Toy Fox Terrier Temperament (Alert, Playful, Spirited): 16 Traits That You Must Know + Q&A

The Toy Fox Terrier temperament makes him a spirited and intelligent dog with a healthy self-esteem and a loving nature.

We know that one person’s “spirited” is another’s “hyperactive,” so we’re delighted to report that there’s a range of energy levels in the Toy Fox Terrier. Some are very active, and others have much calmer temperaments.

But they all revel in affection from their humans. So, whichever you choose, the Toy Fox Terrier is almost certain to enrich your life in the most charming ways. (And be prepared to laugh…a lot!)

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Toy Fox Terrier Temperament and Personality

Interested in better understanding how to relate with this breed?  Here are six Toy Fox Terrier temperament traits you must know:

1. Spirited

The Toy Fox Terrier is the embodiment of a scrappy little dog. He’s quick to bark, chase, and boss around other dogs when engaged in play. If you’re not careful, your TFT can come down with “small dog syndrome.”

2. Playful

When it comes to playtime, the Toy Fox Terrier can become deeply focused on whatever he is doing. He is also impulsive, running and jumping about whenever the urge strikes him to do so.

3. Amusing

The Toy Fox Terrier is an adorable little clown. He has a lifelong play streak, and he enjoys indulging in it.

You will get plenty of belly laughs watching him do a variety of things to keep himself (and you!) entertained.

4. Energetic

At the end of the day, when he’s ready to crash, you’ll be just as tired as he is from watching him do what he does all day. You’ll be asking yourself, “Does the battery ever run out?”

But remember that some Toy Fox Terriers have more mellow personalities. These calmer TFTs make great companion dogs for seniors.

Photo of Toy Fox Terrier Standing Portrait| DogTemperament

5. Loyal

The Toy Fox Terrier is thoroughly loyal to his family. He loves few things more than to be near his humans.

You couldn’t ask for a more devoted pet than a Toy Fox Terrier. He’s the very definition of a lap dog, but one who also loves to play!

6. Alert

The Toy Fox Terrier’s eyesight is as good as his hearing, which makes him a standout watchdog who will alert you at anything he may find suspicious.

He has a sharp, high-pitched bark that’s intimidating to strangers despite his smaller size.

7. Affectionate

Like most toy breeds, he can sometimes show his quieter side, and he loves to be held.

8. Social

The Toy Fox Terrier temperament is very sociable. He wants to be treated as part of the family. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

If he’s not trained carefully, he will insist on doing everything his human family members do. He will want to be on the couch with you, to sleep in your bed, to share your meals, etc.

It’s a good idea to decide right away what your TFT will and won’t be allowed to do. You should train him in those things from the get-go.

9. Intelligent

Because of the Toy Fox Terrier’s high intelligence level, he is very easy to train compared to other breeds.

10. Stubborn

However, like most intelligent dogs, the Toy Fox Terrier also has a stubborn streak. You will want to train him well and early before he trains you!

11. Friendly

The Toy Fox Terrier is an outgoing and friendly dog. He’s especially great with cats. He loves to curl up with them and play with them – even fatter cats who are bigger than he is!

12. Athletic

The Toy Fox Terrier is not only active, but he’s also a natural athlete. If you’re interested in a championship-level agility partner, the TFT fits the bill perfectly.

Photo of Toy Fox Terrier Portrait | DogTemperament

13. Instinctual

Because of his hunting history, the Toy Fox Terrier has a strong prey drive. He will want to hunt every chance he gets. Small pets like hamsters or birds will not be safe sharing a home with a TFT.

14. Tenacious

If you want to see what perseverance looks like, check out the Toy Fox Terrier temperament. Whether he’s playing, competing in agility, or hunting down a rat, the TFT doesn’t know what it means to give up!

15. Courageous

The Toy Fox Terrier temperament is brave and territorial. He thinks nothing of taking on bigger dogs that he sees as a challenge to his territory.

16. Adaptable

Toy Fox Terriers are usually happy to go with the flow. They love to be hunting or competing, but they can also be content lounging around at home. Their favorite place to be is wherever you are. They do well with apartment living or on a farm where they can hunt to their hearts’ content

A Brief History of the Toy Fox Terrier Breed

American breeders created the Toy Fox Terrier in the 1930s. The breed that started it all was the Smooth Fox Terrier.

