By Anne Kieffer, Toy Fox Terrier Breeder-Judge
In the United Kennel Club (UKC), Toy Fox Terriers are in the Terrier Group. However, when the TFT was accepted into the American Kennel Club (AKC), the breed was placed into the Toy Group.
I have often pondered this and the slightly varying standards between the two registries. Lately, the question I most feel needs some attention is: "Does Size Matter?" You see, over the years, I have come to realize that depending on the club, people tend to view the Toy Fox Terrier as either a toy or a terrier. The problem with either viewpoint is that the TFT is both!
Toy Fox Terriers are unique in that they are both a terrier and a toy breed as are Yorkshire Terriers. To separate them into one or the other category is a mistake and can lead to serious changes in approaches to breeding and exhibiting them. I realize that in order to show in UKC or AKC shows, all breeds must be put into a “group” and that no breed can be included in more than one group.
One of the historical beauties of Toy Fox Terriers is the ability to be easily handled and managed by all. I have been dragged around the show ring by a Rat Terrier puppy! I love Rat Terriers but would not be comfortable recommending them to toddlers or the elderly. Some feel Toy Fox Terriers are not suitable for very young children. Of course, I disagree. With proper supervision and coaching, I have had many a happy family with very young children successfully enjoy a TFT puppy. In fact, I believe this breed to be so adaptable, I often state they are for ages 3 to 93 and for virtually any living situation!
So what does size have to do with this discussion? Well, if the TFT is to stay true to its heritage as a Toy Terrier, special effort must be made to keep them Toy breed size. Most terriers are simply too much dog for many people. The beauty of the Toy Fox Terrier is that it is manageable by all!
Toy Fox Terrier size: One matured at 12" and 15 lbs, the other at 10.5" and 5.9 lbs.
Does size really matter? You bet! Once a toy fox terrier begins to surpass 8 lbs in weight, your 80 year old grandmother who just had a hip replacement would be hard pressed to manage one. Depending on size, weight, muscle mass, and bone density, some terriers might be able to pull granny's arm right out of her socket! That is why I feel that an 11.5 inch Toy Fox Terrier with no weight limit can easily be too much dog for the average American household.
In the 1920s, Toy Fox Terriers that were too big for their own breeding program were introduced into the Rat Terrier breeding program. With this newest strain, Rat Terrier breeders began producing their own toy-sized offspring. See more at dogtime.com/dog-breeds/rat-terrier.
Size, Weight Pro and Con Fallacies: Now I know that some will say that in order to improve the conformation of the TFT, we need to stay away from a weight standard since it seems logical that bigger and denser bone mass should equal better conformation and a reduction in the likelihood of bone breakage. Those who hold to this concept are just as likely to feel that larger bitches are better able to produce larger litters and less likely to run the risk of c-sections, but I will leave this particular issue to another article. Bigger or larger weight or bone does not equal better or more correct conformation nor does it equal less likely to break. Frailness in bone or conformation should not be tolerated in any size Toy Fox Terrier, Chihuahua, or even an Italian Greyhound. Why are TFTs prone to having broken limbs? That too will be a whole other article.
To produce a light framed, healthy, sturdy “toy-sized” Toy Fox Terrier that fits the breed standard should be the priority of every breeder. This takes focus, determination, self-discipline and a willingness to remove over time those TFTs that exceed both the weight and height standards and those that tend to produce larger Toy Fox Terriers.
Putting a small male with a large female does NOT solve this problem!
Observing and documenting which dogs predominantly carry and produce smaller offspring is the key. Striving to reach a consistency in size is a worthy goal and I believe our breed is in desperate need of breeders who can do that. As a breeder, going bigger is no problem whatsoever, especially since our origin is the Smooth Fox Terrier and most other toy breeds are miniaturized versions of larger breeds. But to maintain what breeders strove to achieve in creating and maintaining the toy size and weight for so many generations is hard work. It is my hope that our breed never succumbs to extremes and that breeders resist fads and fancies. May judges in all registries play their part in keeping the Toy Fox Terrier both a Toy and a Terrier!
Judges, don’t be afraid to wicket. Don’t pass over the smaller dog as inferior or less as regards breeding stock. Toy Fox Terriers are toy dogs! If you see a Toy Fox Terrier as large as a mini or standard Rat Terrier, then you are looking at way too much TFT!
Two key words in our standard should come to mind: refined and elegant. Another beautiful word in our standard is “moderate”. When in doubt, ask yourself two questions. First, would I let my elderly grandmother manage this dog all by herself? Secondly, the most important question you should ask yourself is “Does Size Matter?”
Size-Height ratio examples: Here are a couple of examples close to our height range or slightly over the measurement. You can see how much weight can fluctuate within that height range.
French Bull Dog
General Height: 11 to 12 inches at the shoulder, Weight General: “16 to 28 pounds”.
Miniature Bull Terrier
Like all the bull breeds, the Miniature Bull Terrier packs a lot of muscle mass onto its frame. Height ranges from “10 to 14 inches” and weight from “23 to 33 pounds”.