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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a English Toy Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a English Toy Terrier
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The English Toy Terrier is the oldest native toy breed and they look very much like miniature Dobermanns although they are not related whatsoever. They are considered a vulnerable breed and as such have been placed on The Kennel Club's list even though they make charming companions and great family pets for households with older children.
English Toy Terriers are intelligent and like other terriers, there's nothing they enjoy more than pleasing their owners which means these little, good natured dogs are easy to train and great fun to have around in a home environment. Like all terriers, the ETT has a high prey drive and although they generally get on with other pets they know, they should not be trusted around smaller animals and pets.
The English Toy Terrier has been around for centuries although prior to 1960, they were called Miniature Black and Tan Terriers. There are records of these little terriers that date back to the 15th century, but it was in the 1800's that they gained a tremendous amount of popularity thanks to them being such superb ratters. At the time rats were a real problem throughout the land and these terriers did an excellent job of keeping their numbers down. Very soon competitions were started to see which terrier could kill the most rats. On the hunting field, gentlemen carried them in their pockets so that if an animal went to ground, the terrier could flush them out.
As time passed, people wanted smaller terriers which led to many people interbreeding dogs with an end goal being to breed the smallest dog. However, this led to many puppies suffering from hereditary and congenital health issues which eventually saw terrier numbers fall dangerously low. Fortunately, dedicated breeders and other enthusiasts brought these dogs back from the brink of extinction through careful and selective breeding and the result was puppies were healthier and stronger than before. By the late 1800's, there were many colour variations seen in terriers which included blue and tan, brindle and white as well as others which is thought to have come about when Italian Greyhounds were introduced into the mix.
After 1920, the English Toy Terrier which at the time was known as the Black and Tan was recognised and therefore a clear distinction was made between their larger cousins, the Manchester Terrier. They were only given the name English Toy Terrier in the sixties. Today, these charming little dogs remain on The Kennel Club's vulnerable native breeds list with very few puppies being registered every year. As such anyone wishing to share a home with one of these elegant and charming terriers would need to register their interest with a breeder and be put on a waiting list.
Height at the withers: Males 25 - 30 cm, Females 25 - 30 cm
Average weight: Males 3 - 4 kg, Females 3 - 4 kg
The English Toy Terrier could easily be mistaken for a miniature Dobermann because they boast the same black and tan colouring and very similar body shape with the only real difference being in size. Their heads are long and narrow being quite wedge-shaped with dogs having a slight stop. Their forefaces taper gently which accentuates the wedge shape of their head. Their noses are always black, and dogs have dark to black coloured eyes which are quite small and almond shaped being set obliquely on a dog's face. These terriers always have a sparkle in their eyes which adds to their alert, keen appearance.
Their ears are shaped like candle flames with slight points to the tips and are set high on the head being quite close together and thin to the touch. The English Toy Terrier has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are graceful and long which dogs hold slightly arched and their shoulders are nicely laid back. Front legs are straight, fine-boned yet strong.
They have compact bodies which adds to the overall nice balance of an English Toy Terrier's appearance. Their backs are slightly curved from behind the shoulder to a dog's loin but falls away to the base of the tail. Chests are deep and narrow with dogs having well sprung ribs and a well cut up loin with slightly rounded buttocks. Back legs are strong and well-muscled with dogs having dainty little feet with well arched toes and jet-black nails. Their two middle toes on their front feet are slightly longer than their other toes and a dog's back feet are more cat-like. Tails are thicker at the root, but taper to the tip being set low.
When it comes to their coat, the English Toy Terrier boasts having a thick, close and extremely glossy coat and the accepted breed colour for Kennel Club registration is as follows:
Black and Tan
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
Black and tan - the black being ebony and the tan being a deep, rich chestnut. Colours must not run into each other being clearly defined. A dog’s front legs are tanned at the front to the knees and the tan colour continues inside and on the back of the front legs up to their elbows. A thin black line up each toe and dogs have a clearly defined black mark on each of their pasterns as well as under the chin. Their hind legs are nicely tanned at the front and on the inside showing a black bar that divides the tan colour at the centre of their lower thighs. Muzzles are well-tanned with dogs having a tan spot over each eye and a small tan spot on each of their cheeks. The under-jaw as well as the throat is tanned with dogs having black lip lines. Each side of a dog’s chest has a little tan and their vents as well as under the root of their tails are tan too.
