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Smooth Fox Terrier
Flushing Foxes with Finesse

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 Smooth Fox Terrier

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a small breed from the United Kingdom also known as just a Fox Terrier, the Smooth-coated Fox Terrier and the Smooth-haired Fox Terrier. Owners and fans will nickname it the Foxie or SFT and it was bred sometime in the 17th century, as it name suggests, to hunt foxes. Specifically it would go to ground and flush foxes out of their dens. Today the sport of fox hunting is one of questionable taste and the need for Fox Terriers has greatly dropped as a result of a law banning it in the UK. In the US some still use them in country hunts. Most that are around now are kept as show dogs and as companions. It is an important breed though because it is thought many terriers come from this one. It is called the Smooth Fox Terrier because there is in fact another type, the Wire Fox Terrier the latter actually being more common than the smooth that we are looking at here. Its talents include agility, hunting, watchdog, tricks and tracking.

The Smooth Fox Terrier at A Glance
Name Smooth Fox Terrier
Other names Fox Terrier, Smooth-haired Fox Terrier, Smooth-coated Fox Terrier,
Nicknames 'gentleman of the terrier world', Foxie, SFT
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Small
Average weight 13 to 20 pounds
Average height 13 to 16 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years 10-13
Coat type Fine, dense, rough, short, flat, hard, harsh
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, brindle, black,
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 124th by the AKC
Intelligence Average – understands new commands with 25 to 40 repetitions
Tolerance to heat Very good – can live in hot climates but nothing extreme
Tolerance to cold Good – can live in cool climates but nothing too cold
Shedding Average – some hair will be left around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to drool or slobber
Obesity Moderate – not likely to gain weight
Grooming/brushing Low maintenance – make sure you brush once or twice a week
Barking Occasional to frequent – will need training to control it
Exercise needs Fairly active – being small it is easy to meet but owners who are fairly active themselves would be best
Trainability Moderate – can have a stubborn side
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Good but best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate – socialization is important as is supervision
Good with other pets Good but socialization needed as has high prey drive
Good with strangers Good but can be wary so socialization needed
Good apartment dog Good but does best with a yard and its frequent barking can be a problem
Handles alone time well Good – can be alone for short periods but not long ones
Health issues Fairly healthy, a few issues can include deafness, eye problems and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and pet treats
Miscellaneous expenses $495 a year for license, toys, basic training and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1005 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $650
Rescue organizations Several including the American Fox Terrier Rescue
Biting Statistics None reported

The Smooth Fox Terrier's Beginnings

The Smooth Fox Terrier originates in the UK in the 17th century and was developed using breeds like the English Hounds, Dachshunds, Beagle and Fox Hound. It is actually one of the older terriers and it was used to hunt down animals farmers viewed as vermin such as rats and of course foxes. Its job was to find the animal in its den, dig and bark and harass it until the animal came out and then the farmer or hunter with hounds would chase and kill it. This was called bolting. Their white coat meant the dogs would not be confused by the hunters for the fox.

For a long time it has been thought that both the smooth and wire-haired Fox Terriers were developed at the same time and were in fact the same breed but with different coats. This is now known not to be the case though some clubs still class them as such. The Smooth Fox Terrier's development has not that well documented but the first record is a painting of a dog called Pitch who is clearly a Smooth Foxie. When dog shows became popular in the mid 1800s the Foxie became one of the early entrants a good ten to 20 years before the wire coated Foxie was entered. It was also the first terrier to get recognized by the Kennel Club in the UK in 1875. In the late 1800s the Fox Terrier was the most popular terrier in Britain. In 1876 the Fox Terrier Club of England was formed and the breed standard it drew up has remained almost unchanged to this day. However the two breeds were allowed to inter breed right up until around 30 years ago.

