The Wire Fox Terrier, also known at times as the Wire-haired Fox Terrier, the Broken-haired Fox Terrier and most affectionately as “the gentleman of the terrier world,” is an old English breed that has been shown in the United States for more than a century. It shares its ancestry with that of the Smooth Fox Terrier and really differs only in coat. The Fox Terrier developed in the 17th century as a hunting and sporting dog that specialized in flushing fox and other vermin from their dens. Its keen senses of sight and smell, together with its small size and great stamina, made it especially well-suited to that task. The Fox Terrier is “all terrier.” He is plucky, active, intelligent and intensely focused on whatever job he is given to do. The Fox Terrier is used less to hunt fox and rodents now than in times past, and today he is more commonly used as a show and companion animal. Potential owners should remember that this lively terrier has an almost insatiable instinct to dig and can be quite vocal.
The Wire Fox Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a breed distinct from the Smooth Fox Terrier in 1984; this change went into effect in 1985. The combined breed was first admitted into the AKC’s Terrier Group, with a smooth and a wire variety, in 1885. The Wire Fox Terrier rose dramatically in popularity in the 1930s, due largely to the Thin Man thriller series, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Their lively pet, a male Wire Fox Terrier named Asta, played a prominent role in those six highly successful detective films.
The mature male Wire Fox Terrier should not exceed 15½ inches at the withers and should not be more than 12 inches from withers to the root of the tail in length, with the female being slightly smaller but in the same proportion. The adult male in show condition usually weighs about 18 pounds, with a bitch being about 16 pounds in the same condition. The breed’s dense, wiry coat appears broken, and its hair has a tendency to twist but should never have any trace of curl. The stiff outercoat covers a shorter growth of softer undercoat. White should predominate, with black, black-and-tan or tan markings. Brindle, red, liver or slate blue markings are objectionable under the American standard. The Wire Fox Terrier’s tail typically is docked to about ¾ of its original length and is set high and held upright.