Fox Terrier : Breed Profile

As Clever As The Fox Terrier


They have the distinction of having won the Best in Show awards at the Westminster Kennel Club Show than any other breed. Meet the Fox Terrier, who is affectionate and whose antics will have you in splits. Remember Snowy (Milou), the intelligent and faithful companion of Tintin, who accompanied him on all his adventures? As many would know he is a Wire Fox Terrier, a breed that, along with the Smooth Fox Terrier, constitutes the Fox Terrier breed.

Origin: In the 18th century, fox hunting was a popular sport in England. However, hunters soon realised that they needed a dog to go to the fox dens and bolt them out of their hiding places. Hence, for this sole purpose, the Fox Terriers were developed from crossing black and tan Terriers with smooth coats, Bull Terriers, Greyhounds and Beagles.

One of the earliest known pictures of the breed is that of a portrait of Colonel Thornton’s pet dog named Pitch, who was a Smooth Fox Terrier painted in 1790. They have changed little since then. Their uniform type had been established by the late 19th century. For many years, there were two types of the breed. However, they were rarely recognised as such. Today, they are distinguished as the Smooth Fox Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier. Wires are thought to have descended from the rough-coated black and tan Terriers from Wales, Derbyshire and Durham.

Fox Terriers were first imported to the US in 1879, with their first official club set up in 1885. That was also the year in which the American Kennel Club (AKC) formally recognised the Smooth and the Wire as separate breeds.

Description: The main difference between a Smooth Fox Terrier and a Wire Fox Terrier is their coat type and to some extent, their head shape. But they are similar to each other in terms of size and shape. Fox Terriers have a flat, narrow head with a long muzzle and a black nose. The Smooths have a short, flat-lying coat, while the Wires have a moderately long, dense and wiry textured coat. Fox Terriers have small, dark eyes and ears that are V-shaped that drop forward close to the cheek.

Activity: Fox Terriers are an extremely energetic breed, who require daily movement in terms of long, vigorous walks of 30-45 minutes. Don’t judge the breed on the size or their shape; they are not suited for the apartment life. Securely fenced yards where the little one can run off his energy, better fits the breed and keeps them out of trouble. They do well in agility and fly ball. You won’t be able to keep them from participating in any outdoor games when the children are playing.

Temperament: The breed, on the whole, are alert, smart and independent thinkers, though they are also prone to mischief. Their vigilant nature makes them appropriate as watchdogs. Taking along one to the dog park is highly avoidable, as Fox Terriers are quick to pick up a fight with other dogs or hound other small animals. They can live with cats under the same roof, but if they meet one outside, they will chase them away. This behaviour is befitting of their natural instinct to hunt, the reason for which they were developed. Having a Fox Terrier as a pet requires you to channelise these instincts and provide the breed with enough diversion. Early socialisation, i.e. exposure to different people, sights, sounds, experiences at a young age will benefit the pup as well as you, once they grow up. Having them around kids is no problem as they have a soft corner for them. Wire Fox Terriers are companion pets that need near-constant attention; hence you need to take care of that. They are suitable for hot and sunny, and cooler climates, too.

Training Fox Terriers can be a challenge despite their intelligence as they are a willful bunch. Be patient and focus on consistency and routine. The secret to teaching them anything successfully is to motivate the little bundles of joy.

Health: Fox Terriers generally live up to the ages of 12 to 15 years, while some can live as long as 19 years. Genetically healthy, the breed doesn’t suffer from many health problems. However, you will have to keep a check on your little one for luxating patellas, deafness, cataract and hip dysplasia. Legg-Perthes, a disease which generally affects small breeds and is a deformity of the ball of the hip joint is another ailment that can affect Fox Terriers.

Grooming: Smooth Fox Terriers have smooth, dense coats that shed very little. Comparatively, Wire Fox Terriers have wiry, dense and crinkly or wavy coats. At the base of the stiff hair is the undercoat which is short and soft.

Smooths need only brushing twice a week, so as to reduce the amount of shedding. The growth of hair is equal over the entire body, hence you need to either get them scissored or clipped to give a neat look. Smooths are known to enjoy the attention they get while grooming. Wires should be brushed several times a week. Their coat needs to be hand stripped to give them the wiry look. Don’t clip the hair, otherwise, the texture of the coat will change from wiry to a soft, curly one and its colours will fade.

Interesting Trivia: England’s King Edward VII had a Wire Fox Terrier as a pet, who wore a collar with the inscription, ‘I am Caesar. I belong to the King’ written on it. When King Edward died in 1910, His beloved Caesar marched behind his casket in the funeral procession.

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