Wire Fox Terrier Dog Breed

Country of Origin: England
Height: 15.5 inches or less
Weight: 18 pounds or less
Coat: Double coat with very wiry, hard, dense outercoat and soft, dense undercoat
Colors: Predominantly white with black, black and tan, or tan markings Registries (with Group): AKC (Terrier); UKC (Terrier)

Origin and History

An old English breed, the Fox Terrier dog was used in the 18th century by foxhunters who needed a compact, energetic, bold dog who would go to ground after quarry. The hunter would carry the dog on horseback in a sack or box while following the foxhounds in hot pursuit; when the fox took cover, the hunter would set the terrier down to rout it out. The Fox Terrier was bred to be a quick thinker, relying on his instincts rather than orders from his owner. History has dictated that he should be mostly white, with no red allowed in the coat, so that he could be easily distinguished from the fox in the fray of the hunt.

There are two types of Fox Terrier, distinguished by coat: Wire and Smooth. Although coat is the only major difference between them today, authorities believe that the Smooth and Wire probably have very different origins. Ancestors of the Smooth are believed to include England's smooth-coated black and tan terrier, the Bull Terrier, and even the Greyhound and Beagle. The Wire is believed to have descended from the rough-coated black and tan terrier of Wales.

Personality Profile

Outgoing, energetic, and self-assured, the Wire Fox Terrier is a wonderful, sturdy pet for an active family. Although he is confident and friendly with strangers, he does have a tendency to be protective of his owners. With proper socialization he can get along well with other dogs, but he should not be unsupervised around smaller pets that he might view as prey, such as birds, hamsters, or rabbits. He is gregarious and not well suited to being left alone for long periods. He tends to be vocal and may bark a lot.

Care Requirements


The Wire Fox Terrier needs daily exercise and the chance to explore and make sure that all is well in the neighborhood, where he'll intently work the sights and smells on his rounds.


The breed's rough, wiry coat needs professional grooming by someone who understands what it should look like. A Wire who is hand-stripped and tidied up by a professional several times a year will only need occasional brushing. His wire coat is practically nonshedding.

Life Span

12 to 15 years.


The feisty Wire can be a handful to train, but he's never boring. Positive, reward-based methods will help focus his attention. He is a smart dog and will bore quickly, and he is also easily distracted. Housetraining may take some extra time to learn.

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Excerpt from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition © 2009 TFH Publications, Inc.


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