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Miniature Fox Terrier

Nicole Cosgrove

miniature fox terrier

The Miniature Fox Terrier is a small Australian breed also known as the Mini Fox Terrier or nicknamed the Mini Foxie or Mini Foxi. It is a working terrier dog who’s original purpose was a hunting dog and to take down vermin. It has a life span of 12 to 18 years and while there are very strong similarities between it and the American bred Toy Fox Terrier, both developed along the same time using similar breeds and such, they are not the same dog.
The Miniature Fox Terrier at a Glance
Name Miniature Fox Terrier
Other names Mini Fox Terrier
Nicknames Mini Foxie or Mini Foxi
Origin Australia
Average size Small
Average weight 7 to 12 pounds
Average height 9 to 12 inches
Life span 12 to 18 years
Coat type Dense, short, smooth
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, brown, tan, black
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Excellent
Tolerance to cold Moderate to good
Shedding Average to above average – will be hair around the home
Drooling Low – not prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average to above average – measure the food and make it is exercised
Grooming/brushing Average to above average – brush two to three times a week
Barking Frequent – may be a good idea to have it trained to stop on command
Exercise needs Fairly active
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good
Good first dog Good to very good
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good with socialization but best with older children
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good, socialization is needed as the high prey drive does kick in
Good with strangers Good with socialization but wary at first
Good apartment dog Excellent in terms of size but the frequent barking could be an issue and it would need daily exercise outside
Handles alone time well Low – prefers not to be alone for a long time
Health issues Quite healthy – a few issues include patellar luxation, mange, legg-calve-perthes and von willebrands
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $195 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $705 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations Miniature Fox Terrier Rescue, Mini Foxie Club of Australia Rescue, also check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported

The Miniature Fox Terrier’s Beginnings

The Miniature Fox Terrier is Australian bred and was developed using a variety of other terriers or terrier types including small Fox Terriers (brought from England by settlers), Toy Manchester Terriers, English Toy Terriers and Whippets. Its origins are not completely clear but sometime in the 1800s hunters wanted a smaller version of the Fox Terrier that was light and fast for hunting small game like rabbit and taking care of vermin like rats and mice. By the late 1800s the breed had come into its own and was a very popular Australian farm and ranch dog. Called little foxies they were very effective against snakes, rats and rabbits and such.

For a couple of hundred of years they were valued for there devotion to their owners, their endurance and tenacity and they were taken on hunts, kept as vermin exterminators and even used sometimes in search parties. Its value was also seen by people living in urban areas where pests were a problem too and people also enjoyed how affectionate it was, its small size and how easy to take care of it was. By the 1920s it had become extremely popular and well known.

New Lease on Life

A number of factors such as impending breed specific legislation and concerns about protecting native dog breeds led to a group of people meeting in the 1980s to discuss the Miniature Fox Terrier’s future. The MFCA ( Miniature Fox Terrier Club of Australia) was formed in 1986 and they wrote a breed standard for it. Another breed club then formed in 1991 in South Australian with the goal of getting recognition from the ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council).

Since there was an issue with its name they called the dog the Tenterfield Terrier but that dog now is different to the Miniature Fox Terrier. The latter still does not have recognition from the ANKC but the breed is still very popular in Australia and demand outweighs bred dogs. As popular as it is in Australia and New Zealand it is not that well known outside of it and some do confuse the American bred Toy Fox Terrier as being the same dog as a Miniature Fox Terrier when they just developed in similar ways, but quite far apart. The Toy is recognized by the AKC but the Miniature is not.

Miniature Fox Terrier

The Dog You See Today

The Miniature Fox Terrier is a small dog weighing 7 to 12 pounds and standing 9 to 12 inches tall. It is a muscled but fine boned and well balanced dog with the length of its body being about the same as its height. It is an agile dog and has unusual oval shaped feet rather than round ones. (It is born with round ones and then the oval shape develops in a few months). Breeding standards will allow tail docking but there are different laws in different countries about this practice. Sometimes puppies are born with a natural bobtail.

The coat is short, smooth and fine and come in three combinations of color for show dogs, tan and white, black and white and tan, black and white. While it is fine for companion dogs, full colored coats are not allowed in dog shows. The head is small but distinctive and it has erect ears that are set high in the head. They can be both completely erect or have a fold over at the tips. Its eyes are medium in size, oval shaped and dark.

The Inner Miniature Fox Terrier


The Miniature Fox Terrier is a ruthless, brave and fast hunter of vermin but it can also be an affectionate and loyal companion. It is a lively dog and it does tend to be a frequent barker. Training it to stop on command is likely to be a good idea. It is also quite an inquisitive dog it likes to explore and get into places where you might not want it! Sometimes it might seem you have a two dogs in one, at one moment it is lapping up attention on your lap lazing and content, and then at the first sense of something off it becomes a fearless watchdog. Make sure you do not over indulge it though as that can lead to it developing small dog syndrome. This means it is snappy, destructive, loud and hard to be around.

As mentioned it is alert and will let you know if a stranger approaches. It is otherwise a fairly easygoing and happy dog, somewhat sensitive, active and great for families where people are home often and are active themselves. It will light up any home it is in with its brightness and love and bring a lot of fun too. It can be a little terror with its antics so a good sense of humor will help. This is a dog that needs a certain level of attention to be happy and will not be happy being left alone for long periods.

