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The Perfect Paw-Mate Guide: Smooth Fox Terrier

A smooth fox terrier stands on a dirt and gravel path with its tail pointed up

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Perfect Paw-Mate Guide: Smooth Fox Terrier

Known as the “gentlemen” of the Terrier world, the Smooth Fox Terrier is not only energetic and feisty but independent and intelligent. As of today, no dog will pass the legacy of the Best in Show winner: a smooth Fox Terrier called Warren Remedy, who won three Best in Show titles at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. She was the perfect example of this breed and defined the breed for what it is today.

Tough and fearless, the Smooth Fox Terrier comes from the U.K. This breed is used for hunting foxes below the ground and is part of theUKC/AKC Terrier Dog Group. These Terriers rode in saddlebags on horses and were released when it was time to chase foxes underground. It is a very old dog breed that originated during the seventeenth century.

The terrier group derived its name from the Latin word terra meaning earth, referring to how these dogs were used many years ago when they also used to hunt rats. That said, you’ll notice that some modern terriers are much larger dogs, and have been bred to different purposes. This breed makes for an exceptional equestrian dog and does well with lots of land and exercise. Surprisingly, the Smooth Fox Terrier sheds more than The Wires.

Brief History

The Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier were regarded as the same breed until 1984. These two breeds were often bred together. That said, they originated from different regions. They are identical apart from their coat. Both had to chase foxes from deep holes underground to above the ground.

The Smooth Fox Terrier has longer legs than the regular terrier. They are believed to have been bred from the Smooth-coated Black-and –Tan Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Greyhound, and the Beagle. It is also believed that this breed comes from the Fox Hound, English Hound, and Dachshund. That said, the Fox Terrier was documented for the first time in 1790. It was registered with the English Kennel Club in 1875. The American Fox Terrier Club became a member of the AKC in 1888. Today, this is the official AKC Parent Club that represents the Smooth Fox Terrier.

Physical Description

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a small dog and muscular breed with a short back. This dog breed is strong and sturdy. With a flat skull that is narrow and a gradually tapered fore face, the Smooth Fox Terrier has a strong jaw with a black nose. The dark eyes are deep-set, and the V-shaped ears are semi-erect. They are button-shaped, with the tips folding forward. The tail is held up high, and the coat is hard with white coloring. 

The Smooth Coated Fox Terrier has lots of propelling power with shoulders that are long and sloping. The hindquarters are strong and muscular. The movement is straight forward with the propulsive power coming from the hind legs. The temperament is happy and alert.


  • 14-15.5 inches


  • 15-19 pounds

Life Expectancy

  • 12-15 years


The Smooth Fox Terrier is friendly and outgoing. This breed is reactive and displays lots of persistence when chasing its quarry. It is feisty and has many unique quirks. The Smooth Fox Terrier will always stand their ground against larger dog breeds, so it’s important to prevent them from doing so. Because of a terrier’s inherent traits, it’s necessary to start socialization and positive dog training early during puppy-hood.

This breed is easy-to-train, alert, and game to try new activities. This dog breed shows self-restraint and is also intelligent. The Smooth Fox Terrier is an amiable dog breed that likes people, and other animals when well-socialized though you’re still going to have to watch out for smaller pets.

The Smooth Fox Terrier does well with young children and other pets if introduced early during puppy-hood. Although the Smooth Fox Terrier has a pronounced prey instinct and will chase and roam, this dog breed when positively trained and socialized is one of the easiest dog breeds to live with. This breed is capable of being a superb companion dog and is totally loyal.

The Smooth Fox Terrier does best with lots of exercises, and a fenced and secure garden or a large backyard. This is a very sensitive dog breed that needs tons of positive reinforcement and does well with plenty of one-on-one attention.

Care must be given to ensure that all fencing in backyards and gardens is secure because they have a tendency to dig beneath fencing and escape. The Smooth Fox Terrier does well with lots of off-leash running in secure areas that are safe. They enjoy playing Frisbee and ball and participating in some dog sports.

Keep in mind that this is one dog breed that should not be allowed off-leash in public, as he takes off if he’s intent on chasing something like a squirrel.

