Toy Fox Terrier Information
Insight on the TFT from the Judges Seminar: 16 photos depicting major points of the Toy Fox Terrier breed standard.
Judging The Toy Fox Terrier
A Pictorial Discussion Of The Breed Standard
If the TFT looks like a spotted MinPin, you need to look again. He has the vivaciousness of the Miniature Pinscher and the keenness of the Toy Manchester but he is decidedly different. Your job is to know and award that which makes him uniquely a Toy Fox Terrier.
You know all about type versus soundness and we covered the Rule Of Fives in the Talk About Type" discussion, so let’s get on to what it is that makes a Fox Terrier a Toy dog. (Words or phrases in bold are direct quotes from the Breed Standard and within context.)
The AKC Toy Fox Terrier Standard says he has terrier attributes but reminds us that he is “diminutive” and like all Toys, he has an “endless abiding love for his master.” Terrier folk know a terrier will dawdle a bit if there’s an interesting sound in the bushes whereas the Toy Fox Terrier's toy breed genetics tell him to stop whatever he’s doing and race as fast as his sturdy legs can carry him, straight into the arms or lap of his owner. He's the perfect blend of the “courage and animation” so prized in the terrier, and the ever-attentive, eager to please personality of the toy dog.
Size is clearly addressed in the breed standards. One of only three breeds in early UKC conformation, the Toy Fox Terrier has always been weighed in or out in order to compete. The AKC standard controls size by measuring out dogs over 11.5 inches or less than 8.5 inches tall. This prevents breeders from trying to breed “tea cups” or from starving the dog to be sure it weighs in.
This mature dog is square in proportion or as his breeder-judge terms it, "cobby" which also describes ideal proportion. You will see many Toy Fox Terriers that are too long in body. It has become a common fault today - and you will see many more of incorrect proportion if you misunderstand that slightly longer refers only to bitches and never to male dogs.
The bone must be strong and not just for esthetic reasons. We don’t want dogs awarded that will contribute to the brittle bone/breakage problem! Okay so you know about some other breeds that have brittle bones but trust me, they don’t all think they are superman and are not given to leaping off tall buildings as is this fearless little fox terrier.
Head is elegant but the muzzle is strong rather than fine. While there should be no indication of coarseness, we must remember the history and the direction TFT people are coming from. This is a toy dog but he is a working terrier. That is also why under Bite we are told he must have a full complement of strong white teeth..” That does not mean tiny, poorly-rooted "toy" teeth. The eyes are dark, including eye-rims, with the exception of chocolates. The eyes are round, not “oval” as in the Minpin. They should be full… and somewhat prominent” and set well apart, not slanted as in the Toy Manchester. They are never bulging. The soft intelligent expression isn’t particularly unique but on the other hand it is definitely not the hard-bitten or stern expression seen in many terriers.
Ears are confusing to some but two things will keep you on track. First, they should be right up on top of the head, high and close together, but never touching. Size is no big deal as long as they are in proportion to the head and body. As in most breeds, no exception is made for pups of show age. The ears must be erect.
JUDGING TIP: This is a table breed. In UKC shows, they are not baited and are shown free posed so don’t assume you have a novice in the ring if the handler doesn't "stack" the dog. Most will be good on the table but you may find things go more smoothly if you try what I call the “Fancy Exam." Glen and Jean Fancy may not have started the practice but they do it soooo smoothly. The exam is done in a quiet “hello doggy” non-excitable manner and the teeth are done last, after the dog has accepted being gently petted. No need to cause the dog to move out of a carefully arranged pose by looking at bite first. Great technique.
The Skull is moderately wide and only slightly rounded. It is softly wedge shaped and the breed standard further explains that when viewed from the front, the head widens gradually right to the base of the ears as in the "ears" example.
When viewed in profile, the medium stop is not abrupt, it is somewhat sloping. The head is in equal proportion from nose to stop and from stop to occiput and should be in equal balance whether seen from front or profile and it should be in proportion to the dog. This head study exemplifies proper stop, ratio, proportion, strength, shape and ear size and placement. An apple head is faulty. Muzzle is parallel to top of skull and strong enough to grasp a varmit. Lips are small and tight. Bite is preferred full and complete with strong white teeth that meet in a scissors. Lost teeth should not to be faulted as long as the bite is correct. So if the head looks like a Chihuahua, Minpin, or Manchester, it ain’t a Toy Fox Terrier.
Neck is proudly erect, arched, curved, muscular, and should not be throaty. In fact, this is a dog that fills up his supple skin so there should be no wrinkles anywhere. The neck length is approximately the same as the head but you don’t need to measure. This standard clearly describes overall balance with no one feature exaggerated. A swan neck would be too weak to allow the Toy Tox Terrier to snap the neck of a rodent in one swift shake. Topline is level whether moving or standing. The Body tapers slightly from ribs to flank when viewed from above and has moderate tuck-up. It should not appear racy in outline, this is a terrier with substance. The chest is deep and muscular with well sprung ribs and deep brisket, reaching to the elbow. The Back is straight, level, and muscular and the Loin is short and strong. The Croup is also level with topline and “well rounded. The Tail is set on high, held erect and (there’s that thing about proportion again) in proportion to dog, meaning docked to the 3rd or 4th joint. This dog shows excellent topline (he’s a little stretched) body shape and balance, neck, head proportion, short hocks, and tail set.
