Wire Fox Terrier

wire fox terrier dog breed

Table of Contents

The Wire Fox Terrier, with its distinctive rough, wiry coat and energetic disposition, is a breed with a rich history and undeniable charm.

Originating in England, this breed was initially developed to flush out foxes from their dens during fox hunts. Their keen sense of smell and strong prey drive made them exceptional at this task. As such, they’re often referred to simply as “Fox Terriers,” denoting their primary function.

Physically, the Wire Fox Terrier is a small to medium-sized dog, typically weighing between 15-20 pounds. They possess a sturdy, balanced build that speaks to their agility and strength. Their coat is predominantly white with patches of brown or black and requires regular grooming to maintain its rough texture.

But it’s not just their looks that endear them to owners worldwide; it’s also their spirited personalities. Wire Fox Terriers are known for being bold, friendly, and immensely curious. They’re energetic dogs that love to play and explore, making them great companions for active individuals or families. Their intelligence and alertness also make them excellent watchdogs.

However, potential Wire Fox Terrier owners should be aware that this breed can sometimes be a handful. Their high energy levels mean they require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Additionally, their strong prey drive can make them prone to chasing smaller animals. Early training and socialization are crucial to ensure they’re well-behaved and sociable.

Hence, the Wire Fox Terrier is a breed that’s both charming in appearance and lively in spirit. They’re sure to bring joy, laughter, and a touch of mischief to any household lucky enough to have them.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 15 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The Wire Fox Terrier, with its vivacious spirit and keen intelligence, is best suited for:

  1. Active Individuals or Families: Given their high energy levels, Wire Fox Terriers thrive in households that can offer them ample playtime, daily walks, and engaging activities.

  2. Experienced Dog Owners: Their bold and independent nature often requires an owner who understands canine behaviors and can provide consistent training and boundaries.

  3. Homes with Secure Yards: Their strong prey drive means they might chase after small animals. A securely fenced yard ensures they have a safe space to play and expend energy.

  4. Enthusiasts of Dog Sports: The breed excels in various dog sports like agility, obedience, and earthdog trials, making them ideal for owners interested in these activities.

  5. Those Seeking a Loyal Companion: Wire Fox Terriers are known to form strong bonds with their families, making them devoted companions.

  6. Watchdog Seekers: Their alert nature and inherent wariness of strangers make them effective watchdogs.

  7. Grooming Enthusiasts: While they don’t shed heavily, their wiry coat requires regular grooming, including brushing and occasional hand-stripping.

However, they might not be the best choice for:

  • First-time Dog Owners: Without proper training, their independent streak might be challenging to manage.

  • Homes with Small Pets: Their strong prey drive can make cohabitation with smaller pets, like hamsters or birds, a challenge.

  • Those Seeking a Low-Energy Pet: Without proper exercise and mental stimulation, a Wire Fox Terrier can become restless or engage in destructive behaviors.

In essence, the Wire Fox Terrier is best for those who appreciate its lively character and are prepared to invest time in its care, training, and companionship.

Wire Fox Terrier Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Wire Fox Terrier stands out with its keen alertness, distinctive wiry coat, and bold demeanor. Hailing from a hunting lineage, this breed showcases a blend of intelligence and energy. Typically sociable, they can occasionally display a dash of independence, especially during training sessions. Their unique coat demands consistent grooming, particularly hand-stripping to maintain its signature texture. With a moderate size, they fit well in various living scenarios, from spacious homes to compact apartments. In essence, the Wire Fox Terrier’s characteristics make it a dynamic companion with a blend of charm and vigor.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

Your Affenpinscher dog may be small in size (maybe you can relate), but they make up for it in confidence (again, relatable). With their bright eyes, smooshy faces, alert gaze and a wiry, bristling coat, these brachycephalic dogs may make “Star Wars” fans do a double-take, as these small pups really do resemble Ewoks. Their wiry coats range from black to beige, but they also come in ruddy browns and salt-and-pepper blends.

1. Ears
V-shaped and moderately small, their ears fold forward and rest close to the cheek. The position of the ears adds to their alert and attentive appearance.
2. Eyes

Their dark, oval-shaped eyes are one of their most expressive features. Always alert and curious, these eyes often give a window into their playful and sometimes mischievous nature.

