Breed At A Glance


Intelligent, willful and energetic

Life Expectancy
12 – 15 years

Average Height
Males 15.5”, Females 13.5”

Average Weight
Males 18 lbs, Females 16 lbs

Coat Color
Mostly white with black, brown or liver markings

Coat Length/Texture
Medium length and coarse

Shedding Propensity

Also known as Wirehaired Terrier, Fox Terrier, Foxie

General Temperament

The Wire Fox Terrier, much like it’s smooth-coated cousin, is a very intelligent and energetic dog that loves to spend time with it’s human family. They love to work, and although they are not used as small game hunters as often as in the past, they often excel at agility training. Foxies prefer being outdoors where they can utilize their skills as hunters, but are also very active indoors. The fearless Fox Terrier will defend it’s family and home territory relentlessly, and therefore makes an excellent watch dog.

Fox Terriers are tenacious diggers and have a strong prey instinct; once something catches their eye, they will stop at nothing to pursue it, even putting themselves in harms way. So, although owners can rest assured that their home will be kept free from vermin, suburban fences will need to be tall, buried deep and checked frequently to keep the dog from escaping and getting itself into dangerous situations.

Although they usually get along well with humans and other pets they are raised with, Wire Fox Terriers are easily provoked and many instigate fights with other dogs, even those bigger than themselves. They also have a tendency to bite, particularly around children that are too rough. Early socialization may help to minimize this trait, though children should be taught how to properly interact with the dog, and playtime with the dog should be supervised.

Wire Fox Terriers need lots of attention and activity; otherwise, they can become destructive or prone to excessive barking. And although they are quite intelligent, they are also quite willful and can be difficult to housebreak and obedience train. They will seize the opportunity to run the house if their owner does not consistently maintain their position as “alpha dog.” They are not recommended for first time dog owners, or for those who cannot spend plenty of time giving the dog a chance to use their wits.

This breed is a big barker, and therefore may not be well suited for apartment life.

Breed History

Fox Terriers were developed in the late 18th century, when fox hunting became popular in England. Sportsmen of the time needed a dog that could enter underground dens and flush out foxes to the awaiting larger dogs and men on horseback. These enthusiastic little hunters proved to also be handy around the farm, keeping vermin populations at a minimum. Although they are not currently a popular breed, Fox Terriers have been included in the development of many other breeds of terrier.

Though Wire Fox Terriers and Smooth Fox Terriers were long thought to be different variations of the same breed, it is now thought that the Wire Foxies descend from wire-coated Black and Tan Terriers from different areas of the United Kingdom. The two breeds were interbred for quite some time, but have been bred separately for many years. They were officially recognized as separate breeds by the American Kennel Club in 1985, 100 years after joining as the same breed.

Body Structure and Composition

A sense of balance is extremely important with the overall appearance of a Fox Terrier. Both the Smooth and Wire version have a sturdy yet graceful structure that allows for a powerful gait. This breed is approximately equal in length and height, giving the dog a square appearance. The muzzle of a Fox Terrier is long and tapered, and meets the skull with a very gradual stop. The ears are quite distinctive, set high and folded over noticeably above the skull. The chest is deep and the back level, leading to a tail that is carried straight up and slightly curved over the back when the dog is at attention.

The coat of the Wire Fox Terrier sheds minimally and is easy to care for, though they will need to be “stripped” by a professional groomer several times per year to keep the coat in optimum condition.

Medical Information

The Wire Fox Terrier is a relatively healthy breed, though they are somewhat prone to eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. Individuals that are entirely or almost entirely white are particularly prone to congenital deafness. Wire Fox Terriers have an unusually high incidence of epilepsy and seizures, although it is unknown whether this is a hereditary trait.

Anecdotal Information

The American Fox Terrier Club, which represents both the Smooth and Wire-Coated Fox Terrier, was the first specialty club to join the American Kennel Club in 1885.

Wire Fox Terriers have the distinction of having won 13 Best in Show awards at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

Many writers have highlighted the Wire Fox Terrier in their books, most notably Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin.

Wire Fox Terriers have also been featured in many films, including Oliver and CompanyBringing Up Baby, and The Thin Man series.

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