Toy Fox Terrier

Toy Fox Terriers, also known as American Toy Terriers or Ameritoys, were developed in the United States in the early 1900s. They are the only American Toy breed. Of the two oldest, largest dog breed registries in the United States, the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Kennel Club (AKC), the UKC was more directly involved with the origination of the Toy Fox Terrier. The UKC included the toy version of the Smooth Fox Terrier, when it began registering the larger breed in 1912. In the mid 1920s, fanciers of the developing breed petitioned the UKC to recognize them separately from Smooth Fox Terriers, but it was not until 1936 that the UKC began to register the Toy Fox Terrier under its own name. The UKC classified them in the Terrier Group.

Breed Information

Breed Basics

Country of Origin: 
X-Small 4-8 lb
Small 8-15 lb
12 to 15 Years
Energy Level: 
Medium Energy
Protective Ability: 
Good Watchdog
Hypoallergenic Breed: 
Space Requirements: 
Apartment Ok
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Generally Good With Other Dogs
May Be Okay With Other Pets If Raised Together
May Have Issues With Other Dogs
Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals
Litter Size: 
3-6 puppies
American Toy Terrier, Ameritoy


3 1/2 - 9 lbs, 8 1/2 - 11 1/2 inches

Kennel Clubs and Recognition

American Kennel Club: 
CKC(Canadian Kennel Club): 
UKC (United Kennel Club): 


Developed in the early decades of the twentieth century Toy Fox Terrier, breeders debated about the right size for the dog, some wanting it to remain a toy, while others wanted the dog a bit larger. In 1949 the National Toy Fox Terrier Association (NTFTA) was formed in Ohio, with a commitment to preserve both the type and function of the Toy Fox Terrier through responsible breeding. Their intention was to maintain the Terrier in the breed, which the UKC supported. When some breeders crossed it with the Toy Manchester Terrier and the Chihuahua, in order to stabilize the size and look, they caused an uproar in the Toy Fox Terrier world.


Many of the early breeders, including Eliza Hopkins (author of The Toy Fox Terrier) felt this move was contaminating the gene pool. The way they saw it, according to one breed historian, “Some show breeders took shortcuts…[using] various outcrosses to Toy Manchesters and Chihuahuas in lazy efforts to reduce size”. The UKC ended the size controversy by declaring that the breed should remain a toy. They attempted to end the controversy over mixing in other breeds by closing the Stud Book on August 31, 1960, to disallow any more crossbreeding with the Toy Fox Terrier. The UKC version of the Toy Fox Terrier’s development does not admit of any crossbreeding of the Smooth Fox Terrier in the U.S. to attain the modern Toy Fox Terrier. In fact, the UKC claims that the Smooth Fox Terrier runts of the early 1900s are identical to the modern Toy Fox Terrier, mentioning no other influences. 


Exactly which breeds went into creating the Toy Fox Terrier is still up for debate. According to the AKC, American dog breeders created them by crossing small Smooth Fox Terriers with various toy breeds. These included the Miniature Pinscher, Italian Greyhound, Chihuahua, and Manchester Terrier. The result was a dog that possesses the gameness, intelligence, and courage of a Terrier, but with a milder disposition. Still other sources insist the Toy Fox Terrier is a cross between the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Chihuahua, and the Manchester Toy.


Regardless of which other breeds were involved, Smooth Fox Terriers played a key role in creating the toy breed. According to Dianne McConnell, National Historian for the UKC, Dr. Sally Reed traced the breed’s UKC pedigrees back to well known Smooth Fox Terriers of Britain. For instance, she traced National Gr.Ch. “PR” Yancey’s Rinebold Skipper, born 2/24/1967, back seven generations to “PR” MilBees Bim, a registered UKC Smooth Fox Terrier. Bim is related to English Ch. Darrel, who is ten generations removed from Foiler. Foiler was the first Fox Terrier registered in 1875 or 1876 in the English Kennel Club.


