As a dog breeder, you must be asking yourself how to breed Fox Terriers the right way? But before we dive into that, let’s explore this dog type, health issues to be aware of, and the best breeding practices.
The term Fox Terrier collectively describes two major breeds:
- Smooth Fox Terriers
- Wire Fox Terriers
So, in this article, we’ll discover the breed characteristics and types of Fox Terriers as well as divulge in topics like Fox Terrier Breeding.
Background of Fox Terrier Breeding
Fox Terriers are one of the most loved dog breeds for dog and kennel owners alike. Initially, their purpose of breeding was to hunt small animals from burrows. However, with time, Fox terriers have evolved into dynamic yet loving pet dogs.
Before we go into details on how to breed Fox Terriers, let’s have an overview of this breed.
John Caius’ 16th-century book, Of English Dogges, bears the oldest recorded mention of Fox Terriers. Interestingly, the fox terriers of that time were quite different from the modern breed. So much so that Caius mentioned in his book that Fox Terriers were only found in tan and black. Greyhounds later added the white color in fox terriers by interbreeding.
However, it was not until much later in the 19th century when Fox Terriers got some much-awaited recognition at dog shows. Old Jock, who won the award for Best Dog at the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show for 3 years straight, helped attract the general public towards this breed. And that’s when people really started recognizing Fox Terriers as a dog breed.
Even today, many breeders conduct Fox Terrier Breeding for hunting purposes. However, the modern Fox Terrier has many added characters like longer legs that have reduced its hunting ability.
As mentioned above, Fox Terriers belong to the Terrier Dog Group which contains a number of species. Fox Terriers are involved in the creation of breeds like:
Most of the descendant breeds of Fox Terriers are the namesakes of their countries of origin. When people from these countries brought Fox Terriers, local dog breeds bred with them to create these descendant breeds.
The American Kennel Club ranks the Wire Fox Terrier as number 101 out of 193 registered dog breeds while Smooth Fox Terriers have attained the 123rd spot in the rankings.
So, it’s safe to say that Fox Terriers aren’t in the list of the most famous dog breeds out there. However, they’ve secured a respectable position in the dog breeding community.
The number of registered Wire Fox Terriers is also higher than the Smooth type. In fact, in the UK, Smooth Fox Terriers are marked as “vulnerable” meaning they have less than 300 yearly registrations per year.
Even though the Fox Terrier types have subtle differences, their overall appearance is similar.
Color – The American Fox Terrier Club does not consider color to be a major basis of identification for Fox Terriers. However, it does mention that white should predominate the coat with some colored markings. Markings on the head may appear quite dark in the first few years but often fade with time.
Weight – The weight for both major types of Fox Terriers is roughly 16 pounds for males and 14 for females. A 3-pound deviation is considered standard for this breed.
Height – Fox Terriers are a tad bit smaller with a height of 14-15.5 inches. Even though the leg size of Fox Terriers has increased over time, their stature remains a bit low which allows them to run faster along the ground. This helps in hunting, especially when the dog has to dig into burrows as a taller dog would find it hard to do so.
Facial structure – Fox Terriers have a rather flat head. Between the head and the upper jaw, a slight dip is seen which gives the face a chiseled look. This dog has deep-set eyes with triangular ears that fold and fall forwards. This bending of ears is a defining character of this breed as ears that fall sideways lead to disqualification of this breed in dog shows. This hunter breed has strong jaws and a black nose.
Before breeding Fox Terriers, knowing their temperament is of paramount importance. You see, physical traits are transferrable through breeding. But temperament is something that you should hone for your dog over time.
How your Fox Terrier acts is directly dependent on how well you train it. Regardless, the basic breed temperament of Fox Terriers is energetic and curious. This breed is always ready for a walk in the park and a game of frisbee.
On one hand, it’s great to have a furry friend that’s always willing to play. However, Fox Terriers can also be quite stubborn meaning that when you say no, they can persist on interacting with you. That’s exactly why it’s so important to train this breed early on and establish who’s boss. Beware though, you wouldn’t want to tread down the path of physical punishment with this breed.
Since Fox Terriers are primarily hunting dogs, they don’t do great with younger kids, especially babies. Also, you should never leave them unsupervised. So, if you can’t take constant care of your dog, you might want to get a different breed.
However, if you’re specifically looking for a watchdog, then Fox Terriers are a great choice. Since it’s a hunting dog, it won’t sit well with other small pets in the house.
I’d advise to socialize your Fox Terrier with your other pets during its puppy stage and see if they bond well together. If smaller pets bring out hunting instincts in your dog, then you need to separate them immediately.
Varieties of Fox Terriers
As mentioned in the beginning, the term Fox Terriers refers to two varieties; the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier. The Toy Fox Terrier, although a separate breed, is usually discussed in the Fox Terrier group.
