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
The English Toy Terrier is the oldest native toy breed and they look very much like miniature Dobermanns. They are considered a vulnerable breed and as such have been place on The Kennel Club's list even though they make charming companions and great family pets. 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.
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 16th 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 as a breed in its own right 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 is as follows:
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 has to 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 as long as 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.
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 has to start early and it has to 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.
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 has to 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:
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.
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 is allowed to build 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 has to 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 on 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.
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 £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of June 2016). 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 or not 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 all 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 pedigree puppy.
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