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  • Temperament: Confident, Alert, Gregarious
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 101 of 194
  • Height: 15½ inches
  • Weight: 18 pounds (male), 15-17 (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Terrier Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Wire Fox Terrier head and shoulders facing left
Wire Fox Terrier lying in three-quarter view
Wire Fox Terrier coat detail
Wire Fox Terrier standing in three-quarter view

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Terrier should be alert, quick of movement, keen of expression, on the tip-toe of expectation at the slightest provocation. Character is imparted by the expression of the eyes and by the carriage of ears and tail.
Bone and strength in a small compass are essential, but this must not be taken to mean that a Terrier should be “cloddy,” or in any way coarse – speed and endurance being requisite as well as power. The Terrier must on no account be leggy, nor must he be too short on the leg. He should stand like a cleverly made, short-backed hunter, covering a lot of ground. N.B. Old scars or injuries, the result of work or accident, should not be allowed to prejudice a Terrier’s chance in the show ring, unless they interfere with its movement or with its utility for work or stud.

HEAD

The length of the head of a full-grown well developed dog of correct size – measured with calipers – from the back of the occipital bone to the nostrils-should be from 7 to 7¼ inches, the bitch’s head being proportionately shorter. Any measurement in excess of this usually indicates an oversized or long-backed specimen, although occasionally – so rarely as to partake of the nature of a freak – a Terrier of correct size may boast a head 7½ inches in length. In a well balanced head there should be little apparent difference in length between skull and foreface. If, however, the foreface is noticeably shorter, it amounts to a fault, the head looking weak and “unfinished.” On the other hand, when the eyes are set too high up in the skull and too near the ears, it also amounts to a fault, the head being said to have a “foreign appearance.”

BODY

Neck should be clean, muscular, of fair length, free from throatiness and presenting a graceful curve when viewed from the side. The back should be short and level with no appearance of slackness the loins muscular and very slightly arched. The term “slackness” is applied both to the portion of the back immediately behind the withers when it shows any tendency to dip, and also the flanks when there is too much space between the back ribs and hipbone. When there is little space between the ribs and hips, the dog is said to be “short in couplings,” “short-coupled,” or “well ribbed up.” A Terrier can scarcely be too short in back, provided he has sufficient length of neck and liberty of movement. The bitch may be slightly longer in couplings than the dog.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders when viewed from the front should slope steeply downwards from their juncture, with the neck towards the points, which should be fine. When viewed from the side they should be long, well laid back, and should slope obliquely backwards from points to withers, which should always be clean-cut. A shoulder well laid back gives the long forehand which, in combination with a short back, is so desirable in Terrier or Hunter.

COAT

The best coats appear to be broken, the hairs having a tendency to twist, and are of dense, wiry texture – like coconut matting – the hairs growing so closely and strongly together that, when parted with the fingers, the skin cannot be seen. At the base of these stiff hairs is a shorter growth of finer and softer hair – termed the undercoat. The coat on the sides is never quite so hard as that on the back and quarters. Some of the hardest coats are “crinkly” or slightly waved, but a curly coat is very objectionable.

HINDQUARTERS

Should be strong and muscular, quite free from droop or crouch; the thighs long and powerful; the stifles well curved and turned neither in nor out; the hock joints well bent and near the ground; the hocks perfectly upright and parallel with each other when viewed from behind. The worst possible form of hindquarters consists of a short second thigh and a straight stifle, a combination which causes the hind legs to act as props rather than instruments of propulsion.

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wire fox terrier illustration

About the Wire Fox Terrier

The Wire Fox Terrier, 16 to 18 pounds of coiled energy is a sturdy, symmetrical, short-backed hunter with fire and intelligence shining in its dark, round eyes. The predominantly white coat is rough and wiry; the V-shaped ears are neatly folded forward, the better to point up the face’s distinctive, and completely irresistible, expression.

Wires are delightful pets for families looking for an upbeat, friendly companion with loads of personality. As terriers, they possess the typical independence and prey drive of this feisty canine clan. They are smart and companionable; training can be a challenge but by no means impossible. Excellent athletes, natural comedians, and charming housemates, Wires are long-lived and low-shedding.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Wire Fox Terrier

Find a Puppy: Wire Fox Terrier

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Care

NUTRITION

The Wire Fox Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

Grooming a Wire Fox Terrier can require a vast difference of time and effort according to what you plan to do with your dog. If you will be showing him in conformation events, you will need to learn to hand-strip his coat or pay someone else regularly to do it for you. Pets, however, can be clippered into a trim similar to a show trim with much less effort. All Wire Foxes will require regular brushing to avoid matting, no matter how they are groomed. Nails should be trimmed monthly. Ears should be checked weekly, and any excess wax and debris should be removed to avoid ear infections.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Infrequent

EXERCISE

Like most terriers, the Wire Fox requires a good bit of exercise. Long walks with his owner, chasing a tennis ball in the backyard, or playtime in a large, securely fenced area are all great ways to exercise your dog and keep him mentally and physically fit. Never allow your Wire Fox Terrier to run off lead, as he is likely to forget all training if he catches sight of a small animal he perceives as prey.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Training the Wire Fox Terrier requires consistency, patience, and a great sense of humor. Spunky and happy-go-lucky little dogs, Wires are very smart but are also somewhat independent and get bored easily, so training sessions must be kept fun and interesting. They react well to positive training methods and will shut down if treated harshly. Wires are wonderfully suited for participation in earthdog trials as well as other performance events that require agility, speed, and intelligence.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Wire Fox Terriers are healthy dogs generally, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as eye disorders (cataracts, primary lens luxation, and glaucoma), luxating patellas, elbow and hip dysplasia, and a neurological condition known as “wobbler’s gait.”

