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Wire Fox Terrier: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

The Fédération Cynologique Internationaqle (FCI) lists the wire-haired fox terrier in standard no. 169. As a long-legged terrier, the wire-haired fox terrier belongs to group 3, section 1.

Wire Fox Terrier dog breed

Size: 33-39cm
Weight: 6-9kg
FCI Group: 3: Terriers
Section: 1: Long Legged Terriers
Country of origin: Great Britain
Colors: white, white-tan, black-white, tricolor
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
Suitable as: hunting, rescue, and family dog
Sports: agility, dog dancing
Personality: Fast, Sharp, Bold, Friendly, Alert, Fearless
Leaving requirements: high
Drooling Potential: –
The thickness of hair: –
Maintenance effort: medium
Coat structure: dense, wiry
Child friendly: yes
Family dog: yes
Social: –

Origin and breed history

The Drathaar Fox Terrier originated in England. There he was originally used as a smooth-haired fox terrier for hunting foxes and other small animals. The smooth-haired fox terriers were first registered in the middle of the 19th century. By crossing rough-haired dogs towards the end of the 19th century, smooth-haired terriers were bred to be cold and weather-resistant dogs with a half-length, warming coat. Reverend Jack Russell contributed decisively to the breeding of wire-haired fox terriers. The experienced terrier breeder gained international fame through the Jack Russell Terrier, which has since been named after him.

Both breeds were probably created by crossing the White English Terrier with the Beagle and Bull Terrier. The first breed standards for Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers were established in 1876. Official recognition of the wire-haired fox came in 1913 with the formation of the Wire Fox Terrier Association. The wire-haired Foxl found his way to Germany in the 1880s. The breed was first bred here by Prince Albrecht zu Solms-Braunfels.

The Fox Terrier’s traditional job is to track down and drive out foxes in their burrows. For this it is necessary that the dogs penetrate far into the buildings without fear. You mustn’t shy away from confronting the fox either. The targeted breeding contributes to the special character of the terrier to this day.

In the 1920s to 1950s, Wire Fox Terriers were among the fashionable dogs due to their appealing looks. They were widely used as companion dogs for elegant ladies and as family dogs. The wire-haired terrier was also popular as a model for the first stuffed animals. Keeping them as a companion dog, however, did not do justice to the animals’ character. Therefore, they still suffer from the reputation of being snappy, aggressive, and difficult to train. In the meantime, the pretty dogs are therefore a rarity in the street scene.

Today there are essentially two different types of breeding. Some breeders value the preservation of hunting characteristics and prefer to give their puppies to hunters. Others focus on breeding family and companion dogs. To do this, when crossing, they pay attention to animals with a calmer and less purposeful character.

Nature and temperament of the Wire Fox Terrier

The wire-haired fox terrier is one of the very lively and persistent dog breeds. In his tradition, he is a distinct hunting dog. At the same time, the terriers are fond of children and playful. The dogs, which are reminiscent of stuffed animals at first glance, are known for their willpower. As a typical construction hunting dog, the fox also works underground. There he is on his own. Therefore, it is vital for him to make independent decisions in these situations. The breed was originally bred for this purpose and it still has the necessary characteristics to this day.
The typical character traits of the Wirehaired Fox Terrier include:

  • assertiveness
  • joy of hunting
  • endurance
  • lively temperament
  • intelligence
  • friendliness towards people
  • love of children
  • loyalty
  • joy of work
  • fearlessness
  • open-mindedness
  • attention
  • territorial disposition
  • balance
  • attachment
  • happiness
  • self-consciousness
  • joy of learning

Thanks to its strong self-confidence, a fox terrier is aware of its abilities. He shows this through his appearance, his posture and his challenging look. Especially in contact with other dogs, it becomes clear that the fox is always ready for a fight. He doesn’t shy away from larger breeds either. Many dogs react intimidated or aggressively to the provocative appearance.

In the family, the wire-haired Foxl is a lovable family member. During his short rest periods, the dog is very cuddly. He is a loyal companion to his caregiver and easily follows him over rough terrain. However, the reliable companionship of an off-leash fox terrier quickly ends when it encounters small game. The dog breed follows every hare or rabbit and does not even give moles and hedgehogs in tall grass, mice or rats a chance to enter the house or property. Living with cats can also be very difficult due to their strong hunting instinct.

If the wire-haired foxl meets a conspecific, its willingness to fight can be expressed. When kept on a leash, he sometimes insults other dogs with growls and barks. Without a leash, he can fearlessly attack his unsympathetic conspecifics. Calmer representatives of the breed show less of this willingness to fight, but their hunting instinct can come up again and again.