Activity Level: High

Special Needs

The Smooth Fox Terrier needs an active home. This breed does well with plenty of regular exercise, positive dog training, and socialization. The Smooth Fox Terrier breed needs to be socialized from puppy-hood, and should never be isolated from people, other dogs, and animals. This breedbonds closely with all family members, including children if trained early on. Additionally, small children must be taught how to handle a small dog properly.

The Smooth Fox Terrier needs to constantly interact with people so that he does not become bored and mischievous. Positive training needs to tailor the specific temperament of this breed. The Smooth Fox Terrier is a happy and outgoing dog breed.

That said, because it is also alert and energetic, this dog breed has to have lots of environmental stimulation combined with exercise. It needs an experienced owner. Interactive dog toys are a plus for all Terrier dog breeds. If excessive barking is a problem, food dispensing dog toys and Dog TV help with boredom, as does a positive dog trainer that is certified.

All family members need to be on the same page with positive dog training methods. Although it may be difficult to not spoil this dog breed, it’s best to be on the same page as the rest of the family about what your Smooth Fox Terrier is, and is not allowed to do at home. The Smooth Fox Terrier should live indoors and may have house training issues if not trained positively beginning at puppyhood because it enjoys running, chasing, and hunting. Walks need to be vigorous so that you can give your Terrier as much exercise possible.

Possible Health Concerns

The Smooth Fox Terrier is a dog breed with no major health concerns, but like any dog breed may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

  • Legg-Perthes Disease. This is the deterioration of the top of the femur that is often seen in smaller dog breeds like the Smooth Fox Terrier. It is characterized by a lack of blood supply and destruction of the blood vessels of the bone. It is a hereditary condition in some terrier breeds. The sudden loss of blood supply to the femur leads to the collapse of the top of the femur bone. Veterinary treatment usually involves the surgical removal of the affected femoral head and neck, and physical therapy so as to stimulate limb usage.
  • Dental Problems.The Smooth Fox Terrier needs proper dental care, including preventative methods like daily tooth brushing, which will help prevent gum disease, periodontitis, and endodontic disease.
  • Skin Allergies:The Smooth Fox Terrier may be prone to Atopic Dermatitis. This is caused by an abnormal immune system response. There are many allergies that can affect the skin, and are caused by fleas, dog food and other allergens like pollen in the air. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog suffers from intense itching.
  • Hip Dysplasiais the abnormal development of the hip joint in large dog breeds like the Smooth Fox Terrier. It is generally characterized by a loose joint, and then degenerative joint disease. The Smooth Fox Terrier should be fed a high-quality diet that is geared towards their life stage. A puppy Smooth Fox Terrier should only be fed high-quality puppy dog food. Excessive growth, types of exercise, nutritional factors, and hereditary factors all come in to play with hip dysplasia. Ask your vet for the best nutritional advice for active dogs like the Smooth Fox Terrier.
  • Pulmonic Stenosis:This is a congenital heart defect that affects the Smooth Fox Terrier dog breeds. It is the narrowing and restriction of blood flow through the heart’s pulmonary valve. Symptoms include abdominal distension, difficulty breathing, and difficulty with exercising. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Deafness: This may be congenital or acquired as a result of an infection, trauma, or degeneration of the cochlea. Consult with your vet if you feel that your Terrier has loss of hearing.)


The Smooth Fox Terrier is an energetic dog breed that does well with plenty of regular exercises, and canine sporting activities. Canine sports like agility, obedience, dock diving, Earth Dog trials, conformation shows, therapy work, Search and Rescue work, canine freestyle, and even lure coursing will allow for your Smooth Fox Terrier to expend his energy. As you can see, there’s plenty of activities to keep your Terrier busy! You’ll need to find what he enjoys most, and pursue those.

Herding and Frisbee are also stress-free ways that your Terrier can have fun. That said, some of the best activities you can have with your dog are unorganized like going out for a short run with your dog. Plan hikes and vigorous exercise for cool mornings. Long relaxed walks around the neighborhood are also enjoyed and will help alleviate problem behaviors related to excess energy. Keep an eye on your Smooth Fox Terrier during outings, since this dog breed has a tendency to run off and chase smaller animals. 