3. Head
The breed has a strong, chiseled head that exudes confidence. Their flat skull, combined with a tapering muzzle, gives them a distinctive profile.
4. Size
A small to medium-sized breed, the Wire Fox Terrier usually stands between 14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder. In terms of weight, they typically range between 15-20 pounds, presenting a compact but sturdy physique.
5. Coat
One of their most striking features, the Wire Fox Terrier has a dense and wiry coat. While it’s predominantly white, it can also have patches of brown, black, or tan. The texture of the coat is coarse to the touch, protecting them from harsh weather and giving them a rugged appearance.
6. Body
With a deep chest and a straight back, the Wire Fox Terrier has a balanced and athletic body, reflecting its historical role as an agile hunter.
7. Tail
Traditionally docked in some countries (though this practice is declining or banned in many places), the tail is carried high but not curled over the back.
8. Legs and Feet
Their legs are straight and muscular, leading to small, round feet. The compactness of their feet aids in their agile and quick movements.

Wire Fox Terrier Temperament

The Wire Fox Terrier is a vivacious bundle of energy, exuding a zest for life that’s hard to match. With their innate playfulness, they often become the life of the party, actively seeking both adventure and attention. Their bold and fearless nature, rooted deep in their terrier heritage, makes them confident, sometimes even audacious, regardless of the situation or the size of their canine companions. While this audacity can sometimes lead them into tricky situations, it’s this very spirit that endears them to many. However, potential owners should be ready for a dog that’s both spirited and independent, requiring consistent training and a watchful eye.

How to Care for a Wire Fox Terrier

The Wire Fox Terrier, with its zest for life, requires a balanced mix of nutrition, exercise, and grooming. A diet rich in high-quality dog food ensures they remain energetic and healthy. Daily activities, be it walks or playful sessions, are crucial to channel their vivacity constructively. Their distinctive wiry coat calls for regular brushing to keep it tangle-free. Furthermore, consistent training, underpinned by positive reinforcement, and early socialization are essential for their well-rounded development. Regular vet visits and timely vaccinations round off the holistic care needed for these lively terriers.

The Wire Fox Terrier’s distinctive coat and overall appearance require a specific grooming regimen to ensure they look and feel their best. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the grooming necessities for this breed:

  1. Coat Care:

    • Brushing: Their wiry coat should be brushed at least two to three times a week to prevent matting and to remove dirt and loose hairs. A pin brush or slicker brush works well for this purpose. Regular brushing also helps distribute the natural oils, giving the coat a healthy shine.
    • Hand-Stripping: Unlike many breeds, the Wire Fox Terrier’s coat shouldn’t be clipped if you wish to maintain its natural texture. Instead, it should be hand-stripped. This process involves plucking out the loose, dead hairs by hand or with a stripping tool. It’s best done a few times a year, and while it may sound painful, it’s not uncomfortable for the dog when done correctly.
    • Bathing: Bathing should be done as needed, usually once every couple of months or when the dog gets particularly dirty. It’s essential to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the coat’s wiry texture.
  2. Ears:

    • Regularly check their ears for signs of infection, like redness, an unpleasant odor, or excessive wax build-up. Clean the ears with a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball, but never insert anything into the ear canal.
  3. Teeth:

    • Dental hygiene is crucial. Brush their teeth several times a week to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease. You can use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste.
  4. Nails:

    • The Wire Fox Terrier’s nails should be trimmed once or twice a month, depending on how quickly they grow. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Regular trimmings will prevent overgrowth and splitting.
  5. Eyes:

    • Wipe the area around their eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Regularly inspect for redness or constant tearing, which could be signs of an infection.
  6. Paw Pads:

    • Check the pads regularly for any signs of injury, like cracks or foreign objects. In winters, their paws might need protection from salts and ice-melts, so consider using protective balms or booties.

Remember, regular grooming sessions not only help in keeping your Wire Fox Terrier looking dapper but also provide an opportunity to check for signs of skin problems, lumps, or any other health concerns. Establishing a routine early on can make grooming a pleasurable bonding activity for both you and your pet.

The Wire Fox Terrier, known for its spirited demeanor and sharp intellect, can be a joy to train when approached correctly. Here’s a detailed guide to effectively train this energetic breed:

  1. Start Early: Begin training as soon as you bring your Wire Fox Terrier puppy home. These early days are formative, and establishing a routine and ground rules will set the tone for future training sessions.

  2. Positive Reinforcement: This breed responds best to positive reinforcement techniques. Use treats, praises, and toys as rewards for good behavior. Avoid harsh corrections or punishments, as they can make the dog fearful or stubborn.

  3. Consistency is Key: Be consistent with commands and expectations. If you’re training your dog not to jump on people, make sure all family members and visitors understand and enforce this rule.

  4. Socialization: Wire Fox Terriers benefit immensely from early socialization. Expose them to various environments, people, other dogs, and different sounds to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted adults. Puppy training classes can be an excellent way to achieve this.

