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The Ultimate Guide To the Wire Fox Terrier: A Lovable And Intelligent Companion

wire fox terriers

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The Ultimate Guide To the Wire Fox Terrier: A Lovable And Intelligent Companion


The Wire Fox Terrier is a small, energetic, and intelligent breed that has captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

With their distinctive looks and charming personalities, these dogs make excellent companions for families, singles, and seniors alike.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about the Wire Fox Terrier, from their history and temperament to grooming and training tips.

History of the Wire Fox Terrier: A Closer Look

The Origins of the Breed

The Wire Fox Terrier’s history can be traced back to 18th-century England, where the breed was developed for the specific purpose of fox hunting.

Early Wire Fox Terriers were bred to possess certain traits that made them ideal for this purpose, such as their small size, agility, and courage.

The breed’s ancestors likely included a mix of working terriers, such as the Old English Terrier and Smooth Fox Terrier, which contributed to the development of their unique characteristics.

The Wire Fox Terrier’s Hunting Role

During fox hunts, Wire Fox Terriers played a crucial role in driving foxes out of their burrows and into the open, where hunters on horseback could continue the chase.

Their keen sense of smell, speed, and fearlessness allowed them to excel in this role.

Wire Fox Terriers would often work in packs or alongside larger hounds, demonstrating their ability to cooperate with other dogs and follow the lead of their human handlers.

The Wire Fox Terrier’s Transition to Show Ring and Companion

As fox hunting declined in popularity, Wire Fox Terriers found a new purpose as show dogs and companions. The breed’s unique appearance and charming personality caught the attention of dog enthusiasts, leading to their increased popularity in dog shows.

The first Wire Fox Terrier champion, Ch. Basil of Notts, was crowned in 1885, paving the way for many more successful show dogs in the years that followed.

The breed’s recognition by organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) further solidified its status as a beloved and respected breed.

Today, Wire Fox Terriers continue to excel in the show ring and are cherished by pet owners worldwide for their affectionate and playful nature.

Famous Wire Fox Terriers

The Wire Fox Terrier’s appeal extends beyond the show ring, with several famous dogs making a name for themselves in the media and popular culture.

One such dog is Asta, the Wire Fox Terrier who starred in the classic film series “The Thin Man” during the 1930s and 1940s. Asta’s role in these films helped to increase the breed’s popularity and further cement its status as a beloved companion and entertainer.

Another notable Wire Fox Terrier is King, who was awarded Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2019.

King’s win marked the 15th time a Wire Fox Terrier had taken home the prestigious title, making them the most successful breed in the show’s history.

Physical Characteristics: A Detailed Look at the Wire Fox Terrier

The Wire Fox Terrier is a small, sturdy dog with a distinctive appearance. Some key physical characteristics include:

Size and Weight

Wire Fox Terriers are a small to medium-sized breed, with a compact and sturdy build. Males typically stand between 14 and 16 inches tall at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring between 13 and 15 inches.

Both males and females usually weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, with some variation depending on the individual dog’s genetics and overall health.

Coat and Color

One of the most distinctive features of the Wire Fox Terrier is its wiry, dense coat.

The coat is comprised of a harsh, broken outer layer and a soft, short undercoat, which work together to provide protection from the elements and give the breed its unique appearance.

The coat is typically white with black, tan, or a combination of black and tan markings. These markings are often found on the face, ears, and the base of the tail.

Head and Facial Features

The Wire Fox Terrier has a distinctive head shape, with a flat, moderately narrow skull and a powerful, well-defined jaw. Their eyes are dark, small, and oval-shaped, giving them an alert and intelligent expression.

The breed’s ears are V-shaped, folding forward close to the cheeks, and are set high on the head. This ear carriage contributes to the breed’s lively and attentive appearance.

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Body and Tail

Wire Fox Terriers have a well-balanced and muscular body, with a deep chest, straight back, and well-sprung ribs. Their strong and compact build enables them to be agile and quick on their feet, making them effective hunters and athletes.