When considering fox terrier breeding, it’s important to first know all their types and differences. So, in this section, we’ll discuss the defining characters of all three of these breeds as well as some special considerations for them.
Smooth Fox Terrier
As the name suggests, Smooth Fox Terriers have a short, hard, and smooth coat. According to breed standards, this coat should be predominantly white with black or tan markings. This breed contains the characteristic v-shaped ears of fox terriers that gracefully bend forwards.
Like the Wire type, the Fox Terriers lie in the slightly smaller dog breeds category with an average weight of 15-19 pounds. Interestingly, the AKC notes a slight difference between the body type of both these dog breeds. The Smooth Fox Terrier has a more v-shaped head as compared to the Wire type, making it a more Dolichocephalic (long faced) dog.
Amicable and independent is what describes Smooth Fox Terriers the best. These happy souls are extremely energetic and are always looking for chances to play. What’s more, the social needs of this dog breed are quite high. Since they are hunting dogs, they bark a lot as well.
Curbing the hunting instincts in Smooth Fox Terriers requires you to recognize this setback early on. Make sure you deal with uncalled-for aggressive attitude sternly when it comes to Smooth Fox Terriers.
However, a major positive that this dog breed has over the Wire type is that it requires minimal grooming. Their coat is quite short and easily manageable. But that doesn’t change the fact that Smooth Fox Terriers shed a lot more than the Wire type.
Wire Fox Terrier
The Wire Fox Terrier is a lot more famous among dog owners as compared to the Smooths. The reason for this popularity is their peculiarly fantastic coats.
The Wire Fox Terrier has a broken coat with long hair that wave. 1.5 inches is an optimum coat length for a show dog of this type. However, keeping this length is not compulsory. These long, wavy hair make them appear adorable and pleasantly different from other breeds. The American Fox Terrier Club considers curls in the Wire Fox Terrier’s coat to be objectionable.
The Fox Terrier has an undercoat. Ideally, no skin should be visible if the coat is parted. They have v-shaped ears that bend perfectly over their head. This dog breed weighs 15-19 pounds; according to the American Fox Terrier Club, a male show dog from this breed should have a weight of about 18 pounds. As they have a smaller head than the Smooths, the size of their head should be less than 7 inches.
The Wire Fox Terriers are full of life, adventurous, and love to play. When you’d take them out for a walk, they’d never want to come back home. Since they have hunting roots, Wires bark extensively. They also dig a lot, creating a mess at times.
It’s interesting to note that comparative to Smooths, the Wire Fox Terrier does not get along that well with other types of dogs. So, if you have other pets at your place, you’d need some early socialization for your Wire Fox Terrier.
As the saying goes: with fancy dog coats come fancy responsibilities. So, you’ll have to comb your Wire’s coat 2-3 times a week. Since this is a long-coat variety, it would also need some shaping from time to time.
Toy Fox Terrier
The Toy Fox Terrier is a mini Smooth, having a short, predominantly white and hard coat that’s easily groomed. This breed stands 8-11 inches tall with a weight of 4-9 pounds. They have a high-set tail that breeders often dock. All features of the Toy Fox Terrier are comparable to the Smooths like their tan and black markings.
However, Toy Fox Terriers also contain an all-white variety. At times, they are tri-color, having black, tan, and chocolate-brown markings.
These little buddies have a happy-go-lucky temperament. They are quite intelligent and trainable, making them great pets. Due to their small sizes, Toy Fox Terriers can hunt in small holes.
Toy Fox Terriers are quite easily bored, meaning that your constant presence is important to this dog. You’d want to spend as much time as you can with it to ensure its social needs are met. What’s more, they can be quite stubborn at times.
Even though this dog is quite small, it can create much fuss if it gets down to barking. Older children would fare well with this dog. However, keep them away from smaller children.
Health Issues when Breeding Fox Terriers
Fox Terriers are generally healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years for each breed. However, aggressive inbreeding has led to the prevalence of a number of genetic disorders in this group. So, in this section, we’ll go through these disorders and their symptoms along with possible remedies.
Myasthenia Gravis is a genetic disorder that is common in Smooth Fox Terriers in particular. In this disorder, the communication between the nervous and muscular system is weak, often leading to collapses and fatigue caused by little exercise.
Myasthenia Gravis often leads to a megaesophagus (dilated esophagus) which causes problems in swallowing and digestion. Also, dogs with this disorder have reduced blinking ability. In extreme cases, Fox Terriers with Myasthenia Gravis wouldn’t be able to close their eyes even in sleep.
Other signs of this disorder include difficulty in breathing and swallowing, change in voice, and weakness.
Myasthenia Gravis in Fox Terriers is usually genetic and is diagnosed around 2 months after birth. However, adult dogs can also acquire this disease, in which case the diagnosis either occurs in the first or last quarter of the dog’s life.
