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”.
This is a balanced, smoothly-muscled dog breed
; its head is distinctive, with erect ears that can stand straight up or fold just 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.
| Miniature Fox Terrier Quick Facts
|| 3.5 to 5.5 kilograms |
|| 9.5 to 12.0 inches (24cm to 30.5cm) |
|| Smooth, fine, short coat |
| Activity level:
|| High |
| Learning rate:
|| High |
|| tenacious, loyal, loving, protective |
| Guard dog ability:
|| Low (Tenacity High) |
| Watch-dog ability:
|| High |
| Litter size:
|| 3-4 |
|| 10-14 years |
It is akin 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
Mini Foxies are known for being fiercely loyal to their owners and their owners' property, a characteristic greatly written into the breed standard. They have an curious,inquisitve and bold nature. According to at least one breed club, they make excellent family pets
. They 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 must not be left alone with such animals. They are known to confront, or play with, dogs 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;
insist upon health screening for breeding individuals to help eradicate it. A luxating patella is when the dogs kneecap sits in a shallow joint and has a tendancy to luxate or "pop" out of the joint. The breed lives on average 14 years, with much older dogs not uncommon.
The breed was most likely developed from crosses between smaller Fox Terriers and Fox Terrier types and Manchester Terriers
, and, later, crosses to other toy
breeds such as the English Toy Terrier
. Hunters were seeking a smaller, speedy Fox Terrier that could be used for hunting smaller pests such as rats
. Although the origins of the breed are English, the breed was developed in and is endemic to Australia. By the late 1800s, 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
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.
History of the breed club
By the 1980s, the interest in dog fancy, the looming spectre of proposed breed-specific legislation
, and increasing concerns about the need to protect purebred dogs led a group of enthusiasts to begin meeting informally to consider the future of these little dogs. In 1986 the Miniature Fox Terrier Club of Australia was formed. The founding members, in conjunction with members of the Canine Council of New South Wales
, wrote a breed standard
for their breed and laid out a Constitution for the Club. To comply with New South Wales government regulations for becoming an incorporated organization, the Miniature Fox Terrier Club became incorporated as the Mini Foxie Club of Australia, Inc.
In 1991, fanciers in South Australia also formed a breed club. For these members, official recognition of the dog by the Australian National Kennel Council was the most important of their goals. At that time, challenges to the name “Miniature Fox Terrier” were being mounted, and threatened to preclude recognition by an All-Breed club. These members joined with some owners in Western Australia and organized as the Tenterfield Terrier Club of Australia (1993), a name which was first used by a television personality of that era.
The ensuing breed standard for the Tenterfield Terrier differs in substance from that of the Miniature Fox Terrier, and though the two dogs are sometimes confused, they have been developing along divergent lines for over twenty years and are now different breeds. A recent directive from the ANKC placed a moratorium on the registration of any MFCA-registered Miniature Fox Terrier as a Tenterfield Terrier
The breed is not recognized by the ANKC but ANKC judges may judge them.
In 2005, the Mini Foxie was added to the list of dog breeds recognized under the NSW Companion Animals Act.
The Miniature Fox Terrier today
Although still relatively unknown outside of Australia and New Zealand, the Little Foxie is renowned in its native land. Several parliamentarians made reference to the breed during recent legislative hearings on canine issues. ‘Pasqua’ and ‘Fergus’ owned by Anthony Field
of The Wiggles
, are Mini Foxies, and Ian Thorpe
, the Australian swimmer, has spoken fondly of Tiny, his Miniature Fox Terrier, in several interviews. Sean Carlow
, reigning Australian men's figure skating
champion, owns a Miniature Fox Terrier, and recent television and print features on Toby Allen
for his current (as of 2006
) Dancing with the Stars (Australia)
campaign spotlight his Mini Fox Terriers.
Today, the Miniature Fox Terrier is still very much a working terrier, and is in demand on farms across Australia. They remain popular as pets, and enjoy playing the pampered pooch. As long as their active minds are kept stimulated with games or toys and they receive at least moderate exercise, they make moderate urban and apartment dwellers.
- Curry, Aleta, et. al (2004). Steward, Julienne, Ill. The 20th Anniversary Show Book: Twenty Years of the Mini Foxie Club of Australia. ISBN 0-9758380-0-8
- Phillis, Rosemary (30th July, 2004). The Riverstone Meat Works. Printed by Hawkesbury City Council.
- NSW State Parliament (17th March 2004 and 6th May 2004). Hansard.
- Assorted (2003). "The All-Australian Dog: The Miniature Fox Terrier", one of a series of articles appearing in The Southern Village View Magazine, © 2003.