When an English Toy Terrier moves, they do so with a determined extended trot with a nice smooth action from behind that also shows a tremendous amount of drive.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
True to the terrier in them, the English Toy is a lively, high-energy and very inquisitive character by nature. As such, they like to be kept busy doing things and quickly get bored if they are left to their own devices for too long. They are a great choice for families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house, so they don't have to be left alone. If these little terriers get bored, it can soon lead to them developing some unwanted behavioural issues which includes being destructive around the home and barking incessantly, bearing in mind that an English Toy Terrier is known to like the sound of their own voice a little too much at the best of times.
Early socialisation is a must and it must include introducing one of these terriers to as many new situations, noises, people, children, animals and other dogs as early as possible which is typically once they have been fully vaccinated. They are high-spirited and often quite cunning which means they are extremely clever at wrapping their owners around their little paws when it comes to getting their own way. As such, they need to be constantly reminded of their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog in a household for them to be truly well behaved and obedient dogs.
They are a good choice for first time owners providing they have enough time to give to these high-spirited little terriers and where one person is usually always at home when other people are out. They are not a good choice for people who lead more sedentary indoor lives, because if there is one thing an English Toy Terrier is not, it’s a couch potato. However, when given enough daily exercise and mental stimulation, they are quite happy to chill out around the home.
English Toy Terriers are the perfect choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families.
ETTs are terriers and therefore love to chase anything that moves or tries to run away from them which means they have a high prey drive. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially if there is wildlife or livestock close by.
English Toy Terriers have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever they quickly understand what to do to get their own way when they want something.
ETTs are highly adaptable dogs and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they are just as happy living in an apartment as they would be living in a house with a secure back garden.
English Toy Terriers form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out, so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained which could include incessant barking as a way of getting someone’s attention.
English Toy Terriers are known to like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them which could end up making the situation worse.
Most ETTs like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking an English Toy Terrier off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in or they accidentally fall in and then need rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
ETTs are always on the alert which means they are good watchdogs. The problem is that some dogs like the sound of their own voices a little too much and will bark at anything or just for the sake of it. Because of their small size, they are not good guard dogs although an ETT being a terrier would always stand their ground.
The English Toy Terrier is intelligent, and they are always willing and eager to please. They love the one-to-one attention they get during a training session and as such in the right hands and with the correct approach to their education, these little dogs learn new things very quickly. This also means they are quick to pick up bad habits and behaviours too.
It cannot be stressed enough the importance of early socialisation for these little terriers because they are independent thinkers by nature and being terriers, they are extremely inquisitive which often sees dogs going off on their own when the mood takes them. As such, their training must start early, and it must be consistent, so they understand what is expected of them. Like many other breeds, the English Toy Terrier is quite a sensitive character and one that does not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training. They do, however, respond very well to positive reinforcement training techniques which brings the best out of these lively, high-energy little terriers.
Like other puppies, English Toy Terriers are incredibly sweet which means it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in a new home. However, as soon as a puppy is nicely settled, owners must start out as they mean to go on which means laying down rules and boundaries. This helps a puppy understand what is expected of them and what is acceptable behaviour. It also helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in a household reducing the risk of a dog developing a condition known as “small dog syndrome” which sees them becoming unruly and harder to live with. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
English Toy Terriers are known to be affectionate by nature and they become totally devoted to their families and children. They enjoy the company of children and like nothing more than to play interactive games with them. However, any playtime between the kids and their dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure things don't get too boisterous.
If well socialised from a young enough age, they do get on well with other dogs. Because of the "terrier" in them, care must be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they generally get on well together, but an English Toy Terrier would think nothing of chasing a neighbour's cat if the opportunity ever presented itself to them.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an English Toy Terrier is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the English Toy Terrier is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and high-energy dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
It is worth noting that the average COI for the breed currently stands at 11.1% with the Kennel Club.
ETT puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
10 -12 weeks old, bearing in mind that a puppy would not have full protection straight away, but would be fully protected 2 weeks after they have had their second vaccination
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old. With this said, the English Toy Terrier breed club advises owners that spaying and neutering a dog should not be carried out before they are 9 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like other breeds, some English Toy Terriers gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some ETTs are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible English Toy Terrier breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the English Toy Terrier.
