Breed of the Month – Fox Terrier

Smooth-Coated Fox Terrier

Description: The Fox Terrier is a medium sized dog. The skull of the Fox Terrier should be nearly flat and the face should gradually taper from eyes to the muzzle. Ears are small, V-shaped, and held close to the cheeks. Feet are round and small with long legs. The strong tail is carried high but, not curled. In the United States, where it is legal, the last 1/4 of the tail is docked; this practice is illegal in the United Kingdom. The Smooth Fox Terrier has a short and smooth coat while the Wire Fox Terrier has a very thick, wiry, double coat. The coat of both variations are predominately white with brown and black markings.

History: The development of the Fox Terrier was due to the popularity of fox hunting during the 19th century. Fox hunters favored a dog with high energy and an ability to chase foxes out of their dens. The breeding history of the Fox Terrier was not well documented so, little is known today. However, it is speculated that Dalmatian, Beagle, Pointer, Old English Bulldog, and English Toy Terrier all played a roll in the development of the breed. Old Jack, a Fox Terrier born in 1859, would become an ancestor to most Fox Terriers today. Around 1870 the breed standard of the Fox Terrier was established and remained virtually unchanged until the end of the 19th century. At that time, breeders felt the need to make the Fox Terrier have longer legs to better keep up in the hunt. However, their now longer legs impeded the Fox Terrier from their original task of going into fox dens. This resulted in the Fox Terrier’s fall from favor amongst fox hunters.

In 1876 the Fox Terrier Club of England was established and the American Fox Terrier Club was formed in 1886.

A Wire Fox Terrier named Asta appeared in the film series, ‘The Thin Man’ during the 1930’s. Asta’s appearance in this series caused a sharp rise in the breeds’ popularity in the USA. The Fox Terrier has out performed other breeds of dogs in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show but, is a mostly a rare breed in America. The Fox Terrier eventually helped produce popular terrier breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, and the Rat Terrier.

In 1985 the AKC recognized the Fox Terrier as two separate breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier.

Size: Males: 14–16 inches at the withers, weighing 15-20 pounds. Females: 13–15 inches at the withers, weighing 13-18 pounds.

Temperament: Fox Terriers are energetic, playful, smart, and loyal companions. They were bred to be independent thinkers so this breed needs a firm pack leader and someone who can be the alpha. These dogs can be easy to train and excel at doing tricks. While very intelligent, they can be difficult to housebreak. These dogs were bred to hunt foxes and small game so they have a naturally high prey drive. Fox Terriers have a tendency to chase and even kill small non-canine animals including neighborhood cats. Fox Terriers wouldn’t be a good choice for households with small children as Fox Terriers do not have patience for being teased and rough play. Fox Terriers also have a low tolerance for other dogs. Unless properly socialized, this is not a dog that would enjoy a trip to a dog park to be with other dogs. Fox Terriers have very high energy requirements and remain active indoors. Prospective owners who think their Fox Terrier will eventually calm down with age should keep in mind that this breed maintains its puppy like energy into its teens.

Grooming: Both the Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers are relatively easy to groom. Both can be brushed with a firm bristle brush and bathed when necessary. However, Wirecoated Fox Terrier should have its coat hand stripped. Hand stripping is done by pulling out loose outercoat hairs which allows new hairs to grow in their place. Wirecoated Fox Terriers are light shedders while the Smooth Fox Terriers are average shedders.

Health: Fox Terriers can be susceptible cataracts. This breed can also be susceptible to Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, which is a deformity of the hip joint resulting in arthritis. Surgery can be used to correct this condition. Deafness is also more common among Fox Terriers than some other breeds.

Exercise: As mentioned above, the Fox Terrier has very high energy requirements. An hour of exercise a day should be enough to keep this breed from becoming destructive and over rambunctious. If not properly exercised, your Fox Terrier could make his own exercise by digging holes in the yard, running away, or chewing up your belongings.

Lifespan: About 13 to 15 years.

Trivia: Rear Admiral Richard Byrd’s Fox Terrier, Igloo, accompanied him on the first journey to the south pole. A Fox Terrier named Chester was in the film Jack Frost. The logo for RCA pictures a Fox Terrier looking at a phonograph. The Fox Terrier, Caesar, was a companion of King Edward the VII.