The Smooth Fox Terrier is an energetic, curious dog with a spirited nature and a knack for mischief. Despite the stature of this breed, they’re not for the owner who desires a calm lapdog. As the name suggests, the Fox Terrier was developed for foxhunting. When the fox went underground, the terrier would be released to follow and flush it out. Though this hunting practice is now banned in England, the Fox Terrier’s tenacity and independent nature have carried through to today, and its appearance has remained much the same since the 1800s as well. Not hugely popular, the Smooth Fox Terrier ranks at 123 of 193 in the American Kennel Club’s database.
Smooth Fox Terrier APPEARANCE
In terms of height, the Smooth Fox Terrier stands at about 14-16 inches tall. In showing, body structure and posture are more important than the technicalities of weight, though these dogs usually weigh about 14 to 19 pounds.
As expected of the name, the Smooth Fox Terrier’s coat is characterized by short, straight fur which lies flat to the body, creating a smooth look. Though it may seem like the similarly named Wire Fox Terrier differs only in coat, these dogs have actually been kept separate in breeding for the most part, and some believe they descend from different mixtures of breeds entirely. The smooth variety was preferred in some cases because it made the dog less likely to be mistaken for a fox. The Smooth Fox Terrier is more prone to shedding than the Wire Fox Terrier, and should be groomed weekly to remove dead fur. Bathing isn’t needed often, though this dog isn’t finicky and may end up covered in dirt and mud after a day of digging.
This breed’s lack of popularity outside of showing and hunting may come down to the fact that it was not bred to be a companion. Fox Terriers aren’t especially good with strangers or other dogs, and don’t have a highly social attitude. Though they do well with children and families, the Fox Terrier is often too smart and motivated for its own good, and can end up getting up to trouble on its own in backyards or unsupervised with other animals. Don’t trust this breed with cats unless raised together and more than proven that no chasing will occur.
Though their excess of energy can be a bonus when playing with children, the Smooth Fox Terrier is not a shy dog, and will bark at strangers as well as get into fights with large or small dogs outside its family. Their self-confidence, assertiveness, and desire to wander can lead to an escapee or destructive tendency, so make sure this dog isn’t digging holes where it shouldn’t be.
That said, there are some bonuses to this breed’s willfulness. They usually aren’t overly sensitive, and mostly do fine with being left alone. That said, it’s not entirely unheard of for anxiety or bad behaviors from boredom to occur, so this breed isn’t a good candidate for long hours of separation from all people. An unsupervised Fox Terrier might destroy his bedding and toys – or worse, the house.
In terms of life expectancy, 11 to 14 years can be expected for this dog. Though this dog may calm some in old age, an owner should sure they can commit to involved care of the Smooth Fox Terrier for at least a decade.
CARING FOR A SMOOTH FOX TERRIER
The Smooth Fox Terrier may require somewhat elaborate training, as do most terrier breeds, who require a patient, experienced teacher to develop good behaviors.
The Fox Terrier is not a picky eater, and its voraciousness may mean it has a higher tendency towards weight gain. As with most terriers, food allergies are to be expected, so a high-quality food should be given. Organic food and grain-free food are good places to look for higher quality, lower quantity starches and fats, which can help this athletic dog stay in good shape.
Though the Fox Terrier’s eagerness for treats and human food may sway your decisions, try to avoid human food and stick to a small amount of treats for training, with adjustments to regular meals as needed. This breed’s tendency toward food allergies, luxating patella and heart disease require strict observance of dietary restrictions.
This breed loves to exercise and will need plenty of activity to be happy and healthy. Since this breed was meant to hunt small game, a harness for control or a leash for pulling might be a good idea to keep the Smooth Fox Terrier from running off after squirrels, cats, birds, and other dogs. A tired dog will be much less likely to get up to trouble at home; without proper exercise, expect nuisance barking and destruction from the Fox Terrier. It might be a good idea to keep this breed in a high playpen while you’re not around to limit the mischief it can get up to, at least until your dog is older and more trustworthy.
Training can present some difficulties for the Smooth Fox Terrier. Though bred to work with humans, this dog wasn’t meant to stay indoors with them nor to take extensive commands. Instinct and light training made this dog ideal for foxhunting, and you’ll have to fight that instinct to some extent to make the Fox Terrier into an ideal housemate. They may struggle with going to the bathroom outside rather than inside, so crate training is a good idea for young dogs. It’s very important to instill basic commands in this breed, for its safety and the safety of animals and people around it. Teach to bark and be quiet, come, and stay. Even with these commands, don’t trust the Fox Terrier to listen to you consistently. Learning and putting its mind to use can also help the Fox Terrier stay happy and mentally satisfied.
The overall health of the Smooth Fox Terrier is okay, though there are some genetic problems that this breed is prone to. The National Breed Club recommends a patella examination and a cardiac exam, so make sure to ask potential breeders about what tests they do. It’s also a good idea to ask about history of eye and ear problems in this breed, since a number of Smooth Fox Terriers have issues with blindness and deafness at younger ages.
Hip dysplasia, luxating patella are issues which may affect the joints negatively enough to require surgery. Like other terriers, this breed is prone to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, which causes puppies and young dogs to need surgery due to reduced blood supply to the leg on one or both sides. After surgery, full recovery is expected, but keep in mind the potential costs associated with this breed.
Also watch out for epilepsy, other seizure disorders, mitral valve disease, pulmonic stenosis (heart disease,) bladder cancer, and bladder stones. Smooth Fox Terriers can sometimes be born with myasthenia gravis, which affects skeletal muscles and causes severe weakness and fatigue. This will require lifelong medication.
Because this breed can come with a number of genetic issues, it’s highly important to find the right breeder and ask extensively about the health of the parents and the puppies.