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Smooth Fox Terrier Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on May 2, 2024 by Dogster Team

Smooth Fox Terrier

Smooth Fox Terrier Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & More

If you’re looking for a small dog with plenty of spunk, the Smooth Fox Terrier may be the perfect companion for you and your family. These little dogs only weigh 13 to 20 pounds and are suitable for apartment living due to their small size. They are friendly and outgoing but can have an independent streak. However, life is amusing with these little dogs, and their small size does not waver their bravery and stamina. Keep reading to learn more about the Smooth Fox Terrier to see if this breed is right for you.

Breed Overview


15½ inches


13 – 20 pounds


12 – 15 years


White with patches of either black or tan or black-and-tan markings

Suitable for:

Active families, families with children, families wanting a small watchdog


Loyal, intelligent, brave, amusing, friendly, affectionate, playful

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a little dog with boundless energy. A close relative of the Wire Fox Terrier, these dogs were originally bred in the 1800s in England to be independent hunters, and they’ve proven themselves worthy of hunting vermin and fox.

They have uniquely V-shaped heads with stout, muscular bodies and are mostly white with either black or tan patches or both black and tan patches. Their exact ancestry is not fully known, but it’s believed they are crosses to the now-extinct Old English Terrier, Smooth-Coated Black and Tan Terriers of England, Bull Terriers, Beagles, and Greyhounds.

They were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885, and interestingly, the AKC initially listed both the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier as a variety of the same breed. In 1984, they were respectively divided into two breeds. They are outgoing and bright and make excellent watchdogs, but they do require an owner with the energy to keep up with them.

Smooth Fox Terrier Breed Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Smooth Fox Terrier Puppies

smooth fox terrier puppy sniffing food bowl
Image Credit: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

Smooth Fox Terriers are adorable and tiny as puppies. They are inquisitive and chase anything they see, thanks to their inherited hunting skills. However, one must consider their boundless energy, and if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, this little, energetic dog will likely not fit into your daily routine. The Smooth Fox Terrier requires an owner with the time, energy, and know-how to train them to be well-rounded adults.

Finding a breeder is not too difficult, as there seem to be many breeders scattered throughout the United States. When searching for a Smooth Fox Terrier, ensure you find a reputable breeder who knows everything about the breed before committing.

It’s also a good idea to check your local animal shelters, as many dogs end up there due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the death of an owner, divorce, etc.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Smooth Fox Terrier

You’ve probably learned by now that this breed is full of energy. They have desirable temperaments, such as being friendly, outgoing, affectionate, amusing, and cheerful. However, they do possess an independent streak and can be mischievous and sly. They are highly intelligent and are perfectly capable of being trained, but they do best with experienced owners.

These little dogs are vocal, and their barking can become a nuisance if not properly trained. They will bark to alert you to anything out of the ordinary, such as a stranger at the door, wildlife in the yard, or anything else they feel you should know about. They are always on the lookout for danger, making them excellent watchdogs.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?👪

The Smooth Fox Terrier makes an excellent family companion if properly trained and socialized at a young age. Despite their limitless energy, they will cuddle with their favorite family member once they are exercised properly for the day. They love to play with children, and children are excellent playmates for them due to their excessive energy.

However, supervision is recommended with young children to ensure they do not play rough with the dog. The Smooth Fox Terrier is not an aggressive breed, but it’s still vital to teach young children how to interact with them appropriately.

smooth fox terrier standing on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽

The Smooth Fox Terrier has an extremely high prey drive and will chase other pets in the home, especially cats or smaller pets, like a gerbil or hamster. Due to their terrier status, they don’t particularly get along with other dogs, but if trained properly with early socialization, they can get along with other dogs and possibly the resident cat. For the best and least stressful outcome, they do better with being the only pet in the home, but it’s not impossible to pair the breed with other pets with proper training.

One trait these little dogs hold is being possessive of toys, food, etc. They may show dominance over another dog in the home unless they are socialized and trained at an early age.

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Things to Know When Owning a Smooth Fox Terrier

Food & Diet Requirements🦴

Given their boundless energy, these little dogs require high-quality protein from high-quality dog food that is complete and balanced. It’s also best to feed breed-appropriate food; for example, dog food formulated for smaller breeds. And ensure the food is age-appropriate as well (puppy, adulthood, senior). Also, ensure the food is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) with a statement on the package.

