Toy Fox Terriers

Life is merrier with a Toy Fox Terrier. That sentiment neatly sums up the entertainment and companionship value of this smaller version of the Smooth Fox Terrier. An American-bred toy dog, created to keep farms free of rats and other small vermin, he's playful, silly and fearless, but he also has a terrier temperament, which is not always easy to live with. Here's what you need to know if you're considering acquiring one of these dogs.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The TFT comes in a range of personalities, from live wire to couch potato. Be honest with the breeder about your own personality and lifestyle so she can help you choose the best puppy for your needs.

Life with a Toy Fox Terrier is never dull. Active, intelligent and clever, he doesn't want to miss out on anything exciting. This makes him a great companion, but it also means he can become bored and destructive when no one is home to keep him entertained. Despite his small size, this dog needs plenty of training and exercise, plus a dog-proof home, to keep him out of trouble.

Like all terriers, he has an endless desire to be digging, barking and investigating. The TFT frequently becomes a nuisance barker, and he can be aggressive towards other dogs, no matter what their size. When it comes to encounters with larger dogs, he must be protected from himself. His territoriality and noise level make him a good watchdog, however.

Agile and athletic, the TFT excels at dog sports, especially agility, flyball and rally. At night, expect to find the TFT in bed with you, possibly inside your pillowcase.

He's smart and learns quickly, but he can also be stubborn and easily bored. Keep training sessions short and fun or he'll rapidly lose interest. And expect him to put his own spin on whatever you're trying to teach.

Unlike many toy breeds, he is generally easy to housetrain, especially if provided with a litter box or housetraining pad. Males don't have very good aim, so if you box-train them, be sure to choose one with high sides.

Because he's small, the TFT fits well in any home, but if you live in an apartment or condo, his noisy nature and high activity level should give you pause if you won't be home during the day to keep him entertained. Toy Fox Terriers love attention and do best with people who can spend a significant amount of time with them daily.

They are perfect for families with older children and other pets, but because of their small size most breeders won't place them in homes with young children. They're so squirmy that hanging onto them can be a handful even for adults.

The TFT is thin-skinned and likes his comforts. He may need a sweater to keep him warm in cool or cold climates. The satiny smooth coat is easy to groom with a quick weekly brushing to remove dead hairs. He also needs regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and dental hygiene--always important with toy breeds--plus the occasional bath if he rolls in something stinky.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Toy Fox Terrier needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy TFT who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to Toy Fox Terriers

The Toy Fox Terrier is a fairly health breed, but is not free of genetic diseases. For that reason, make sure your puppy's parents have been screened for those conditions that have a genetic test.

The breeder should be able to provide Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) evaluation of the parents for Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Dogs with this condition have reduced blood supply to the head of the rear leg bone, which begins to shrink. It usually shows up by the time the dog is around 6 months old, and the first sign is limping. While it can be treated with surgery, affected Toy Fox Terriers are at great risk of developing arthritis later in life. The sooner it's caught and treated, the greater the chances the dog will have a full recovery.

Toy Fox Terriers can be affected by, or carry, congenital hypothyroidism with goiter, a disease of the thyroid gland. Affected puppies do not survive past a few weeks, but those who are carriers cannot be detected other than with a genetic test. If you intend to spay or neuter your Toy Fox Terrier, carrier status will not affect their health, but make sure your puppy's breeder has screened her dogs for the condition anyway. If you are buying your puppy as a breeding prospect, it is critical that you screen him or her for the condition as well.

The kneecaps of most very small dogs, including the Toy Fox Terrier, can very easily become displaced, a defect known as "luxating patellas." Ask your veterinarian to examine your dog's knees regularly, especially if you notice him limping or "hopping" while running. Your puppy's breeder should also have OFA clearance of the parents for knee health.

The canine bleeding disorder known as von Willebrand's disease can cause life-threatening loss of blood. Dogs can be carriers of the disease and yet not have it themselves, so it's essential that your puppy's breeder test both parents for the condition. This test can be done by any veterinarian, and the results registered with OFA.

If the breeder you're dealing with is a good one, she'll be willing and able to discuss how prevalent all health problems, those with and those without genetic screening tests, are in her dogs' lines, and help puppy buyers make an informed decision about health risks to their dog.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Patellar Luxation Medium $1,500-$3,000
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease High $1,000-$3,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Toy Fox Terrier Puppy

Choose a breeder who is committed to following the American Toy Fox Terrier Club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to pet stores or wholesalers and outlines the breeder's responsibilities to the breed and to buyers. You can find a breeder referral list on the ATFTC's website.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Fox Terriers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Toy Fox Terrier can live to be 12 years old or more, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Toy Fox Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Toy Fox Terriers

Pet insurance for Toy Fox Terriers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Toy Fox Terriers are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Toy Fox Terriers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Toy Fox Terrier is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.