The breed’s tail is typically docked, although this practice is now prohibited in some countries. When docked, the tail is set high and carried upright, adding to the dog’s confident and energetic demeanor.

Gait and Movement

The Wire Fox Terrier’s gait is characterized by its smooth, ground-covering strides and effortless movement. The breed’s strong, well-developed hindquarters provide them with the power and agility necessary for their original hunting role.

Their graceful and efficient movement highlights their athleticism and is a key feature in the show ring.

Temperament and Personality: The Wire Fox Terrier’s Endearing Traits

Intelligence and Trainability

Wire Fox Terriers are known for their intelligence and quick-witted nature. They have a keen ability to learn and are highly trainable, making them suitable for a variety of dog sports and activities.

However, their independent streak can sometimes make them stubborn, so patience and consistency are key when training a Wire Fox Terrier.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise, are generally the most effective approach to training this breed.

Affection and Loyalty

Wire Fox Terriers are deeply affectionate and form strong bonds with their families. They are known for their loyalty and devotion, making them excellent companions for those who appreciate their lively and spirited nature.

They thrive on human interaction and enjoy spending time with their loved ones, whether it’s cuddling on the couch or playing a game of fetch in the yard.

Playfulness and Energy

As a breed originally developed for hunting, Wire Fox Terriers have a high energy level and a natural inclination towards playfulness.

They are happiest when engaged in physical activities and mental stimulation, making them well-suited for active individuals or families.

Their love for play and games can make them an excellent choice for households with children, as long as interactions are supervised and appropriate boundaries are established.

Alertness and Watchfulness

The Wire Fox Terrier’s alert and watchful demeanor make them excellent watchdogs.

They are naturally protective of their home and family and are quick to alert their owners to any perceived threats or disturbances.

However, this watchfulness can sometimes lead to excessive barking, so it’s essential to establish boundaries and discourage nuisance barking early in their training.

Compatibility with Other Pets

Wire Fox Terriers can coexist peacefully with other pets, particularly if they are introduced to and socialized with them from a young age.

However, their strong prey drive may make them more prone to chasing smaller animals, such as cats, rodents, or birds. Careful supervision and proper socialization are crucial when introducing a Wire Fox Terrier to a home with other pets.

Training and Socialization

Training your Wire Fox Terrier is essential for establishing a strong bond and ensuring their happiness and well-being. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them relatively easy to train. Here are some tips for training and socialization:

  • Start Early: Begin training and socializing your Wire Fox Terrier as early as possible. This will help them develop into well-rounded and confident adult dogs.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and play, to motivate and reward your dog for good behavior.
  • Consistency: Be consistent with your training methods and expectations. This will help your dog understand what is expected of them and reduce confusion.
  • Patience: Wire Fox Terriers are known for their stubborn streak, so patience is key during training sessions. Remain calm and composed, even when faced with challenges.
  • Socialization: Expose your dog to a variety of people, animals, and environments to help them develop social skills and reduce the likelihood of fear or aggression.

Grooming and Maintenance: Caring for Your Wire Fox Terrier’s Coat and Appearance

Coat and Grooming Requirements

Wire Fox Terriers have a distinct double coat, consisting of a dense, wiry outer coat and a soft, short undercoat. This unique coat type requires regular grooming to maintain its appearance and prevent matting.

The following are essential grooming tasks for keeping your Wire Fox Terrier looking and feeling their best:

  1. Brushing: To prevent tangles and remove loose hair, brush your Wire Fox Terrier’s coat at least once a week using a slicker brush or a pin brush. Be gentle to avoid damaging the coat or causing discomfort to your dog.
  2. Hand Stripping: Wire Fox Terriers require hand stripping to maintain the proper texture and appearance of their coat. Hand stripping involves removing dead hairs from the outer coat by hand or with a stripping knife. This process should be done every 4 to 6 months, depending on the growth of your dog’s coat. If you are unsure about how to hand strip your dog’s coat, consult with a professional groomer or seek guidance from experienced breed enthusiasts.
  3. Clipping: Some Wire Fox Terrier owners opt for clipping as an alternative to hand stripping. While clipping is less time-consuming and may be more comfortable for the dog, it can alter the coat’s texture and color over time. If you choose to clip your dog’s coat, regular trimming every 6 to 8 weeks is recommended.
  4. Bathing: Wire Fox Terriers do not require frequent baths, as their coat naturally repels dirt and debris. Bathe your dog as needed or every 2 to 3 months using a mild dog shampoo. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the coat to remove any soap residue, which can cause skin irritation.