The Smooth Fox Terrier is prone to obesity, making feeding correct portion sizes detrimental to their weight. You can prepare a home-cooked diet for these little pups, but before you do, it’s recommended to consult your veterinarian to ensure your dog is receiving all necessary nutrients and correct portions at each meal.

smooth fox terrier outdoor
Image Credit: Pxhere


You can guess that these dogs require much daily exercise. However, if you acquire a puppy, it’s vital to consult your veterinarian about how much exercise is suitable, as overexercising puppies can lead to improper formation of bones and joints.

Adults require at least 2 hours of moderate to vigorous daily exercise. Despite their excessive exercise requirements, exercise can come in many fun forms, such as swimming, running, going for long walks, playing fetch in a secured and fenced yard, and even agility courses (enroll them in agility courses, flyball, or tracking to help them burn off energy!). You can take them on hikes, but it’s imperative to properly fit them with a harness that they cannot slip out of due to their high prey drive.

Digging can be a nuisance trait of these dogs if not properly exercised, thanks to their history of hunting foxes in their native England. However, you can curb this behavior as long as they receive adequate daily exercise. Bear in mind that a long walk alone will not be sufficient; you should follow up a walk with playing fetch in the yard or similar activity that requires running.


The Smooth Fox Terrier is intelligent and can be properly trained. They are attentive and eager to please their owners. Remember, though, they have an independent streak and do better with experienced owners who can stay firm, clear, and consistent with positive reinforcement training. These dogs also do best with a reward-based training program; however, take heed not to overfeed them treats, given they are prone to obesity.

Smooth Fox Terrier
Image Credit: Elena Valebnaya, Shutterstock


Most dogs shed, and the Smooth Fox Terrier is no exception. They don’t shed excessively but will require a good brush through the coat a couple of times a week, especially during heavy shedding seasons in the spring and fall.

The coat is short yet dense, and given their desire to explore, it’s advisable to brush the coat at least weekly to remove debris from the coat.

Establish a dental hygiene routine early to give the Smooth Fox Terrier a chance to become comfortable with having the teeth brushed. Neglecting dental hygiene will cause your dog problems down the road, such as gum disease and tooth loss. Health problems can also arise from constantly swallowing bacteria, such as damaging vital organs. Dental cleanings are also expensive vet visits, and staying on top of your pup’s dental hygiene reduces the need for frequent dental cleanings.

Check the ears weekly and clean them as needed using a solution made for dogs, or you can use ear wipes made for dogs. Ensure you keep the fast-growing nails trimmed and in tip-top shape. If you’re uncomfortable trimming your dog’s nails, your vet or groomer can do this for you.

Health and Conditions🏥

The Smooth Fox Terrier is considered a healthy dog breed, but they are not exempt from possible health conditions. As we’ve mentioned, obesity can sneak up on these little dogs if not properly exercised or overfed, which can lead to other health issues. Let’s look at possible conditions to watch for in this breed.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Lens luxation
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Deafness
Serious Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Cardiac disease
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) with myokymia, seizures, or both (SAMS)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Neurological issues
  • Obesity

Male vs. Female

There’s not much difference between a male and a female in terms of size, as a male typically weighs a tad more than a female. A male may also be more playful, and a female may be more prone to guard and protect her humans.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Smooth Fox Terrier

1. They Can Be Overconfident

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a little dog with a big personality, so much so that, if not well socialized, these dogs can develop “little dog syndrome.” When this happens, the Smooth Fox Terrier will forget about their small size and take on a creature much bigger with bravery and confidence, potentially leading to disaster if unsupervised.

2. Fox Terriers Are Not Widely Owned as Pets

Neither the Wire Fox Terrier nor the Smooth Fox Terrier are among the most popular dogs to own in the United States. According to the AKC’s most popular dog breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier ranked 102nd, while the Smooth Fox Terrier ranked 141st.

3. A Smooth Fox Terrier Dominated the First Best-in-Show

The first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s Best in Show category took place in 1907. A Smooth Fox Terrier named Warren Remedy was the first to win it. Not only did she win the first Best in Show but also won the next two, making her the only dog to win three consecutive Best in Show competitions, and the record still holds today.

tricolor smooth fox terrier
Image Credit: Peakpx

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Final Thoughts

Smooth Fox Terriers are little dogs with huge personalities. Despite their small stature, they are protective of their families and make excellent watchdogs. They are superb hunters and require a vast amount of daily exercise. Early socialization is imperative with this breed to mold them into well-behaved dogs, especially if paired with another pet. They are highly intelligent but do best with experienced owners.

Amusing, brave, confident, and loving, this breed makes an excellent companion with a family who has time to devote to them.

Featured Image Credit: Marry Kolesnik, Shutterstock

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