Sadly, no treatment is available for this disease. Fox Terriers with Myasthenia Gravis would inevitably lower their daily exertion and resort to resting more. Also, they would require daily medications. It’s important to provide them smaller high-calorie meals instead of one or two large meals a day.
Even though Megaesophagus may be caused due to Myasthenia Gravis, it is usually a genetic disorder more common in Wire Fox Terriers.
In this disorder, the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach) is dilated and loses its motility. Dogs affected by this disease accumulate food in their esophagus that doesn’t easily pass down to the stomach with normal muscular contractions in the esophagus. The accumulation of food and liquid in the esophagus leads to regurgitation.
The diagnosis of Megaesophagus would require a thorough veterinary examination. As it is a genetic disorder, there isn’t a cure for it and lifelong therapy would be required. You should not place the food bowl for such dogs on the floor; instead, place it on a higher level to avoid backflow of food from the esophagus. Also, owners would need to keep the affected dog upright for 10-15 minutes after a meal.
In cataracts, the lens in a dog’s eye turns opaque. The lens functions to focus light and hence holds a pivotal role in the sense of vision. However, with an opaque lens, visibility decreases. A cataract could be the size of a small dot or could also cover the complete lens. In the latter case, the unfortunate dog would lose his eyesight.
Genetic cataracts are common in the terrier dog group. A dog may have a mild (insipient) cataract that covers up to 15% of the lens without affecting eyesight. On the other hand, a 75% cataract in the dog’s lens would have obvious effects on eyesight.
Dogs with cataracts face difficulties in finding food and often bump into walls if the cataract has significantly developed.
Even though surgical treatment is an option, it’s not a guaranteed cure as cataracts often grow again. In most cases, eye drops are used. However, eye drops don’t cure mature (100%) cataracts.
Mast Cell Tumors
Experts categorize Mast Cell Tumors as skin diseases. These commonly affect Toy Fox Terriers. Although they are quite similar to normal lumps, lesions, or bumps on the skin, cell tumors are quite harmful.
For breeding fox terriers, it’s important to detect such lesions at the right time. If vets surgically remove the tumor in time, then there might be lesser complications for the Terrier.
Cancers that are detected in their earliest phase are treated with surgical options. However, the treatment and recovery are solely dependent on the location of the tumor and the severity of the situation.
Post-nasal drip is an allergy which causes your Terrier’s sinuses to produce excessive mucus that doesn’t discharge properly. Rather than flowing through the nasal cavity, the mucus is further pushed down the throat and doesn’t expel at all.
Such allergies are usually quite frustrating for dogs and increase the likelihood of contracting other infections and diseases. Also, post-nasal drip may simultaneously occur with other allergies.
Symptoms related to this disease are usually apparent in the earliest stages of contraction or after an infection has occurred. Some of the most common symptoms of Canine Post-Nasal Drip may include:
- Congested airway or constant wheezing
- Constant swallowing
- Foul breath
- Loss of appetite
Although there are several potential causes which may result in post-nasal drip in Fox Terriers, they are quite easy to diagnose. Respiratory diseases like Rhinitis and Sinusitis, acid reflux disease, airway blockage, or allergic reactions are the most common causes.
Treating post-nasal drip depends on the cause of the disease along with the severity at the time of diagnosis. At the earliest phases, it is vital to increase the fluid intake of your fox terrier puppy. This helps in hydration along with relieving congestion. Then, your vet would take swabs and cultures to better assess the underlying cause and treat likewise.
In severe conditions, post-nasal drip is treated with a course of antibiotics or other medication along with the isolation of the allergen. The tests done would normally yield the type of allergen and its source. Removing the allergen is essential to the pup’s health.
Lens luxation is a medical condition which causes discoloration in a dog’s eye. Ligaments of the lens which support the normal functioning of the eye either weaken or break. In severe cases, the movement of the lens also causes glaucoma.
This condition is painful and may cause blindness. Smooth Fox terriers are also prone to cataracts, discussed above, or distichiasis (which we’ll discuss below.)
The luxation is usually fixed through surgical treatments, medication, or in the worst case, by removing the eye.
If your pup struggles to see past a few meters or squints to look forward, then something might be affecting its eye. Distichiasis is an eye condition which causes the eyelashes to grow past the edges of the eyes.
Since the hairs are quite stiff and get in direct contact with the eye’s tissue, it might be quite painful and irritating for your pup. Consulting with your veterinarian is necessary for proper treatment. The vet will either provide medication or carefully cut the lashes.
Among other diseases which target a pup’s hip joint, is the Legg-Perthes disease. It is also referred to as the Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
The thighbone weakens and deteriorates over time due to the low blood supply. Only one leg is affected in less severe cases. However, in critical cases, both legs are affected with a limp or stiffness in both.
