A Big Little Dog

With a height standard ranging from 8 ½ to 11 ½ inches at the withers, Toy Fox Terrier breeders have wiggle room in their breeding program regarding size, though their dogs must be square in proportion, their height approximately equal to length. That said, there are nine disqualifications listed in the AKC Toy Fox Terrier breed standard and most of them are related to color. From the standard’s section on what the disqualifications are pertaining to color: A blaze extending into the eyes or ears. Any dog whose head is more than fifty percent white.  Any dog whose body is not more than fifty percent white. Any dog whose head and body spots are of different colors. Any color combination not stated above. 

Put another way, Toy Fox Terriers come in five colors, and here are some points regarding color:

  • Body spots on black-headed tri-colors must be black
  • Body spots on chocolate-headed tri-colors must be chocolate
  • Body spots on white and blacks must be black
  • Body spots on white and tans must be tan
    (Those first four points can be summed up with one simple sentence: The color of body spots must be the same color as the predominant head color!)
  • A blaze must not extend into the eyes or ears
  • Head must be more than 50% colored
  • Body must be more than 50% white
  • Nose color must be black with the exception of chocolates, which are self-colored

Toy Fox Terriers may or may not have body spots, but either white-bodied or spotted-bodied is well within the standard, and each should be given equal consideration.

While TFT coloring may be a legacy from Smooth Fox Terrier ancestors, it is not a miniaturized version of the Smooth Fox Terrier, but a breed unto itself.

We stray from the topic of color to mention that back in the day, owners/breeders of Smooth Fox Terriers found that the smallest, “runtiest” puppies in their litters tended to be very well tempered, but the scrappiest in the lot. In the early 20th century, dedicated breeders – many of whom were farmers who found these little dogs to be superb ratters – selectively bred the best of their small Smooth Fox Terriers to begin developing the Toy Fox Terrier as a unique breed. Sources differ on whether the introduction of Chihuahuas and Toy Manchester Terriers into the gene pool to reduce size was a good thing or not (other sources mention that Min Pins and IGs may also have been introduced). The Canadian Kennel Club’s website writes that incorporating these breeds was “hotly protested by the majority of Toy Fox Terrier breeders and in 1960 the studbook was closed,” while in an article on the AKC website states that “...fanciers became concerned with the breed’s often inconsistent size. In order to see that the dog remained small yet powerful, breeders for many years had been crossing their Toy Fox Terriers with Toy Manchester Terriers and Chihuahuas.” In the same article, Rick Beauchamp, former vice president of the American Toy Fox Terrier Club, is quoted as saying, “You would not see what we see today without those crosses-the breed is not merely a shrunken-down version of the Smooth Fox Terrier.

We can’t disagree with Beauchamp. As we see it, the Toy Fox Terrier is a marvelous combination of both Toy and Terrier traits: A mild temperament but not without terrier gameness, courage, and animation – a Big Little Dog.”

Image: Toy Fox Terrier by Glenda Harlan

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