But to leave out the influence of other breeds seems disingenuous on the part of the UKC. To only breed the runts of Smooth Fox Terriers, generation after generation, would be to invite serious genetic health problems and deformities. Rawden B. Lee in ‘A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland (the Terriers)’, written in 1894, talked about the practice among fanciers of Smooth Fox Terriers who, because of a preference for the smaller versions, bred the runts of the litters with same. He believed the “smooth-coated toy terriers” had a “decadence” in them, describing three and four pound dogs he claimed were “little more than abortions, too fragile…too delicate to live.” The good looks, well shaped heads, hardy health, and long life of the modern Toy Fox Terrier belie such inbreeding without the stabilizing force of other non-Terrier breeds.


Terriers are generally known for having an ornery streak—or two. The Earl of Suffolk, Henry Charles Howard, wrote in the ‘Encyclopedia of Sport ‘ in 1897, that Terriers “are the very dragon’s teeth of discord.” So much so, that in addressing the problem of kennel dogs getting agitated or “quarrelsome” with each other, he states that “…the best way of preventing these outbreaks is to absolutely forbid the presence of terriers within the kennel walls.” And the Terrier runts were valued because they were even feistier than the larger ones! How else could the Toy Fox Terrier achieve the much touted milder disposition, without purposely crossing it with a non-Terrier breed?


Marie Newell of the Toy Fox Terrier Club of Canada (TFTCC), formed in 2001 and accredited by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) in 2010, offers a more likely scenario of the breed’s development. Breeders of Smooth Fox Terrier who preferred the smaller dogs, bred them with the goal of consistently producing a dog within the nine to eleven inch height range that maintained the Smooth Fox Terrier’s solid colored head and mostly white body, high set tail, short back, and stallion-like structure. Toward that end, they crossed the small dogs with Chihuahuas to create upright ears and to stabilize the size.


The Chihuahua also contributed to the developing breed its ability to understand, communicate, and bond with people. Breeders needed to minimize the Chihuahua’s domed skull and bulging eyes, and correct their low set ears, and longer body length, so they crossed in the Manchester Terrier (toy). Not only did this addition correct the domed head with its lean, flat one, and reduce the body length with its short back, it ensured the terrier gameness as well. (Manchester Terriers were considered the best vermin catchers of all Terriers in Britain). The Manchester also gave the Toy Fox Terrier fine, thin ears, set high and prick.


Barbara Andrews of Toy Fox Terriers O’BJ, who with her late husband bred Champion dogs for over forty years, concurs with the TFTCC that the three primary breeds involved in creating the Toy Fox Terrier were the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, and the Chihuahua. Another breed that was involved in the development of the Toy Fox Terrier was the Rat Terrier.


The Rat Terrier Club, along with all registry affiliations, asserts that Toy Fox Terriers were crossed with Rat Terriers during the Toy Fox’s development. According to the UKC, which recognized the breed in 1999, Rat Terriers were popular farm dogs in the United States until the 1950s when the development of more sophisticated methods to get rid of vermin, made them less useful. They descended from Terriers brought from England by working class immigrants and became popular in the southeastern U.S. Gambling on the dogs’ rat killing prowess proved to be a popular hobby among their owners, which spurred the cross breeding of the Rat Terriers with Whippets or Italian Greyhounds for speed and Beagles for their hunting ability. Still used to hunt squirrels and rats, especially in the South, they are sometimes called “feists.” The Rat Terrier is an American breed which, as of 2011, is not yet recognized by the AKC.


Smooth Fox Terriers ranged considerably in size in the 1800s, with the smaller ones gaining favor because of their courage, feistiness, and compact build. The farmers, hunters, and woodsmen of America embraced the Fox Terrier runts for many practical reasons. In the late 1800s, America’s landed gentry class chose the smaller Fox Terriers because they could burrow into tiny, deep holes after foxes and fit into the huntsman’s pocket or in his saddle. The runts who survived had to be tough and scrappy, so they were prized for those traits, as well. Farmers loved their ferocious persistence in rooting out and killing vermin; the subsistence farmers of Appalachia counted on these “feist dogs” to catch squirrel and raccoons for food. These runt Fox Terriers also performed at social occasions such as barn dances, traveling medicine shows, dog and pony shows, and in circus acts. Easy to transport and feed, low maintenance, smart, funny, and quick to learn, the developing Toy Fox Terriers performed in a variety of venues. Most toy breeds are coddled creatures, sheltered and pampered for generations, but the Toy Fox Terrier developed in rural America under adverse conditions, thus developing hardiness and strength.


