good hiking companion
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good for first-time pet owners

The toy fox terrier has something for everyone. Love how playful and spunky terriers are? That's these little guys! But maybe you're more fond of tiny, cuddly lap dogs who follow you everywhere you go? Toy fox terriers also fit the bill! You can't help but be enamored by this fun-loving, intelligent dog that combines the best traits of terriers and toy breeds. Toy fox terriers have enough personality to light up a whole room, despite being less than a foot tall.

Thanks to their easy-to-groom short coat and eagerness to learn, toy fox terriers are pretty low-maintenance pups. Because there's so much energy packed into their little bodies, having a yard for them to roam around in is ideal. But don't stress if you're in an apartment—TFTs do just as well running laps around the kitchen table.

Although they're not as popular or well-known as a Russell terrier or certain toy breeds like Chihuahuas, this underrated pooch is great for anyone looking for a loyal companion who gets along well with families.

Appearance

Known for their small-but-athletic bodies, pointy ears, and jet black eyes, the toy fox terrier exudes their signature playfulness from the inside out. "Those dark round eyes and upright ears let you know they are ready for anything," says Barb Kelley, breeder at TripleS Toy Fox Terriers.

Toy fox terrier walks through muddy patch during golden hour
Toy fox terriers were bred from smooth fox terriers. The two dogs look almost identical, except for their size: Toy fox terriers are at least 6 inches shorter and can be 20 pounds lighter than their parent breed.
| Credit: everydoghasastory / Shutterstock

Toy fox terriers have a short, fine coat that feels satin-y to the touch, and this super-soft fur makes them an ideal cuddle buddy. Another plus: Their luxe coat is low-maintenance, requiring little grooming and only shedding on occasion.

Usually, a toy fox terrier has a mostly white body, and his head can be black, tan, or chocolate. It's typical for markings of the same colors to be present over his body. He's commonly tricolor, which The American Toy Fox Terrier Club describes as "a black head with sharply defined tan markings on cheeks, lips, and eye dots." 

As the "toy" in his name suggests, this breed is tiny; a full-grown toy fox terrier weighs anywhere from 3.5–7 pounds and stands between 8.5–11.5 inches. 

Temperament

The toy fox terrier is the ideal terrier/toy breed combo. On the terrier side, they're energetic, mischievous, and brave. On the toy side, this breed can be funny, playful, and a lovable lapdog. The cocktail mixture of characteristics produces a smart, alert, and affectionate four-legged friend. "The toy fox terrier is very versatile," Kelley says. "They are up for anything you want to do."

Their ample energy comes from their terrier heritage and is one of the toy fox terrier's signature personality traits—it's common for your terrier to be on the move all the time. Whether he's playing with his favorite chew toy or zooming around the living room, a TFT always has energy to burn through. 

Toy fox terrier plays tug of war in grass with purple and yellow rope
Toy fox terriers will never say no to playtime. And when they're all tuckered out, you better keep your lap open for snuggles and snoozing.
| Credit: Sarit Richerson / Shutterstock

"I appreciate their small size, but don't let it fool you—they are a big dog trapped in a little dog body," Kelley says. But remember: Just like humans, TFTs have a range of personalities, so your dog could be playful and energetic one day and then be a couch potato the next. 

Because they're so loyal to their humans, it's possible for toy fox terriers to be a bit wary around strangers. But as long as you socialize them at a young age, they'll be more accepting of new people, animals, and situations.

Although they're great family dogs, toy fox terriers might not fare well with small children. TFTs are playful and bouncy, but their tiny bodies can't handle rough play. Also, their feisty terrier tendencies might not be a great mix with curious toddlers. As with any dog, always supervise your toy fox terrier around kiddos, and teach your children how to properly interact with pets

His friendly and welcoming nature means he gets along well with cats and other dogs. And even though he might not stand very far off the ground, he's an alert little pup and will let you know with a sharp bark if he senses danger—or if he sees a neighbor approaching the house.

Portrait of adult toy fox terrier in golden sunshine
Credit: EB Adventure Photography / Shutterstock

Living Needs

Because of their small size, toy fox terriers make great apartment dogs and are perfectly happy running around a space with limited square footage. But because of how energetic they are, TFTs will truly thrive with access to a fenced-in yard that has lots of room to run around. They also make ideal hiking companions (just keep him on a leash!) and do well with active families who are always on the move. 

If you don't have lots of outdoor space for them to roam about, take your toy fox terrier out for daily walks around the neighborhood. "It's very comical to watch them strut down the street like they own it," Kelleys says. But keep in mind: His terrier side and breeding history give him a strong prey drive, so you'll need to keep your toy fox terrier on a leash during walks and always monitor him when outside.

