Information about the Miniature Fox Terrier

The Miniature Fox Terrier is a small, fine, lightweight working terrier developed as a hunting dog and vermin router. It is known colloquially in its native Australia as the ‘Mini Foxie’.

A balanced, smoothly-muscled dog breed, the Miniature Fox Terrier has a distinctive head with erectile ears that can stand straight up or fold at the tips. Another distinguishing feature is its articulate, oval-shaped foot. The breed standard has always allowed for the dog’s tail to be docked or undocked. Natural bobtails are known to occur. There are only three permitted colour combinations: black and white, tan and white, and tricolour (black, white, and tan). The coat of the Mini Foxie is always short and fine. Weight is 3.5 to 5.5 kilograms and height at the withers is 9.5 to 12.0 inches (24 cm to 30.5 cm).

Miniature Fox Terriers are closely related to the Toy Fox Terrier, a breed that developed along similar lines in the United States. Some Toy Fox Terrier owners can trace their dogs’ pedigrees to “Foiler”, the first Fox Terrier registered by the Kennel Club in Britain, circa 1875-6. Other related breeds include the Jack Russell Terrier, the Rat Terrier, and the Tenterfield Terrier.

Bred for hunting rodents (rats, mice) and rabbits principally, these dogs are known for their speed and agility. With the ruthlessness of their attack on rodent pest species and their ability to squeeze into and out of tight spaces, they have made themselves an indispensable part of many Australian farms since the 19th Century. More recently, Miniature Fox Terriers have proved well-suited to being domestic pets in more urban environments (according to the breed club). Their diminutive size, short clean hair and loyal acceptance of their place in the social hierarchy make them good pets, particularly in households with small children. Despite their small size, the Mini Fox Terrier is a remarkably robust, well capable of playing with children without being injured.

Miniature Fox Terriers generally get along well with other animals but, like most working terriers, cannot distinguish between small pets, such as reptiles and fancy rats, and vermin, and so must not be left alone with such animals. They are confident and will generally interact with dogs and other animals many times their size.

Miniature Fox Terriers are generally healthy and hardy despite their size. They need little maintenance; lightweight individuals and those that do not run on hard surfaces will need regular nail clipping. Luxating patellae, a common ailment among small breeds, occurs frequently among backyard bred dogs of this breed; breed clubs insist upon health screening for breeding individuals to help eradicate it.

Miniature Fox Terriers are renowned for their longevity in being able to reach an advanced age. Usually, well cared for Terriers can live as long as 18-20 years, sometimes beyond. Factors influencing longevity include diet, a sense of belonging, sufficient exercise, room to run around and generally how happy the dog is. They are also prone to epilepsy.

The breed was most likely developed from crosses between smaller Fox Terriers and Fox Terrier types and Toy Manchester Terriers, and, later, crosses to other toy breeds such as the English Toy Terrier and Whippet. Hunters were seeking a smaller, speedy Fox Terrier that could be used for hunting smaller pests such as rats and rabbits. Although the origins of the breed are English, the breed was developed in and is endemic to Australia. By the late 19th century, the breed type was clearly identifiable, where these small terriers proved its worth against rabbits, rats, and snakes on Australian farms. Mini Foxies demonstrated tenacity, endurance, and extreme loyalty to their owners; the dogs were routinely taken on the hunt, were sometimes used in search parties, and were used at Sydney’s North Head Quarantine Station, the Riverstone Meat Works, and the Brisbane City Council as vermin exterminators.

The dog’s vigilance, size, affectionate temperament, and ease of care soon resulted in its becoming a popular choice in urban centers as well, and by the 1920s the Miniature Fox Terrier was iconic. So well known and popular was the ‘Little Foxie’ that very little thought was given to the need to preserve its lines.