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A portion of high-quality dog food for the appropriate life stage is recommended for the Smooth Fox Terrier. Pet parents should never underestimate the importance of a well-balanced diet for this small and spirited breed. That said, a dog food that works for one dog, may not work for another. Smooth Fox Terrier ownersshould assess their dog’s activity level, age, breed, and any medical conditions that he or she may be prone to. Consult with your vet if your Terrier has a health issue, and needs to be on a special diet.

You’ll need to watch out for obesity with this breed, and refrain from feeding lots of table tidbits so that obesity does not become an issue. Understanding what human foods your dog can eat is also important.

With options like bison, duck, venison, quail, wild boar, lamb, salmon and turkey, dog food brands offer unique and unusual protein sources that are healthy for active dogs, dogs with allergies, senior dogs, puppies, and dogs with medical conditions. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog has possible food allergies. 

Some dog food formulas contain probiotics, salmon oil, and guaranteed calcium and phosphorus levels to help support the healthy development of your pup’s teeth and bones. 

For older dogs, look for recipes that offer glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joint wellness. The protein options can include turkey and chickpea stew, salmon and chickpea stew, and a chicken with chickpea with no artificial flavors, corn, or soy in the ingredients. Consult with your veterinarian for the very best nutritional advice for your Smooth Fox Terrier! 


The Smooth Fox Terrier is easy to maintain. This breed has a hard and dense coat that is super easy to brush. Canine sweaters and jackets are available in numerous sizes for smaller dog breeds like the Smooth Fox Terrier for the cold winter months. Opting for a professional dog groomer helps with maintaining coat health at all times.

Routine daily grooming will keep the Smooth Fox Terrier’s coat in superb condition. This breed is one of the easiest breeds to groom.  A short- bristled brush or mitt should be used to maintain a shiny and healthy coat. This dog breed enjoys frequent baths and having his teeth done daily. Twice yearly visits the veterinarian for dental hygiene maintenance is a must. Ears need to be regularly wiped out, and nails trimmed regularly. If your dog does not enjoy having his nails trimmed, you can get them trimmed at your veterinary clinic or at the groomers.

Adopting a Smooth Fox Terrier

Smooth Fox Terriers make for a wonderful adoption breed. Keep in mind that this dog breed is very energetic, and needs to be busy. They are naturally curious, so it’s easy for them to get into trouble. This feisty and adorable dog breed does well with city or farm living. These dogs make for the ultimate travel companion because they are so adaptable. They also love adventure and get really excited when traveling. As with all terriers, it’s best to supervise when out and about to make sure that they don’t stray, and that all fences are secure. 

Terriers are well known for digging underneath fences and escaping. Before going out and adopting, make a list of what you’re looking for in a dog. You will need to think about activity levels, the amount of time available to exercise your dog, and your financial resources. This is not a breed that does well alone all day. The Smooth Fox Terrier enjoys going out with you during the day, visiting friends at their homes, and relishes a trip to the local Starbucks.

Whether you’re adopting a Smooth Fox Terrier or a Shepherd, make sure that you have the time, patience, and the right home environment for your new furry best friend. There are numerous positive dog training programs for adolescent dogs, and for dog breeds that have high activity levels at shelters today. 

If you’re looking to adopt a bold and intelligent small dog breed with lots of energy, an absolute bundle of fun, you’re looking at the perfect dog breed! The Smooth Fox Terrier, not surprisingly, are high-energy dogs that will find anything to keep busy. Keep in mind that active dogs that do not have an outlet for their energy may become destructive and difficult to handle.

Dogs are lifelong companions, and deserve a loving, stable home environment! Keeping your Smooth Fox Terrier happy and healthy must be a priority. This mischievous breed, which is curious by nature and incredibly fun to have around, deserves the very best!

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Meet The Author 

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Perfect Paw-Mate Guide: Smooth Fox Terrier

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.

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