Smooth Fox Terrier

Written by: Jamie
Updated: March 11, 2021

One of the less popular members of the Fox Terrier family. Learn all about this Vulnerable Native Breed in our latest in-depth guide!

smooth fox terrier on snowy land

Height: 15.5 inches
Weight: 7-8 kilos
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives & Negatives

Check out the pros and cons of the Smooth Fox Terrier below:


  • Family-friendly pet
  • Easy to train
  • Great watchdog
  • Minimal grooming maintenance


  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Not dog or cat friendly
  • High exercise needs
  • Vocal, likes to bark

smooth fox terrier on grass


Smooth Fox Terriers were one of the first varieties of Fox Terriers to be established as their own breed. Unlike the Wire Fox Terrier, the Smooth is listed as a Vulnerable Native Breed by the Kennel Club.

They just aren’t as popular as their cousins. The pair are distinguished by the difference in their coat.

Since the fox hunting ban, Smooth Fox Terriers quickly reduced in numbers. Although fox hunting is illegal, it is still practiced in the UK.

The provision within Article 1 of the Hunting Act ‘unless his hunting is exempt’ has been used as a loophole over the last two decades. Traditional hunts are allowed to continue.

The breed is well-known in the show ring but isn’t as popular for sole use as a companion. Yet the Wire Haired Fox Terrier seems to be ticking all the boxes.

They bagged the title for Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show more than any other breed!

Small, muscular, and robust, this dog is made for speed! The breed wouldn’t kill prey, instead, they would ‘bolt foxes’.

This means they would drive the prey towards the hunters and hounds whenever they took cover. Unlike the Wire Haired Fox Terrier, this breed was more susceptible to injuries.

smooth fox terrier alert


Like the Wire Haired variety, Smooth Fox Terriers were created through the crossing of the Beagle, Greyhound, Bull Terrier, Black and Tan Terrier, and the Old English Terrier. They date back to at least the 18th century and originate from England.

The earliest depiction of the Smooth Fox Terrier was in 1790. Colonel Thornton painted his Smooth Fox Terrier, Pitch.  These canines were the first breed of Fox Terrier to be recognized by the Kennel Club.

Many breed enthusiasts debate over whether the Smooth and Wire Fox Terrier are one of the same breed or totally different.

Smooth Fox Terriers were used to hunt foxes. When the fox went to ground, these dogs were small enough to enter the dens, thus driving out the fox.

Many years ago, this breed would have had a docked tail. In 2007, the UK banned tail docking. By law only registered vets can carry out this practice.

At Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the very first winner to hold the Best in Show title was a Smooth Fox Terrier named Warren Remedy.

He stole the title three years in a row (1907,1908,1909), a record that still hasn’t been beaten. In 1910 another Smooth Fox Terrier named Sabine Rarebit bagged the award.

In 1879 the Smooth Fox Terrier was first imported into America. Then in 1885, the breed finally received American Kennel Club recognition.

A century later the Smooth and Wire Haired Fox Terrier were distinguished as separate breeds. Today, this canine is now registered as a Vulnerable Native Breed with the Kennel Club.

In the UK the Fox Terrier Club was established in 1876 by Mr. Harding Cox. It is the oldest breed club within the Terrier family. The club formed the first breed standards, many of which have stayed the same to this day.


Smooth Fox Terriers are alert, energetic, fearless, playful, and affectionate. They do hold some of the typical Terrier traits such as barking and digging.

First-time owners should be confident and dominant if they stand a chance at training this canine.

black and white smooth fox terrier

Fox Terriers love their food so keep an eye on food intake as they’re prone to weight gain. Due to their hunting background, a Smooth Fox Terrier puppy will automatically have a strong prey drive.

They’re also inquisitive and would explore every inch of the outdoors if they could!

Recommended: Rough Collies share a similar background with the Smooth Collie. Learn more about them in our guide.

Are Smooth Fox Terriers Good with Strangers?

As natural watchdogs, Fox Terriers will instantly announce the arrival of a stranger through their high-pitched bark. They’re often aloof towards people they don’t know but can be trained to be more accepting.

Are Smooth Fox Terriers Good with Children?

Smooth Fox Terriers get along well with children. They can be a little rough when playing so are better suited for older children. A Smooth Fox Terrier pup may nip when becoming excitable during play. Make sure this behavior doesn’t continue into adulthood.

