Health of the Toy Fox Terrier
Toy Fox Terriers (TFTs) are awesome little dogs! They are a lot like humans in little dog suits. With proper socialization they can excel in a great deal of different areas from Conformation to Performance Events, and they are really excellent at being great companions.
When considering any breed for your home, it is important to understand the health conditions that could be found in that breed. TFTs generally live 13 to 15 years, but it is not uncommon to see them make it to 16 or 17 years. Keeping Toy Fox Terriers at an ideal weight can help them live longer and healthier lives; they love their food, so this can be a challenge. Overall, TFTs are a healthy breed, but there are a few conditions occasionally seen that are important to be aware of.
First of all, the easiest conditions to manage in this breed are the genetically passed conditions that currently have DNA tests. These conditions are congenital hypothyroidism with goiter (CHG), primary lens luxation (PLL), spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), and degenerative myelopathy (DM). For CHG, SCA, and DM, the genes and expression of the genes are “clear,” “carrier” (not affected), and “affected.”
PLL is a little different because the expression of the genes are “clear,” “carrier/low risk,” and “affected.” With proper DNA testing, these conditions are relatively easy for breeders to manage with both clear and carrier dogs in their breeding programs. If you are considering getting a TFT, you will want to make sure your breeder tests for these conditions.
The next health condition to be aware of in the Toy Fox Terrier breed is patella luxation. When TFTs are one-year-old or older, they can have their patellas certified through OFA. All breeding dogs should have their patellas evaluated by a veterinarian prior to breeding and throughout their lives. Having a sire and dam with good patellas does not guarantee that all of their puppies will have good patellas, but the chances will be much higher. Parents with luxating patellas tend to produce puppies with the condition, so dogs with luxating patellas should not be used in a breeding program.
Lastly, there are a couple of additional health issues that some Toy Fox Terrier breeders are making an effort to eradicate from their breeding programs. Some liver function conditions are known to be found in this breed. It’s pretty rare to see things like portosystemic liver shunts, but another condition of the liver called hepatic microvascular dysplasia (HMD or MVD) is sometimes found in TFTs.
Dogs with HMD live fairly normal lives, but responsible breeders still need to do periodic blood work and/or liver bile acid tests to look for signs of liver disease and use that information to eliminate affected dogs from their breeding programs. Additional health conditions that some breeders test for are Von Willebrand disease and eye conditions like Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
If you are considering getting a TFT, you will want to make sure your breeder tests for these conditions.
In conclusion, Toy Fox Terriers, as a whole, are a very healthy breed. There are conditions that can impact their health, but with diligent guardians of the breed as breeders, we can continue to improve the health of our little breed even more!