Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

Wire Fox Terrier

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Wire Fox Terrier is a small purebred from the UK bred originally as its name indicates, to be a fox hunter, flushing them out of their dens and hiding places during hunts. It does well in events like agility, hunting, performing tricks, watchdog and tracking. It can also be a good companion dog. It was once considered to be the same as the Smooth Fox Terrier with just a coat difference and until just 30 years ago they were classed as the same breed. However they are now two separate breeds but they do have a lot of similarities in terms of temperament and needs. Wire Fox Terriers are very feisty and lively dogs!

The Wire Fox Terrier at A Glance
Name Wire Fox Terrier
Other names Wire Hair Fox Terrier, Wirehaired Terrier, Wirehaired Fox Terrier, Fox Terrier Wire Coat
Nicknames Foxie, Wire
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Small
Average weight 13 to 20 pounds
Average height 13 to 16 inches
Life span 10 to 15 years
Coat type Dense, Harsh, Wiry, Rough
Hypoallergenic Yes – could be good for people with allergies but it should be tested first before buying
Color Black, white, brown
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 94th by the AKC
Intelligence Average – training will not be super quick but nor will it be painful
Tolerance to heat Very good – can handle very warm and even hot weather just not extreme heat
Tolerance to cold Good – can handle colder climates but not too cold
Shedding Low – good for owners not wanting a lot of hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Moderate – not likely to have weight issues
Grooming/brushing High maintenance, especially if being kept as a show dog
Barking Frequent – training will be needed to control it
Exercise needs Very active – needs a lot of exercise daily
Trainability Moderately easy to train – intelligent but can be stubborn
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Good but best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization best with older children though
Good with other dogs Good but needs socialization – may not do well in dog parks
Good with other pets Moderate to good – needs socialization as has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Good with socialization
Good apartment dog Good – can adapt but best in home with a yard
Handles alone time well Good – can deal with moderate amounts of time left alone
Health issues Very good health – a few issues include deafness, eye problems, hip dysplasia and Legg-Perthes disease
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health needs and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for dog treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $500 a year for miscellaneous items, toys, basic training, grooming and license
Average annual expenses $1010 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $850
Rescue organizations Several including the American Fox Terrier Rescue and the Wire Fox Terrier Rescue Midwest
Biting Statistics None reported

The Wire Fox Terrier’s Beginnings

Wire Fox Terriers come from the United Kingdom back in the late seventeen hundreds. Fox hunting was a very popular sport amongst the wealthy and the gentry and they used dogs to track the foxes, and other dogs to ‘go to ground’ i.e flush them out of their dens or hidey holes. The Fox terriers had the latter job. The Smooth Fox Terriers were bred a little before the Wiry Fox Terriers and appeared in shows about 15 to 20 years before they did. While the two types were classed as the same breed for a long time in fact it is believed they were both developed separately.

It is thought the Wire Fox Terrier in their development other breeds used were rough coated black and tan terriers as well as Smooth Fox Terriers. The English Fox Terrier Club was started in 1876 and a breed standard was drawn. As well as being used in fox hunting it was also used by farmers to hunt vermin like rats and other animals that go to ground. The rough coat was developed with the idea that its coat would protect it from rough terrain and from attack.

New Lease on Life

They were imported to the US sometime in the 1880s and the American Fox Terrier Club was started in 1885 and it was recognized by the AKC in that same year. In fact this breed club was the first to be a member of the AKC. Despite being owned by several royal families including Queen Victoria and King Edward VII it was not a popular dog as a companion until the 1930s with Asta the Wire Fox Terrier in the Thin Man films, and Snowy from the Adventures of Tin Tin. However that popularity then waned once more when keeping hunting dogs in cities proved to be challenging.

In 1985 the AKC formally separated the fox terriers recognizing them as separate breeds though not all countries have done so. They are not the most popular breeds registered with the AKC with the Wire Fox Terrier ranking just 94th.

