Toy Fox Terrier Information
The Toy Fox Terrier is Happy In AKC
by UKC Judge Dr. Marsha Shively, reprinted from TFT magazine, April 10, 2003
Having this opportunity to talk about the Toy Fox Terrier is exciting, especially when considering the column will be first read in the first Toy Fox Terrier Magazine, débuting at the first AKC Toy Fox Terrier National Specialty Show! Aside from the above-mentioned ‘first’s’ for the TFT, this era is a critical one for the breed. Numerous topics can be brought up but the ones I plan to focus on here are: Why breed enthusiasts are happy with being in AKC; Why becoming part of AKC’s recognized confirmation breeds is important; and Why this recognition is helpful to the TFT’s future.
Why breed enthusiasts are happy with being in AKC derives from several areas.
Obviously, some people just enjoy being part of a long recognized registry; this is true all over the world and in all sorts of programs. However, AKC offers a serious opportunity to gain information/guidance from a variety of resources [directly ordered products, local clubs, information available at shows, seminars, books, etc.]; on a variety of topics [breeding, choosing a puppy/dog, forming a club, how to run a show, all sorts of handing and performance topics, etc.]; and at introductory and experienced informational levels.
Numerous avenues are open for participation in AKC: support, performance, confirmation, rescue, handling, club and delegate/national offices. And of course, the wealth of opportunity to learn from and work within canine health is excellent.
Finally, the topic arises of the shows themselves: numerous shows throughout the country allow anyone to exhibit all year round without lengthy drives or over-night stays; show rules are followed [with a paid professional AKC rep on site] and show times are posted and kept. [While this might cut down on the talk-time around the ring, time is not wasted waiting for an event and opportunity is always available to visit away from the ring itself.] Personally, established ring times are important to me but I have found at most AKC shows people sitting and watching the show itself, discussing with other viewers the various dogs/breeds/and decisions. Thus, the format offers a venue for concentrating on showing and an opportunity for concentrating on learning more about dogs themselves.
Earlier this year, I was surprised to see all the people gathering to watch the group rings! At larger shows all the ring side chairs are taken early and observers sometimes run five rows deep! These people aren’t just cheering for a favorite dog but rather are sitting there to observe and learn. Several times I’ve left the ring to be greeted by truly interested people wanting to know more about my breed, often asking 1-2 specific questions; having people really this interested in dogs is very exciting. [I will admit that initially this was a bit of a shock but find it exciting that many people are more interested in learning about dogs and breeds than just in buying a certain puppy.]
Undoubtedly, becoming part of AKC’s recognized confirmation breeds is important and helpful to the TFT. The ‘limited registration’ offers an opportunity for selling a dog, as well as purchasing one from excellent stock, with registration papers without opening the door for its ‘get’ being registered. This should reduce the number of dogs being bred in unfavorable conditions, though we all recognize such has not been totally eliminated for other breeds.
For those truly interested in their Toy Fox Terriers, the AKC canine health program is well established and has already addressed numerous health issues in breeds; thus, a particular health concern readily becomes part of a national program, not just one person’s worry. Several years ago, I helped organize a health inquiry [with the UKC’s national TFT] but getting information was very difficult as many were worried over how the information would be handled; thus, while information was developed, this was accomplished with more difficult than necessary and was quite limited. These issues should not come up with the well-established AKC program. [I certainly recommend those interested in our breed’s health to become members of AKC’s Canine Health Foundation, as I did several years ago.]
Additionally, the TFT can benefit from the wealth of established written information, seminars, and studies already started within related breeds: terriers in general as well as smooth fox terriers and certain other toy breeds which most of us know were mixed into the Toy Fox Terrier by various breeders wanting to down size the dog quickly [Min-Pins; Chihuahuas]. As these other breeds already have established information programs, a person interested in TFT’s health issues can become part of an established program, rather than simply work on a personal level, which can give over-focus to a particular problem, possibly a minor one for most of the breed.
Finally, the issue comes up about the TFT breed’s future: a critical topic. As mentioned earlier in this article, this breed is in another crisis period. We recognize that breeds change as they move into [any] the registry; however, this generally comes from the breeders/exhibitors rather than the registry itself. Interestingly enough, the serious TFT people generally support the move into AKC recognition, believing it offers an opportunity for insuring its standard. The position is that the AKC judges and those interested in all dog breeds will be evaluating on the basis of much training, years of experience, and personal involvement, generally with several breeds both as breeder and handler. Thus, a TFT which comes into the ring with a well-balanced, conditioned look, a smooth reaching/driven gate, level top line, and a terrier head and proper front should be recognized readily and rewarded. This should help keep the Toy Fox Terrier true to its standard during the present, mentioned crisis. The current era seems to be one which threatens the basic look/function of the TFT: some are breeding for a delicate or pretty look; some just like a particular dog, are blind to its faults, and breed it often. All breeds get these cycles Most of us believe that we will survive ours better by being in the AKC confirmation ring.
We remember that the TFT, like several other strong little breeds, was seen doing circus tricks not because it was delicate or pretty but because it was bright, strong, and athletic. It survived on the family farm not because it needed lots of attention but rather because it was healthy, easily had its pups, ‘ratted,’ and snuggled with the kids and the ‘old folk,’ as a smaller dog. Thus, most of us associated with the TFT believe these long enduring, breed qualities will be recognized by the knowledgeable AKC judges and encouraged at seminars and within local clubs, and in fact might result in breed improvement!
Admittedly, we fanciers have our work ‘cut out for us,’ but, like our TFT's, we are enduring and ‘up to the job.’ All together, though, we know being in AKC offers us support and opportunities for strengthening our breed and its involvement in more people’s lives and in more venues. I encourage everyone to center on the breed rather than on personal preferences and taking defensive positions. Remember, lots of people, over many [60 to 100] years, worked to develop the Toy Fox Terrier, which you so dearly love. Enjoy your dog[s] and take all the opportunities being in AKC offers you and the breed for knowledge, breed improvement, and sheer fun!