Smooth Fox Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier

Temperament and Behavior

Even more than most terriers, a Smooth Fox Terrier is intense, feisty, curious, and extremely active. They are so active both inside and out some people find them unsettling. They love to play, especially with a ball. Very affectionate with their family, they can become jealous if not given what they believe is a proper amount of attention. Fox Terriers were bred to hunt, so great care should be taken with small pets; those that are squeaky and run stand little chance around a Fox Terrier. They usually accept cats if raised with them, but the cat will likely get plenty of exercise. With other dogs, this daredevil with a peppery personality won’t back down from a challenge and is frequently the one issuing it. He is especially bossy with dogs his own size and sex. This dog is so bold he sometimes needs to be rescued from the consequences of his own impulsive behavior. With their high drive for action, Smooth Fox Terriers need exercise every day. They enjoy a good play session or a long walk. Unlike some breeds, they will be happy to provide their own exercise in a large, fenced area. But beware, they can be escape artists digging under, jumping over, or squeezing through just about any fence opening. These dogs relish adventure and are sure to pursue one whenever they get or can make the opportunity. With keen vision and acute hearing, they can be counted on to issue a warning bark whenever something is amiss, or even if something isn’t amiss but they think it might be sometime in the future. This makes them a first-rate watchdog. But enjoying strangers almost as much as his own family, he is not a guard dog. Like most terriers, he can be possessive of both food and toys.

Physical Characteristics

Smooth Fox Terriers are small, agile, muscular dogs. They grow to about 16 inches tall and weigh about 18 pounds. They are the same size as the Wire Terriers, the main difference being their coats. The Smooth coat is flat, dense, and short. They shed white spiky hair that sticks to everything fairly freely, (more than the Wire Fox Terriers) and need to be brushed at least once a week. Their coat is mostly white with black or brown markings. They enjoy playing outside in any weather and even though they handle most temperatures well, a sweater is appreciated when cold.

Trainer's Notes

Not for a first-time owner or trainer, their training is never easy. In fact, Fox Terriers are among the most difficult terriers to work with. They are intelligent and willing, but their energy, curiosity, and independence make it a challenge to keep them focused and their stubborn streak must be finessed in order to avoid a contest of wills. The best way to train a Fox Terrier is to have short, fun sessions together with a pocket full of their favorite treats. Finding an activity they enjoy, like agility, can help to focus these energetic dogs.

Photo © by Томасина available under the CC BY 2.0
Smooth Fox Terrier

Smooth Fox Terrier


Smooth Fox Terriers are a relatively healthy breed. Not quite 1 in 10 is affected by Hip Dysplasia. Legg-Perthes, and the eye problems of Distichiasis, Cataracts, and Lens Luxation and shoulder dislocation complete the most often seen issues with the breed. They typically live into their mid-teens.


Less popular than the Wire and Toy Fox Terriers, Smooth Fox Terriers are ranked 103rd on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dogs. About 500 are registered with the AKC in a typical year.

Breed History

By some accounts, the Smooth Fox Terrier was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his 37 book collection called "Natural History" published 2,000 years ago. This documents the breed at the time of ancient Rome making it one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. The ancestors of the Smooth Fox Terrier may include the Black and Tan Terrier, Bull Terrier, Greyhound, and Beagle. Despite the similar name, many believe the Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers come from distinct breeding lines. The two types of dogs, however, were bred for similar purposes. They ran along on foxhunts and flushed out hiding foxes. Hunters preferred mostly white dogs, so they were easily distinguishable from prey. Although at one time the smooth and wire-haired varieties were bred together, the practice had long since ceased when The AKC classified the two different Fox Terrier breeds as distinct in 1985.

Additional Information

Sometimes people choose the small Fox Terrier with the misconception they are less excitable and less of a training challenge than the larger Airedale, Kerry Blue, or Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers. However, the larger terriers were bred to work more closely with people than the smaller terriers, which were originally bred to work independently underground. The National (US) Breed Club is the American Fox Terrier Club.

Is A Smooth Fox Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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