Additional Grooming Tasks

In addition to coat care, there are several other grooming tasks that are essential for maintaining your Wire Fox Terrier’s overall health and well-being:

  1. Nail Trimming: Regular nail trimming is essential to prevent overgrown nails, which can cause discomfort and affect your dog’s gait. Trim your dog’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks, or as needed, using a dog nail clipper or grinder.
  2. Ear Cleaning: Wire Fox Terriers are prone to ear infections due to their folded ears. Regular ear cleaning can help prevent the buildup of wax and debris, reducing the risk of infections. Clean your dog’s ears every 2 to 4 weeks using a dog-specific ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls or gauze.
  3. Teeth Cleaning: To maintain your dog’s oral health, brush their teeth regularly using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Aim for daily brushing, or at least several times a week, to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar and reduce the risk of dental disease.
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By following a consistent grooming routine and addressing your Wire Fox Terrier’s specific coat and health needs, you can ensure that your dog remains happy, healthy, and looking their best.

Health and Lifespan: Understanding the Wire Fox Terrier’s Health Needs

General Health and Lifespan

Wire Fox Terriers are generally a healthy and robust breed, with a lifespan ranging from 12 to 15 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues.

Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help to maintain their overall health and well-being throughout their lives.

Hereditary Health Issues

There are a few hereditary health conditions that can affect Wire Fox Terriers. Some of the most common genetic issues seen in this breed include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A developmental disorder of the hip joint, which can lead to arthritis and mobility issues. Regular exercise, weight management, and veterinary care can help manage this condition.
  • Patellar Luxation: A dislocation of the kneecap, which can cause lameness and discomfort. In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the issue.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: A degenerative hip joint condition that can lead to pain and limited mobility. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the affected joint and may include physical therapy for recovery.
  • Allergies: Some dogs may experience allergies to food, environmental factors, or flea bites.

Eye and Ear Health

Wire Fox Terriers can be prone to certain eye and ear health issues, such as:

  • Cataracts: A clouding of the lens in the eye, which can lead to vision impairment. Treatment options may include surgery to remove the affected lens and replace it with an artificial one.
  • Deafness: Some Wire Fox Terriers can be affected by hereditary deafness, which can be present from birth or develop later in life. Regular hearing tests and veterinary care can help identify and manage this condition.
  • Ear Infections: The breed’s folded ears can make them more susceptible to ear infections. Regular ear cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection can help prevent and treat this issue.

Regular Health Screenings

To ensure the ongoing health of your Wire Fox Terrier, regular health screenings and veterinary checkups are crucial.

These visits can help identify and address any health concerns early, and they provide an opportunity for preventative care, such as vaccinations and dental cleanings.

By understanding the Wire Fox Terrier’s health needs and providing the necessary care, you can help your furry friend enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life.

Exercise and Activity Levels: Keeping Your Wire Fox Terrier Active and Engaged

Daily Exercise Requirements

Wire Fox Terriers are an energetic and active breed, requiring regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being.

A minimum of 45 minutes to an hour of daily exercise is recommended, which can be broken down into several shorter walks or play sessions throughout the day.