Fox Terriers show their friendly and happy nature towards children. They tirelessly play with children and put up with a lot in the process. Nevertheless, the self-confident nature of the lively dog ​​can also come to the fore when playing with children and lead to problems. Therefore, a fox terrier should not be left unsupervised with small children.

When hunting small game, the traditionally bred fox terrier is a reliable and fearless assistant.

Is the Fox Terrier a hunting dog?

In its origin, the fox terrier is a hunting dog and specifically a building hunting dog.

The appearance of the Wire Fox Terrier

Fox Terriers are one of the smaller dog breeds. Males reach a size of 37 to 39 cm, bitches between 35 to 38 cm. The weight of the dogs is between 7 and 8 kilos. Nevertheless, they are very powerful and assertive. The physique is muscular, harmonious and almost square. The dog carries the comparatively short tail upright. It is slightly buckled at the top. Until the docking ban, the tail was shortened so that it stood upright in its full length. Typical of the fox terrier is its stretched posture when standing with its hind legs pointing slightly backwards.

The head of the wiry terrier with a distinctively long muzzle is striking. Compared to the body size, the breed has an extremely strong jaw and powerful teeth. A black nose forms the center of the face. Dark brown eyes with an alert, alert look join the muzzle after a slight stop. Overall, the head narrows towards the eyes. A fox terrier’s eyes should not protrude. The fox terrier’s cheerful appearance is underlined by its ears, which tilt forward at the tips. They are V-shaped and stand upright.

The wire-haired fox terrier’s fur is very dense, hard and full. The straight, close-fitting hair grows up to a length of about five centimetres. It then loosens and offers space for new hair growth. A Wire Fox Terrier has a white-based coat with mostly two-tone spots of tan and black. Pure white terriers and dogs with only black or tan spots are rare.

Upbringing and keeping of the wire-haired fox terrier – this is important to note

Because of their size, fox terriers are suitable for keeping in apartments. The dogs can also get along in the city if they are regularly given enough exercise. However, a house with a garden is ideal for dogs that like to exercise. Despite their robustness, the dogs are not suitable for being kept in a kennel. They are very affectionate and related to the owner or family. Therefore, their place in the home is in the middle of the family.

The education of the fox terrier is a challenge to the consistency of its owner. Therefore, this dog is not suitable for beginners in dog ownership. As with any dog, a close bond with the owner is the most important basis for successful training of the wire-haired fox terrier. If this is given, the dog will gladly accept a sensitive and loving upbringing. Due to his intelligence, however, he quickly realizes how he can break established rules. Therefore, the breed requires absolute consistency in education and that for a dog’s life. The owner must consistently criticize every misconduct, no matter how small. Positive behavior is rewarded with praise and boisterous stroking. Many fox terriers do not respond to treats as positive reinforcers because the treats are not that important to them. Immediate reaction is important in dog training. Dogs can only relate their actions to their owners’ reactions to them over a short period of time, a few minutes. The dog reacts to loud and brutal training methods with extreme rejection. In the worst case, he becomes aggressive and can no longer be trained.

An important prerequisite for the successful education of the fox terrier is the satisfaction of its urge to move. The dog needs long walks every day, mental challenges and, if possible, dog sports. Thanks to its seemingly never-ending energy, it is suitable as a companion when cycling, horseback riding or jogging. Due to its hunting instinct, it is difficult to let the hunting-loving terrier run off a leash in woods and fields. Even a well-behaved fox terrier is difficult to retrieve when picking up someone else’s scent.

Attending puppy playgroups and dog school contributes to the dog’s socialization and supports the dog owner in his upbringing.

Diet of the Wire Fox Terrier

The wire-haired terriers are very robust dogs in every respect. This also applies to their diet. The breed is not usually gluttonous and therefore not prone to obesity. If the fox moves in as a pup, feeding should be continued in the manner it is familiar with. After getting used to the new home, the puppy’s diet is changed to normal food.

Fox Terriers can be adjusted to dry food as well as ready-to-eat food from a can. They are particularly happy about fresh, home-cooked, or raw meat. They are also suitable for barfing, i.e. feeding them only raw meat. It is important that the active and very muscular dogs receive high-quality and protein-rich food. Shares of vegetables and a few carbohydrates round off the energy requirements of dogs.

The following foods are unhealthy and intolerable for dogs:

  • raw pork
  • Pork Bone
  • cooked bones in general
  • raw potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • raw legumes
  • eggplants
  • milk, butter and cream
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • stone fruit
  • sugar
  • Chocolate and products containing cocoa

Fermented dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese or quark complete the menu. They can be mixed in with the terrier’s food or fed individually. Fish, especially fatty varieties high in omega-3 fatty acids, are also healthy for energetic dogs.

