Is a Fox Terrier Right For Me?
Even if you have had a Fox Terrier before, take the time to carefully consider whether or not a particular Fox Terrier is a good match for your household and lifestyle.
Rescued Fox Terriers can and do make wonderful family pets--for families prepared for and able to properly train and exercise them. Most Fox Terriers available for adoption are not there because they have something wrong with them. But rather because they are a typical Fox Terrier turned over by a family that didn't expect what they got.
Why Do Fox Terriers End Up in Rescue?
Adult Fox Terriers become available for adoption for a variety of reasons (puppies are almost never available through rescue). Sometimes their owner dies, moves to a retirement home, or has financial problems.
But the most common reasons Fox Terriers come into rescue are because the Fox Terrier:
doesn't get along with another dog or cat in the house
doesn't get along with small children in the house
runs away when outside
has more energy then the family can deal with
These are all typical, normal, Fox Terriers given up by families who didn't realize what a Fox Terrier was all about.
Considering the breed as a whole, Fox Terriers possess intelligence, problem-solving skills, high prey (chase) drive, confidence, fearlessness, and an independent attitude. These characteristics endear them to owners who love a bold, rash, and determined companion. These characteristics also mean that they bark, they chase moving objects, they have never-ending-energy, and they are relentless when they want something (prey, food, toy, a Barbie Doll's head, etc.)
If you owned a quiet, calm, Fox Terrier that loved all children, got along well with every dog and cat and could walk off leash without any problems--it was not a typical Fox Terrier!
Many Fox Terriers Do Not Get Along with Other Dogs
Fox Terriers are typically territorial and "quick to react," so they often don't get along well with other dogs if they haven't been well socialized, especially dogs of the same sex. Many rescued Fox Terriers must be the only dog in their new home.
Most Fox Terriers Don't Get Along with Cats and Will Chase Them
--and Squirrels, Birds, Hamsters, Chickens, Bikes, Skateboards, Cars, . . .
Most Fox Terriers will chase cats. There have even been instances of Fox Terriers who seemed to get along with the cat until one day the owner arrives home to find the cat killed by the dog. Most Fox Terriers will kill birds and small pets like hamsters, chickens, or guinea pigs. If you have other pets , confine the Fox Terrier to a crate or a small room when you are not home. Most will chase squirrels, rabbits, deer, bikes, skateboards, cars, .... If you don't have a safe, fenced area for them to exercise off leash while outside, then the dog should remain on leash at all times.
Fox Terriers Need an Enormous Amount of Exercise
The truth is, a tired Fox Terrier is a well-behaved Fox Terrier. An hour a day of aerobic exercise like jogging, swimming, biking, or ball chasing is the bare minimum. Ask any self-respecting Fox Terrier himself, and he will tell you three hours is more like it! Does your family have this much time to devote to just exercising the dog every day, no matter the weather? A ten minute leash walk twice a day or putting them out in the backyard while you stay inside the house will not satisfy their exercise requirements.
If you don't have time to exercise the dog properly every day or have someone reliable to do this for you, your Fox Terrier will likely invent his own fun: running away when outside, chewing your furniture, barking at anything that moves, digging holes in your yard, and pestering everyone in the house because he is too "pumped up" to simply relax.
Many Fox Terriers Do Not Tolerate Children
If you have children, grandchildren or neighborhood children, keep in mind that some Fox Terriers don't tolerate them. There are, of course, Fox Terriers who good with children, but finding a dog like this available for adoption will generally require a longer wait.
We do not usually place a Fox Terrier in a home with children younger than 8 years of age. Unless properly socialized and raised with small children, many Fox Terriers are stressed by the awkward, unsteady movements of a toddler or by the quick movements and high-pitched noises made by active children. In such stressed conditions, even an innocent nudge or an accidental trip and fall over a sleeping Fox Terrier can result in a snap or bite. Like some other terrier breeds, Fox Terriers have almost no tolerance for having their ears, tails, or feet pulled on.
Training a Fox Terrier
Because Fox Terriers are bred to think and work independently of their human companions, they have a reputation for being stubborn and hard to train. Actually they are highly intelligent and very willing to learn if you are a patient and have met all of their requirements for daily physical and mental exercise.
Fox Terriers do best in an active but calm household where the rules are clear and consistently applied by everyone in the family. Without rules and benevolent guidance to establish the family's leadership role, a Fox Terrier will tend to be reactive, anxious, and ignore instruction. This can escalate into behavior problems.
House Training a Fox Terrier
Fox Terriers, and terriers in general, can be difficult to house train. A Fox Terrier tends to quickly learn to potty outdoors but is slower to realize that pottying indoors is not appropriate. It is critical to keep them within your sight at all times while getting use to their new home. That could take a few weeks for some dogs, several months or longer for others.
Based on information created by Dena Lebo-Funk © 2003
Remember that no matter how wonderful your home may be, you may not be the best home for every Fox Terrier. It is important that you clearly express specifically which personality and behaviors you do and don't expect from your Fox Terrier. Then we can better determine whether a particular available dog's personality will mesh with yours.