Wire Fox Terrier

"Will Work for Food, Will Play for Free"

Photo of Wire Fox Terrier


The Wire Fox Terrier is believed to be the descendant of a now-extinct rough-coated black-and-tan terrier that lived in Wales and England. According to the Fox Terrier Club of America, fox hunters carried these dogs in their saddlebags and released them to chase the hunted fox into its den. The first Wire Fox Terriers came to the United States a few years after their cousins, the Smooth Fox Terriers, landed on American shores in the late 1870s. Like many terriers, the Wire Fox Terrier is very popular among dog show judges. In fact, this breed has won more Best in Shows at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (13!) than any other. In 2006, the Wire Fox Terrier ranked 78th among the 154 breeds registered to the American Kennel Club.


The Wire Fox Terrier is a perky, outgoing individual. He loves to play and to make mischief. He's also willing to make some noise, particularly if his people don't pay sufficient attention to him. His barking and yodeling do not endear him to his owner's neighbors, especially if all concerned live in an apartment building. For such an energetic dog, he also is capable of considerable gentleness. This quality, coupled with the dog's outgoing personality, makes many in this breed adept at therapy work.


The Wire Fox Terrier ranges from 14 to 17 inches in height and weighs between 15 and 25 pounds. Although his coat is predominantly white, it also sports black and tan markings. True to his name, his coat is hard and wire-like in texture. He has an upright tail, small drop ears, and a mustache resembling that of an Airedale .


The Wire Fox Terrier is quite intelligent, but he's not necessarily keen on putting that intelligence to work obeying your every command. These dogs, like all Terriers, are quite independent and easily diverted. The wise owner will employ plenty of patience and a sense of humor – not to mention tasty treats – to convince the dog that obedience is a virtue. Those who succeed may want to take their dogs to the next level and try taking Earthdog tests, which are offered by the AKC. These dogs also can excel in therapy work.

Grooming & Care

These dogs are high-maintenance. They need regular brushing with a pin or slicker brush and must have their coats stripped or plucked every couple of months, usually by a grooming pro. Some owners opt to clip their pets, but that can result in faded coloring and a softer texture to the coat. Weekly ear cleanings and nail trims, plus periodic baths, will keep these dogs looking their best.

Health Concerns

Like all purebred dogs, the Wire Fox Terrier has his share of genetic health issues. Among the most common are Leggs-Perthes (a disintegration of the hip joint), progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, epilepsy and heart defects. Dogs intended for breeding should receive OFA and CERF clearances before embarking on parenthood. Prospective buyers should ask to see these clearances before purchasing a puppy or dog.

Famous Wire Fox Terrier

Asta, canine companion to Nick and Nora Charles in "The Thin Man" movie series.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 5
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 54
Quick Facts
Grooming 56
Exercise 60
Challenges Will chase small animals; barks a lot.
Height 12 to 15 inches
Weight 15 to 18 pounds
Life 13 to 14 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 86
With Strangers 91
Availability 23

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.