The Smooth Fox Terrier is an English breed that had been around since the 16th century. Early in the 20th century, breeders noticed that the runts of Smooth Fox Terrier litters were feistier and more confident than the larger puppies.

They began crossing these runts with smaller breeds like the Chihuahua, the Italian Greyhound, the Miniature Pinscher (MinPin), and the Manchester Terrier.

Their goal was to develop a small dog with the Smooth Fox Terrier’s intense drive but the calmer “lap dog” personality that many toy breeds have.

The new breed, the Toy Fox Terrier (also known as the American Toy Terrier, or Amertoy), was exactly what they hoped for and more: He also turned out to be smart, athletic, and graceful.

The breeders learned pretty quickly that the TFT had a gift for agility competition. They were also natural-born clowns and were often used as circus performers.  

These smaller terriers were considered miniature Smooth Fox Terriers at first. But in 1936, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the Toy Fox Terrier as a separate breed.

However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) did not officially recognize the breed as a member of the Toy Group until 2003.

Toy Fox Terrier Training

Obedience Training

The TFT is very trainable and learns quickly and easily. However, he’d much rather learn fun tricks than any of that more important stuff like housetraining and when to use his bark.

Early training is very important with the Toy Fox Terrier. He is very eager to please, but he does have a stubborn streak about certain things.

The TFT needs a firm, consistent leader. Otherwise, you may have a bossy little tyrant on your hands!

Photo of Toy Fox Terrier Sitting On Grass| DogTemperament

Housetraining

Interestingly, female Toy Fox Terriers tend to learn potty training quicker than males do. Males may actually do better with a litter box because they often have trouble hitting their target with a potty pad.

Because Toy Fox Terrier puppies can do so well indoors, you can choose which method of housetraining you prefer.

Specifically, you can train him to use potty pads or a litter box indoors or to go outside.

You may find potty pads to be especially helpful during days when the weather is poor. This way, you don’t have to worry about him being messy from, or terrified of, the rain or snow.

Socialization

The Toy Fox Terrier is intensely loyal and protective of his family. Because of this, he’s not always good with strangers. You will need to start socializing your TFT early.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Toy Fox Terrier dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog. You will also learn how to easily teach your Toy Fox Terrier new tricks.

Toy Fox Terrier Appearance

General Appearance

The Toy Fox Terrier has a lean, muscular build. He is athletic and graceful.

His coat is short and thick. It’s glossy and feels satiny-smooth. He has an elegant-looking head with large triangular ears that stand up straight.

His eyes are dark and round. His nose can be black or brown, depending on his coat color. The muzzle is on the longer side.

His tail is short and straight and sits high on his rump. It’s usually docked.

Toy Fox Terrier Size

The average Toy Fox Terrier weight is between 3.5 and 7 lbs. He’s a tiny thing! The average Toy Fox Terrier size is between 8-1/2 and 11-1/2 inches tall.

Toy Fox Terrier Colors

The TFT comes in several color combinations, but the main color is always white. They can have two colors – white and tan, white and black, and white and chocolate; or three colors – white, black and tan; or white, chocolate, and tan.

Toy Fox Terrier: Staying Healthy

Most Toy Fox Terriers are healthy dogs but, like any dog, there are certain health issues you need to watch out for, like:

  • Patellar luxation: A dislocated kneecap. This can be temporary or permanent and may need surgery.
  • Congenital hypothyroidism with goiter: A condition where the thyroid does not produce enough hormone. This can sometimes be treated with medication.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes: A condition where the head of the femur (the ball of the ball-and-socket joint) degenerates. It leads to hip collapse and arthritis.
  • Demodicosis: This is an infestation of parasites that live in a dog’s hair follicles and oil glands. It usually affects puppies from 3 to 6 months of age.
  • Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD): A blood clotting disorder.

A Note About Obesity

Because he’s so small, the Fox Terrier is also prone to obesity. That can lead to all kinds of health problems for your TFT, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, hypertension, bladder stones, and even cancer. And if your obese dog ever needs surgery, he will have a higher risk of complications from anesthesia.