Vertical shot of grown toy fox terrier standing in grasss
Toy fox terrier puppy relaxes on lap of someone wearing jeans
Left: Toy fox terriers may be small, but they're mighty. These pups are descended from fox hunters and have an appetite for adventure. | Credit: Sergey Ryumin / Getty
Right: Though they have big hearts for their humans, toy fox terrier puppies can be wary around strangers. Make sure to socialize your pup from an early age so he'll be accepting of new people, animals, and situations. | Credit: dezy / Shutterstock

Because they have such a short, fine coat, toy fox terriers are definitely house dogs and shouldn't be left outside for too long, especially during winter. It's a good idea to dress them in a coat or stylish sweater during cold-weather walks, and keep a raincoat on-hand if they have to go out in a drizzle.

Kids love playing with TFTs because of their energy and playfulness, but again, small children with tendencies to rough house shouldn't be left unsupervised around this toy breed. But toy fox terriers thrive with older kids and with kiddos who know how to properly play with them and hold their tiny bodies. 

In addition to being apartment-friendly, their small stature gives them some great perks. Toy fox terriers are a super easy breed to travel with, whether you're going on a long road trip, hopping on an airplane, or just driving around town running errands. They'll make a great "purse dog"—as long as they get plenty of time to run around and stretch their little legs later. 

Toy fox terrier laying on bed happily panting
Credit: Vivienstock / Shutterstock

Care

If you're looking for a dog who's low maintenance in the grooming department, toy fox terriers are your pup. His short coat requires minimal care, and he only sheds on occasion. When you do notice he's shedding, which Kelley says often happens in the spring, you can use a small shedding comb or a deshedding glove to keep those short hairs off your floor. Toy fox terriers only need to be bathed occasionally—or if you catch him running around in mud. In between washes, you'll typically need to brush him once a week.

Toy fox terriers love running and jumping around, whether that's in the backyard or just running along a room's perimeter. But sometimes they can forget how small they really are and become brave enough to leap off your furniture. "The toy fox terrier believes it can fly, so be sure not to leave one on a chair, sofa, or bed without supervision," Kelley says. "They are very quick." Always keep an eye on your TFT when he's darting around, and look into buying a ramp or doggie stairs so he can easily get off your couch without risking injury.

Toy fox terrier newborn puppy sleeps in human hand
Fun fact: Toy fox terriers were created by breeding the tiniest pups from smooth fox terrier litters.
| Credit: dezy / Shutterstock

Though toy fox terriers are little dogs, they have big brains and are very easy to train, whether you're teaching them simple commands or house-training them. But as quick as they are to learn tricks and obedience, training might require a bit of patience because of their goofy, playful personalities. Toy fox terriers respond well to rewards such as treats and, as with all breeds, generous positive reinforcement.

Health

Toy fox terriers are a generally healthy breed and can live anywhere between 13–15 years with little to no problems. But, as with all dogs, they can develop certain health conditions.

Obesity is one of the biggest health concerns for toy fox terriers. Make sure you're monitoring their diet so you don't overfeed them, and feed your pup high-quality dog food. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule also helps keep them at a healthy weight.

According to the official breed club, toy fox terriers are also at risk of patellar luxation, hypothyroidism, Spinocerebellar Ataxia, and Primary Lens Luxation. If you're working with a toy fox terrier breeder, make sure they've conducted all the necessary health tests recommended by the OFA. If you're adopting your pup, ask the shelter for all available health information. 

Toy breeds tend to be susceptible to dental disease and other tooth problems, so brushing your toy fox terrier's teeth regularly and supplying him with dental chews is essential. You might also need to take your TFT in for a professional cleaning

Toy fox terrier puppy traipses through grass
Toy fox terrier puppies take to training easily, learning simple commands like "sit," and "stay," in a cinch. If their playful personalities get in the way of your training session, turn to treats.
| Credit: dezy / Shutterstock

History

The smooth fox terrier originated in the 1800s. They were bred in England to hunt fox (hence the name) and vermin. These larger pups are derived from the now-extinct Old English terrier and smooth-coated black-and-tan terrier, as well as the bull terrier, greyhound, and beagle. Smooth fox terriers stand 15–17 inches tall and can tip the scales at 28 pounds.

In the early 20th century, American breeders developed the toy fox terrier from this bigger foundation. They crossed the smallest pups from SFT litters (ranging from 7–20 pounds) with toy breeds including Chihuahuas and Italian greyhounds. The result was the perfect mix of a feisty terrier and the playfulness of toy breeds. 

Because of their super smarts and trainability, toy fox terriers found success in showbiz—they were popular circus acts and performed a variety of tricks for traveling circuses. 

The United Kennel Club in England registered the toy fox terrier as an official breed in 1936, but it wasn't until 2003 that the American Kennel Club officially recognized the pups as their own breed. 

Fun Facts

  • Because of their agility and small size, one of the most thrilling circus acts the toy fox terrier would perform was walking on a tightrope.
  • Because the toy fox terrier is a toy breed developed in the U.S., they are sometimes called “Amertoy,” a mash-up of “American” and “toy.”