New Lease on Life

Records show that Smooth Fox Terriers came to the US around 1879 and Wire Coated Fox Terriers came several years after that. The Fox Terrier which covered both types was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. It was not until 1984 that the US agreed that they be separated and then fully recognized both breeds by 1995. In the US in the 1920s the Smooth Foxie saw a big increase in popularity thanks to the RCA's use of one called Nipper as its logo. By the 1930s though the Wire Fox Terriers were more popular as companions after a film series called The Thin Man came out that had Asta, a Wire Foxie as a regular. The American Fox Terrier Club covers both breeds still and looks after both standards. Today the Smooth Fox Terrier is ranked 124th in popularity by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today


The Smooth Foxie is a small dog weighing 13 to 20 pounds and stands 13 to 16 inches tall. It may be small but it is still powerful and strong with muscles that are clearly defined. It has a thick neck and its tail is traditionally docked to ¾ of its length though in many countries that practice is illegal so it is left natural. It is held upright and set high and its legs are straight. Its coat is smooth and flat but fairly dense and hard. It is mostly white and then can have markings in black or brindle. In the show ring liver or red markings are not desirable as they are too close in color to a fox.

It has a flat skull and a chiseled and wedge shaped head. The muzzle narrows to the nose which is black. Its eyes are small, set deep and dark and the eye rims are black. The ears are small, drop ears that are V shaped and fold forwards next to the cheeks. While most have a solid colored head some markings can happen and in the show ring are accepted such as a blaze, color over the ears and eyes or a split face.

The Inner Smooth Fox Terrier


Smooth Fox Terriers are alert and make good watchdogs. They bark if there is an intruder trying to get in and are fearless. However that barking is frequent and will need training to have some control though being a terrier you are unlikely to get full control. It is a loyal and spunky breed, full of fire and spark. It can be stubborn though and snappy if riled or if it feels its territory or its family is threatened. It has lots of energy and loves to play and is very inquisitive. It can also be affectionate and loving, entertaining and plucky.

It loves to be around its family but can be very strong willed and do best with owners who have experience and are able to deal with this. It is certainly not the best breed for new owners. Usually they are friendly, around strangers they should be good but socialization is important so they know to recognize who is friendly and who is a real threat and appropriate responses to both. It has a lot of confidence and can get into a lot of trouble trying to raid kitchen counters and cupboards or digging holes in the yard. They are very charming but very sly so be strong!

Living with a Smooth Fox Terrier

What will training look like?


The Smooth Foxie is a willful and independent minded dog so when it comes to training the only way you are going to have any success is to be in control, firm and a strong leader. With that and experience the training could still require some patience! Be consistent and stick any rules you set, never let it get away with anything as it will test you and the minute you bend those rules it will ignore them all. Start it early and use positive techniques to encourage and motivate it, treats work very well for most dogs! Also keep the sessions short, fun and engaging. Once you do have the basics covered and it know you are the boss you can move on to advanced training or tricks or agility if you want to. Giving them things to do that keeps their minds active as well as their bodies is a good idea though. Do not let it develop small dog syndrome, something that can happen when small dogs are babied and allowed to rule. Then it can become difficult to live with, aggressive, destructive, vocal and jealous. Make sure it has good socialization too by exposing it from a young age to different places, people, situations, sounds and animals.

How active is the Smooth Fox Terrier

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a fairly active breed so will need active owners to keep it happy and healthy, though being small that is more manageable than larger active dogs. This dog is small enough to live in an apartment but it is not best suited to it, it barks a lot and is very active indoors too. Ideally it should have access to a yard where it can explore, play and have a place where it is okay to dig, as it loves to do that. It is energetic and playful always moving around, happiest when it is on the go. Take for a couple of brisk walks a day but also find the opportunity to take it somewhere safe to run as most prefer to run than walk. If you jog it can be taught to run with you. It loves to chase after balls and in fact can become obsessed with it, you throwing that ball can never last long enough as far as it is concerned! It will need at least 45 minutes of exercise that is vigorous and then play time throughout the day too. If there is a yard it needs to be well fenced in as it is very good at escaping and will chase after what it sees as prey. Make sure that as well as getting enough physical activity it also has chances for mental challenge too.