It's good to have an idea of what is considered a healthy size and weight. That way you can more easily notice early signs of poor health and nutrition which often can manifest in under or overweight or stunted growth. (See up above under the Toy Fox Terrier Size section).

Helpful Dog Health Resource

Note: To further help you spot the signs of poor health or straight-up diseases in your Toy Fox Terrier get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. And read it.  It will save you money (fewer Vet visits) and may even help you save your dog's life.

Toy Fox Terrier Life Expectancy

The Toy Fox Terrier lifespan is between 13 and 14 years. That’s pretty long for a dog!

Caring for Your Toy Fox Terrier

Toy Fox Terrier Diet

The Toy Fox Terrier should do well on high-quality dry food. Because of his high risk of obesity, you will need to monitor his weight and calorie intake carefully.

Start with the amount recommended on the label divided into two meals a day. You may have to adjust this based on your dog’s activity level, age, and any health issues.

If he doesn’t seem to be getting enough to eat, check with your vet before adjusting the amount you feed him.

Your Toy Fox Terrier has a long life expectancy. It’s very important to feed him the right amount of a high-quality food. He is relying on you to make those later years healthy ones.

Keep Me Warm, Please!

The most important thing to know about caring for these little guys may be their need to be warm.

Depending upon on where you live, you may need to have a supply of Toy Fox Terrier clothes on hand to get him through the colder seasons.

Toy Fox Terrier Grooming

If you’re not a huge fan of regular grooming, then the Toy Fox Terrier is a good match for you.

His coat barely needs any maintenance, with the occasional brushing to prevent shedding. He enjoys a gentle session with a hound brush.

You do not need to bathe him frequently either, only when he starts to get that doggy smell.

If possible, start trimming his nails at a young age. That way, he will be less resistant to it as an adult.

He also needs to have his teeth brushed regularly. You should start this early, too, so he’ll be more likely to accept it.

Toy Fox Terrier Exercise Needs

Because of his smaller size, the Toy Fox Terrier is perfect for apartment living, so long as he gets plenty of outside time.

He’s an energetic little soul who does a great job exercising himself. He loves to chase the ball around outside. He also finds plenty of ways to keep himself busy inside, with toys and running around.

TFTs especially love to play fetch. This is the terrier side of them that enjoys the thrill of the hunt.

Like any breed, he needs walks and outdoor play time. But when it’s raining and he’s not getting his exercise outside, he’s perfectly happy to run laps around the house.

Because they’re very smart dogs, Toy Fox Terriers also need mental stimulation. He really does best in an active household where family members are willing to play with him and even just keep him company when he’s feeling mellow.

Canine Sports

The ideal canine athlete is intelligent, trainable, and athletic with lots of energy. The Toy Fox Terrier is all of these things.

Training for events and competing in them are wonderful ways to bond with your TFT (and to keep him busy!) This breed tends to excel at obedience and agility, but there are many other types of dog sports. For a schedule of canine sports events near you, visit the AKC’s web site

Finding the Perfect Toy Fox Terrier

Interested in learning how to add a Toy Fox Terrier puppy to your family? Read on.

You can find a Toy Fox Terrier for sale either from a breeder or through a rescue or adoption agency.

Most, if not all, of these agencies, should have Toy Fox Terrier images on their websites of the dogs they have available.

Photo of Toy Fox Terrier Side Portrait| DogTemperament

Toy Fox Terrier Puppies for Sale

The average Toy Fox Terrier price is between $400 and $800.

The price of a Toy Fox Terrier for sale can change, depending on where you get it and how much a breeder decides to charge.

Toy Fox Terrier Rescue and Adoption

If you would like to adopt a dog, you can find Toy Fox Terriers for sale through your local rescue organizations or adoption centers.

A Toy Fox Terrier adoption will always be a more affordable option than purchasing a puppy from a breeder.

However, an adopted dog is often a better choice if you would rather skip the puppy stage altogether and get an older dog.

Toy Fox Terrier Breeders

You are much better off going with a reputable dog breeder who is local. This way, you can visit the home of the breeder and make sure the conditions the dogs are kept in are clean and that the standard of care is high.