The early history of both the small Smooth Fox Terrier and the breed that became the Rat Terrier in rural areas of the United States are similar. Both terrier types were labeled “feist” dogs. These small, scrappy creatures were often generically referred to as Fox Terriers by their owners. These striking similarities raise the strong possibility that Rat Terriers and small Smooth Fox Terriers were confused, mixed, and closely related. While Rat Terriers played a role in developing the Toy Fox, evidence for the intentional crossing of the two types to achieve the desired Toy Fox Terrier does not exist. In contrast, the Manchester Terrier and Chihuahua crosses were intentional and detailed explanations abound of how they were used to strengthen and define the developing Toy Fox Terrier.


But why is the Rat Terrier not mentioned at all in the AKC history section and why did the American Toy Fox Terrier Club (ATFTC) ignore the fact that the Rat Terrier Club and affiliated registries affirmed the crossbreeding of the developing Toy Fox Terrier and the Rat Terrier? Barbara Andrews believes that, because the ATFTC was in the process of seeking acceptance by the AKC in the mid 1990s, they wanted to steer clear of any non-AKC genes, which meant the exclusion of non-AKC Rat Terriers. She adds that “there is no genetic mystery” around the development of the Toy Fox Terrier, but that “AKC breeders have invented one.”


The UKC disallows the chocolate color in Toy Fox Terriers, while the AKC admits it. The AKC changed their standards within three years of writing it, a “hasty revision” according to Barbara Andrews, to include the chocolate Toy Fox Terriers and to add the Min Pins and Italian Greyhounds to the history section. Andrews says that “geneticists would classify chocolate as foreign to the Smooth Fox or Manchester,” which may explain why the Min Pin and Italian Greyhound were abruptly added to the breed history. It is “genetically farfetched”, according to Andrews, who goes on to say that “most students of Toy Fox Terrier history are equally as puzzled” by the inclusion of the Miniature Pinscher, or Min Pin. Andrews admits that Italian Greyhounds and Whippets were bred into the Toy Manchester to stabilize the size, increase the speed, and offset the danger of inbreeding at one time. But this minor role does not, she believes, justify the AKC’s recent rewriting of Toy Fox Terrier history to include them, especially when juxtaposed to the omission of any mention of the Rat Terrier. When Toy Fox Terriers were recognized by the AKC in 2003, they were classified in the Toy Group.


In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States was home to thousands of Toy Fox Terriers, but as the breeders of those decades retired and rural areas became increasingly built upon and populated, there was less open space for the large scale kennel operations. The kennels of fifty to seventy-five dogs, with several litters born each month, gave way to home-based breeders with between five and fifteen dogs bearing only one to two litters per year. The new generations of breeders had less space and the demands of full time jobs and raising families to contend with, unlike the large kennel operations of the past, that provided full-time work or were run by wealthy hobbyists. The fact of smaller operations combined with the Toy Fox Terrier’s small litters of only one to three pups has raised concern for the future of the breed. Fortunately the Toy Fox Terrier is not on the list of twenty-two dog breeds in danger of extinction, but fans of the spunky little companion dogs want to avoid going down that path in the future.


