Thank you for taking the time to read the most important article on this entire website.
Soon after a Wire Fox Terrier named Sky took the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Time magazine published an article on their website entitled 7 Reasons Wire Fox Terriers Should Be the Internet’s Next Favorite Dog. Seems harmless enough, except for the fact that dog breeds that become a “fad” can easily be mismatched with the wrong kind of family, and then when the family realizes they can’t or don’t want to keep the dog, these dogs can often up abandoned, in shelters, homeless, or worse. It’s all well and good if everyone in the world wants a wire fox terrier, as long as everyone in the world is really a good match for one.
When we think of getting a dog, usually the first thing we think of is what they look like. We may want a cute dog, a tough dog, a big dog, or a small dog. But it’s important to remember that inside each of those little doggy bodies there are different personalities, and vastly different needs. And so despite what we might want our dogs to look like, we need to make sure they are going to be a good fit for our lifestyle. This is a living, breathing creature that we are making a life-long commitment to, and we owe it to them to take it seriously. So, let’s talk frankly about what a wire fox terrier is really like, and let’s trust that you will be honest in your ability and desire to love and live with such a dog. Deal?
Wire fox terriers are first and foremost, terriers. Is it coincidence that the words “terrier” and “terror” are so closely related? Probably not. Not that terriers are ferocious killers or anything, but they do have a very vibrant personality, and a lot of energy. Second, if you ask me, the word “wire” refers to more than just their coat. The very first sentence of the AKC Breed Standard for a wire fox terrier is that they are “alert, quick of movement, keen of expression, on the tip-toe of expectation at the slightest provocation.” It is true. Wires don’t like to sit still, like near constant attention, and need the energy run out of them on a daily basis. You’ll see pictures of them snuggled up to their owners (yes, they do that too), but these are not “lap dogs” that sleep all day. At the same time, I wouldn’t characterize them as hyper yappy dogs. They simply were bred to go-go-go and use their brains and bodies.
Exercise & Lifestyle
What about you? Do you like to go outside each day and run or walk? Or do you tend to crash on the couch all evening? Do you want to have a dog that you spend real time training how to behave and learn tricks, or do you just want something cute and fluffy that follows you around the house? A wire fox terrier’s energy is the biggest part of their personality, so you must be dedicated to helping them exercise daily. Sure, there are days when we’re snowed in, or sick, or just plain wiped, and our dog puts up with us. But we are at the very least throwing the ball down the hall dozens of times, or hiding his treats to give him something to do. On the best summer days we are using a launcher to throw tennis balls around the yard for 30 minutes at a time, taking him on a walk, and playing with him inside.
Another big consideration – no, HUGE consideration – is how much time the dog will be spending alone. If no one is home all day – that is going to make for a very difficult life for a wire fox terrier. Usually someone is home at our house to keep our dog company. One of us works full time a mile away from home, and the other works part-time about a mile in the other direction. So even on a day when we both work, we are home for lunch to take Watson on a walk, play with him, etc. And even then, when we both get home he is ready to go. I can’t imagine just leaving him home alone. Perhaps when he is much older and calmer, and has years of a proven track record of not getting into mischief. But that is a long way away. If you need a dog that can repeatedly be home alone for 8 hours a day, a wire fox terrier is not a good choice.
Personally I don’t put a lot of stock in statements like “such and such a breed are good with children” – since much of this also depends on the individual dog, as well as the child. What I can tell you from personal experience and other that own wire fox terriers is that generally they get along with children well. Ours, for example, LOVES babies. It’s kind of weird. But he is very gentle. Toddlers and older kids are fine too, though since they are closer to his level he wants to jump on them, sniff them, and grab them with the only real hand he has – his mouth. That’s a reality. Not biting to injure, grabbing. So we have to watch him – not because we think he would hurt them intentionally, but because he just might because he is a dog. I was happy to see that in the latest count from the editors at Animals 24-7, who keep track of all reported animal injury cases from press clippings since 1982, the wire fox terrier was not on the list ONCE for having caused any bodily harm at all. Those are only statistics, not a promise. But it is still good to see.
One thing about wire fox terriers that I read that is true – if you reprimand them more than they feel is appropriate, they will let you know! So on the same token if you have hyper kids that like to hit, pull, and tease animals, a wire fox terrier will not get along with them as well as you may like.
House and Yard
So if you think you and your lifestyle and your children are all well suited for a wire fox terrier, the last thing you need to think about is your home and yard. A wire will want lots of room to run and play, even though they are very small. This doesn’t mean you need to live on a farm or anything, but you should at least have some outside space that you can go to frequently to throw a ball around or let the dog chase something. A dog park across the street would also work. One that is miles away that you only go to once a week will not. On bad weather days Watson will still go outside for a bit, but we can also throw a ball around in the house, down the hall, up the stairs, and give him some exercise. But the best is to being outside. We are fortunate enough to have a large yard, and it surprises me how fast he can cover it.
And speaking of yard, you absolutely, 100% MUST have a fenced yard if you want to let your dog loose outside. Terriers have a very strong predator instinct, and coupled with their stubbornness they will follow their instinct and not listen to a word you say when they find a smell they like. When we first brought our puppy home our backyard did not have a fence so we kept him on a leash when we went outside to play. It wasn’t long before we realized a fence was an absolute necessity, and put one in. It was so fun to see him run free in the yard without worrying about him going out in the front and running out into the road. So remember – you need a fence.
Wire fox terriers are very peculiar, fun, cute animals that are an absolute ball to have in your life. We love ours like a little human, as do most dog owners in general. But whatever breed you are considering, I make one last plea to do your research and be completely honest with what kind of dog would fit best into your life. If it is a wire fox terrier, great! They are a joy! But if there are things in this article that give you pause, you should consider another breed. There are so many to choose from, and there will be one that suits your life and fills your heart. You have my best wishes to find your new best friend! If there are ever any questions you’d like to ask me personally, leave a comment below, or contact me on the contact page.
Thanks for reading!