Wire Fox Terrier

Canis lupus

Last updated: March 17, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Serhii Bobyk/Shutterstock.com

The Wire Fox Terrier was bred from the now extinct Rough Coated Black and Tan Terrier to hunt down foxes.


Wire Fox Terrier Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Wire Fox Terrier Conservation Status

Wire Fox Terrier Locations

Wire Fox Terrier Locations

Wire Fox Terrier Facts

Fun Fact
The Wire Fox Terrier was bred from the now extinct Rough Coated Black and Tan Terrier to hunt down foxes.
Alert, friendly, and confident

Wire Fox Terrier Physical Characteristics

  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type
13 – 14 years
19 lbs

Wire Fox Terrier as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
$1,000 on average
Dog group
Male weight
17-19 lbs
Female weight
15-17 lbs

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species.

View all of the Wire Fox Terrier images!

Share on:

The entire line of Fox Terriers was originally bred from the Rough Coated Black and Tan Terrier. Their strong prey drive, plucky, independent mind, and specialized training gave them the ability to drive foxes from the den.

The Wire Fox Terrier was once a quintessential part of the British fox hunting scene. Developed during the 17th and 18th centuries to locate foxes and drive them from the den, it is believed to have descended from the Rough Coated Black and Tan Terrier, which is now extinct. Today this breed is mostly used as a pet, athlete, or show dog. The Wire Fox Terrier is characterized by a lean physique, floppy ears, and an upturned tail. The wiry, broken coat for which it’s named has a white base and brown markings around the face with additional black and brown markings all over the body. The long hair around the face gives it the appearance of a mustache and beard.

See all of our expert product reviews.

Up until the early 20th century, the Fox Terrier had both a wire and smooth coat variant. But after people stopped breeding them together, the Smooth Fox Terrier was developed into its own separate though very similar breed. There are also toy and miniature Fox terriers, but they are considered to be separate breeds as well.

3 Pros And Cons Of Owning A Wire Fox Terrier

Charming and Friendly
The Wire Fox Terrier has a big personality and forms close bonds with members of the family.
Independent and Stubborn
The Wire Fox Terrier might be a little difficult to train unless you really know how to handle it.
Fierce Determination
Once this breed is given a task, it will stick with it until completion.
Tendency to Chase
This breed has a strong prey drive.
Energetic and Athletic
This breed is an excellent exercise companion. It can also be taught to perform lots of tricks.
Escape Artist
This breed has a tendency to jump over or dig under fences.

Size And Weight

The Wire Fox Terrier is a small dog with a rather lean frame. Males are ever so slightly larger than females.

Height (Male)15.5 inches
Height (Female)13 inches
Weight (Male)17 to 19 pounds
Weight (Female)15 to 17 pounds

Common Health Issues

The Wire Fox Terrier is a very healthy dog with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. Nevertheless, no breed is completely free of health complications. This breed is prone to deafness, cataracts, epilepsy, heart disease, cancer (the leading cause of death in older dogs), hip dysplasia (a loose hip joint), Legg-Perthes disease (a deformed hip joint resulting from poor blood flow), lens luxation (a deformed ligament that holds the lens in place), and some degenerative neurological diseases. Good breeders should ideally try to minimize the chances that some of these problems (particularly serious genetic disorders) ever arise in the first place, but there is always a chance some will slip through. To sum up the most common health problems:

Health and Entertainment for your Wire Fox Terrier

See all of our expert product reviews.

  • Deafness
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease


The Wire Fox Terrier is a very feisty, energetic, confident, and alert dog that should win over the heart of its owner with its fun-loving, charming, and adventurous personality. If you don’t mind a strong, independent thinker who might have their own ideas about things, then this dog will fit right into your home as a loving and affectionate member of the family. You should be aware that this breed needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation to entertain it. Otherwise, if left alone or ignored for too long, it might resort to unwanted or destructive behavior. While this breed can adapt well to apartment living, it will require some outdoor space in which to run and play.

How To Take Care Of The Wire Fox Terrier

The small size of the Wire Fox Terrier may fool people into thinking this is a low-maintenance dog, but it is actually a real handful to care for. Full of energy and life, and sporting an unusual wiry coat, this breed requires the frequent attention of its owner. You should absolutely prepare to devote time and resources to its care. Fortunately, this guide will help arm you with some knowledge you will need.