The breeder should be willing and able to answer all of your questions. Come prepared to actively engage with the breeder about the specific Toy Fox Terrier and its parents.

If the breeder does not openly share info with you or show concern about how you will treat your new Toy Fox Terrier pup, then run from that breeder and look for a new one.

It is also a myth that you should choose the most active puppy in the bunch. The most active puppy may also be the most aggressive one.

Calmer puppies are not necessarily sick – they may just be calmer dogs. Remember that this breed has a pretty wide range of activity levels.

Look instead for other telltale signs of sickness, like lethargy, an unkempt coat, or watery eyes.

Toy Fox Terrier Cross Breeds

The Toy Fox Terrier is a popular breed for creating “designer dogs.” Because of his small size, he is sometimes used to develop miniature versions of larger breeds.

Other times, breeders will cross-breed to try to blend desirable traits of both breeds into one dog, as they did with the Toy Fox Terrier.

Here are just a few you may have heard of:

  • Toy Fox Terrier/chihuahua mix, often called a Taco Terrier or Chitoxy.
  • Toy Fox Terrier/Beagle mix, called a Toy Fox Beagle.
  • Toy Fox Terrier/Pomeranian mix, called a Toy Pom Terrier or just Pom Terrier.
  • Toy Fox Terrier/Jack Russell (now called the Parson Russell terrier), called a Foxy Russell.

There are many, many other crosses that involve the Toy Fox Terrier. A simple Internet search will turn them up if you’re interested in learning more about them.

Toy Fox Terrier Q&A

Are you considering bringing a Toy Fox Terrier home? Then you may be interested in the answers to these frequently asked Toy Fox Terrier questions we hear all the time.

Q: Are Toy Fox Terriers good family dogs?

Yes and no. The TFT can be a wonderful family dog, but he’s not a good fit for families with small children. They’re so small that they can’t take rough handling, and their legs break easily. Their high energy level may also be too much for younger children.

Q: What is the difference between a Toy Fox Terrier and a Rat Terrier?

A: Toy Fox Terriers and Rat Terriers are often compared to each other. These breeds are really more alike than different. They’re both intelligent and social dogs that are easy to train. They both still have a strong instinct to hunt.

The biggest difference between them is size. Rat Terriers come in two sizes. Compared to the standard Rat Terrier, the Toy Fox Terrier is a lot smaller. But compared to the miniature Rat Terrier, the TFT is just a little smaller.

Another key difference to remember when considering Toy Fox Terrier vs Rat Terrier is that the Toy Fox Terrier has more typical terrier behavior. This means he has a more territorial, sometimes aggressive temperament toward other dogs.

The Rat Terrier is a little less active than the Toy Fox Terrier. He is a better choice for homes with children.

Q: What is the difference between a Toy Fox Terrier and a Jack Russell Terrier?

A: This is another comparison request we hear a lot. The two breeds actually have quite a bit in common. They’re both friendly and outgoing. They are also funny and fun to live with.

The Jack Russell is a slightly larger dog. He is also more active than the Toy Fox Terrier (even hyperactive, according to some), more aggressive, and barks more. See Dealing With the Parson Russell Terrier for a more complete comparison.

Q: Why does my Toy Fox Terrier shake?

A: There are a lot of reasons why dogs shake. A dog this small (and this breed in particular) might just be cold. The TFT does tend to shiver. You will often see them dressed in sweaters and coats. This is not just a fashion statement – this breed is a heat-seeker.

But the Toy Fox Terrier will also shake just because he’s excited. The TFT is so intense sometimes that he can’t contain his enthusiasm. You’re most likely to see this when he is about to do something he really loves. He’s dying to get to it!

If your situation is not one of these, then you will want to check with your vet. Shaking is a symptom of quite a few health issues. If in doubt, check it out.

Q: Are Toy Fox Terriers hypoallergenic?

A:  No. They shed fur and dander. But because they’re small and short-haired, they may be less likely to cause an allergic reaction for some people. We would recommend that an allergy sufferer visit with one, if possible, to test for a reaction.

