Foxy Rat Terrier

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Foxy Rat Terrier is a hybrid dog breed, which is a cross between the Rat Terrier and the Toy Fox Terrier. The result is a small dog with terrier-like qualities that are somewhat softened by the more laidback personality of the Toy Fox Terrier.

Although small in size, the Foxy Rat Terrier needs a good amount of exercise each day. Their bright mind also needs plenty of stimulation, and this is not a good breed to leave alone all day as they will become bored. They are barkers and may be too noisy to live in an apartment. Also, their terrier-tendency to go on the offensive means they may not be suitable for households with small children.

About & History

The story of the Foxy Rat Terrier starts with that of the two parent breeds.

The Rat Terrier

The Rat Terrier, as their name suggests, originated as a working farm dog with a talent for getting rid of vermin. Their heritage dates back centuries to other similar terriers, also gifted at rooting out rats. Some of these terriers accompanied British migrants settling in the US, and it was here they became known as Rat Terriers.

In the early 20th century, new blood was introduced from the Toy Fox Terrier, Bull Terrier, and Manchester Terrier (amongst others). The breed was only officially recognised in 2013.

The Toy Fox Terrier

The Toy Fox Terrier, also known as the American Fox Terrier, was bred to look like a terrier but have a softer, more forgiving personality. A small dog in stature, they were created by breeding together the runts of Fox Terrier litters, and by introducing blood from the Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound, and Manchester Terrier.


The Foxy Rat Terrier is a small fellow, with a distinctly terrier like appearance. On quick inspection, they are easily confused with a Jack Russell Terrier, but on closer viewing, they have a finer snout and pricked ears. Indeed, their body shape is more triangular than a Jack Russell and their legs less sturdy.

The Foxy Rat Terrier is a short-coated breed. The predominating colour being white with a symmetrical mask of black or tan. Common colour combinations include tricolour, white with merle markings and black patches, or white and tan.

Character & Temperament

The Foxy Rat Terrier is a small dog that has lots of energy. Significantly, they have an inquiring mind and need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them out of trouble. This stimulation can come from walks, sniffing scents, training or play – but this isn’t optional but rather essential if the Foxy Rat Terrier isn’t to get bored and start barking, chewing or digging.

The wise owner is also aware of the terrier trait of being bold and confrontational, in circumstances when it would be wiser to back down. This can make them intolerant of rough handling, and perhaps not suited to life with small children. They may also be wary of people they don’t know, and their disquiet comes across as aggression.


The Foxy Rat Terrier is highly trainable and thrives on the one-to-one attention from their owner that training affords them. Just be sure to use reward-based methods that encourage the dog to think about which desired action to offer in order to earn that reward.


Hybrid dogs, such as the Foxy Rat Terrier, are newcomers on the scene, and as such, there is a dearth of data regarding any health problems to which they may be prone. Happily, both parent breeds tend to be healthy and not linked to a long list of problems. However, it is reasonable to assume that health issues from the parent breeds may pop up in their pups.

Luxating Patella

This is also known by the descriptive term ‘wobbly kneecaps’. This is the result of various anatomical quirks affecting the knee joint (stifle) such that the kneecap isn’t anchored firmly enough in position. The knock on effect is that when the thigh muscles tug on the kneecap (in order to straighten the leg to step forward), the kneecap pops out of place and causes the dog to skip a step.

This condition can be mild (the occasional skipped step) through to severe (the leg refuses to support the dog’s weight). Treatment varies depending on the severity and ranges from pain relief as required, to corrective surgery.

Skin Allergies

In dogs, allergies often manifest themselves as itchy skin. The symptoms are general ones, including excessive itchiness and licking (especially the paws). This can lead to damaged skin, which then becomes infected and makes the itchiness even more intense.

Skin allergies can’t be cured but can be managed. This requires a combination of medications, shampooing, and nutraceuticals to strengthen the skin’s health. This requires considerable dedication from the owner and can be expensive.

Dental Disease

All dogs are prone to dental disease, but small dogs especially so. This is because their teeth are often crowded together, which provides nooks and crannies where food can accumulate.

Regular tooth brushing with pet toothpaste (human toothpaste is toxic to dogs) goes a long way to preventing or delaying the onset of dental disease. The aim is to brush away plaque, a sticky deposit, from the surface of the crown before it can harden into tartar. Not to do so risks smelly breath, inflamed gums, and loose teeth, which may then fall out.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Foxy Rat Terrier has an internal dynamo that requires them to run around a lot. Not only do they need plenty of exercise, but ideally, some of this is time spent chasing a ball (to satisfy their instinctive need to chase) and running off leash. For the owner who is keen to undertake a doggy sport with their canine companion, the Foxy Rat Terrier will lap up agility training.


The Foxy Rat Terrier has a relatively low maintenance coat. Their short coat sheds lightly all the time, but a daily slick over with a deshedding tool helps to prevent this being a problem. Avoid over-bathing the Foxy Rat Terrier as this could strip out the naturally protective oils and cause the coat to become dry and dull.

An important aspect of grooming that is often overlooked is dental care. From puppyhood, get the dog used to having their mouth handled and teeth brushed. This removes plaque before it hardens to tartar and reduces the risk of dental disease.

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