Wire Fox Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Fox Terrier is one of the very oldest terrier breeds. Like other terriers, the Fox Terrier was developed as a hunter, in this case of fox (and rats) in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The dog’s job wasn’t actually to attack the fox, however. Instead, its goal was to “bolt” a fox from its den or hiding place by barking and lunging at it until it finally fled. As such, this breed had to be small enough to get into a fox hole, but long-legged enough to keep up with fox hounds.

Though their ancestry may originally have been quite different, the Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers were interbred for many years and were long considered to be varieties of a single breed. By the early 1900s this crossing of the Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers stopped, and the two eventually became officially recognized as separate breeds.

Today the Wire Fox Terrier is primarily a companion dog, and one whose playfulness, spunkiness, quickness, and scrappiness are deeply admired by its devotees.


The Wire Fox Terrier has a flat, tapering, narrow skull, and ears that fold forward above the skull level, making V-shaped flaps. The small, deep-set round eyes should be keen and fiery in expression. The tail is normally docked to three-quarters its length and stands on top of the dog rather than hanging out behind. Feet are round and compact. The body is square-proportioned and short-backed. The coat is predominately white, with spots of black and ginger; the twisting hairs are wiry in texture. The dog’s overall impression should be one of speed, power, and endurance.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Up to 15-1/2 in.
  • Size:  Small
  • Weight:  15 to 19 lbs.
  • Availability:  May take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, earthdog, watchdog, agility, and performing tricks


One of the more aggressive breeds toward other dogs, the Wire Fox Terrier has a pronounced tendency to pick fights with other dogs. Be careful, as he is often bitten! Keep this breed properly leashed or in a completely enclosed area, because the Fox Terrier likes to go off and explore. Willful—needs firm obedience training. Don’t overfeed. Barks a lot. The coat must be stripped several times a year and more frequently for show dogs. Show grooming is quite complex.


The Wire Fox Terrier is adored by many, but isn’t for everyone. Intelligent and easily trained, the Wire Fox Terrier gets bored easily. And while these dogs bond with their family and are generally eager to please, their prey drive is so strong that they just cannot contain themselves if they see a fox, opossum, or even a cat wandering within eyesight.

Unlike many terrier breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier is excellent with children: He can be patient, protective, and extraordinarily playful with them. In addition, this breed doesn’t shed, which means busy parents don’t have to worry about grooming as much as with some breeds (although the dogs do have to be clipped three to four times a year). They can be excellent watchdogs. They generally don’t do well in the obedience ring, but they excel at agility and performing tricks.


  • Children:  Good with children
  • Friendliness:  Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets if raised with them, but be careful around small rodents
  • Combativeness:  Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively active indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  A little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Moderate trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Medium coat
  • Shedding:  Very light
  • Docking/Cropping:  The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A fairly good jogging companion, though small
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  A small yard is sufficient
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Fairly long-lived (about 12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Wire Fox Terrier Breed Standard


Wire Fox Terrier Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Wire Fox Terrier


Wire Fox Terrier Gifts