Toy Fox Terrier - What you Need to Know about American Toy Terriers

Did you just bring home a new American Toy Fox Terrier puppy and want to learn more about the breed?

Maybe you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed of dog for you and your family?

No matter what your situation may be, you will find the answers to your questions right here!



Breed History

The breed, also known as the AmerToy or TFT, was developed in the United States in the early 1930s by crossing small Smooth Fox Terriers with several toy breeds, including the Manchester Terrier, the Miniature Pinscher, the Italian Greyhound, and the Chihuahua.

Another breed, the Rat Terrier, probably also played a role in the development of this breed but this fact was conveniently ignored by the Toy Fox Terrier Club. Why? At a time when they were seeking AKC recognition, they didn't want their breed to carry genes of a breed not recognized by AKC.

So, why was the Toy Fox Terrier developed?

Many Smooth Fox Terrier litters included puppies that were much smaller than the rest of the litter. Despite their smaller size, these runts were much feistier and more willing to join in hunts than their larger counterparts. Many owners preferred these smaller dogs and the idea of a new breed was born.

In spite of introduction of non-terrier breeds, these dogs have retained their hunting instinct and are true terriers. While their use as hunters was limited because of their small size, farmers have used them as ratters. They have also been used to hunt small game, such as squirrel.

Today the breed is kept mostly for companionship but many of these dogs compete and excel in obedience and agility competitions. Some work as therapy dogs and some are... circus performers :)

This is not only one of the few terrier breeds not developed in the United Kingdom but he is one of the few breeds developed in the United States. He is also the only true terrier developed in the United States (breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier are not true terriers).

The Toy Fox Terrier was recognized by UKC in 1936. After several unsuccessful attempts the breed was finally recognized by AKC and admitted as a member of the toy group in 2003.

Physical Characteristics of Toy Fox Terrier Puppies

TFTs are small but athletically built dogs.

The body is muscular, square, and tapers from the rib cage to flank. The back is straight, the chest is deep, the tail is set high and, where allowed by law, usually docked. The neck is slightly curved and muscular. It widens gradually and blends smoothly into the shoulders.

The front legs are straight and parallel, the back legs are strong and muscular. The forward-pointing feet are small and oval, with arched toes.

The head is almost as long as the neck. The eyes are dark, round, and set wide apart. They are large but not bulging. The ears are V-shaped, close together, and set high. The nose is black in all but chocolate-colored dogs, whose noses are brown.

The coat is smooth to the touch, fine in texture, and shiny. It's short, except the neck area where it's slightly longer than on the rest of the body. Allowable coat colors are:

White and Black, with predominantly black head and body that is at least 50% white with or without black spots.

Chocolate and Tan, with predominantly chocolate head and body that is at least 50% white with or without chocolate spots.

White and Tan, with predominantly tan head and body that is at least 50% white with or without tan markings.

Tri-Color, with predominantly black head, tan lips, tan eye dots, and tan markings on cheeks. The body is predominantly white, with or without black markings.

    Height Weight
  Male 8.5 - 11.5 inches 3.5 - 7 pounds
  Female 8.5 - 11.5 inches 3.5 - 7 pounds


The Toy Fox Terrier is a small dog in a large dog's body. He is alert, active, fearless, and tough. He inherited many of the instincts common to terriers. He also inherited a milder disposition of other breeds involved in his development.

Similar to other terriers, he is smart but can be stubborn. Proper handling is required to prevent behavioral problems. While Toy Fox Terriers are affectionate, loving, and make great pets, they are not for everyone. Like most toy breeds, they are not recommended for families with small children.

Extremely loyal and eager to please, the Toy Fox Terrier needs to feel as part of a family and be included in family activities. But similar to other toy breeds, he tends to be a one-person dog.

Despite his friendly disposition to his family, he tends to be wary of strangers. This distrust of strangers, combined with barking that is common in all terriers, makes the Toy Fox Terrier an excellent watchdog.

Despite his small size, he will not back down when challenged by other dogs, even those larger than him. In some cases, he may be the one doing the challenging!

When properly socialized, he will usually get along with family pets, but the hunting instinct is too strong to suppress when around animals that are not part of the family. Unless in a fenced area, always keep your pet on a leash when you take him outdoors.

This breed is highly intelligent and trainable. Some have been trained as hearing dogs while others have been trained to help handicapped. Some have even been trained as circus performers and taught to perform such tricks as walking tightropes!

Best Owner / Living Conditions

This breed will do fine with any type of owner. The only requirements for a happy
co-existence are to establish some rules for the dog to follow and you acting as a leader.

Because of his small size and high activity level indoors, the American Toy Fox Terrier is well-suited for an apartment lifestyle. What it's not suited for is cold weather. Get your pet a sweater if you live in a cold climate.

Some Toy Fox Terrier breeders may interview prospective owners to make sure this breed is compatible with them and their lifestyle.

Activity and Exercise

Like all terrier breeds, this breed needs regular exercise to stay in shape and

All dogs need to go on daily walks and this breed is not an exception. While his exercise can consist of running and playing off leash, it should not come at the expense of regular walks.

At a minimum, every American Toy Fox Terrier needs to have several walks every day.

Grooming your American Toy Fox Terrier

The American Toy Terrier is a light shedder and very easy to groom.

In addition to brushing several times per week with a firm bristle brush to remove loose hair, check and trim the nails, clean the ears, and brush your dog's teeth.

Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary.

Health Concerns

While the Toy Fox Terrier is considered to be a healthy breed, some health concerns still exist...

Some diseases common to this breed include patellar luxation (a common problem with many toy breeds) and Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome. Some dogs are allergic to beet pulp, corn, and wheat. Visit dog health problems for more information about dog diseases and health.

Buy only from reputable Toy Fox Terrier breeders to reduce the risk of the above and many other health problems (visit dog breeders to learn how to identify responsible dog breeders).

Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for healthy Toy Fox Terrier puppies is between 13 and 15 years.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Toy Fox Terrier rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? If you answered "YES", then check this dog behavior and obedience training guide.

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