Photo by Alicia Nijdam

Wire Fox Terrier - Breed Profile:

Origin: England
Colors: Predominantly white
Size: Small
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Vigorous
Grooming: Moderate
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Tends to be dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Average barker

Physical characteristics

The Wire Fox Terrier is small dog with a strong muscular build and very dense, wiry coat. The back is short and level; the loins are muscular and a bit arched. The flat skull narrows to the eyes slightly. The stop is hardly noticeable. The muzzle gradually tapers to the black nose. The eyes and eye rims are dark. The small V-shaped ears drop forward close to the cheeks. The neck is thick and muscular, presenting a graceful curve when viewed from the side. The legs are straight, with strong boning. The feet are round and compact. The tail is set high; it is usually docked to about 3/4 of its original length. Note: docking tails is illegal in most parts of Europe.
Wire Fox Terriers weigh 13 to 20 pounds. The height is 13 to 16 inches.


The Wire Fox Terrier is a happy, eager to please, and excitable dog. It is always ready to play and makes an excellent pet for active people. Like many other terriers, this breed has a dominant streak and can develop various kinds of unwanted behaviour if it manages to take over the household. The owner should be a firm, calm, confident and consistent pack leader. As these dogs were originally bred for hunting and tracking, they love to dig under fences, in the garden, and even through sofas if given a chance. They are also fond of chasing, so shouldn't be let off leash unless in a safe, enclosed area. For the same reason, they should not be trusted with small non-canine animals. Early socialization is necessary to avoid combative and aggressive behaviour toward other dogs. Although they are said to make excellent family pets, they are known to bite. Because of this, the Wire Fox Terrier should always be supervised around small children. These dogs don't like being pestered and get on better with older, considerate kids who know how to treat the dog properly.
Photo by ptooey

Coat and grooming

The coat is wiry and dense, with somewhat twisted hair similar to that on the outside of a coconut. The undercoat is short and soft. The hair is so thick that when you try to part it with fingers, the skin cannot be seen. The hair on the back and quarters is the hardest. The hair on the jaws should be crisp and long enough to give the foreface a strong look. Pet dogs need brushing and bathing only when necessary while show dogs require a complex grooming routine. The coat comes in predominantly white colour with black and tan markings.


Epilepsy is thought to be an inherited disease in this breed. Some minor health concerns are post nasal drip, lens luxation, distichiasis, cataracts, Legg-Perthes disease, and shoulder dislocation. The lifespan is about 15 years and more.

Other interesting facts

Like many terrier breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier descended from the rough coated black and tan terrier. It was developed in the British Isles in the 17th century, where the dog was bred to "go to ground" and chase fox and other small game from their dens.