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Smooth Fox Terrier

Dog Breeds
Smooth fox terriers are small, spunky dogs with lots of energy and even more love to give. If you can give him enough exercise, he'll make a happy four-legged companion.

Smooth Fox Terrier Overview

OFFICIAL NAME Smooth Fox Terrier
COMMON NAME Smooth Fox Terrier
PET HEIGHT 14 to 15 inches
PET WEIGHT 15 to 18 pounds
LIFESPAN 12 to 15 years
GOOD WITH children, families
TEMPERAMENT friendly, outgoing, playful
VOCAL LEVEL frequent
BREED SIZE small (0-25 lbs.)
COLORS black, fawn, white
PATTERNS bicolor
OTHER TRAITS apartment-friendly, high prey drive, strong loyalty tendencies

Smooth fox terriers are independent, lively, and loving dogs, making them a versatile breed for owners with all types of interests. Originally bred as British fox-hunting companions, they are less common than other terrier breeds like the intelligent Russell terrier and scrappy Norwich terrier. But those who adopt a smooth fox terrier will be rewarded with a smart, easy-to-train, and loyal companion. While they are high-energy dogs that require regular, daily exercise, their small size makes them suitable for living in both large homes and apartments.


Although smooth fox terriers tend to have a more V-shaped head, they are very similar to their close relative, the wire fox terrier. Petite in stature, smooth fox terriers stand between 14–15 inches tall and weigh between 15–18 pounds. They have small, V-shape ears and their deep-set, circular eyes are dark and known for looking lively and alert, according to the American Fox Terrier Club.

The breed's eponymous coats are flat, yet dense and abundant, and they are predominantly white with black, tan, or black-and-tan markings. Smooth fox terriers are prone to light shedding but their coats can be easily maintained by daily or weekly home grooming with a brush or glove to keep their sleek bodies shiny and healthy. They are wiry and muscular in build; and like a lot of other dog breeds, the males tend to be larger than females.


Smooth fox terriers are high-energy dogs that are known to be cheeky, playful, and affectionate with those they are familiar with, making them great family pets. Although they tend to get along well with children, they aren't always the best companions for cats and other small pets because of their history as hunters.

"However, if brought up around cats and socialized well from a young age, cohabitation is possible," says Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, consulting veterinarian at FiveBarks.
Smooth fox terriers are also vocal and watchful over their home. They will alert you with barks when strangers are around or if there's a potential threat, like an intruder (or a rabbit!) in the yard. "They make excellent watch dogs and will yap at any new arrival," Simon says.

While dogs of this breed are very active, they are loving and cuddly with their owners, though they prefer activities in the outdoors more than lounging on the couch. Smooth fox terriers treasure playtime with family members, including children, and form strong bonds with them over time.

Living Needs

Because smooth fox terriers thrive in the outdoors, they do best in a home with a large, fenced yard. But they can live happily in apartments with owners who are committed to giving them proper daily exercise. If you love hiking, running, or enjoying long walks around the city, a smooth fox terrier will be your BFF.

Smooth fox terriers' hunting-dog instincts mean they're likely to scamper after small animals like squirrels and rabbits. It's best to always keep them on a leash outdoors, especially in unfenced areas.

While smooth fox terriers can cohabit well with other dogs in the home, each pup is different and owners should take the proper steps when introducing any new canine family members. The smooth fox terriers' independent personality means they don't mind being left alone at home for short periods of time, but be sure to keep an eye out for signs of separation anxiety.


Like most terriers, this breed is athletic and energetic, making smooth fox terriers a great breed for active individuals. They adore long strolls and playing fetch in sprawling (but fenced!) areas with their owners.

"Daily walks will be needed to adhere to their muscular structure," says Dace Lace, dog and cat behaviorist and co-founder of Pet Food Site. "It takes about 30–45-minute hard exercise to tire this dog out, but after a short pause and water break, they are ready for more."

Since they were originally bred in England as fox-hunting dogs, these dogs have a high prey drive and shouldn't be walked or left in open spaces off-leash.

"It is crucial to have them on a leash where wild animals like foxes, rabbits, or small rodents can be spotted," Lace says. "My adopted dog, Dora, is a smooth fox terrier mix, and I will not get her back if she has zipped off to trace a rabbit trail."

Proper training will tame a smooth fox terrier's free-spirited nature. Lace recommends using positive reinforcement methods and having different toys and treats to keep your pup engaged (smooth fox terriers often lose interest easily). Pup parents can also choose to recruit the expertise of a trainer who specializes in terriers and understands the breed's behavior.

To perform at their best and live healthy lives, smooth fox terriers require the proper amount of high-quality dog food that's best for their age (puppy, adult, or senior) and size. Ask your veterinarian on how much to feed your smooth fox terrier; the amount will depend on the individual dog's size, weight, age, exercise levels, and other factors. Dogs should also always have access to clean, fresh water to ensure they can stay hydrated.

Although the smooth fox terrier's coat is short, its dense nature makes daily or weekly brushing essential. Owners should also keep the pup's nails properly trimmed, bathe them if necessary, and keep an eye on the ears to prevent infection. "Since smooth fox terriers love to explore in bushy and grassy areas, brushing will give the owner a chance to get rid of anything stuck in the coat," says Lace. "Check their ears regularly for dust or twigs."


Smooth fox terriers have a lifespan of between 12–15 years, but they are prone to certain health issues, including patellar luxation, a knee cap that pops in and out of place; Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a painful condition affecting the hips of younger dogs; and primary lens luxation, a condition affecting the eyes that can cause glaucoma and even blindness. To prevent these conditions, Simon says it's important that smooth fox terrier breeders screen their dogs and only mate those not affected.

It is also sensible to ensure your smooth fox terrier receives regular exercise, is not overweight, and takes daily joint supplements from a young age," she says.

Due to their small jaw size, smooth fox terriers are also prone to dental disease. Common issues include gingivitis, calculus build up, and retained deciduous teeth. Owners can help prevent dental issues by brushing their pup's teeth each day, feeding them dry kibble rather than canned food, and giving their terrier dental chews. A large proportion of pups will also need a veterinary dental cleaning at least once or twice in their lifetime.


The smooth fox terrier was developed in the late 18th century, when hunters were seeking a dog that could enter foxes' dens and drive them out of their hiding places. While early breeders didn't keep records regarding the development of the breed, it's rumored that the first smooth fox terriers were a blend of smooth coat black and tan terriers (now extinct), bull terriers, greyhounds, and beagles, according to the breed club.

After smooth fox terrier enthusiasts began showing their pups, the English Fox Terrier Club was established in 1876—the second oldest breed club in the United Kingdom. The first records of smooth fox terriers being imported to the U.S. date back to 1876, and the American Fox Terrier Club formed in 1885, the same year the breed received American Kennel Club recognition.

Fun Facts

While smooth fox terriers aren't common house dogs, they are popular in the dog show ring. The most awarded smooth fox terrier in the Westminster Kennel Club's lauded Dog Show was Ch. Warren Remedy, who won Best in Show three years in a row from 1907 to 1909.
According to the American Fox Terrier Club, smooth fox terriers and wire fox terriers were considered the same breed for decades—the AKC only recognized the two as different breeds in 1985. The two dogs are identical, except for their coat texture.
There are also toy fox terriers, which look like mini smooth fox terriers. These petite pups only weigh up to 7 pounds and were created by crossing small smooth fox terriers with Chihuahuas and Italian greyhounds. The American Kennel Club officially recognized this mini version in 2003.