The Breed History
Originally, smooth and wire fox terriers were coat varieties of a single breed. In 1985, they were split in the AKC registry. First records date to the late 1700s in Britain (about 20 years after the wire variety records started), but a formal breeding program didn't begin until the mid 1800s. The now extinct smooth Black and Tan Terrier may have been the smooth fox terrier progenitor. Other breeds that are purported to have influenced this variety are the Greyhound and Beagle. This breed image became widely known as the dog in the gramophone logo for RCA.
Breeding for Function
As their name implies these were originally bred for fox hunting, and excelled at going to ground, or following their quarry into the burrow. They were successfully used as small game hunters and to clear vermin. Now, commonly used for bench showing and companionship. They also have an affinity for tricks.
Height at Withers: Less than 15.5" (39.5 cm)
Weight: male 18 lb (8 kg), female 16 lb (7 kg)
Coat: Short, hard hairs are dense. These predominantly white dogs have well demarcated color patches. Brindle and red-liver are not favored as the second color. Black and tan is most common.
Longevity: 13-14 years.
Points of Conformation: An alert expression, high head and tail carriage, and sturdy square athletic build characterize this breed. The back is short, and the head has a measured standard length of 7-7.25 inches. Their small, round dark colored eyes are fairly close and deep set, with an intense expression. The top of the folded ear should be above skull level; ears are medium-leathered, triangular and hang forward. The skull is of defined width between the eyes and a minimal stop is present. The nose is black, the neck moderately long and fine, and is not throaty. The topline is level. The thorax is deep and oval in cross-section, and the caudal ribs are deep. The high set thick tail (if docked) is 3/4 of the natural length. Limbs are straight, metatarsals and metacarpals heavy and short, feet small and compact with tough pads, toes moderately arched. In body type, in all respects this breed is the same as the Wire Fox Terrier. Gait is quick and agile, springy, with a ground-covering stride.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported attributes of this breed include: Digger, can be snappy, don't tend to get along with other dogs. Though loyal, not demonstrative; in general, rather reserved. Need early obedience training to counteract independent streak. These are very active dogs that need activities and exercise so they do not become bored. They are friendly, playful and extroverted with family, and good with children especially if early socialization is carried out. Easy grooming care, a low shedding tendency, and may tend to bark.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia and Legg-Calve Perthe's Disease: Polygenic trait causing degenerative hip joint disease and arthritis. OFA reports 12.2% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 2.0% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenic trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Smooth Fox Terriers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Congenital Myasthenia Gravis: A lethal, autosomal recessive disorder in the breed. Presents within 5 weeks of birth with muscle weakness, megaesophagus, and secondary aspiration pneumonia.
Cataracts: Posterior subcapsular progressive cataracts predominate in the breed. Unknown mode of inheritance. 11.70% of Smooth Fox Terriers presented to veterinary teaching hospitals had cataracts. CERF does not recommend breeding any Smooth Fox Terrier with a cataract.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 5.66% of Smooth Fox Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 4.3% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Vitreous Degeneration: A liquefaction of the vitreous gel which may predispose to retinal detachment resulting in blindness. Identified in 2.83% of Smooth Fox Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Glaucoma and Lens Luxation: Glaucoma is an increased intraocular pressure, that can predispose to lens luxation and retinal degeneration. An inherited predisposition towards glaucoma and secondary lens luxation occurs in the breed. CERF does not recommend breeding any Smooth Fox Terrier with glaucoma or lens luxation.
Pulmonic Stenosis: The breed is reported with a higher frequency of the disorder. Affected dogs present with exercise intolerance, stunting, dyspnea, syncope and ascites due to a malformed pulmonic valve, stricture of the right ventricular outflow tract or stricture of the pulmonary artery. Polygenic mode of inheritance.
Deafness: Congenital deafness can be unilateral or bilateral. Diagnosed by BAER testing. Unknown mode of inheritance. OFA reports a high frequency, but too few have been screened for an accurate frequency.
Cystinuria/Cystine Bladder Stones: Smooth Fox Terriers have an increased risk for developing cystine bladder stones. Caused by a defect in cystine metabolism. Treat with surgical removal and life-long medical therapy. Unknown mode of inheritance in this breed.
Hereditary Ataxia: Rare disease, where affected puppies develop progressive ataxia and hypermetria at approximately four months of age, with a variable course of progression. Pathology reveals bilaterally symmetrical demyelination of dorsal spinocerebellar tracts in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions of the spinal cord. An autosomal recessive mode of inheritance is suspected.
Brachygnathism, Cervical Vertebral Instability, Epilepsy, Mitral Valve Disease, Oigodontia, Prognathism, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and von Willebrand's Disease are reported.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for coat color is available from VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes cardiac evaluation and patella evaluation. (See CHIC website; www. caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend hip and elbow radiographs, CERF eye examination, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and BAER hearing test.
- Breed name synonyms: Fox Terrier, Smooth Fox, Smooth-haired Fox Terrier
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 106 (415 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: American Fox Terrier Club: www.aftc.org
The Smooth Fox Terrier Association (UK): www.smoothfoxterrierassociation.co.uk
The Fox Terrier Club (UK): www.thefoxterrierclub.co.uk
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