Wire Fox Terrier

There may not be another breed that enjoys the bright lights and red carpet treatment as the Wire Fox Terrier does. This former burrower is the king of dog shows, not to mention, owning the Westminster.

Handsome and smart, the Wire Fox will excel in things other breeds wish they could. And, with this breed, you can bet they love every minute of it. 

That’s because the Wire Fox enjoys being around people at every chance they can get.

However, will they make a good addition for your family to enjoy?

Here is what you need to know about the Wire Fox Terrier.

History

The Wire Fox is another member of the large and reputable terrier group. Some breeds belong in the spotlight and the Wire Fox Terrier is one of those breeds. Moreover, if you had to place a bet on a breed to win Best in Show, the WFT is as safe of a bet as it gets. More on that below.

But before the breed made headlines from winning dog contests, a less glamorous life was put in place. The word “terrier” derives from the Latin word, “terrarus,” which means “of the earth.” Indeed, people had many reasons  to utilize that word for the terrier. Indeed, this breed for a century or so had a big role in burrowing into earth.

Their story begins in the British Isles. The first job on their resume would consist of chasing quarry into dens. For instance, if fox was on the loose during a hunt, the breed would follow them underground and chase them from their escape routes. Either a hunter was ready to bag them or a hound to snag them.

The Wire Fox Terrier began doing this in the mid-19th century. It is thought that hunters bred them specifically for hunting foxes. Hence the name. At that time, even though experts say the breeds aren’t of the same development, the Smooth Coat and wiry coat Fox Terriers were the same breed. In fact, both breeds would appear at shows and in literature as “Fox Terriers” but with two types.

Wire Fox Terriers became a hit when Queen Victoria and King Edward VII both had their own WFTS. Moreover, on of the most inspiring and sad stories of dog loyalty was from Caesar, the pet of King Edward. It is said that when King Edward died and had his procession, Caesar was by his coffin mourning his death. Talk about sweet.

Most hunters had reason for the white variety coat color type. Some hunters would accidentally gun down their own dogs thinking the dog was a fox. Not wanting to repeat these unfortunate and fatal events, breeders would develop a breed with a clearer coat color. 

Indeed, Fox Terriers became a hit. It was their bold, brave, and loving nature that England fell in love with. The breed first began to appear as a Fox Terrier in the United States in the early 1880’s. Both, the Smooth and Wire Coat, would gain recognition in 1885 as a Fox Terrier. It would be a hundred or so years later that both breeds had separation and distinction. In 1985, the AKC would recognize both types as separate breeds. Most people thought it was long overdue, although the UKC didn’t follow suit until 1999. 

During the 30’s and 40’s, the Wire Fox Terrier blew up with American popularity. It was for a couple of reasons. For starters, the breed was a repeat winner at Westminster. Second, it was another form of bright lights and red carpet treatment. Indeed, the popular comedy; The Thin Man. Asta was the co-star and pet of the leading role featuring actors William Powell and Myrna Loy. Additionally, the popular comic strip, The Adventures of TinTin from the 1920’s to the 1970’s was also a catalyst for their exposure.

While their popularity today is nowhere near where it once was, the breed does enjoy success publicly. A perennial winner of Westminster and Crufts Best in Show events, the breed is now enjoying the quiet life of home companion.

Furthermore, according to the American Kennel Club, the Wire Fox Terrier is the 99th most popular breed in America.

Size

The Wire Fox Terrier is a small dog breed. Both male and female WFT’s should stand at 15.5 inches tall.

With regards to weight; a male should weigh at 18 pounds, while a female should range between 15 to 17 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

Sweet and joyful, don’t let the keen expression fool you. As puppies, this breed can be quite the troublemaker and bully. True to their terrier heritage, the Wire Fox Terrier is bold, brave and adventurous.. Luckily, because the breed is very smart, they can grow out of their digging and other bad habits.

Burrowing is a natural inclination of the breed. They’ll do it relentlessly. In addition to digging, the breed loves a game of chase. This is the prey drive talking. They are very playful and if you have small children,  the breed will entertain them nonstop. 

Affectionate and loyal, the Wire Fox Terrier develops a special bond and attachment with their owner. This is a people’s dog, and they’ll prove it to you from day one.

WFT’s enjoy being in new places, experiencing new things and thrive at challenges. They could live their life with no shortage of adventures. All that matters is that they get time with their people, as the breed is adaptable.

Tactical hunters with precise instincts and courage as their middle name, this alert and active breed can serve efficaciously as a watchdog. They love their exercise and excel as a dog when they participate in agility, obedience, earthdog trials and speed trials.

While the breed is stubborn at times like a true terrier, heavy in the head and a bit of lug head, the Wire Fox Terrier typically outgrows shortcomings.

All in all, a wonderful family dog that will never cease to love. They enjoy people especially children and will live with the right dog. Walk them, talk to them and show attention and you’ll get the best out of your Wire Fox Terrier.

Health

Like any breed, the Wire Fox Terrier has health issues to have certain concerns about. In general, however, the breed enjoys a rather healthy life. When you buy a Wire Fox Terrier make sure you purchase from a reputable breeder. This breeder should be able to provide you with health clearances and other documents necessary to make the best purchasing decision possible.

In addition, you’ll want to make regular veterinarian visits to ensure that your Wire Fox Terrier is in good standing. With preventative care and a good diet, there’s no reason to believe your Wire Fox Terrier won’t live from 12 to 15 years.