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Cardiac Exam
  • Patella Evaluation
Wire Fox Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier

History

Fox Terriers as we know them today took shape in the late 1700s, during the heyday of British foxhunts. The terrier’s job was to bolt the fox from its lair, enabling hounds and horsemen to join the pursuit over open country. Fox Terrier coats are mostly white, with no red allowed, to avoid being mistaken for foxes during a hunt.

The Wire has always been a consistently successful show dog, with, at this writing, a record 13 Westminster Kennel Club Bests in Show. In one of the great bargains in show-dog history, Matford Vic, a Wire bought from a farmer for $10, won Westminster in 1915 and 1916. In England, Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers have been recognized as separate breeds, with different registries and breed standards, since the late 19th century. The AKC did not recognize Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers as distinct breeds until 1985.

Among the many beloved Wires of history was Caesar, the favorite dog of King Edward VII, who enchanted the British Empire. The Wire’s popularity received a major boost in the 1930s and ’40s thanks to Asta, the comical Wire who costarred with William Powell and Myrna Loy in six “Thin Man” movies. Since Asta’s time, the Wire’s striking looks, expressive features, and natural performing skills have made the breed a familiar presence in movies and on TV.

Did You Know?

Although considered one breed for many years, interbreeding of Smooth Fox Terriers and Wire Fox Terriers ceased in the early 1900s. Except for coat, however, the two breeds are essentially identical.
Though the Wire is the more recent of the two, paintings of the dogs confirm that both coat varieties have been around since the middle of the 18th century.
The Wire Fox Terrier was originally bred to "go to ground" to chase small game from their dens.
The Wire Fox Terrier is descended from the Rough Coated Black and Tan Terrier and was used for hunting fox.
The Wire Fox Terrier is characterized by a hardy constitution and cocksure personality.
The Wire Fox Terrier’s energy is boundless and his antics are endless.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Terrier should be alert, quick of movement, keen of expression, on the tip-toe of expectation at the slightest provocation. Character is imparted by the expression of the eyes and by the carriage of ears and tail.
Bone and strength in a small compass are essential, but this must not be taken to mean that a Terrier should be “cloddy,” or in any way coarse – speed and endurance being requisite as well as power. The Terrier must on no account be leggy, nor must he be too short on the leg. He should stand like a cleverly made, short-backed hunter, covering a lot of ground. N.B. Old scars or injuries, the result of work or accident, should not be allowed to prejudice a Terrier’s chance in the show ring, unless they interfere with its movement or with its utility for work or stud.

HEAD

The length of the head of a full-grown well developed dog of correct size – measured with calipers – from the back of the occipital bone to the nostrils-should be from 7 to 7¼ inches, the bitch’s head being proportionately shorter. Any measurement in excess of this usually indicates an oversized or long-backed specimen, although occasionally – so rarely as to partake of the nature of a freak – a Terrier of correct size may boast a head 7½ inches in length. In a well balanced head there should be little apparent difference in length between skull and foreface. If, however, the foreface is noticeably shorter, it amounts to a fault, the head looking weak and “unfinished.” On the other hand, when the eyes are set too high up in the skull and too near the ears, it also amounts to a fault, the head being said to have a “foreign appearance.”

BODY

Neck should be clean, muscular, of fair length, free from throatiness and presenting a graceful curve when viewed from the side. The back should be short and level with no appearance of slackness the loins muscular and very slightly arched. The term “slackness” is applied both to the portion of the back immediately behind the withers when it shows any tendency to dip, and also the flanks when there is too much space between the back ribs and hipbone. When there is little space between the ribs and hips, the dog is said to be “short in couplings,” “short-coupled,” or “well ribbed up.” A Terrier can scarcely be too short in back, provided he has sufficient length of neck and liberty of movement. The bitch may be slightly longer in couplings than the dog.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders when viewed from the front should slope steeply downwards from their juncture, with the neck towards the points, which should be fine. When viewed from the side they should be long, well laid back, and should slope obliquely backwards from points to withers, which should always be clean-cut. A shoulder well laid back gives the long forehand which, in combination with a short back, is so desirable in Terrier or Hunter.

COAT

The best coats appear to be broken, the hairs having a tendency to twist, and are of dense, wiry texture – like coconut matting – the hairs growing so closely and strongly together that, when parted with the fingers, the skin cannot be seen. At the base of these stiff hairs is a shorter growth of finer and softer hair – termed the undercoat. The coat on the sides is never quite so hard as that on the back and quarters. Some of the hardest coats are “crinkly” or slightly waved, but a curly coat is very objectionable.

HINDQUARTERS

Should be strong and muscular, quite free from droop or crouch; the thighs long and powerful; the stifles well curved and turned neither in nor out; the hock joints well bent and near the ground; the hocks perfectly upright and parallel with each other when viewed from behind. The worst possible form of hindquarters consists of a short second thigh and a straight stifle, a combination which causes the hind legs to act as props rather than instruments of propulsion.

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wire fox terrier illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199
WHITE & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 202
WHITE & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 217
WHITE BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 219
WHITE TAN & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 220

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