Living with a Miniature Fox Terrier

What will training look like?

The Miniature Fox Terrier is eager to please and intelligent so with a firm and confident approach training should be fairly easy. Be patient and consistent still and use positive techniques to engage it and motivate it. This is where you can make sure the small dog syndrome does not happen as no matter how small or cute a dog is stick to the rules you have set. Another aspect of its training that is essential is to start its socialization from a young age. In most cases good breeders will have started the process but the main part of it will fall to you. This means exposing it to different places, people, situations, animals and so on. This helps it learn what are acceptable responses.

How active is the Miniature Fox Terrier?

The Mini Foxie is a fairly active dog so will need active owners too keep though being smaller it is easier to keep up with. It is small enough for apartment living but keep in mind it barks a lot. It does not need access to a yard but it loves to play and explore in one. It is lively and playful and loves to go out for two walks a day along with some play time. It also needs somewhere safe to run off leash. It is adaptable and can live in both rural and urban settings. It will happily play by itself with enough toys to choose from. Make sure it is leashed when walking as it does have a tendency to chase after animals like squirrels or birds.

Caring for the Miniature Fox Terrier

Grooming needs

Grooming and maintaining the Mini Foxie is not a huge process but it does shed an average to above average amount so expect hair around the home and brush at least twice a week. Use a firm bristled brush when brushing and that will help with loose hair and debris. Give it a bath when it really needs it and use a proper dog shampoo avoiding bathing too often as it can affect the natural oils.

Its ears need to be examined for signs of infection such as too much wax, irritation and redness. Then they can be cleaned after wiping with a damp cloth or a dog ear cleanser. Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week to look after its teeth and gums and use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Its nails will need to be clipped as they do grow quite quickly. Use dog nail clippers to trim them down about once a month. Take care not to cut too low the blood vessels and nerves in that section of their nails if cut will lead to it hurting and bleeding.

Feeding Time

When feeding your dog be sure to use a good or better quality dry dog food. Mini Foxies will eat about ½ to ¾ of a cup a day and that should always be split into two meals. How much one Foxie eats to the next varies depending on activity level, metabolism, size, age and health. Always make sure it has access to water that is changed when possible.

How is the Miniature Fox Terrier with children and other animals?

The Miniature Fox Terrier is fairly good with children with socialization and when raised with them, but it is best to have them with children who are a bit older. Older children can be taught how to touch and play with them in a way the Mini Foxie is good with, whereas toddlers tend to be shrill and rough sometimes. If there are young children around supervision is a good idea. It can get along fine with other dogs with socialization but supervision is needed around larger dogs. It is not always good with other pets in the home, its high prey drive can mean it wants to chase them. The problem is it thinks all small pets are vermin, which it was bred to hunt down!

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Miniature Fox Terrier has a life span of 12 to 18 years so it has quite a good long life span. It is a fairly healthy and hardy breed but some potential issues can include eye problems, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, mange, von willebrands and epilepsy.

Biting Statistics

In reports that explore which dogs are attacking people causing bodily harm in North America, there is no mention of the Miniature Fox Terrier being involved for the last three and a half decades. This is not a dog to be scared of concerned about, while it is bold and aggressive when it is time to hunt it is not generally a people aggressive dog. However there truly is no completely safe dog breed and sometimes things happen. Make sure though that you socialize and train your dog, that it is stimulated, cared for, given the attention it needs and that it is well fed and exercised.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

When buying from a respected dog breeder a Miniature Fox Terrier can cost about $800 but from a show breeder you would pay a lot more. As this is not a common breed in the US, you can expect to be put on a waiting list there. If it is a Miniature Fox Terrier that you want, not a Toy Fox Terrier make sure you are clear about that, and that the breeder understands the difference. If they do not they are not as knowledgeable as they are claiming. Sometimes it can become tempting to look to easier options like pet stores, puppy mills or back yard breeders but please do not use these for any reason. Another option could be to explore rescues and shelters. Mixed dogs have a lot to offer and make great companions. Adoption fees range usually between $50 to $400.

Once you have found your new doggy friend there are belongings it will need and some health checks to be taken care of. Those belongings includes things like a collar and leash, crate, carrier and bowls and such and these come to about $120. Medical initial concerns includes shots, blood tests, deworming, a physical exam, spaying or neutering and micro chipping which come to about $260.

Owning a Mini Foxie means you are committing to its ongoing costs and needs too. Feeding it, giving it the odd treat, its health, its toys and much more. There will be an annual cost of about $705, this covers $435 a year for basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance. $75 for a good dry dog food and dog treats and then $195 for miscellaneous items, basic training, toys and a license.


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The Miniature Fox Terrier is a terrific terrier with a great sense of life, energy, fun and drive. It can be a hard worker if kept as a farm dog or vermin hunter but it is also affectionate, loyal and friendly with its family and can be kept as a great companion. It is not really a dog found much beyond Australia and New Zealand but there it is a much loved breed and there is high demand for it.

Featured Image Credit: Kazz Smith, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.