Dog Breed Review

Smooth Fox Terrier




During the 19th century, there was no smoother dog at bolting a fox than the Smooth Fox Terrier. Yet, fox bolting wasn’t the breed’s only trade they would excel at. And if it wasn’t for their Wire Fox counterpart, you may say that the Smooth Fox was the king of dog shows.

Enter the household. The Smooth Fox Terrier may know how to get dirty but they look good doing it. And when they are home, they are not at all vicious.

Perhaps that’s the reasoning behind their nickname: “The Gentleman’s Terrier?”

So where does the breed come from and what makes them ideal for your home?

Here is what you need to know about the Smooth Fox Terrier.


The Smooth Fox Terrier has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Today, the breed is becoming more rare, finding itself on the “vulnerable list”  in their home country of England. But it wasn’t always that way. 

A good place to begin in this breed’s history is in England and around the sport — fox hunting. Fox hunting was very popular. But not every breed of dog was par for the course when it came to the job. That was until the Smooth Fox Terrier came into the picture.

Hunters had a demand for a dog that could get inside tight corridors and dig inside holes. Next, the breed would have to flush the fox or quarry out — so that the hunter could come in for the kill. The Smooth Fox Terrier was a natural right away at bolting foxes out of their dens.

Most experts, including the West Minster Kennel Club, believe that the Smooth Fox likely dates back to the 1800’s. There are portraits, however, showing a breed similar to the Smooth Fox in the late 1700’s. By the end of the 1800’s, approaching the 20th century, the Smooth and Wire Fox Terrier became a hot commodity. However, it wasn’t just for fox bolting. In fact, most hunters and locals fund the breeds to be great companions. That, and word got out about how well Fox Terriers could perform at dog shows.

Although the Wire Fox Terrier is by far the more successful of the two — a Smooth Fox Terrier has the record for most wins.

The imports of Fox Terriers began coming to the United State in the late 1870’s. The Smooth Fox became a hit right away. In fact, one Smooth Fox Terrier became the face of the infamous corporation — RCA.

Needless to say, the Smooth Fox Terrier hit the highest points in popularity in the 1930’s in America. However, the Smooth and Wire Fox  weren’t distinctive breeds until the American Kennel Club made the decision to distinguish both breeds in the mid 1980”s. Until then, kennels would consider both breeds types of one breed.

Unfortunately, the breed’s popularity wouldn’t last despite being the face of famous companies like RCA. As more people began moving urban areas, the need for a dog like the Smooth Fox Terrier became less.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Smooth Fox Terrier is the 124th overall popular breed in America. Today, the breed is more of a companion and show dog than fox bolter. However, the breed is still more than capable of fulfilling those duties as a fox flushing dog.


The American Kennel Club lists the Smooth Fox Terrier as a medium size breed. Both male and females can stand at 15.5 inches.

With regards to weight; A male should weigh 18 pounds and a female between 15 to 17 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

The Smooth Fox is the “gentleman’s terrier” and very true to terrier form. In that, they are brave and bold. They’ll muster the courage to underground and flush out a fox. They are protective and will stand up for their family. The breed is adventurous and can adapt to many different environments. Their hearts are big with love for their people and they aren’t afraid to show it.

Devout and loyal to their people, the versatile Smooth Fox Terrier can make a good watchdog or if you want — a companion.

They enjoy a good romp in the backyard and will be in heaven if you play fetch. Special contact and close bonding is something they thrive off of. Rub their belly and shower them with attention and affection — and they’ll love you forever.

The breed is said to be eager to please and perhaps that’s why they are such great showman. Perhaps that is why they compete so well or maybe it’s their terrier spirit. Pleasing you is pleasing them. The breed will respond well to training.

Even strangers will experience a friendly dog. Although, if someone is a threat, the Smooth Fox Terrier will be there to meet it. The breed is very vocal and will alert you at any hint of intrusion. Good with children, and fine with other dogs — a Smooth Fox Terrier is the ideal companion for someone who enjoys a versatile working dog that can also perform at shows.


Healthy and here to live a while at least that is according to the life expectancy of the Smooth Fox Terrier. But getting there first is the biggest key. When you buy a Smooth Fox Terrier, make sure you purchase from a reputable breeder. Read the reviews and do your homework — it can save you a lot of heartache. The breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances.

In addition, you’ll want to schedule regular veterinarian visits. This will help maintain your dog’s good bill of health. 

The breed ranks on the lower end of the totem pole as far as Patella Luxation goes. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is an authority on the subject. In this department, they have the breed as 98th worst on their list with a 1.0 dysplastic rating out of 295 evaluations. This puts them among the Bernese Mountain Dog, Cane Corso and the Golden Retriever. Patella Luxation is when the kneecap slips out of place causing rubbing and friction. This can lead to lameness, pain and other issues down the road.

