Toy Fox Terrier

A true American made breed; the toy fox terrier is spunky, eager to please, intelligent and the perfect dog for those who hate to groom. 

A real entertainer, smuggler, lap dog, and exercise partner, this companion has a lot to offer. 

However, beware, with all that enthusiasm for life, all that playfulness and curiosity, there is always a downside. 

A true American made breed; the toy fox terrier is spunky, eager to please, intelligent and the perfect dog for those who hate to groom. 

A real entertainer, smuggler, lap dog, and exercise partner, this companion has a lot to offer. 

However, beware, with all that enthusiasm for life, all that playfulness and curiosity, there is always a downside. 

Any highly intelligent breed can get bored easily, so anyone looking for a lively, playful companion do expect to do some training and socialization early.

This is one tiny dog, with adult size ranging from 3 to 9 pounds and 8 to 11 inches tall, they make a great apartment dog but do equally well in a family home or on the farm. 

They do well with older children, but due to their small size, families with very small children might want to consider another breed.  Being somewhat squirmy, a small child could drop them easily causing damage to their slender bodies.

You will life with a Toy Fox Terrier will never be dull.  Even circus clowns found this breed to be the perfect show companion, teaching them to do jumping tricks and even walk on a tight rope. 

They learn easily, so training is not difficult, but if training is not your cup of tea, consider another breed.  These dogs have known to be destructive indoors and out, especially if left alone for long periods.  After all, they are terriers, and they like to dig, chase, bark, and investigate anything novel.  Do not overlook puppy proofing your home before the big day.  Truly, the epitome of the big dog attitude in a small dog package, be prepared to help protect him from himself.

They excel in agility, and other doggie sports such as flyball and rally.  Unlike most small breed dogs, they are generally easy to housetrain which is a big plus.  For those without immediate access to the outdoors, these dogs do well with litter box or pad training.  In 2013, they were ranked number 107 in popularity with the American Kennel Club

Quick Facts About the Toy Fox Terrier

Other Names Used:  Amer-Toy, TFT, American Toy Terrier

Affiliation:  Toy with AKC


Height:  8 1/2 inches to 11 inches (21.5–29.2 cm)

Weight: 3 to 9 pounds

Coat Type:  Short, sleek

Colors:  Five different combinations with white as the predominant color:  White and Tan, White and Black, White, Black and Tan, White and Chocolate, and White, Chocolate and Tan

Country of Origin:  USA

Activity Level:  Moderate

Life Expectancy:  Up to 15 years

Good with Children:  Older Children, not very young children

Good with other pets:  Yes

Shedding:  Moderate


American Toy Fox Terrier at Small Dog Place

Toy Fox Terriers were developed in the United States during the 1930s to be used on the farm to hunt and kill rats and other small vermin as well as hunt squirrels. 

Toy Fox Terriers were developed by crossing small Smooth Fox Terriers (most likely the runts of the litter) with Chihuahua and Manchester Terriers.  Other breeds that may have been used included the Miniature Pincher and the Italian Greyhound. 

First registered with The United Kennel Club in 1936, but did not gain American Kennel Club recognition until 2003, becoming AKC’s 148th breed. 

Personality of the Toy Fox Terrier

The Toy Fox Terrier blends the feisty nature of a terrier and the loving, devoted nature of the toy into a package that is neither terrier or toy.  This blending created a unique combination of characteristics. 

Breed TraitsRating
Affection Level
Friendliness Towards Strangers
Good with Children
Good with Other Dogs
Exercise Needed
Ease of Training
Watch Dog Ability
Grooming Requirements
Cold Tolerant
Heat Tolerant

Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?
Here's a little help in understanding them

  • Playfulness:   Most Playful = 5    Least Playful = 1
  • Affection:  Most Affectionate = 5   Least Affectionate = 1
  • Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5  Least = 1
  • Good With Children:  Great= 5    Not Good with Children = 1
  • Good With Dogs:  Great = 5   Not Good Around Dogs = 1
  • Exercise Required:  Extensive Daily Exercise = 1  Minimal = 1
  • Ease of Training:  Very Easy = 5     Difficult = 1
  • Watch Dog:  Excellent Watch Dog = 5  Minimal = 1
  • Grooming:  Time Consuming = 5   Minimal = 1
  • Shedding:  Heavy Shedder = 5     Minimal = 1
  • Cold Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5   Poor Tolerance = 1
  • Heat Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5  Poor Tolerance = 1

They love to snuggle on your lap, but they are equally happy chasing squirrels, digging in the dirt and entertaining you with their great athletic abilities. 