Types of Activities

There are a variety of activities that can help keep your Wire Fox Terrier engaged and stimulated, both physically and mentally. Some popular options include:

  • Walking or Jogging: A daily walk or jog is essential for maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being. Exploring new routes and environments can also provide mental stimulation for your Wire Fox Terrier.
  • Fetch and Tug-of-War: Wire Fox Terriers love playing games that involve chasing and retrieving objects, as well as engaging in friendly tussles. These activities can help to burn off excess energy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Dog Sports: Wire Fox Terriers excel in many dog sports, such as agility, obedience, and flyball. These activities can provide an excellent opportunity for both exercise and bonding with your dog.
  • Interactive Toys and Puzzles: Providing your Wire Fox Terrier with toys and puzzles that require problem-solving skills can help to keep their mind sharp and offer an outlet for their natural curiosity and intelligence.

Socialization and Training

In addition to regular exercise, proper socialization and training are essential for the overall well-being of your Wire Fox Terrier.

Exposing your dog to a variety of people, animals, and environments from a young age can help to prevent behavioral issues and promote a well-rounded temperament.

Ongoing training is also important for maintaining good manners and reinforcing the bond between you and your dog. Remember to use positive reinforcement methods and be patient and consistent with your training approach.

Balancing Rest and Activity

While it’s important to ensure your Wire Fox Terrier receives adequate exercise, it’s equally important to provide them with opportunities for rest and relaxation.

Providing a comfortable and quiet space for your dog to retreat to when they need some downtime can help them recharge and maintain their overall well-being.

By providing your Wire Fox Terrier with a healthy balance of exercise, mental stimulation, and rest, you can help to ensure they remain happy, healthy, and engaged throughout their lives.

Diet and Nutrition: Feeding Your Wire Fox Terrier for Optimal Health

Balanced and Complete Nutrition

A balanced and complete diet is essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Wire Fox Terrier. Their diet should consist of a mix of high-quality proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that cater to their specific nutritional needs.

Commercial Dog Food

There are many commercial dog food options available, ranging from dry kibble to wet canned food.

When selecting dog food for your Wire Fox Terrier, look for a product that is specifically formulated for small to medium-sized breeds and meets the nutritional guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Be sure to choose dog food that uses high-quality ingredients and avoids artificial additives, fillers, and by-products.

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It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best food for your dog based on their age, weight, activity level, and any specific health concerns.

Portion Control and Feeding Schedule

Portion control is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight in your Wire Fox Terrier. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can contribute to various health issues, such as joint problems and heart disease.

Refer to the feeding guidelines on your chosen dog food packaging, and adjust the portion size based on your dog’s specific needs.

It’s generally recommended to feed adult Wire Fox Terriers two smaller meals per day, rather than one large meal.

This can help to prevent overeating and maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day. Puppies may require more frequent feedings, usually three to four times a day, as they grow and develop.

Treats and Snacks

While treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, it’s important to use them in moderation.

Excessive treats can contribute to weight gain and unbalanced nutrition. Opt for healthy treats, such as small pieces of lean meats or vegetables, and be sure to account for treats in your dog’s overall daily calorie intake.

Special Dietary Considerations

Some Wire Fox Terriers may have specific dietary needs or sensitivities that require adjustments to their diet.

Always consult with your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have a food allergy or intolerance, or if they have a health condition that requires a specialized diet.

By providing your Wire Fox Terrier with a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their specific needs, you can help to ensure they maintain optimal health and thrive throughout their life.

Finding a Wire Fox Terrier: How to Choose the Right Dog for You

Reputable Breeders

If you’re interested in purchasing a Wire Fox Terrier puppy, it’s essential to find a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and welfare of their dogs.

A responsible breeder will conduct health screenings on their breeding dogs and provide a clean, safe environment for their puppies.

When searching for a breeder, consider the following:

  1. Research: Start by searching online, contacting local breed clubs, or attending dog shows to find reputable Wire Fox Terrier breeders.
  2. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask potential breeders about their breeding practices, health testing, and the temperament of their dogs.
  3. Visit the Breeder: If possible, arrange a visit to the breeder’s facility to see the conditions in which the puppies are raised and meet the parent dogs.
  4. Health Guarantees: A responsible breeder will provide a health guarantee for their puppies, which may cover genetic health issues and include a veterinary checkup before the puppy goes to its new home.
  5. References: Request references from previous buyers to learn about their experiences with the breeder and their dogs.