Are Smooth Fox Terriers Good with Other Dogs?

No, this breed isn’t known for being friendly with other dogs. They’re fearless and won’t back down from a fight, but they can also instigate one with their dominant personality.

This breed can be trained to live with dogs and cats, although they should never be trusted alone with a cat. Other household pets should be avoided.


Smooth Fox Terriers will require up to one hour of exercise each day. At some point, vigorous exercise should also take place.

These canines have a high prey drive due to their past working life. They also have a strong impulse to wander off on an exploration. For these reasons, the Smooth Fox Terrier should always be kept on a leash.

Mental stimulation needs to be included. Activities that make the mind think such as hide and seek, find the treat, brain games, and dog sports will mentally stimulate a dog.

Although the Smooth Fox Terrier isn’t as popular as the Wire Fox Terrier in the show ring, they are still excellent contenders.

Ideally, this pooch should have access to a garden. They can live happily in both the city and the countryside.

As an alert and energetic breed, this pooch is at its happiest when taking part in activities outdoors. Smooth Fox Terrier puppies can be mischievous so split their exercise times into multiple walks across the day.

smooth fox terrier playing with a ball

Related: Want to learn about the Smooth Collie, the Vulnerable Native Breed in the Collie family? Then take a look at our guide!


Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Smooth Fox Terrier below:

  • Legg-Perthes Disease- The hip joint deteriorates and will eventually collapse. Affected dogs will limp until they are unable to put any weight on the affected leg.
  • Cataracts- This disease commonly leads to blindness due to an opacity that appears in the eye after an abnormal lens change. The size of the opacity will determine the severity of the condition.
  • Lens Luxation- A genetic defect that causes the deterioration of the fibers (lens zonules) that keeps the lens in place. It will cause the lens to shift from its original position. Typically seen in Terrier breeds.
  • Patella Luxation- The kneecap (Patella) will dislocate out of place before quickly returning into position. Affected dogs may skip a step or run on three legs momentarily.
  • Glaucoma- Closed-eye Glaucoma is painful and will cause vision loss due to an increase of fluid and pressure within the eye. Open-Angle Glaucoma develops slower and appears later in life.
  • Atopy- A life-long skin disease. As there is no cure, dog owners will have to learn to manage the symptoms. These include itchiness, hair loss, and redness.

Intelligence & Training

Smooth Fox Terriers are intelligent and highly curious! They love to investigate anything that peaks their interests so outdoor training must always take place on a leash.

Fox Terriers are energetic and lively, especially when growing up, up. Before starting a training session, always exercise the dog.

Like others in the Terrier family, Fox Terriers also have a stubborn trait. It is important to establish leadership and boundaries first to gain the dog’s respect.

Be consistent and don’t let the Fox Terrier get away with breaking the rules, otherwise, you’ll be back at square one. Housebreaking can be a struggle, crate training is recommended.

smooth fox terrier sitting on wood

Fox Terriers are fairly easy to train. Keep sessions short so they don’t become bored or distracted. Training goes hand in hand with exercise and socialization.

Barking and digging can become excessive. Practice the quiet command and restrict your dog to digging in one specific area.

Reward-based training works best so find something that motivates the dog. This could be food, affection, or even toys. These lively pooches excel in dog sports and perform well in the show ring.

If you need outside help and would prefer a professional trainer source somebody experienced with Terriers.

Related: The maltichon breed gets along well with other dogs due to its sociable nature.


Fortunately, the Smooth Fox Terrier doesn’t require extensive grooming maintenance. Their short coat is rather dense and will need a brush at least once a week.

A rubber and bristle brush are the best tools to use. Unlike the Wire Haired variety, Smooth Fox Terriers shed a lot.

Baths should be given as and when necessary. Only when there they’re covered in debris or have a noticeable odor. Generally, the natural oils will maintain the coat and skin.

smooth fox terrier lying down

Brushing helps to remove dirt and redistribute the oils. Wait a minimum of 4 weeks before bath times.

Ears will need to be cleaned once a week. Debris can build in the canal which could lead to an infection. Nails should be filed or trimmed every two weeks.

Dental hygiene mustn’t be forgotten. Brush teeth at least three times a week. Vets recommend daily brushing.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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