If you are just now preparing to purchase a dog, the first step is to find a trusted breeder in your area from whom you can purchase from. Try to gather as much information as you can about how they breed, raise, and screen their dogs for health problems. Another option is to purchase a juvenile or adult dog from a rescue group or adoption agency. There may be some rescue groups in your area that carry Fox Terriers specifically. Upon bringing your new dog home, it should have a complete physical examination at the vet and then regular checkups after that.

The Best Dog Food For Wire Fox Terriers

Wire Fox Terrier in show pose

This is a breed that can develop heart disease and vet guidance is important.

©Waldemar Dabrowski/Shutterstock.com

An adult Wire Fox Terrier should be fed around 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food every single day, preferably divided into two meals. This is just an average, however; the exact amount will vary based on the dog’s age, size, and activity level. Owners should not leave out food for the dog to munch on. This may lead to unwanted weight gain.

This breed can end up with heart disease. So, with guidance from a vet, be aware of the link between legumes in dog food and heart failure in dogs. It may be wise to choose a legume-free dog food.

Along these lines, A-Z Animals recommends Inception Dry Dog Food – Complete and Balanced Dog Food – Meat First Legume Free Dry Dog Food as the best dog food for Wire Fox Terriers.

These real fish blend with healthy grains and delivers essential nutrients for a functioning immune system, including selenium, natural antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. The supplemental taurine means added heart and eye health support, too.

Check Chewy or Amazon for this product.

Inception Dry Dog Food – Complete and Balanced Dog Food – Meat First Legume Free Dry Dog Food
  • INCEPTION IS PROTEIN FIRST – Inception is formulated with animal protein first to serve your canine companions’ needs. We understand your canine companions are carnivore first, omnivore second and thrive with good animal protein in their diets. At Inception, we ensure our first two ingredients are animal protein.
  • INCEPTION CHICKEN FORMULA - Our Inception Chicken recipe contains chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein providing high-quality, essential amino acids, and trace minerals. Chicken is a “protein-dense” ingredient, meaning that it provides a lot of protein compared to fat in a given amount of meat. This makes it an excellent source of protein that may help in weight control because fat contains more calories than protein. Chicken is high in vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin B5. It’s also a great source of selenium and phosphorus.
  • INCEPTION IS LEGUME FREE – Inception formulas are free of legumes, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. We want to give your canine companions everything they need for a long and happy life with you.

Check Amazon

Maintenance And Grooming

The Wire Fox Terrier needs brushing about once a week, preferably with a firm bristle brush, to prevent matting and tangling. The American Kennel Club recommends that show dogs should be hand stripped by the owner or a professional groomer. Hand stripping is a method of removing the top layer of the coat from the roots by hand. This will help to maintain the wiry consistency of the entire coat. By trimming or cutting it with clippers, the softer part of the coat will tend to dominate, which can also make the dog look paler.

If your wire fox terrier isn’t a show dog, then you can groom it and style it however you want. Owners should also check their ears once a week and trim their nails every month. Dental care is another important aspect of the dog’s care. Brush the teeth regularly (ideally once a day) with canine paste to prevent diseases and bad breath.


The independent and strong-minded Wire Fox Terrier is a very eager and intelligent dog that also has the tendency to become easily bored. In order to prevent this, it’s best to break up training sessions into smaller segments with frequent breaks in between. Owners should also strive to keep it interesting by changing their routines from time to time. The Wire Fox Terrier requires a firm but positive training method. It may shut down or become unresponsive if you are aggressive toward it. Fortunately, this breed thrives at all types of training, from basic commands to more complex agility challenges.


Happy and active Wire Fox terrier puppy running in the grass at the park

Daily exercise is needed for your wire fox terrier.


The Wire Fox Terrier will need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every single day. This breed enjoys long walks, runs, fetching, and playtime. Because of the dog’s tendency to chase prey, it is ideal you have a fenced yard that it cannot dig under and jump over. When you take it out for a long walk or run, do not let it off the leash.


The Wire Fox Terrier can be rather energetic and undisciplined as a puppy, so it should benefit greatly from proper obedience training and early socialization with other people and pets. Crate training is an important part of the house training routine for all Wire Fox puppies.

