The wire fox terrier descended from the rough coated black and tan terrier around the 17th century in the British Isles. Their main purpose was to be bred as a dog that could chase fox and other small game out of their dens. Often the hunting party would use hounds to find, track, and trap game in their small dens, while the wire fox terrier road in a saddle bag on the horse with the hunter. Once the game was trapped in their den, the hunters could release the terrier, who would then stick their longer snout into the den to drag out the game. If you own a wire fox terrier, then this behavior probably sounds familiar! They love to burrow and bury their noses in almost anything they can find. Pillows, couch cushions, bedding, under the bed… you name it, and the wire fox terrier loves to go there.
They have a lot of energy and a bold personality, but they are not generally aggressive towards people. When well adapted and trained they are extremely playful and friendly with family members and even small children, yet they also make great watch dogs. No, they may not be able to tackle a group of intruders, but their keen awareness means barking when they hear strange noises, and their bark is not the “yap” of a small dog. They sound much larger than they are. (We actually did have someone try to break into our house while we were asleep, and Watson was on full alert status! Thanks, buddy.)
Fully grown, a wire fox terrier stands about 15 inches at the shoulder, and weighs just under 20 pounds. They are a great “medium sized” dog. They have (obviously) a wire-haired coat that luckily sheds very little. We actually have an entire article written about the coat and coloring of a wire fox terrier, so we’ll just briefly mention here that the coat is usually predominately white, typically with orange/tan and black mixed in. Some wire fox terriers only have orange/tan and white, no black, and these are often referred to as “ginger”. You can download the American Kennel Club’s official Wire Fox Terrier Breed Standard in PDF format by clicking here.
Wire fox terriers are also incredibly intelligent. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing, as a smart dog can sometimes be a frustrating dog. Stubborn in nature, you have to make sure that you are training your wire, and that he is not training YOU! Positive reinforcement with training treats and praise go a long way toward making a wire fox terrier an easy to live with pet. If you are looking for a dog that simply lays around the house all day and doesn’t want to do anything but cuddle, that isn’t the wire fox terrier. They DO lay around and cuddle – I promise – but they also need a lot of exercise, mental stimulation, and training.
In conclusion, the wire fox terrier makes an excellent pet if you are truly looking for a companion that you can bond with by spending constructive time together. Ask another owner – there is nothing like life with a wire!