  5. Mental Stimulation: Alongside physical exercise, these intelligent dogs need mental workouts. Incorporate puzzle toys, hide-and-seek games, and obedience drills to keep their minds sharp.

  6. Leash Training: Given their hunting heritage, they might have a tendency to chase. Early leash training is crucial to ensure they don’t run after every moving object during walks.

  7. Address Unwanted Behaviors: If your Wire Fox Terrier develops behaviors like excessive barking, digging, or chewing, address them immediately. Divert their energy to productive activities and provide chew toys. For persistent issues, consider consulting a professional dog trainer.

  8. Establish Leadership: It’s essential to establish yourself as the pack leader. Terriers can be dominant, and if they sense a lack of leadership, they might try to take charge. This doesn’t mean being harsh but rather exuding calm, assertive energy that the dog recognizes and respects.

  9. Patience: Remember, every dog is different. While some Wire Fox Terriers may pick up commands quickly, others might take their time. Celebrate small victories and be patient throughout the process.

  10. Continuous Learning: Even after formal training sessions end, continue to challenge and teach your dog new tricks and commands. This ongoing education helps strengthen your bond and keeps the dog mentally engaged.

Training a Wire Fox Terrier can indeed be a rewarding experience. Their intelligence and eagerness to please, combined with the right techniques, make them fantastic companions. Remember always to approach training with love, patience, and consistency.

Ensuring a balanced diet for the Wire Fox Terrier is essential to maintain its health, vitality, and overall well-being. Here’s a comprehensive overview of their dietary needs and considerations:

  1. Life Stage Nutrition:

    • Puppy: Young Wire Fox Terriers need a diet that’s high in protein to support their rapid growth. Puppy-specific foods are formulated to meet these requirements.
    • Adult: As they mature, their dietary needs change. Transition them to adult dog food around the age of one. These foods are balanced to maintain health, weight, and energy levels.
    • Senior: Older terriers might become less active and need fewer calories. Senior dog foods often have fewer calories and additional supplements to support joint health.
  2. Protein Source: A high-quality dog food should list a recognizable meat or meat meal (like chicken, beef, or fish) as the primary ingredient. Protein supports muscle growth and maintenance.

  3. Grains or Grain-Free: Some dogs do well on diets that include grains like rice, barley, and oats, while others might be intolerant. If your terrier shows signs of food allergies (itching, red skin, recurrent ear infections), consult your vet about trying a grain-free diet.

  4. Fats: Essential fatty acids, especially Omega-3 and Omega-6, support skin and coat health. Sources include fish oil and flaxseed.

  5. Vitamins and Minerals: Fruits, vegetables, and meats in dog food provide essential vitamins and minerals. These promote overall health, boost the immune system, and ensure proper metabolic function.

  6. Avoid Fillers and Additives: Choose foods that don’t contain unnecessary fillers like corn syrup, artificial colors, and flavor enhancers. These don’t offer any nutritional value and can be detrimental to health.

  7. Hydration: Fresh water should always be available. Proper hydration supports kidney function and maintains healthy skin and coat.

  8. Treats and Snacks: While it’s tempting to offer treats frequently, especially given the Wire Fox Terrier’s enthusiasm for food, limit treats to avoid excessive weight gain. Opt for healthy treats and consider veggies like carrots as occasional treats.

  9. Special Dietary Needs: If your terrier has specific health issues, such as obesity, allergies, or digestive problems, consult your veterinarian. They might recommend special diets or supplements.

  10. Portion Control: Monitor your dog’s weight and adjust food portions accordingly. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, a growing concern in many dog breeds.

Regular check-ups with your vet will help keep track of your Wire Fox Terrier’s weight and overall health. They can provide recommendations or adjustments to the diet based on your dog’s unique needs. Remember, a well-balanced diet is the foundation of a healthy and happy life for your canine companion.

Wire Fox Terriers, brimming with energy and enthusiasm, have specific exercise needs that, when met, ensure they remain happy, healthy, and well-behaved. Here’s an insight into their exercise requirements:

  1. Daily Walks: At a minimum, a Wire Fox Terrier should have one good walk a day, though two would be ideal. This not only meets their physical exercise needs but also provides mental stimulation as they encounter different scents, sights, and sounds.

  2. Play Sessions: These terriers love to play. Fetch, tug-of-war, and interactive toys can help burn off their energy and satisfy their natural instincts. Playing games also strengthens the bond between the dog and its owner.

