The Wire Fox Terrier is believed to be a descendant of the Black and Tan Terrier well-known in Wales and related areas. The breed was frequently crossed with the Smooth Fox Terrier to refine the head and reinforce the genetics for the white coat. At one time, both breeds were considered one breed with two varieties. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has recognized these breeds as separate since 1985 and interbreeding has ended.
An elegant and well-built dog, the Wire Fox Terrier is surprising strong for a dog with small structure. This breed is a hunting and tracking dog by nature, so the Wire Fox Terrier has got agility and energy to spare.
Wire Fox Terriers are courageous, alert, playful, affectionate and independent. Always up for an adventure, this dog loves to explore, run, hunt, play, and chase, so it will keep you busy. If it’s a family dog you’re looking for, you’ll be glad to learn that the Wire Fox Terrier is excellent with children. And even though it is a bold dog, it isn’t aggressive towards people. Read on to learn more about this breed.
AKC group: Terrier
UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan:15-18 years
Average size: Male Wire Fox Terriers weigh 15 to 20 pounds and females weigh 13 to 18 pounds
Color: Black, Brown, and White
Coat: Dense, Harsh and Rough, and Wire
Grooming Needs: High Maintenance
Hypoallergenic Breed: Yes
Comparable Breeds: Lakeland Terrier, Welsh Terrier
Is the Wire Fox Terrier the Right Breed for you?
High Maintenance: Grooming should be performed often to keep the dog’s coat in good shape. Occasional trimming or stripping needed.
Minimal Shedding: Recommended for owners who do not want to deal with hair in their cars and homes.
Moderately Easy Training: The Wire Fox Terrier is average when it comes to training. Results will come gradually.
Fairly Active: It will need regular exercise to maintain its fitness. Trips to the dog park are a great idea.
Good for New Owners: This breed is well suited for those who have little experience with dog ownership.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
Temperament: Independent, adventurous, courageous, playful
|Wire fox terrier circa 1915|
The wire fox terrier was developed in England by fox hunting enthusiasts and is believed to be descended from a now-extinct rough-coated, black-and-tan working terrier of Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham. The breed was also thought to have been bred to chase foxes into their underground burrows; the dogs’ short, strong, usually docked tails were used as handles by the hunter to pull them back out.
Although it is said Queen Victoria owned one, and her son and heir, King Edward VII, did own a wire fox terrier named Caesar, the breed was not popular as a family pet until the 1930s, when The Thin Man series of feature films was created. Asta, the canine member of the Charles family, was a wire fox terrier, and the popularity of the breed soared. Milou (Snowy) from The Adventures of Tintin comic strip is also a wire fox terrier.
In the late 20th century, the popularity of the breed declined again, most likely due to changing living conditions in the Western world and the difficulty of keeping hunting terriers in cities due to their strong prey instincts.
As of 2014, the wire fox terrier has the distinction of having received more Best in Show titles at Westminster Kennel Club dog shows (currently 14) than any other breed. Matford Vic, a wire fox terrier, is one of only five dogs to have won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on more than one occasion. She won the competition twice, in 1915 and 1916. The only dog to win it on more occasions was Warren Remedy, a smooth fox terrier, who won it on three occasions between 1907 and 1909.
A happy, eager to please, excitable dog, the Wire Fox Terrier is always eager to play and makes an excellent pet for the active person. You may notice a streak of dominance in your dog – be sure you establish your role as the alpha early on. The Wire Fox Terrier was originally bred for hunting and tracking, so this dog still loves to dig under fences, in the garden, and even through sofas. Keep your dog in a secure, fenced-in yard, because this breed likes to roam and chase.
As hunting dogs, the Wire Fox Terrier will chase smaller animals such as squirrels, rabbits, or cats. For this reason, keep your Wire Fox Terrier on a leash at all times. This bold little dog has no issues starting problems with bigger dogs and will not back down to dogs that are several times their size.
Even though this breed is wonderful with children, the Wire Fox Terrier will react if it is being bothered or pestered. As well, this dog is quick to bark at any new sight or sound, which makes it a good watch dog. But overall, the Wire Fox Terrier makes a loyal, affectionate family pet.
The average life span of the Wire Fox Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts, congenital deafness, distichiasis, pulmonic stenosis, insulinoma, glaucoma, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, shoulder luxation, mast cell tumors, cerebellar malformation, epilepsy, corneal ulceration, lens luxation, progressive retinal atrophy, ectopic ureters, congenital idiopathic megaesophagus and skin allergies.
Daily exercise in the form of a vigorous game, a good on-leash walk, or an off-leash outing in a secure area is a must for the Fox Terrier. When given room, however, the Fox Terrier can exercise on its own. It does well indoors with access to a secure yard, but can live outside in temperate or warm climates.
The dog’s coat requires combing every week, and shaping once every three months. Pets are shaped by clipping, but for show dogs stripping is effective. This is because clipping tends to make the color of the coat dull and also softens it. In addition, Wire Fox Terrier puppies may require ear shaping techniques to retain proper shape as adults.
The Wire Fox Terrier will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Training the Wire Fox Terrier can prove to be a bit difficult, especially if this is your first time owning this breed. If you’re bringing this dog home as a puppy, watch out for its sharp teeth. As well, the Wire Fox Terrier can be difficult to house train. In the beginning, you should consider staying at home with your dog as much as possible. Socialization is important, so introduce your Wire Fox Terrier to different dogs, people and environments whenever you can.
Since this dog is intelligent, you should include obedience tasks as part of your Wire Fox Terrier’s training. It can have stubborn and independent nature, so be sure to be firm when giving commands. Reprimand your dog in a firm manner when it exhibits bad behavior. If this is your first time owning this breed or lack faith in your training skills, don’t be afraid to hire an experienced handler.
Fox Terriers are small, but they have energy to spare and need a lot of exercise to maintain health and happiness. Even when indoors they are always “on the go,” constantly moving about the house. You should walk your Fox Terrier several times a day, but jogging is even better. Fox Terriers prefer running to walking, so joggers have a true blue companion in this breed. They chase balls to the point that some owners believe they are obsessed with the activity, and can use up all of their energy playing fetch, as long as your arm doesn’t tire out in the process. Their size makes Fox Terriers fine apartment dogs, but a commitment must be made to keeping up with a regular exercise program.
The Wire Fox Terrier’s coat requires stripping in order to maintain the proper look and texture. Stripping can be done at home, or at the groomer, and should be done at least twice per year. If a dog is not competing, his coat can be clipped, however this changes the texture of the coat, making it soft and also alters the coloring of the dog.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.
Noteworthy wire fox terriers
- Archie, owned by Gill Raddings Stunt Dogs starred in ITV’s Catwalk Dogs.
- Bob, from the Hercule Poirot episode Dumb Witness
Snowy (French: Milou),
companion of Tintin
- Caesar, the companion of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom
- Charles, brought to Ceylon by Leonard Woolf in 1905
- Chester, in the film Jack Frost
- J.D. from Millionaire Dogs
- Mickey, the companion of French composer Francis Poulenc.
- Sky, winner of the 2012 Purina Thanksgiving Dog Show and the 2014 Westminster Dog Show.
- Van Gogh, Paul Meltsner’s dog featured in his famous painting Paul, Marcella and Van Gogh
- Vicki, Rudyard Kipling‘s dog
- Wessex, the dog of British novelist (Tess of the d’Urbervilles) Thomas Hardy
- Willy, from Ask the Dust
- Wuffles, the Patrician’s dog in the Discworld Series