The amount of feed is adjusted to the size and energy requirements of the fox. Information about this is usually on the packaging of ready-made food. When fed with fresh or cooked meat, the daily ration should be around 400 to 500 grams. The terrier’s daily food ration should be divided into two to three meals. Dog biscuits, dry tripe, and chews made from cowhide are ideal as a snack between meals and to keep the dogs occupied.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

Life expectancies of 12 to 14 years are typical for the small dogs. With good health and a balanced diet, terriers can also live up to 16 years. Wire-haired fox terriers are generally in good health. Thanks to their thick fur, they are not sensitive to cold. On hot summer days, activities should be limited to avoid overheating. The dogs, which have meanwhile gone out of fashion, are generally not over-breeded.

However, the following diseases can occur genetically in this dog breed:

  • conjunctivitis
  • Lens luxation (detachment of the eye lens)
  • Retinal disease PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
  • elbow dysplasia
  • hip dysplasia
  • Patella luxation (displacement of the kneecap)

Responsible breeders have their breeding animals checked for genetic predisposition before mating. Do not use diseased terriers for breeding.

How old does a fox terrier get?

The hardy dogs live an average of 14 years.

Grooming of the Wirehaired Fox Terrier

With its growing fur, the fox terrier is a rather high-maintenance dog. Daily brushing prevents tangles from forming and loosens dirt from the coat. Dirt, plant parts or small stones must also be removed from the spaces between the paw pads.

Wire Fox Terriers are one of the non-shedding dogs. Twice a year it is necessary to trim the Wire Fox Terrier’s coat. If the mature coat is not removed during the change of coat, matting with the regrowing, young hair is possible. As a result, skin diseases can occur. When trimming, the already loose, mature fur is plucked out with the fingers and a trimming knife. After that, only the young hair is visible. The process requires trimming experience and should therefore only be performed by breeders and selected groomers.

If the fur is only clipped, it will bond with the new undercoat and can also become matted. In addition, the dog loses its original colors. The brown and black ends of the hair are removed during shearing, allowing the spots to fade.

How much maintenance does a Wire Fox Terrier require?

The Wire Fox Terrier’s coat requires regular grooming.

Fox Terrier (Wirehaired) – Activities and Training

The lively character of the breed brings with it a strong urge to move. Extensive walks, bike rides or regular jogging are therefore necessary to keep the Fox busy. He also loves fetch and search games. If the dog is not busy, it tends to dig holes in the garden. Damage to furniture, shoes and other things is possible in the apartment.

Dog sport is an ideal supplement for the mental and physical workload of agile terriers. The following dog sports are suitable for the terrier:

  • agility
  • dog dancing
  • Dog Frisbee
  • Rally Obedience

Wire-haired fox terriers can also be trained to be rescue dogs.

Good to know: Peculiarities of the Wirehaired Fox Terrier

The wire-haired fox terrier is a special breed overall. Hardly any other breed combines clowning, cheerfulness and a certain natural sharpness in the same way.

In particular, the breed appears frequently in films from the 1930s to 1950s. One of the best-known Foxls is undoubtedly Struppi from the comic series “Tim and Struppi”. The fox terriers Struppi and Jacki, hosted by moderator Robert Lembke, were regularly present on the advice show “Was bin ich?” from the 1960s and 1970s.

Disadvantages of the Fox Terrier (Wirehaired)

People who value an absolutely obedient dog will see the character of the fox terrier as a disadvantage. Despite good upbringing, the four-legged friend will always tend to get his way.

Coat care has an objectively disadvantageous effect. Trimming twice a year is time-consuming and expensive.

Is the Wire Fox Terrier right for me?

Wire Fox Terriers are ideal companions for active people and families. An important prerequisite for harmonious coexistence is an understanding of the nature and the original use of the breed. Owners who occasionally overlook the stubbornness of their dog are therefore suitable as human partners for a fox terrier. However, this generosity requires consistent responses at all times. Owners of this extraordinary breed should be prepared to put up with one or the other embarrassment. This is especially true if you don’t keep an eye on your dog all the time.

Wire-haired foxes are child-friendly and happy family dogs. In quiet phases they are cuddly and occasionally take on the function of a lap dog. The breed is also suitable for active seniors who regularly go hiking with their dog.

How much does a Wire Fox Terrier cost?

With a reputable breeder, prices for Wire Fox Terrier puppies range between $500 and $800.

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