  3. Agility and Training Drills: The Wire Fox Terrier excels in agility courses. This breed’s intelligence and nimbleness make it an ideal candidate for agility training, which can be both a physical exercise and a mental challenge for the dog.

  4. Secure Play Area: If you have a yard or garden, make sure it’s securely fenced. These terriers are curious and have a strong prey drive, so they might chase after birds or small animals. A secured area ensures they can play and explore without risk.

  5. Mental Stimulation: Exercise isn’t just about physical activity. Mental stimulation is equally crucial. Puzzle toys, hide-and-seek games with treats, or training sessions can tire them out mentally.

  6. Social Interaction: Regular playdates with other dogs can be beneficial. It gives them a chance to socialize, play, and learn doggy etiquette. Just ensure the other dogs are not overly aggressive or dominant.

  7. Limit Exercise in Puppies: While it’s essential to socialize and play with Wire Fox Terrier puppies, be cautious not to over-exercise them. Their joints and bones are still developing, so intense exercise can be harmful. Shorter, more frequent play sessions are ideal for puppies.

  8. Be Mindful of the Weather: These terriers have a dense coat, but they’re not suited for extreme temperatures. In hot weather, ensure they have shade and fresh water, and try to walk them during the cooler parts of the day. In colder climates, consider protective wear if the temperatures drop significantly.

Regular exercise and activity are paramount for a Wire Fox Terrier. Not only does it keep them fit and healthy, but it also prevents behavioral problems that arise from boredom or pent-up energy. Tailoring activities to their unique needs will guarantee a happy and well-adjusted terrier companion.

The Wire Fox Terrier’s energetic and curious nature necessitates a specific environment to ensure they thrive both physically and mentally. Let’s delve into the ideal setting for this lively breed:

  1. Secure Outdoor Space: A fenced yard or garden is perfect for a Wire Fox Terrier. This gives them a safe space to run, play, and explore. Their curious nature and strong prey drive mean that a secure fence is a must to prevent escapes during their pursuits of interesting scents or small critters.

  2. Interactive Indoor Space: While they love being outdoors, having interactive toys and a designated play area inside the house will keep them engaged, especially during inclement weather.

  3. Mental Stimulation: An environment filled with puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and regular training sessions is ideal for their active minds.

  4. Safety: Due to their size and feisty nature, it’s crucial to have a home where they won’t accidentally get hurt. If you have stairs, be cautious, especially when they’re puppies or as they age.

  5. Social Environment: Wire Fox Terriers are social dogs that thrive on interaction. They enjoy being around their human family members. However, they might have a dominant streak, so if there are other pets, especially other dogs, introductions should be made cautiously.

  6. Protection from Extreme Weather: While they have a relatively dense coat, they’re not suited for harsh weather conditions. In colder months, they might require a coat, especially if they’ll be outside for extended periods. During hot seasons, they should have a cool place to rest and plenty of water.

  7. Easy-to-Clean Areas: Given their adventurous nature, they can sometimes get into messy situations, especially outdoors. Having easily cleanable floors or designated mudrooms can help manage any dirt they bring indoors.

  8. Regular Routine: Like many dogs, Wire Fox Terriers thrive on routine. A consistent environment where they have regular feeding, play, and rest times is beneficial for their well-being.

In essence, the ideal environment for a Wire Fox Terrier is one that caters to their physical activity needs, satisfies their intellectual curiosity, ensures their safety, and provides ample opportunities for bonding and interaction. With the right surroundings, a Wire Fox Terrier will be a content and delightful companion.

Wire Fox Terrier Health

While the Wire Fox Terrier is generally a robust and healthy breed, like all breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health conditions. Familiarizing oneself with these potential issues can ensure timely intervention and a healthier, longer life for the dog. Here’s an in-depth look at the health considerations for a Wire Fox Terrier:

  • Deafness: Some Wire Fox Terriers can be born deaf in one or both ears. It’s important to recognize signs of deafness early on, such as lack of response to commands or loud noises.

  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: This condition affects the hip joint where the femur bone degenerates, leading to arthritis. It’s typically noticed in puppies around 5 to 8 months old and can be treated with surgery.

  • Cataracts: These are opacity on the lens of the eye, which can cause diminished vision. Regular eye check-ups can help in early detection.

  • Patellar Luxation: Commonly known as “slipped stifles,” this is a prevalent issue in smaller breeds. It occurs when the patella, which has three parts — the femur, patella, and tibia — is not correctly lined up. It can cause lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait.

  • Distichiasis: This condition involves an additional row of eyelashes that arise from the meibomian glands’ duct and protrude along the edge of the eyelid, leading to irritation.

