Fox Terrier breed characteristics, origin and care

Fox Terrier breed characteristics

  • Size: Small
  • Traits: Excitable, energetic, playful, outgoing, alert
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Best Suited To: Active family with older kids, Adults on property with yard

Energetic, playful and alert, this little dog will quickly nuzzle its way into your heart. It’s a mischief maker and knows a thing or two about jumping high and digging holes in the garden. If you don’t mind having an escape artist for a pet, then this dog’s for you!

Where I'm From

The plotted history of the Fox terrier is an interesting tale. The breed has walked amongst royalty, starred in films and appeared in a painting as early as 1790. Years later, when it was discovered the dogs could drive foxes from their dens, the Smooth Fox Terrier was developed. It’s thought to be a mix of bull terriers, beagles and greyhounds.

The Smooth and Wire terriers are now considered two different breeds but for a long time this was not the case. The most distinctive difference between the two is in their coats. One breed of dog has a smooth short to medium length coat, while the other proudly sports a wiry, dense coat. The two dog’s undoubtedly have similar looks but it’s likely they had different ancestry.

What I Look Like

The Fox Terrier has made its name as a compact and alert canine. The smooth variety is much more common in Australia than its wiry friend, although it’s pretty popular too.

Smooth Fox Terriers will grow to around 40 centimeters in height, have docked tails and shed little hair. Their coats are smooth to touch, hard and dense. The outer coats of their wiry cousins are also dense and a short, soft coat lies beneath.

White is the predominant colour in both varieties but they can have markings that are black or tan, or a combination of both. Usually the colouring of the head is solid but there these canines can have markings on their faces too.

If you adopt a Wire Fox Terrier and you’re keen to keep its coat in true form, you’ll need to pluck it. If you decide instead to trim the coat the texture will change and the coat will feel softer. The colours and markings will also appear weaker when it grows back.

How I Act

Considering its small size, the Fox Terrier has a ravenous appetite but don’t let that put you off. It’s an affectionate and friendly breed that loves exercise so keeping off any extra weight shouldn’t be too difficult for your dog.

These pooches are clever and will get bored easily if you don’t provide them with plenty of entertainment. They’re outgoing and curious in nature so you should always keep them in a securely fenced yard.

Their hunting instinct is strong and small pets may become unwitting targets. They’ll be keen to chase rodents, cats and other dogs (large or small). These little pooches are quite unaware of their size so don’t be surprised if they approach other dogs and give them a hard time. They’re not very amicable where other dogs are concerned.

When it comes down to it, Fox terriers are little mischief makers. They’re very charming and loveable though so they can definitely get away with it. They’re watchful and observant creatures which sets them up as excellent watchdogs. The downside is they will do a lot of cautionary barking. You’ll need to train them early if you don’t want them carrying on this way.

Looking After Me

Fox Terriers tend to have a stubborn streak which can make housetraining difficult. If you’re to succeed at training, you’ll need to challenge them. Give this breed a clear and consistent routine and you’ll see results. Make sure you reinforce their new behaviours with appraisal and treats where necessary.

These little dogs are not well suited to apartment life. They need a fenced yard to run around in and burn off some of their energy. You should keep your Fox Terrier on a lead if it’s in an open area as it will want to chase other animals if they’re around.

This breed will benefit from exposure to lots of people, other dogs and animals when its a puppy. It has a tendency to approach larger dogs and have a go at them so keep a close eye on your Fox Terrier when you’re at the park. They’re also not great with young children. This is because these canines play rough and may chase kids if they think they resemble prey.

These dogs may be compact but they’re certainly full of energy. They require at least 30 to 45 minutes of strenuous exercise each day.

Smooth Fox Terriers only require occasional brushing but Wire Fox Terrier should be brushed more regularly to keep their coat clean and free from grit.

Fox Terriers are a hardy breed that’s generally healthy but they may be more prone to deafness, cataracts, lens luxation and hip dysplasia than other breeds. Some may also develop skin complaints.

Am I the pet for you?


  • Mischievous and fun personality
  • Well suited to an active family with older kids
  • Requires little grooming


  • Requires daily vigorous exercise
  • Not suited to life with other animals
  • Difficult to train

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