Caring for the Smooth Fox Terrier

Grooming needs

For the most part the SFT is low to moderate in terms of grooming and maintenance. It does shed an average amount so there will be some hair around the home to vacuum up. Brushing once or twice a week should keep it in good condition using a firm bristled brush and since it is a short and a smooth coat it is easy to do. As long as it is brushed regularly like this bathing is only needed when it gets itself in a real mess. Then use a proper dog shampoo only and avoid bathing too frequently as it can dry out its natural oils. A couple of times a year there may be heavier shedding as it has seasonal blow outs and that will require daily clean up and care for a short period. It may need clipping or scissoring now and then by a professional groomer.


Its ears should be checked once a week for signs of infection such as a build up of wax, irritation and redness. They can also be cleaned at that time wiping with a damp cloth or using cotton balls and a dog ear cleanser. Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Its nails will need to be clipped if they get too long, some wear down their nails naturally with their level of activity. If your Foxie does not wear them down then use dog nail clippers to trim them down. Take care not to cut too low though as they have blood vessels and nerves in sections of their nails that if cut will lead to pain and bleeding.

Feeding Time

When feeding your dog make sure you use a good quality dry dog food and you measure it out. Foxies will eat about ½ to 1 1/2 cups a day split into two meals. How much exactly can vary depending on its level of activity, its metabolism, size, age and health. Always make sure it has access to water that is often freshened.

How is the Smooth Fox Terrier with children and other animals?

SFTs are good with children with socialization and when raised with them but is best with children older than around 7 years. While they are energetic and playful and affectionate they also like to play rough, the high pitched voices of young children can make them over excited and snappy, and they are protective of food and toys which small children do not understand. Always teach children how to touch and play nicely with dogs and if there are young children around supervision is needed.

These dogs are aggressive to other dogs, they will not back down if challenged and will also challenge other dogs even if they are a lot larger than them. Of course given its size it is not going to be very good against a lot of breeds that are larger than it so you will need to supervise it closely. This is not a dog that can be left loose around a dog park and it needs to be on a leash when out walking. This is also needed because of its high prey drive, if it sees cats or squirrels running it will chase after them. It would be best if it is the only pet in the home and good socialization is essential especially if it is not.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Smooth Fox Terriers have a life span of 12 to 15 years on average though some have been recorded as living as long as 19 years. There are some health issues that can up with it which include eye problems, heart problems, joint problems, allergies, cancer, deafness, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, cancer and epilepsy.

Biting Statistics

In reports looking at dogs attacking people that have lead to bodily harm there is no mention of the Smooth Fox Terrier being involved in any such incident. However this breed can be aggressive and while it is more dog aggressive and prey driven accidents could happen, after all there truly is no completely safe breed of dog, all have the potential to snap, be provoked into something or have a bad day. Make sure you socialize and train your dog, that it gets the level of stimulation, exercise and attention it needs and that you choose a breed that suits your level of experience and commitment.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

An SFT puppy will cost about $650 from a decent breeder but you would pay more for a top show breeder. Since this is not a breed that is commonly bred in the US, there you can expect to be put on a waiting list. Some become tempted to speed up the process by looking to less trustworthy breeders like pet stores, puppy mills and back yard breeders. Avoid this, these are not places to fund, at best they are ignorant but many are much worse being cruel and deliberately neglectful. Another option is to check out rescues and shelters to find your new companion. If you are not keeping a show dog it does not have to be purebred, mixed dogs have a lot to offer too. Adoption from such places would be about $50 to $400.


When you have found your new dog there are some things it will need and some health needs to be taken care of. Items would include collar and leash, crate, carrier and bowls for example and these come to about $120. Medical needs like shots, blood tests, deworming, physical exam, spaying or neutering and micro chipping come to around $260.

There are also ongoing costs such as food, health care, insurance, toys, miscellaneous items and such. There will be a yearly cost of about $1005, this covers $495 a year for miscellaneous items, training, toys, grooming and license. $75 for a a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Then $435 for basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance.


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  • The Smooth Fox Terrier has a strong prey drive and does not put up with other dogs well. Any owners need experience and need to commit to socialization and training. This is a very lively and energetic breed with a mind of its own and a voice it is ready to express. In the right home they can be devoted and loyal, fun, friendly and affectionate.

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