The Dog You See Today

Wire Fox Terriers are a small dog weighing 13 to 20 pounds and standing 13 to 16 inches tall. It is a sturdily built dog with a muscled and thick neck, straight legs, and a tail that is set high. In countries where the practice is still allowed the tail is docked by about a quarter of its length. The coat is dense and wiry and harsh with hairs that are tight together and thick. The undercoat though is soft and short. Common colors are black, tan, white and brown. Markings can include a saddle or large splotch on the back and brown face markings. Other colors like red, blue, brindle or liver can appear but are not wanted on show dogs. It has a flat skull that thins to the eyes and a muzzle that tapers and has a black nose. Its eyes are dark and rimmed in a dark color too. The ears are v-shaped and drop down to near its cheeks.

The Inner Wire Fox Terrier


The Foxie is a great watchdog and will bark to alert you of any intruder, but it is not especially protective so may not act to defend you. While first time owners can choose to get this dog and with some homework can be good owners for it, more experienced, confident owners would be preferable as it has a dominant, stubborn and feisty temperament that can make things tricky sometimes. It is a curious and impulsive nature that can get it into trouble a lot, but its daredevil attitude means it does not much care!

It has a high pitched bark, and it barks often so consider how close your neighbors are and how understanding they are, and make sure training includes commands to stop. It enjoys digging and tunneling so your yard may get the brunt of that, and it is very possessive of its items. Without lots of activity and stimulation they will be destructive and be prepared it does get bored very easily. It is bold, independent, somewhat sensitive and intelligent. It is usually friendly and cheerful and with its family is very loyal and affectionate. It will need lots of attention but it can deal with some time alone just not long periods.

Living with a Wire Fox Terrier

What will training look like?

For owners with experience and confidence, the Wire Fox Terrier is moderately easy to train as it is smart, and does well with training but can be stubborn and sly and hates too much repetition. While compared to some other terriers its training is going to be easier, it is still an independent thinker who has a strong dominance and you will need to make it clear you are the boss. Be consistent and clear that you mean what you say. With firm and positive training as well as teaching basic obedience you could if you wanted to extend that, and teach it tricks. Owners who are too soft and meek will have issues with small dog syndrome, destructive and poor behavior, jealousy, possessiveness and aggression. Along with training make sure it is socialized early so that it is better able to respond appropriately to different places, people and situations.

How active is the Wire Fox Terrier?

A Foxie is an active and playful breed. It loves to chase balls, run around, chase after anything moving, dig, swim and go for brisk walks. Its size means it could live in an apartment but it does better with access to a yard and its barking might be an issue. It is important that a yard is well fenced in as if it can escape it will. It is also important to keep it leashed when walking as it chases everything and it is really fast! It would enjoy opportunities to run free in safe places like land that you own. Take care with dog parks as it does not get along well with other dogs. In terms of daily walks two a day ensuring it gets at least 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous activity. As well as plenty of physical activity it also needs mental stimulation too.

Caring for the Wire Fox Terrier

Grooming needs

While this breed is low shedding and could be appropriate for homes that have allergy sufferers (always test before buying) it is actually still quite a high maintenance dog, particularly if you are keeping it to show standards. For pet quality dogs to keep it tangle free you will need to brush often and clip and trim every few months. For dogs to be kept looking like show quality Foxies their coats need to be stripped by hand and that takes time and skill. This means regular trips to a groomer along with your own daily care. Keep in mind stripping means the glossiness and colors are maintained, clipping will affect the color and change the texture of the coat. Coats that are clipped are softer but they also are harder to keep clean. Still only bathe when it is needed to avoid drying out its skin.

Apart from the coat there are other care needs it has including brushing its teeth at least three times a week, checking its ears for infection and then wiping them clean (do not insert anything into them though) and clipping its toes nails should they get too long. Be careful with its nails as there are blood vessels in the lower section so should you go too far down the nail you will cut them causing a lot of pain for your dog, as well as bleeding.

Feeding Time

How much your dog needs to eat will vary depending on how big it is, how much activity it gets, its size, health and build. The range averages at ½ to 2 cups a day, split into two meals.

How is the Wire Fox Terrier with children and other animals?

Like any terrier the Foxie is not likely to back down if challenged, is bold and scrappy and dominant. It also has a very high prey instinct and will chase anything moving. These qualities mean it does not get on with strange small animals, it will want to chase and catch them and it does not get on with other dogs well. Early socialization will be very important to help with these areas, though those instincts will still be there. It is not a dog you are able to trust in a dog park, or one to be left alone with other dogs.

