Fox Terrier

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The Fox Terrier is a healthy and hardy breed and there are two distinct types of Fox Terrier - smooth and wire coated. They are both decedents of native British terrier types such as the Jack Russell, Skye and Manchester Terriers with a sprinkling of other breeds such as the Italian Greyhound, Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher taking blood and genetic influence from this breed in turn. The smooth coated type is currently listed on the Kennel Club's list of vulnerable native breeds.


Any historical reference to this breed highlights the life of a little white terrier type dog named 'Pitch' who was owned by a Colonel Thomas Thornton circa 1790. This dog was immortalised in painting by Sawrey Gilpin, a famous painter of fauna at the time, and text accompanying the picture and subsequent wood engravings told of how 'most of the white terriers in the kingdom are descended'. There are no certain bloodlines or records that can be traced to give the definitive answer as to the origin of both the wire and smooth haired Fox Terriers until around 1870 when 3 dogs named Old Jock, Tartar and Trap became the founding dogs of the smooth haired type with a dog named Old Tip being the roots for the wire haired variety. The Fox Terrier Club of England was founded in the late 1870's as the breed's popularity grew.


Average height to withers: Both males and females of the smooth and wire haired types are between 14-15 inches in height.

Average weight: Both varieties of this breed range in weight between 6.5-8.5 kg.

Both the smooth and wire hared Fox Terriers share similar physical traits and are similar sizes in relation to each other. The main difference is, of course, its coat. Both types are predominantly white in colour with varied patterns of other colours - mainly black, tan or both. The coat of the wire haired Fox Terrier is just as it is described, having a hard and dense double coat. It also has characteristic whiskers on its face. The hairs are twisted but not actually curled. The smooth haired type is its exact opposite with the hair being short, smooth and soft.

Both types have short, sturdy legs, long muzzles with dark, quizzical eyes and small triangular ears which come forwards over its head. The tails of both are usually longer than the body as a whole.


The Fox Terrier is a confident, outgoing dog with plenty to say for itself! It can be prone to barking and if the owner wants to limit this behaviour they should try not to leave it by itself for extended periods. A real 'people' dog, the Fox Terrier likes to spend time, preferably outdoor, having fun with its family, and that can include other dogs provided they are well socialised. They can be troublesome with other pets such as cats and will give chase to any animal which moves suddenly. With that in mind it is worth making sure this dog has a reliable recall in place as they will be off given the chance! Unless you have success with obedience training with this breed it is probably wise to keep the dog on a lead, especially near roads as it is not unknown for their instinct to kick in and chase cars. They are also prolific diggers and again, if left out in the garden by themselves for extended periods, they will indulge in this pastime.

Fun is not far away when you have a Fox Terrier in your life. They have lots of personality and are devoted to their owner and enjoy being with people whatever is happening. They are intelligent and easy to train, although they do have the usual terrier stubbornness in there too! They are energetic and excel at canine sports including agility and flyball.


With quite a long life expectancy of up to 15 years of age, the Fox Terrier has remained a very healthy and hardy dog breed with few incidents of illness. The main culprits out look out for are cataracts and skin allergies. The owner needs to be aware of the mischief this dog can get into and as such, accidents may occur due to its inquisitive nature including going to ground and getting stuck.

Caring for a Fox Terrier

The wire haired Fox Terrier requires more input from its owner in terms of grooming and skin care, and will benefit from stripping the coat. This is something that can be done by a professional if you are not confident to do it yourself. It is done by pulling out hairs by hand and is done to keep the rather unruly coat on check. This needs to be done several times per year and grooming needs to take place at least once a week. The smooth coated type is easier for the owner to keep on top of and requires only minimal grooming. Both types require a regular amount of exercise and stimulation.

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