Adoption and Rescue Organizations

Adopting a Wire Fox Terrier from a rescue organization is another excellent option for those looking to bring one of these dogs into their family.

Rescue organizations often have adult dogs or older puppies available, which can be a great option for those who prefer a dog with a known temperament and established behaviors.

To find a Wire Fox Terrier through adoption or rescue, consider the following steps:

  1. Search Online: Use websites like Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet to search for Wire Fox Terriers available for adoption in your area.
  2. Contact Breed-Specific Rescues: Reach out to Wire Fox Terrier rescue organizations or breed-specific rescue groups, as they may have dogs available for adoption or can assist you in your search.
  3. Visit Local Shelters: Visit your local animal shelters and humane societies, as they may have Wire Fox Terriers or similar breeds available for adoption.
  4. Network: Join online forums or social media groups dedicated to Wire Fox Terriers to connect with other owners and learn about potential adoption opportunities.

Preparing for Your New Wire Fox Terrier

Before bringing your new Wire Fox Terrier home, it’s essential to prepare your living space and gather the necessary supplies. Consider the following:

  1. Create a Safe Space: Set up a designated area in your home where your dog can feel safe and comfortable. This may include a crate or a comfortable bed, along with toys and blankets.
  2. Purchase Supplies: Gather essential supplies such as food and water bowls, a collar and leash, grooming tools, and dog food recommended by your breeder, rescue organization, or veterinarian.
  3. Schedule a Veterinary Visit: Arrange a visit with your veterinarian soon after bringing your dog home to ensure they are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations and other necessary care.
  4. Plan for Training and Socialization: Enroll in a training class or create a plan for socializing and training your new Wire Fox Terrier to help them adjust to their new environment and become a well-mannered companion.

By carefully researching and selecting a Wire Fox Terrier from a reputable source and preparing your home for its arrival, you’ll be well on your way to welcoming a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted dog into your family.


The Wire Fox Terrier is a lively, intelligent, and affectionate breed that makes an excellent companion for a wide range of individuals and families.

Their unique appearance, charming personality, and adaptability have made them a popular choice among dog enthusiasts.

By understanding their history, characteristics, and care requirements, you can provide the best possible home for your Wire Fox Terrier and enjoy a lifetime of companionship and love.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)

Are Wire Fox Terriers good with children?

Yes, Wire Fox Terriers generally get along well with children. Their friendly and playful nature makes them excellent family pets. However, it’s essential to teach children how to interact with dogs safely and supervise interactions between dogs and young children.

Do Wire Fox Terriers shed?

Wire Fox Terriers have a low-shedding coat, which makes them a good option for those with allergies or sensitivities to pet hair. Regular grooming, including brushing and hand stripping, can help minimize shedding.

How much exercise does a Wire Fox Terrier need?

Wire Fox Terriers are energetic dogs that require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Aim for at least two 30-minute walks per day, in addition to playtime and other physical activities.

Are Wire Fox Terriers hypoallergenic?

While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Wire Fox Terriers are considered a low-allergen breed due to their low-shedding coat. Regular grooming can help reduce the amount of pet dander in your home.

Can Wire Fox Terriers live in apartments?

Wire Fox Terriers can adapt to apartment living if they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation. However, they may not be the best choice for those with noise-sensitive neighbors, as they can be vocal.


Do Wire Fox Terriers get along with other pets?

Wire Fox Terriers can get along well with other pets, especially if they are socialized and introduced to them at an early age.

However, their strong prey drive may make them less suitable for homes with small animals such as rodents or birds. It’s important to monitor interactions between your Wire Fox Terrier and other pets, especially during the initial introduction period.

How do I find a reputable Wire Fox Terrier breeder?

To find a reputable breeder, start by contacting breed clubs or attending dog shows to gather recommendations. Research potential breeders, visit their facilities, and ask for references and health certifications for the breeding dogs.

A responsible breeder will prioritize the health, temperament, and well-being of their dogs and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the breed.

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