Q: Can Toy Fox Terriers be left alone?

A: Not for long. They form such strong bonds with their owners that they don’t do well when they’re alone for too long. They are not especially susceptible to separation anxiety, but their active minds are prone to extreme boredom.

They can be destructive when they’re bored – digging, chewing, or barking (or all of the above!).

This breed is not a good choice for families where no one is home all day. He craves interaction with his humans.

Q: Do Toy Fox Terriers bark a lot?

A: Yes, but not as much as some toy breeds. Training when they’re young will help to control it. But even then, you probably can’t completely train it out of him. His protective nature causes him to bark anytime he senses something unusual in his environment.

Q: Does the Toy Fox Terrier make a good watchdog?
A: He certainly does! This breed is very protective of its humans. He will let you know (with feeling!) anytime he senses a stranger nearby, or even when someone knocks on the door.

Q. Do Toy Fox Terriers get along with other dogs? 

A: Sometimes. They can get along pretty well with other dogs in their household. But they can be territorial toward dogs who are visiting or even just walking by on the street.

It’s also important to know that these little guys can be pretty fearless and even aggressive at times. They won’t hesitate to pick fights with much larger dogs, so they may need to be supervised with them.

Toy Fox Terriers aren’t really the best candidates for dog parks. Your TFT may never learn that being tiny and mouthy at the same time doesn’t always turn out well!

Q: How big do toy terriers get?

A: According to the AKC breed standard, the upper limit of “correct” size for the Toy Fox Terrier is 11-1/2 inches. They state a “correct” weight as 7 pounds or less. But these figures are averages. There are always individual dogs that will grow larger.

Q: When is a Toy Fox Terrier full grown?

A: Small breeds usually reach their full size by 6 to 8 months old. They will keep filling out, though, until they’re about a year old.

But Just because he’s reached full adult size doesn’t mean that your Toy Fox Terrier is fully mature. The TFT keeps his playful nature for most of his life, so he might always act like a puppy.

Q: Are Toy Fox Terrier born with short tails?

A: No. They are born with full tails. To meet the Toy Fox Terrier AKC standard in America, they are cropped at the “third or fourth joint,” which leaves about 2/5 of the tail intact.

Tail docking of Toy Fox Terriers is a controversial subject. TFT’s tails are docked because of the breed’s work as hunters, not just for looks, according to The Judges Place, a site for the education of dog show judges.

Apparently, before breeders started docking their tails, a lot of TFTs had painful tail injuries that were hard to treat. The dogs would get them from their tails being caught in brush and from diving underground to follow prey into confined spaces.  

Some people are against docking and argue that some of these injuries are caused by “enthusiastic tail action” because the Toy Fox Terrier is such an excitable breed.

Apparently other breeds can have this problem, too. (It’s called “happy tail syndrome,” or just “happy tail.”)

For now, the AKC and UKC breed standards still call for docked tails. The Toy Fox Terrier’s own breed club, the American Fox Terrier Club, uses the AKC standard.

Q: How many puppies do Toy Fox Terriers have?

A: Average litter size for a TFT is 2 to 3 puppies. Toy breeds tend to have smaller litter sizes than larger breeds and will sometimes have only one pup. Other things can affect the size of a litter as well.  The ages of the parents can make a difference, and so can the health of the mother. Mother Nature often seems to know best in terms of how many puppies a mother can handle.

Conclusion: Why the Toy Fox Terrier?

Life is never boring with a Toy Fox Terrier! He has a consistently high energy level which, as is typical for smaller dogs, sticks with him for life.

And it’s a long life, too! Toy Fox Terriers can live up to 15 years, though there are certain health problems you need to watch out for.

As the AKC writes, the Toy Fox Terrier is a friendly and loyal dog who is just as much toy as he is Terrier. He can be scrappy and aggressive toward other dogs, but he loves affection and is devoted and protective toward his family.

Grooming and training him are both easy tasks, so if you want a dog that isn’t high maintenance, the Toy Fox Terrier’s care needs will make you smile.

Overall, if you would enjoy a family member who is an active participant in all of your activities, the Toy Fox Terrier’s temperament and ability to keep you laughing could make him a great match for your family.