Cloudiness of the lens or Cataracts, which can cause obstruction of vision, is found to occur in this breed. The breed is also prone to suffer from Glaucoma, which is a painful conditions that presents itself from the symptoms of squinting, watery eyes and irritation of the eyes. Lens Luxation is another common problem for the breed . This is due to the degeneration of the eye’s lens causing it to fall forward leading to loss of circulation. This condition may evolve into secondary Glaucoma and surgery may be necessary to help the issue.

The breed also suffers from Hip Dysplasia. This is common for many breeds. It involves the malformation of the dog’s hip joint. This, in turn, will cause the breed to suffer discomfort and lameness. Pain is a common response to the condition and if you believe your Wire Fox Terrier suffers from this, consult your vet on the options you may have. Legg Perthes Disease is the degeneration of the femoral head around the hind leg. This causes more discomfort, lameness and pain. Wobbling or limping are a couple of signs that your dog suffers from this disease. Favoring their hind or a lack of mobility are a couple of telling signs.

Elbow Dysplasia is when there is abnormal growth of the elbow. This is a troubling condition that cause pain, discomfort and could lead to osteoarthritis.

Other issues: Patella Luxation, which is when the kneecap slips out of place and deafness seems to an issue for the breed. There are tests out there for hearing and your breeder should be able to supply you with that information.

Always consult a vet with chief concerns.

Care

Boredom is the big thing for a Wire Fox Terrier. As in, they do not enjoy it. Mental and physical stimulation is the key in keeping your WFT at its best. They should be getting plenty of exercise. Two short walks or one long stroll, along with a healthy backyard romp should do the trick. A yard with a fence is absolutely a mandate. This is a breed with a strong prey drive. Some Wire Fox Terrier’s have reputations for ignoring commands in favor of a pursuit of a smaller animal. Be sure to avoid interacting smaller animals with this breed if you can help.

Early training and socialization is a key as well. This breed comes with some bad habits, and in true terrier form, they’ll exhibit them out of the gate until you correct them. Someone with experience who can be firm, fair and consistent will couple best with the breed.

They need someone who’ll have the time to be there with them. The breed isn’t a stay at home dog, that spends a majority of their time alone. That won’t work. This breed thrives when they have plenty of attention and devotion. 

Monthly trimming of the nails is a good idea to prevent overgrowth, splits and cracks. Check and clear the ear of any debris. Regular exercise, supervision around other dogs, and watch this breed with small kids to make sure the dog isn’t too rough with them. 

Feeding

A Wire Fox Terrier should do well with a high quality brand formula. Meat should be the first ingredient and quality protein sources, crude fat and carbohydrates should be at the top of your list. A mixture of vitamins and minerals will help keep your dog’s coat and joints at its best. Mix in veggies and fruits for a healthier balance.

Not all dogs will eat the same amounts. How much your friend’s Wire Fox Terrier eats may not correlate in how much your dog eats. Age, metabolism, and activity range all play factors. Spaying and neutering can also play a role in how much your Wire Fox Terrier eats.

There are differing opinions in how much you WFT will eat daily. Some suggest going with 1 to 1.5 cups per day and others recommend 3/4 of a cup to 1 and 3/4 cups per day. Either way, you should break the portion up into two or three meals. Experts say this helps with a fatal condition, Bloat or Gastric Torsion. Gastric Torsion twists or distends the stomach due to an excess of gas having nowhere to go. It also ensures that your Wire Fox Terrier will follow your eating schedule.

As always, you should provide fresh drinking water for your Wire Fox Terrier.

Coat

Thinking about going show with your Wire Fox Terrier? You’ll either want to hire a professional groomer or learn how to regularly groom. This breed requires near daily maintenance. Although the WFT is a infrequent shedder, daily brush through will help sort out potential tangles or mats. If this is beyond you, it’ll be in your best interest to hire a professional for the job.

The coat on the Wire Fox Terrier is a double coat. The undercoat is dense, soft, short and fine. Hard and wiry is the outside coat with a slight wave to it.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are five acceptable coat color options: white — black & tan, white — tan & black, white, white and black,  white and tan.

There are no acceptable markings for the coat. In addition, there should be no curls on the coat.

Fun Wire Fox Terrier Facts

  • 98th most intelligent breed, according to Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs” study. This means they’ll obey the first command 50 percent or better of the time.
  • Descend from the old and extinct Black and Tan Terrier with a rough coat.
  • The Wire Fox Terrier has won an astounding 14 Best in Show competitions at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The following years: 2014, 1992, 1966, 1946, 1937, 1934, 1931, 1930, 1928, 1926, 1920, 1915, 1916, 1917. In addition, the breed has won 3 Best in Show events at Crufts; 1978, 1975, and 1962.
  • It is said that Charles Darwin had a Wire Fox Terrier as a pet. 
  • The breed has made countless roles in movies including; Hudson Hawk, Oliver and Company, Jack Frost, to name a few.
  • Cackler of Notts, born in 1898, is the Wire Fox Terrier many consider to the progenitor of the modern version.

Closing Words

A show stopper, or better yet, the Wire Fox Terrier is the entire show. Winning the most Best in Show competitions out of any breed, it is a wonder that the breed nears the century mark in America for popularity.

Which further proves that popularity is no measuring stick. What does count, however, is their friendly and loving nature couple with intelligence. You put all of those together, and you have a wonderful family dog for a decade or better.