Forequarters are well angulated but not overdeveloped meaning they are well muscled but not bulging. The forechest is well developed. Feet are small and oval with strong well-arched tight toes and deep pads. Not mentioned in the standard but something for which you should be prepared during table exam, is a condition called “short toe” wherein the outside toes are too short to touch the ground. This is a recessive hereditary condition resulting in improper weight distribution, which will eventually weaken the pastern and may lead to arthritic problems.
Hindquarters are strong and muscular, including the upper and lower thigh, which should be of good length. Weak underdeveloped rear quarters could be from “lack of conditioning” but in a dog as active as the TFT, that may mean the exhibit is not properly kept so…
A Toy Fox Terrier will always be hard and muscular if well bred and given adequate opportunity to exercise each day. This 5.5 pound female has excellent rear angulation, strong stifles, and hocks well let down.
Stifles are clearly defined and well angulated so a steep rear with weak tendons is a serious genetic flaw in a dog that has always earned its keep, or it indicates lack of care. The breed is not cowhocked. Period. Rear Dewclaws should be removed if present.
Coat is shiny, satiny, fine in texture and smooth to the touch. It is not open, coarse or wiry. The ruff and onto the neck and shoulders is slightly longer. Although the standard states it uniformly covers the body, you will know it may be thinner on muzzle, inside of legs, and feet. The coat is very distinctive and you should note the smoothness as you examine the dog. It should feel as though the dog is snugly wrapped in satin.
Color is usually tri-color but white and tan, black and white, and tri-color with chocolate in place of black is equally acceptable. The body is always over fifty percent white regardless of the head color. The Tri-Color (black head or chocolate head) must have sharply defined tan markings on cheeks, lips, and eye dots. Body spots (black, tan, or chocolate) should be rich and clear and of the same color as the head. Blazes are acceptable but may not touch the eyes or ears as in this puppy. The body should be clear white but a small amount of ticking is not penalized.
Markings are important and we must must be careful not to undo nearly a hundred years of work. Color that extends below the elbow or hock is faulted. This puppy has a multitude of color faults – the body is way over 50% marked, and the markings extend below the hock.
*** Gait is smooth and flowing, not mincing, not high stepping and most definitely not hackney. The front legs should reach well out in a straight line from shoulder to foot with no wasted motion or flipping of pasterns. The rear has strong drive as befits a dog that is fit and muscular enough to do the many tasks we ask of him. The Toy Fox Terrier is an outstanding Agility competitor. Again, for the third time, emphasis is on a level straight topline and the head and tail carriage is erect.
Temperament is intelligent but let’s face it, no standard calls for the breed to be a dullard. The Toy Fox Terrier Standard spells it out. He learns new tasks easily, is eager to please, and adapts to almost any situation. He is like other terriers and not easily intimidated so you can forgive a puppy for being a bit overwhelmed, but the adult should be self-possessed, spirited, determined.
Then, just to be sure you got the message, the breed standard warns that any dog lacking good terrier attitude and personality is to be faulted. You can be sure that this spiffy little dog is just bursting with personality and ready to go a’huntin, take a trip 'round the ring – or cuddle in someone’s lap.
For UKC dogs, AKC shows are a whole new atmosphere. United Kennel Club dogs are not sure about bait and the bigger rings and greater numbers but they will probably catch on sooner than their owners. The Toy Fox Terrier is a natural show off. If sound and shown properly (meaning the handler is standing up as most terriers are shown), is a self-stacking breed.
The Toy Fox Terrier is a new breed for AKC judges and for the exhibitors. Many UKC exhibitor enters the AKC rings with trepidation, having heard how strict the shows are and, let’s face it, they are the new kids on the block and worried about how “political” the judging may be. The next few years will either convince them that AKC judges are kind, sensitive, and among the most knowledgeable in the world. Or it won’t.
You will either like this spirited little dog, or you won’t. But what you must do is take time to learn what makes him a Toy Fox Terrier and then judge him with his background and heritage in your mind.
Feel free to also judge him with pride in what Americans can do. He is among only a few breeds developed in this country and he takes a back seat to none!
From 2007 ATFTC Judges Seminars presented by Barbara J. Andrews.
Photos courtesy of: Margo Carter, Judy Chestnut, Eliza Hopkins, Kelley Maldon, Susan McCoy, Darlene Rascatti, Violet Denney, Sally Richerson, and Denise Monette.
Toy Fox Terrier judges and breeders candidly list today's most important features AND most common faults in this Oct. 2014 judges education feature: Judging The Toy Fox Terrier