Legg Perthes is the disintegration of the hip joint due to a degeneration of the hind legs causing a great deal of pain and discomfort. This will further cause  inflammation of the bones and joints that is common with breeds like the Boston Terrier, Affenpinscher and Bichon Frise.

The Breed does have its hard times with issues affecting their eyes. Cataracts, which is the cloudiness  of the lens resulting in vision loss is seen within the breed. Cataracts may not be too severe a problem for some breeds but for other it can cause issues for working purposes and guarding.

Distichiasis is an abnormal growth within the eyelid that produces an eye lash. There are typically no symptoms but your dog may paw or twitch incessantly at its eye when they suffer from this disorder. The Cocker Spaniel, Boxer and Bulldog also suffer from this annoyance.

Lens Luxation is another problem for the breed.  When the supportive ligaments falter in the eye it causes the lens to luxate from its normal position. Depending on how the lens luxates will determine how your dog suffers. If forward, your Smooth Fox Terrier may inherit Glaucoma. If backwards, then they’ll like suffer from some discomfort. Surgical removal is necessary at times. Breeds that suffer from this are the Border Collie, Chinese Shar-Pei and terrier breeds.

Other issues the breed suffers from: Epilepsy, deafness and swelling of the neck due to a thyroid gland disorder.


You would probably be better off with a bigger yard for a breed of this magnitude. This is a dog that needs space and plenty of exercise. Most experts suggest at least 30 to 60 minutes of play time or walks per day. Fetch with the tennis ball or a stroll through the neighborhood will make this breed happy. A job is a plus. If you plan on living in an apartment, you’ll want to exercise them plenty mentally and physically. 

Early training and socialization will go a long way in ensuring your Smooth Fox Terrier will be a friendlier dog. It’ll also help with strangers and smaller children. With dogs, you’ll want to supervise those encounters. Children will experience a protective dog that is great with them. 

This is a high prey drive with a tendency to run off towards something it wants to track down. Remember their long history of fox bolting. Also up for consideration is their terrier traits. This brave and courageous dog will believe it is their duty to protect you from a leaf to a small field mouse. A secure fence and leash is necessary to keep the Smooth Fox Terrier in your yard.

Additionally, you’ll want to check their ear routinely for bacterial infection or debris. Trim their nails monthly to protect them from overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Of course, you’ll bathe them as you deem necessary.


Depending on what you plan on doing with your Smooth Fox Terrier will determine what kind of formula your dog will eat. How much they eat depends on their age, metabolism and energy requirements, to name a few. Not all dogs eat equally.

A high quality formula with meat as the first ingredient is typically the way to go with any dog. Chicken, turkey, fish or beef with a mixture of fruits and minerals for a perfect balance to their feeding regimen. High quality proteins, carbs, calories and crude fat will also help keep your Smooth Fox Terrier in their best shape.

Watch those snacks and table scraps, as this breed isn’t shy of food. Most experts agree that 1 to 1 3/4 cups of high quality food per day should do the trick. Twice a day for the best results and to prevent a fatal condition, Bloat. Bloat is when the stomach distends due to an excess of gas inside. When the dog can’t release, the stomach bloats causing pain and sometimes death.

As always, you should always provide your Smooth Fox Terrier with fresh drinking water.


This is a seasonal shedder that does shed heavily twice a year. However, the good news is that they are low maintenance. Once a week brushing will help pick up most dead hairs and keep your home dander free. 

The Smooth Fox Terrier has a coat that is smooth, should lie flat to their body and be hard and dense. The underbelly and thighs should be bare. 

According to the American Kennel Club, there are five acceptable coat color options: White, white and black, white and tan, white, black and tan, white tan and black.

There are no acceptable markings.

Fun Smooth Fox Terrier Facts

  • The Smooth Fox Terrier is one of the progenitors of the Toy Fox Terrier.
  • There are only 82 registrations of the breed found in 2017, according to the U.K’s Kennel Club. Whenever a breed is under 300 registration, it automatically qualifies them to be on the “vulnerable watch list.”
  • The breed is the 65th most intelligent dog on Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs” list. This means they obey the first command 50 percent of the time.
  • The Smooth Fox Terrier received recognition as the Fox Terrier in 1885 and by itself in 1984. 
  • The breed is said to descend from the Smooth Black and Tan Terriers, Beagle, Greyhound and Bull Terrier.
  • Robert Byrd, the famous Antarctica explorer had his own Smooth Fox Terrier, that he would take with him on his expeditions.
  • The Smooth Fox Terrier became the mascot for the electronic manufacturer, RCA during the 1920s. The dog’s name was “Nipper.”

Closing Words

Unfortunately, due to the shifting lifestyle of humanity, seemingly the breed has been affected by the transition of urban sprawl. Once  a popular breed and familiar face as a cultural icon, now making its way on the vulnerable watch list.

But for those who want a breed capable of many impressive roles: companion, hunter, watchdog and guard — the Smooth Fox Terrier can still be that dog in the 21st century.



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