A few symptoms that are closely related to the Legg-Perthes disease are:
- Muscle atrophy
- Hip joint deformity
- Severe pain
In most cases, vets prefer surgical options to remove the affected femoral head and recommend continual exercise and physical therapy for recovery. Fox Terriers should not be bred in this condition.
How to Breed Fox Terriers
Health disorders and diseases are usually contracted through improper Fox Terrier breeding. It is highly recommended to breed dogs with a great health history while following standard breeding procedures.
A fox terrier’s lifespan may be increased if you’re cautious during breeding. Not to mention, taking good care of your pup and regular checkups after birth are equally important for their lifespan as well.
Here’s a little more information about how to breed fox terriers:
Average Litter Size of a Fox Terrier
The average litter size of a fox terrier, Wire, and Smooth, is in between 3 to 6 puppies. However, you may be able to alter the litter size by ensuring certain factors during Fox Terrier breeding.
The age of the dam, the health conditions, and the type of breeding plays an important role in determining the litter size. Natural breeding might yield more pups as compared to artificially inseminated breeding. Similarly, older dams with health complications might yield lesser pups than a young dog.
To avoid birth complications, it is important that both the sire and the dam do not possess any health disorders. In case one of the parents is sick, the diseases might pass down the lineage and show up in the Fox Terrier puppy.
Inbreeding is the most common source of genetic diseases. Breeding fox terriers using such non-standard procedures causes abnormal jaw growth in puppies which makes it hard for them to chew or bite.
A toy fox terrier costs around $400 to $600, whereas, a Smooth or Wire fox terrier costs around $700 to $1000. Adopting a fox terrier might only cost $300, excluding the maintenance costs. However, these prices are for fox terrier puppies for sale which have no prior training.
You would have to pay more for Fox Terriers that are registered and trained. This cost includes complete registry papers, health insurance or vet checkups, vaccinations, as well as training. Depending on the quality of breeding and training, on average, a trained fox terrier might cost $700 to $2,000.
Fox Terrier Breed – FAQ
Fox Terrier fanciers have asked us a few questions repeatedly so we will answer them below in the most concise way. Feel free to ask further questions in the below comment section.
Fox Terries are one of the friendliest dog breeds and are quite easy to train. Their intelligence, active, and wilful nature allows them to grasp tricks quite easily. Since a Fox Terrier loves to please its owner, training them becomes far easier as compared to other Terrier dog breeds.
A similar question that people constantly ask is, “Are fox terriers good family dogs?”. Yes, they are excellent family companions. However, you should train and teach them to behave at a very young age. They have an active mind of their own and can follow a headstrong attitude if left unattended.
If we were to put up, Wire Fox Terrier vs Jack Russell, then in terms of training and overall flair, the Fox Terrier might have the upper hand. Although both breeds are quite intelligent with a hint of mischief, both can be taught obedience if trained by a Terrier-shrewd trainer.
Hypoallergenic dog breeds do not shed hair. It’s important to remember that no breed is completely hypoallergenic, but those who shed minimally can be termed as hypoallergenic. With that in mind, the Toy and Wire Fox Terrier breed are hypoallergenic, whereas, the Smooth Fox Terrier is not.
Wire and Toy Fox Terriers’ hypoallergenic nature makes them the perfect companion for people allergic to dogs. Since they shed less, they ultimately cause lesser allergic reactions to their owners.
If you were to ask, “Do fox terries bark a lot?” then simply put, yes. Like most Terrier dog breeds, Fox Terriers are prone to excessive barking. Fox terriers, Smooth and Wire, both follow a go-getter attitude and love to bark, chase, and boss up when the opportunity arises. This, however, is helpful for guard or herd dogs.
The Fox terrier temperament sets them up as incredibly playful and active dogs with the will to play all day. Their excessive barking is an outcome of this nature. They have regular bursts of energy and vent through rigorous sessions of high-pitch barking, enough to set your teeth on edge.
However, you may discourage such actions during training and exercises to teach obedience to your Fox Terrier. You should award treats for proper gestures or actions as a gesture of appreciation for your pooch.
All Fox Terrier breed variations shed in different degrees. The Wire Fox Terrier sheds very little, while moderate shedding is showed by the Toy Fox Terrier. The Smooth variety, on the other hand, sheds the most amongst the three common Fox Terrier breeds.
Their hairs shed quite easily if you pet them every now and then, and may stick tenaciously to your belongings. However, brushing and grooming their coat should keep the situation at bay.
Most breed purists recommend hand-stripping or brushing during the shedding season. This would clip off the old hair while allowing new, stronger hair to grow in place.
In a nutshell, If you’re a breed fancier, then you should certainly get into Fox Terrier Breeding.