Current Toy Fox Terrier breeders in the United States include Barbara Andrews of Toy Fox Terriers O’BJ in North Carolina, John and Sally Davidson of Meadowood in Illinois, and Littletown Toy Fox Terriers in Michigan. Barbara Andrews, after forty years of dog breeding, now breeds only Toy Fox Terriers. She is an author and blogger on dog breeds. Her foundation female, Westgate Sabrina O’BJ, is the dam of undefeated Champions and Top Winners. The Davidsons have bred, raised, and shown Toy Fox Terriers since 1971. Their contributions to the Toy Fox Terrier breed are significant. They have sixty UKC Champions to their credit and have finished five AKC champions. They have bred and shown a National Grand Champion and are the breeders and owners of Gr. Ch. ‘PR’ Meadowood’s Double Trouble, ranked 4th on list of best producing Toy Fox Terriers of all time. Their AKC Ch. And UKC Grand Champion Meadowood’s Buster Brown has ranked in the top ten AKC Toy Fox Terriers in the nation numerous times. John is a past president of the NTFTA and wrote the book, The Toy Fox Terrier: Wired for Action, published in 2006. Their Toy Fox Terriers have been featured in Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Dogs and in the Atlas of Dogs, on the cover of Eliza Hopkins’ The Toy Fox Terrier, and on the back cover of Sherry Baker-Kreuger’s book, Toy Fox Terriers.


The Littletown Toy Fox Terrier breeders, located in Michigan, dual register their dogs in the AKC and UKC, in order to guarantee genetic purity and to ensure their dogs are “true Toy Fox Terriers, and NOT a mix of other similar breeds (such as Rat Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, or Chihuahua).” The Littletown breeders only produce the tricolor dogs (white, black, and tan) because this was the original preferred color. Their dogs all descend from Eliza Hopkins’ Kennel in Homer, MI, as part of their mission to preserve the bloodline.


John and Sally Davidson of Meadowood, breed Toy Fox Terriers and they, too, advertise their dogs as having dual recognition in both the UKC and AKC. However, they do so for different reasons. Besides allowing owners to compete in both registries for conformation, obedience, and agility titles, they appreciate the merits of both organizations. While AKC registration has “long been the mark of canine excellence,” the Toy Fox Terrier’s development is more closely tied to the UKC. Also, dogs registered with the UKC that have been inbred have that fact stamped on their paperwork. This policy discourages the practice of inbreeding and helps keep Toy Fox Terriers relatively free of genetic diseases.


In September, 2011, SATHY, a group of Finnish fanciers of working breeds, held an expo in Helsinki where Toy Fox Terriers participated in the weight pull and rat race competitions. They are well suited to the former event, which involves pulling many times their own weight, because of their muscular legs, strong hindquarters, and deep chest (which gives them stamina under pressure). Toy Fox Terriers participate in agility, obedience, speed, and weight pull competitions. In 2010 the AKC ranked the Toy Fox Terrier 97th in popularity, out of 167 dog breeds.




Toy Fox Terriers are small, smooth coated dogs with elegant outlines and lean, muscular bodies. Their carriage, gait, and animated expression convey pride, alertness, and a lively intelligence.


The height of the Toy Fox Terrier falls between 8.5 to 11.5 inches, with 9 to11 inches the more preferred range (height is measured from the ground to withers). The dog’s height should be approximately the same as its length (length measured from point of the shoulder to the buttocks). This 1:1 ratio gives the dog a square proportion. A slightly longer body on females is allowed. Since this is a Terrier breed, it derives from working dogs where weight is not specified, but generally their weight range is 3.5 to 7 pounds.


Their short, smooth coats are glossy and fine to the touch. Color combinations are tri-color (white, black, and tan); white and tan; white, chocolate, and tan; white and black. Their bodies are mostly white. If the dog has body spots they must be the same color as the predominant head color. Tri-color dogs have mostly black on the head and sharply defined tan marks on cheeks, lips, and eye dots. The white, chocolate, and tan dogs have mostly chocolate coloring on their heads and, like the tri-colors, sharply delineated tan marks on cheeks, lips, and eye dots. White and tans’ heads are mostly tan; white and blacks’ heads predominately black.