  • Shoulder Dislocation: Some Wire Fox Terriers might experience shoulder joint dislocations, leading to pain and limping.

  • Cardiac Issues: While not widespread, some terriers can develop cardiac problems. Regular vet check-ups, with attention to heart sounds, are crucial for early detection and management.

  • Allergies: Skin allergies, manifested as itching, can arise due to various causes like food, pollen, or dust mites. Identifying and removing the allergen, along with medical management, can provide relief.

  • Dental Concerns: Regular dental check-ups are essential as smaller breeds can be prone to dental issues. Brushing their teeth, providing dental toys, and ensuring regular dental check-ups can mitigate such problems.

Preventative Measures:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to detect potential health problems early.
  • Ensure that your Wire Fox Terrier has all its recommended vaccinations.
  • Consider regular blood tests and x-rays as part of routine health screening.
  • Keeping them at a healthy weight can prevent numerous associated health problems.
  • Ensure they’re on a balanced diet, and be cautious about giving human foods that might be toxic.

In conclusion, while the Wire Fox Terrier is generally a hardy breed, being aware of their potential health concerns and taking preventative steps will go a long way in ensuring they lead a long, healthy, and happy life.

Wire Fox Terrier Breed Comparison and Consideration

When considering the Wire Fox Terrier, it’s beneficial to compare its traits with similar breeds. This aids in understanding whether this breed is the right fit for potential dog owners and how it stands out among its terrier relatives and other similar-sized breeds.

  1. Compared to Other Terriers:

    • Jack Russell Terrier (JRT): Like the Wire Fox Terrier, JRTs are energetic and require ample exercise. However, JRTs can be more intense and may require a more experienced dog owner.
    • Welsh Terrier: Both breeds share a similar appearance, but the Welsh Terrier is usually more laid-back and may be better suited for families with children.
    • Airedale Terrier: The Airedale is significantly larger than the Wire Fox Terrier but shares the same wiry coat and keen intelligence. Airedales might be better for homes with larger outdoor spaces.
  2. Compared to Similar-sized Breeds:

    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: While similar in size, Cavaliers are more gentle and less active compared to Wire Fox Terriers. Cavaliers might be better suited for quieter homes or for senior citizens.
    • Miniature Schnauzer: Both breeds possess a wiry coat and an alert demeanor. However, Miniature Schnauzers, while still active, might not require as much exercise as the Wire Fox Terrier.


The decision to adopt a Wire Fox Terrier should be made with careful consideration of the breed’s unique characteristics and requirements. These lively and energetic terriers demand regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training. Their spirited nature and occasional stubborn streak mean they may not be the best fit for first-time dog owners.

Additionally, grooming, particularly hand-stripping to maintain their coat’s natural texture, requires commitment. While they can adapt to various living situations, including apartments, they thrive best with access to a secured outdoor space. Prospective owners must also be prepared for early and ongoing socialization efforts to ensure their Wire Fox Terrier matures into a well-adjusted, sociable adult. In essence, understanding and accommodating the distinct needs of this breed is paramount for a harmonious pet-owner relationship.


They require regular exercise, ideally a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour daily, including walks and play sessions.

Generally, they’re good with children, especially if raised together, but supervision during interactions is crucial.

Weekly brushing is recommended, and hand-stripping several times a year is essential to maintain their coat’s proper texture.

Some health concerns include deafness, Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease, and patellar luxation.

While intelligent, they can be stubborn. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key in training.

Yes, they can adjust to apartment living as long as their exercise and stimulation needs are met.

Due to a strong prey drive, they might chase smaller animals, but with early socialization, they can coexist peacefully with other pets.

They can be vocal, especially when alerted or bored. Proper training can mitigate excessive barking.

A balanced diet of high-quality dog food, adjusted for age, activity level, and health, is best.

Top Takeaways

The Wire Fox Terrier, renowned for its vivacious energy and distinct wiry coat, is a breed that thrives on consistent activity and human interaction. Their intelligence is undeniable, but it comes paired with a dash of stubbornness, making training a task that requires patience and positive reinforcement. Despite their small stature, they have a pronounced prey drive, which means they might chase smaller animals if not adequately socialized. Potential owners should be prepared for regular grooming sessions, especially hand-stripping to maintain their coat’s iconic texture. While they’re adaptable to various living environments, including apartments, their exercise needs remain non-negotiable. All in all, with the right care, training, and environment, the Wire Fox Terrier makes for a loyal, entertaining, and spirited companion that will enrich one’s life with joy and activity.

Top Wire Fox Terrier Names

These are the top Wire Fox Terrier names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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