The Kennel Club strongly recommends that all breeders use the following tests on their stud dogs:
As with any other breed, English Toy Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
ETT puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
Puppies should be wormed at 6 months old
They need to be wormed again when they are 8 months old
Puppies should be wormed when they are 10 months old
They need to be wormed when they are 12 months old
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
Good quality puppy or baby gates to fit on doors
A good well-made playpen that's large enough for a puppy to play in so they can really express themselves as puppies like to do
Lots of well-made toys which must include good quality chews suitable for puppies to gnaw on, bearing in mind that a puppy will start teething anything from when they are 3 to 8 months old
Good quality feed and water bowls which ideally should be ceramic rather than plastic or metal
A grooming glove
A slicker brush or soft bristle brush
Dog specific toothpaste and a toothbrush
Scissors with rounded ends
Puppy shampoo and conditioner which must be specifically formulated for use on dogs
A well-made dog collar or harness
A couple of well-made dog leads
A well-made dog bed that's not too small or too big
A well-made dog crate for use in the car and in the home, that's large enough for a puppy to move around in
Baby blankets to put in your puppy's crate and in their beds for when they want to nap or go to sleep at night
All puppies are sensitive to noise including ETT puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, English Toy Terrier puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
10 -12 weeks old, bearing in mind that a puppy would not have full protection straight away, but would only be fully protected 2 weeks after they have had their second vaccination
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older English Toy Terriers need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Coats become coarser
A loss of muscle tone
They can either become overweight or underweight
They have reduced strength and stamina
Older dogs have difficulty regulating their body temperature
They often develop arthritis
Immune systems do not work as efficiently as they once did which means dogs are more susceptible to infections
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
They respond less to external stimuli due to impaired vision or hearing
They tend to be a little pickier about their food
They have a lower pain threshold
Become intolerant of any change
Often an older dog can feel disorientated
Living with an ETT in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older English Toy Terriers need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Protein content should be anything from 14 – 21%
Fat content should be less than 10%
Fibre content should be less than 4%
Calcium content should be 0.5 – 0.8%
Phosphorous content should be 0.4 – 0.7%
Sodium content should be 0.2 – 0.4%
Older English Toy Terriers don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
English Toy Terriers boast having short, dense coats which means they are pretty low maintenance in the grooming department. A weekly brush and a wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to keep things tidy and a nice sheen on their coats. They shed all through the year, but more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to keep any shed and loose hair under control.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Like many other terriers, the English Toy Terrier is an energetic, intelligent little dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise combined with as much mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dogs. They need at least 30 to 60 minutes exercise a day and ideally it should include lots of interactive games.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible, so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these active, inquisitive little terriers in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, English Toy Terrier puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this very reason.
If you get an English Toy Terrier puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Some older dogs are known to be fussy or finicky eaters which can make feeding them a little challenging. However, it's important not to pamper a dog too much which could just end up making matters worse. The best course of action is to discuss the problem with a vet and with their help find the best diet for a dog rather than go through a trial and error process.
It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise, so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, an ETT puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult English Toy Terrier should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult ETT can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy an English Toy Terrier, you would need to register your interest with a breeder and agree to being put on a waiting list because not many puppies are bred every year. You would need to pay anything from £800 to over £900 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old English Toy Terrier in northern England would be £21.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £43.72 a month (quote as of June 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an English Toy Terrier and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an English Toy Terrier would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered pedigree English Toy Terrier puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Finding English Toy Terriers can prove challenging because so few puppies are bred and registered with the Kennel Club every year which means that responsibly bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with ETTs there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
As previously touched upon, English Toy Terriers can often command a lot of money because they are so rare and as such some amateur breeders/people breed from a dam far too often, so they can make a quick profit without caring for the welfare of the puppies, their dam or the breed in general. Under Kennel Club rules, a dam can only produce 4 litters and she must be between a certain age to do so. Anyone wishing to buy an ETT puppy should think very carefully about who they purchase their puppy from and should always ask to see the relevant paperwork pertaining to a puppy's lineage, their vaccinations and their microchipping
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