Fox Terrier puppy

Puppies would benefit greatly from obedience training.

©Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock.com

Wire Fox Terriers And Children

The Wire Fox Terrier has a playful nature and friendly temperament that should be well-suited for kids of all ages. Its smaller size shouldn’t be intimidating, but it has such an immense reservoir of energy that it might not be able to stay calm and still in the presence of younger children.

Dogs Similar To Wire Fox Terriers

If you are a fan of the Wire Fox Terrier, then you might want to check out these other terrier breeds:

  • Smooth Fox Terrier – This breed is very similar to its close wire-haired relative in most respects. The main differences are the more V-shaped head and the short and smooth hair.
  • Russell Terrier – The Russell Terrier (and its close relatives, the Jack Russell Terrier, and the Parson Russell Terrier) is a small but athletic fox hunter that’s now mostly kept as a lovable and friendly companion. The Russell Terrier comes in three different types of coats: short and smooth, long and rough, and broken (a mixture between the two).
  • Rat Terrier – Originally bred as a farm dog and hunting companion, the Rat Terrier is a small, compact breed with a smooth coat, a playful personality, and fun-loving behavior. It comes in both standard and miniature sizes.

Famous Wire Fox Terriers

The Wire Fox Terrier has been a fixture of upper-class British society for centuries, both as a hunter and as a companion. It has also made quite an impression on many Americans. Here is a small sample of well-known members of this breed:

  • Caesar – This was the personal favorite dog of Edward VII, Britain’s monarch between 1901 and 1910. It was also thought that his mother, Queen Victoria, owned the same breed.
  • Skippy – This canine actor appeared in many popular 1930s films, including “The Thin Man” and “Bringing Up Baby.”
  • Polly – Owned by biologist Charles Darwin in the 19th century.
  • Vicki – The personal dog of writer and poet Rudyard Kipling.

If you’re looking for a good terrier name, then you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Riley
  • Lucky
  • Toby
  • Buddy
  • Charlie
  • Caesar
  • Apollo
  • Dasher
  • Dingo
  • Buster

View all 108 animals that start with W

Share on:
What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?
About the Author

Melissa Bauernfeind was born in NYC and got her degree in Journalism from Boston University. She lived in San Diego for 10 years and is now back in NYC. She loves adventure and traveling the world with her husband but always misses her favorite little man, "P", half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all trouble. She got dive-certified so she could dive with the Great White Sharks someday and is hoping to swim with the Orcas as well.

Wire Fox Terrier FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Wire Fox Terrier?

As the name suggests, it is a breed of fox hunting dog with wiry hair. You don’t need to be a hunter to enjoy this breed, however. It is a playful, outgoing, and feisty companion around the home.

Are Wire Fox Terriers good pets?

The answer to that question depends on what you want in a pet. Some owners may not appreciate its independent and stubborn streak. But if you are able to remain patient and understanding with it, this dog should grow to respect your authority and obey your commands. Its strong prey drive may sometimes still take over, but some of this may be curbed with proper training.

Are Wire Fox Terriers cuddly?

This breed may enjoy cuddling with its owner, but you should be aware that this is not a lap dog and it needs some space.

Do Wire Fox Terriers bark a lot?

This breed is not a regular barker, but it may raise the alarm if it sees an unfamiliar person around the home.

What is the price of a Wire Fox Terrier?

The average price for a Wire Fox Terrier is around $900 or $1,000. If you’re looking to adopt from a rescue group, then you will probably pay a lower price. But a dog with an excellent pedigree and genetic heritage will end up costing thousands of dollars. Fortunately, most newborn puppies should cost somewhere in the range of $700 to $1,500.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. American Kennel Club / Accessed March 30, 2021
  2. Harlingen Veterinary Clinic / Accessed March 30, 2021

Newly Added Animals

A Great White Shark
Great White Shark

Can grow to more than 8 meters long!

A Cobalt Blue Tarantula
Cobalt Blue Tarantula

Cobalt blue tarantulas spend most of their time in self-dug burrows and only emerge when it's time to eat

Most Recently Updated Animals

A Great White Shark
Great White Shark

Can grow to more than 8 meters long!

A Cobalt Blue Tarantula
Cobalt Blue Tarantula

Cobalt blue tarantulas spend most of their time in self-dug burrows and only emerge when it's time to eat