It can get along well with children, it loves to play, they will get up to things they should not together and help each other burn off some excess energy. They are affectionate too with children they have been raised with especially. It must be said though that they are better with older children rather than toddlers. Small children sometimes tease, make sudden loud noises or try to grab hold of dogs, and this dog will not like this. Like all terriers it is also very possessive of its own items and it has to be said, the high pitch voices of young children and the way they run away can make them seem like prey.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Wire Fox Terrier has a life span of 10 to 15 years. It is mostly quite a healthy breed but there are some issues that can come up such as epilepsy, eye problems, Legg Calve Perthes, mast cell tumors, deafness and hip dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dogs attacking people over three decades in the US and Canada, the Foxie is not specifically mentioned. As made clear though, this dog does like to be dominant, and if not well trained and socialized and supervised there is a possibility it will overreact or be aggressive if something sets it off, or if it is just having a bad day. Be sure this breed is for you, that you are prepared for the its boldness, its feisty nature and needs in terms of activity. A dog that has its needs meet, has the attention it needs and is well socialized and trained is less likely to have a bad day.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Wire Fox Terrier puppy of pet quality is going to cost between $700 to $1000. That price will go up if you are looking for a show dog though, be prepared for a price of $1800 or more. From a shelter or rescue you can get a dog that needs a new forever home, and it will cost less, somewhere between $50 to $300. But it is likely to be an adolescent or adult rather than a puppy. Avoid using puppy mills, pet stores, back yard breeders and local ads. Prices vary widely, the healthy and quality of the lines vary widely and sometimes these people are deliberately cruel and uncaring of their animals.

Initial costs too will need to be covered. If some medical needs have not been taken care of by the breeder or shelter it will need to be vaccinated, neutered or spayed, micro chipped, dewormed, blood tests done and a physical exam done. This will cost around $280. At home you will need to get a collar and leash, bedding, bowls, crate and carrier and some other items. This will cost another $120 or so.

Yearly costs are another factor when becoming a pet owner. There is the food aspect of course, mostly affected by size but also some dogs just need more expensive food than others. If using a good quality dry dog food though that cost will be around $75 a year and that covers dog treats as well. Basic medical needs like vaccination updates, check ups and tick and flea prevention as well as health insurance for it will cost around $435 a year. Of course there are other costs too, toys, license, grooming, basic training and other miscellaneous items that might be needed. They will cost around $500 a year. This gives a starting figure of $1010 a year.


Looking for a Wire Fox Terrier Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

Wire Fox Terriers might be small but they are not cute lap dogs, they are not babies and they are in no way submissive little yes dogs. Many are abandoned or handed in to rescues and shelters because owners have not researched the breed properly and not prepared themselves for the reality of owning this dog. It is fast and escapes and runs away very easily, it is dominant and will often challenge you, it is mischievous, it has a high prey drive so does not get along well with other animals and it will challenge other dogs even ones a lot larger than it. If left improperly trained and not socialized this could be a very difficult dog to live with. But for those who are good owners, and are ready for these issues this is a loyal, devoted companion. It is confident and bold and full of personality. It will make you laugh and keep you on your toes and lives a long full life.

Popular Fox Terrier Mixes

Fox Terrier and Poodle Mix
General Information
Size Small
Height 10 to 12 inches
Weight 9 and 13 pounds
Life span 10 to 13 years
Touchiness Moderate to high
Barking Rare
Activity Fairly active
Breed Traits

Great family pet



Toy Fox Terrier, Shih Tzu Mix
General Information
Size Small
Height 10 to 15 inches
Weight 8 to 15 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Fairly sensitive
Barking Rare
Activity Slightly active
Breed Traits




Taco Terrier
Chihuahua, Toy Fox Terrier Mix
General Information
Size Small
Height 6 to 10 inches
Weight 7 to 10 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Somewhat sensitive
Barking Occasional
Activity Somewhat active
Breed Traits

Eager to please
Can be stubborn



Wirehaired Fox Terrier and Poodle Mix
General Information
Size Medium
Height Up to 15 inches
Weight 20 to 40 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Somewhat sensitive
Barking Rare
Activity Quite active
Breed Traits

Good family dog



Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

Did you know: an average of 18 dog foods are recalled every year?

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts by email whenever there's a recall.