The Toy Fox Terrier is a playful and pretty dog to have in your ring, and exhibitors hope that the judges like the breed as much as they do. However, this is not always an easy breed to show and, if you have a sense of humor and patience, you can help make the experience fun for all.
Your first impression of the Toy Fox Terrier should be balanced and elegant. The breed standard states that they have an athletic appearance, displaying grace and agility. Characteristic traits that should be immediately evident are the elegant and distinctive head, the erect, inverted V-shaped ears, the short, glossy and predominantly white coat with the predominantly solid head, and the short, high tail set—which the standard calls for as docked.
This is a square breed; bone is strong, but not excessive, and the standard tells us that overall balance is important. The word “balance” is used a number of times throughout the standard, as is the word “elegant.”
The Toy Fox Terrier is both Toy and Terrier, and both have influenced his personality and character. They have unending energy and a zest for life. This influences their behavior in your ring. Dogs lacking good Terrier attitude and personality are to be faulted.
It’s often stated, “Examine on the table and judge on the floor.” These are true words for the Toy Fox Terrier. This diminutive dog’s character and personality are best displayed on the floor. When the Toy Fox Terrier is first presented in the ring, understand that their natural alertness and intelligence may have the dogs focusing on things other than their handler. This is a breed that is self-possessed, spirited, and often highly animated. However, as many Toy Fox Terriers are extremely food motivated, they may also focus on the bait—both the handler’s bait and the bait on the floor. If there is excessive bait strewed around the ring, you will be well-served to ask the steward (or a ring clean-up crew) to pick it up, or you might see more ducking and diving than good movement.
After you have sent the dogs around and the first dog is on the table, give the exhibitor a moment to get their dog ready. Don’t rush to the table. Instead, stand a few feet away to check the outline. Proportions and silhouette that might be skewed in the grass or when standing over such small dogs is often easier to ascertain when the dog is on the table. Like many Toy breeds, young and less experienced Toy Fox Terriers are often uncomfortable with the table exam. Approach the Toy Fox Terrier from the front. It is often a good idea to say hello or good morning to the exhibitor in a friendly tone, but refrain from making “puppy talk” to the dog. Overly enthusiastic puppies will try to jump into judge’s arms; some less confident puppies will sway away from the judge, and it normally takes a bit of ring experience and maturity before a Toy Fox stands like a statue for a judge’s exam.
With the short, satiny coat it doesn’t take a lot of manhandling to check the structure on this breed. Gentle hands are needed to do the exam. After you have examined the dog, ask the exhibitor to show the bite. There is no disqualification or fault for missing teeth, per the Toy Fox Terrier standard, so the oral exam should be a quick and easy review to ensure it is scissors. Undershot, wry mouth or overshot more than ⅛ inch are disqualifications.
While the dog is on the table, it is a good time to review if there are any size or color disqualifications. Toy Fox Terriers must be between 8 ½ an 11 ½ inches, with 9-11 inches preferred. Over or under the acceptable range must be disqualified. We often see 11 inch dogs wicketed when the other exhibits are on the small end of the scale, and 9 inch tall dogs wicketed when everyone else in the ring is hovering near 11 inches. Do not be afraid to call for the wicket if you question a dog’s size, but be aware that 3 inches in a Toy breed is a sizeable variation and the only preference is not larger or smaller, but 9 to 11 inches.
Be aware of color requirements. The standard calls for a body that is a minimum of fifty percent white. It does not say that all white is preferred, but it gives direction regarding the faulting of color, other than ticking, below the elbow or hock. (Note: Color below these points is a fault and not a disqualification as some folks will state loudly from outside the ring.) The color disqualifications are a head more than fifty percent white, a blaze extending into the eye or ear, bodies that are not more than fifty percent white, head and body of different colors, any color not clearly stated in the standard, and a Dudley nose.
The Toy Fox Terrier’s distinctive ears must be erect or they must be disqualified.
Once you are done with the table exam, it is time to check their movement. As the Toy Fox Terrier originated as a working Terrier, in addition to being a beloved pet and, sometimes, a circus performer, the movement should be effortless, smooth and flowing, with the legs moving nearly parallel and in a line at a walk or slow trot. The standard does not call for single tracking. However, with speed, some convergence will be normal. The topline should remain straight, and head and tail carriage is erect while gaiting. Movement is balanced with good reach and drive. Please fault dogs that hackney when moving. (Conversations with Toy Fox breeders will indicate they are in accord that hackney movement is highly undesirable.)
The Toy Fox Terrier is a fun dog; spirited and full of personality. These animated and playful dogs have been known to entertain the judges and spectators at the expense of the exhibitors who are trying so hard to present their dogs. If you have an appreciation for the character and personality of this breed, along with their beauty, balance, and elegance—and, perhaps, a bit of patience—you will find judging the Toy Fox Terrier to be an enjoyable part of your day’s schedule.
For further information and education on the Toy Fox Terrier, the parent club’s website is a great resource. The Breed Standard as well as a link to the Illustrated Study of the AKC Breed Standard may be found at https://www.atftc.com/breed_std/breed_std.htm.