However, no two Toy Fox Terriers are truly alike.  Some may be more terrier-like, and others are happy to be couch potatoes.  Usually reputable breeders know their puppies well and can help steer you towards a puppy with the traits you desire.

They are a warm weather breed, preferring warmer climates especially those where it does not rain.  They hate getting wet and can chill easily.  That does not mean that they cannot live anywhere—they will only need a little sweater or coat on those cold winter days.

They bond strongly to their person or family and do not like being apart for too long.  Since they do bark (and some do more so than others) they make good guard dogs.  Training early on helps with the barking problem.  Being a terrier, they are also territorial, so be prepared to help protect your tiny TFT even from himself.  He does not realize he is small.

These dogs are smart and like to please, so training is usually easy.  Basic training should begin the day you bring the dog home and continue indefinitely.  They respond to a consistent, positive, gentle approach.  Prior to bringing the puppy home, we recommend you puppy-proof your home and have a plan for socializing him after the big day. 

They love comfort and will easily win your heart and your pillow, often snuggling under the covers if possible.  If sharing your bed is not an option, consider a warm, comfortable bed or crate and train early. 


This is the perfect dog for anyone who would rather play with their dog than groom them.  A quick brushing once a week is enough to keep shedding hairs in check and remove dead hairs. 

An occasional bath is needed when they are especially dirty or have rolled in something unpleasant.  Other than that, nails will need to be clipped, teeth brushed, and ears cleaned periodically.  You are done!

Health Concerns

This is a healthy breed, living to a ripe old age of 15, but like all dogs, they are prone to some genetic disorders.  The list below does not include infectious diseases or other conditions that any dog can get.   Toy Fox Terrier owners and breeders reported the following list of diseases.

Primary Lens Luxation

This is a painful condition that causes blindness in many breeds especially terrier type breeds.  When the tiny fibers (called zonular fibers) that hold the lens of the eye in place collapse, the lens moves  If the lens falls into the anterior chamber of the eye (front of eye) glaucoma and loss of vision occur. 

Periodontal Disease

Gum disease in this breed is common because tarter tends to build up on the teeth.  Owners can prevent this by regularly brushing the TFT’s teeth.  This breed will likely need professional cleanings at the veterinary hospital.

Demodectic Mange

Considered to have a genetic component, this skin disorder is caused by a microscopic mite.  All dogs have small amounts of these mites that life in their hair follicles, but when the mites begin to increase, they cause problems.

Demodicosis is the name given to the condition, and it can be a localized infection or generalized mange covering a large part of the body.  Two types have been reported.  The Juvenile onset demodicosis begins in dogs as young as three months of age.  The Adult onset mange does not occur until the dog is over five years old and is usually in combination with another disease.  Treatment consists of medications and dips.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is common in small breed dogs and refers to a condition where there is a dislocation of the kneecap either in one or both legs. 

Mild forms usually do not require treatment, but when the problem becomes more severe, the dog may experience pain and limping.  Treatment may involve rest, medication, and surgery as a last resort. 

Read more

Legg-Calve Perthese Disease

Similar to hip dysplasia in that both involve the hip joint, Legg-Calve Perthese Disease leads to the changes in the head of the femur or leg bone.  This ends up causing pain and limping and has no known cure at this time. 

Treatment involves medication to reduce inflammation and ease pain.  Restricting movement also helps make the dog more comfortable.  Surgery is also an option and involves removing the head of the femur.

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von Willebrand's Disease

This disease is known as an autosomal recessive genetic problem, meaning that the trait must be present in both the mother and the father, even though neither parent may show signs of the disease. 

Less severe than the disease known as Hemophilia, affected dogs, (and people) with von Willebrand’s disease will bleed abnormally—more profusely than normal. 

This can cause problems in many areas of life from clipping nails to undergoing surgery.

Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goiter (CHG)

This is really a problem for breeders as most puppies die by the age of three weeks.  Adult dogs may carry the trait and not show any signs of the disease.  This would not be a problem for a spayed or neutered dog, only for dogs used for breeding purposes. 

Puppies that are born to parents who are both carriers of the condition are lethargic, have larger heads, do not open their eyes or ears, and develop a swelling on the underside of their neck. 

Even with treatment, the swelling or goiter will increase and eventually constrict the airway causing death.  Breeders with these puppies elect to have them euthanized.


  • Lovable, loyal, playful, entertaining
  • Can live most anywhere
  • Minimum grooming required
  • Easy to train and housebreak
  • Relatively healthy


  • Retained some terrier instincts such as strong prey drive, digging
  • Barker
  • Require much socialization and training

References/Breed Club

American Toy Fox Terrier Club

If you enjoyed this breed, you might want to check out these other breeds.

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