The Toy Fox Terrier’s head is moderately wide, slightly rounded, with a soft wedge shape. From the front view, the head widens gradually from nose to base of ears. The stop has a slight slope; the length from nose to stop is the same as from stop to occiput. The strong muzzle, in profile, is parallel to the top of the head. The erect, pointed ears are shaped like an inverted “V”; they are set high and close together, but never touch. Their eyes are dark as are their eye rims, except for the chocolate dogs whose rims are self-colored. Their round, prominent eyes do not slant and are set moderately wide apart. They have flat, muscular cheeks and black noses, with the exception of the chocolate colored dogs, which have self-colored noses. Their small, tight lips fit over a full complement of teeth (although loss of teeth is acceptable), which meet in a scissors bite.


The Toy Fox Terrier’s muscular neck has a slight arch, widening as it blends in with its sloping, well laid back shoulders. The length of the neck and length of the dog’s head are about the same. They have straight, muscular backs and a topline that remains level whether standing or moving. Their deep, muscular chests extend to the point of their elbows; the forechest is well developed. The body tapers from the ribs to the flank; they have a moderate tuck-up and short, strong loins, giving them a graceful appearance. Their well rounded croup is level with the topline. Elbows are perpendicular to the body; legs are parallel and both legs and pasterns are straight. Both upper and lower thighs are muscular. They have well defined, angulated stifles with well let down hock joints. Their muscular hindquarters are well angulated and any dewclaws have been removed.


Toy Fox Terriers have small, oval feet with thick pads. Feet point straight forward and their strong toes are closely knit and arched. Tails are set high and erect; they are docked to the third or fourth joint. Note that docking tails is illegal in most of Europe. The Toy Fox Terrier’s gait is fluid and smooth, showing a good reach, while keeping both head and tail erect.




Toy Fox Terriers are smart, playful, funny, and alert. They combine the sharp liveliness, intelligence, and courage of the Terrier and the devotion, loyalty, and companionship found in Toy breeds.


Toy Fox Terriers are friendly and outgoing with their family. Their loyalty and keen hearing make them great watch dogs, but also means they can be wary of strangers. Bred to be companion dogs, they love your company and are attuned to your moods and expectations. They love to entertain you and remain playful throughout their lives. It is important to socialize them from the time they are puppies with a variety of people so they extend their friendliness to others and do not become overly possessive of their owner(s). Like all toy dog breeds, they are too fragile to trust around young children who could inadvertently injure them. But they do well with older children, the elderly, and the disabled.


Toy Fox Terriers get along with other family dogs and some cats. They may behave aggressively toward strange dogs, regardless of the other dog’s size. Because of their hunting instinct, they may go after small pets and definitely will chase and hunt squirrels, rats, or small livestock. In fact they will chase animals of any size if they are moving fast, without concern for their own safety. Therefore it is imperative you keep your Toy Fox Terrier leashed when outside of your home or enclosed yard. Toy Fox Terriers should be socialized from an early age with family pets, other dogs, and with children.


Toy Fox Terriers are easy to train because of their high level of intelligence and their desire to please. They learn new commands at an above average rate and, unlike most toy breeds, are quickly housetrained. In fact, Toy Fox Terriers can be trained to use a canine litter box or housetraining pad. They are adaptable to new situations and enjoy learning new tasks. They are high energy dogs that love to play flyball and fetch, remaining active into their old age. But they will adjust to your energy level, content to be lapdogs, and are even known to have an affinity for watching TV.


Toy Fox Terriers are a great match for apartment living or a small home. They need their daily walk, but because of their small size, they can get the remainder of their exercise playing indoors. They do enjoy the outdoors, but should not be left outside for long periods of time. In cold weather they require a coat. These dogs are notorious for having an aversion to getting wet.


Grooming Requirements: 


Their coats stay neat looking and are easy to care for, requiring brushing a couple of times a week to reduce shedding (this breed does shed a good bit). They require periodic nail trimming and bathing as needed.


Health Issues: 


Toy Fox Terriers are a hardy breed with a long life span of about fifteen years. They have no significant health problems, only those common to toy dog breeds. These possible health issues include:



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