Bred to keep up with horses and hounds on fox hunts, the Smooth Fox Terrier is swift and energetic. Once he finds the fox, this gutsy little dog is tasked with driving him from his burrow or hiding spot so the hounds can give chase. Smooth Fox Terriers are close cousins with Wire Fox Terriers, who were bred for the same purpose.
As companion dogs, Smooth Fox Terriers are lively and playful. They have an independent spirit, but are devoted to their families and love making their people smile. SFTs have a mischievous quality that keeps their humans on their toes. With strangers they are often reserved at first, but they are also calm and tolerant unless given a reason to be antagonistic. Once they get to know newcomers, they’ll consider them friends and possible playmates. Barking and digging come naturally to Smooth Fox Terriers, so reconsider bringing home this breed if those are problems. They also need consistent training and frequent exercise, so SFTs are best suited to active families.
Smooth Fox Terriers are also called Foxies and SFTs.
Smooth Fox Terriers have a smooth, dense, flat coat, that is hard to the touch. The coat is predominantly white, with moderate markings in any color, with the exception of brindle, liver, or red.
Average Height: 15.5 inches
Male: 18 pounds
Female: 15-17 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The SFT is a chipper, animated dog who draws attention and elicits smiles wherever he goes. His dark eyes are intelligent and alert, always watchful for prey or signs his people are ready to play. The Smooth Fox Terrier’s head has a V-shape in comparison to his close Wire-haired cousin. The breed is compact and muscular, with a well-balanced physique that is never unwieldy. SFTs are nimble and swift, able to turn on a dime and set off at a clip in a new direction when needed. The power in their gait is driven by their powerful hindquarters.
Smooth Fox Terriers are a centuries-old breed, having developed in their modern form in the 1700s to hunt foxes alongside the aristocracy in England. Among the breeds thought included in the SFT genetic mashup are smooth coated Black and Tan Terriers, Greyhounds, and Beagles. The Wire Fox Terrier is thought to have similar ancestry, except with the inclusion of rough-coated Black and Tan Terriers instead of smooth. The SFT was bred small enough to ride in saddlebags until the fox ‘went to ground,’ which means they dove into their burrow or found a hiding place. The SFT was then released to flush them out so the hounds and huntsmen and women could chase them.
The smooth and wire-coated varieties of Fox Terrier were so similar, they were considered a single breed with two types until 1985, when the American Kennel Club recognized them as having distinct breed standards. The Wire Fox Terrier maintains the edge in popularity.
AKC Breed Category
The Smooth Fox Terrier is best known as an energetic charmer. With their personality, they seem to say, “Let’s go, go, go!” SFTs are endlessly confident and brave, and interested in exploring the world around them. They are primarily attached to their family members, and can be somewhat reserved around strangers. When socialized with people from an early age they shouldn’t be aggressive. With other dogs, however, Smooth Fox Terriers are quarrelsome and won’t back down from a fight with much bigger dogs.
Are Smooth Fox Terriers Good with Kids? 'The more, the merrier' could be the Smooth Fox Terrier's credo when it comes to the kids in their family. They are happy to have children around because they see them as merely another person to play with. SFTs won’t put up with rough treatment, however, no matter how innocent. They are best suited to homes with children who are slightly older and know how to treat dogs respectfully.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Smooth Fox Terriers Good with Other Pets? SFTs are best suited to homes where they are the only pet. They can be combative with other dogs, and they view small animals, including cats, as prey.
Smooth Fox Terriers are protective of themselves, their people, and their territory.
Smooth Fox Terriers have an abundance of energy and the stamina to play through most of the day. Don't expect much downtime with a Foxie in your life.
- Require a lot of attention and exercise
- Suitable for experienced dog owners
- Housetraining can take more time than with the average dog
- They bark for recreation and can't be trained out of barking completely
- Need socialization to learn manners towards other dogs
- Can't live with cats or other small animals
- They will dig in your yard.
- Require a highly secured yard, or they will escape in search of adventure. And will need a personalized dog collar with contact info on it, in case they do.
Smooth Fox Terriers love their families and are needy for attention. They should live indoors with their people. This is a neat breed overall, but you should expect some accidents during their extended housetraining. They shed only moderately, so fur cleanup is minimal.
SFTs should spend a good deal of time each day outside going on adventures and exercising. They benefit from having an enclosed, mid-sized yard where they can play games of catch with you. Avoid leaving your Smooth Fox Terrier alone in the yard because they are adept at digging and jumping, and are prone to escaping. They'll also bark incessantly if bored.
A healthy Smooth Fox Terrier requires about one to two hours of daily physical activity. Exercise is an important part of keeping your SFT fit and well behaved.
Smooth Fox Terriers have the stamina to be on the move for half a day or more before they'll want to take a rest on their dog bed, or beside you on the couch.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy, adult Smooth Fox Terriers can run with you for two to three miles. Remember their legs are little, so slow your pace accordingly.
- Hiking Miles: SFTs are eager hiking partners for half day hikes. Be sure to keep your Smooth Fox Terrier on leash at all times because they will dash after squirrels and chipmunks.
Generally, this breed requires about 1½ to 2 cups of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Foxies’s activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Smooth Fox Terrier.
Smooth Fox Terriers are independent dogs and don’t mind spending some time alone. Be wary, however, of leaving them on their own for more than a few hours or they’ll become bored and get into mischief to pass the time. This may include nuisance barking and destructive chewing. You can leave your SFT alone for three to four hours at a time crate training—and a smidge more if they get plenty of exercise beforehand, and are left crated with a favorite toy.
Health and Grooming
The high-maintenance Smooth Fox Terrier gives you a break when it comes to grooming. A good brush once or twice a week, along with a bath every month is enough to keep their coat healthy and clean. Wash their ears once a week with a gentle, vet-approved cleanser to prevent dirt and wax buildup that can cause infections. Brush your SFTs teeth three days a week, and trim their nails once a month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Smooth Fox Terriers may be prone to some breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
- Patellar luxation
- Eye conditions, including cataracts and lens luxation
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Smooth Fox Terrier by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
The Smooth Fox Terrier is sometimes slow to housetrain, and often has plans of his own for fun during obedience training sessions. But with patience, brief lessons, and plenty of positive reinforcement, your SFT will get the hang of the basics before too long.
Living with a Smooth Fox Terrier is easier when you sign him up for advanced obedience and agility classes, and let him show his athletic skills in dog sports. These activities keep them mentally and physically challenged, and make a positive impact on their overall behavior.
Sporting Dog Training
Smooth Fox Terriers can learn to participate in fox hunting, as well as Earthdog trials, a dog sport in which they show off their skills finding rodents in cages underground.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Smooth Fox Terriers.
No. Smooth Fox Terriers’ short coat sheds throughout the year and, as a result, leaves pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies. Because they are small and shed only moderately, dander from SFTs can be better controlled with regular brushing than is possible with other dogs. This may minimize symptoms in some people. But keep in mind that no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, no matter their grooming requirements or type of coat.
In a word, yes. Smooth Fox Terriers are born to chase, dig, and bark. While consistent behavior training and exercise can help minimize the issue, the SFT is not a quiet breed.
Smooth Fox Terriers may take to swimming like a fish to water, or they may prefer dry land. Introduce your SFT to water slowly, and don't force the issue if they don't seem to enjoy swimming. Keep in mind that small, lean dogs lose body heat quickly in water, so they shouldn't swim for long. Always watch your dog closely when he is swimming or near water.