Few English dog breeds have had as many high profile owners as the courageous and adaptable Fox Terrier. From Charles Darwin’s Polly to Rudyard Kipling’s Vicki, the humble Fox Terrier has been favoured by noteworthy Britons for centuries. This small terrier breed more than makes up for its size in its courageous yet gentle temperament that has been appreciated by monarchs and many other proud owners. There are two types of Fox Terrier that bear a strong resemblance to one another: the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier. As their names imply, one is wirehaired, the other has a smooth coat of fur. Both, however, make equally great companions and are an excellent choice for new puppy owners.
Some highlights of Fox Terriers:
Adaptable: this small breed fares well in many different environments.
Affectionate: Fox Terriers have big hearts and reciprocate care and affection given to them.
Apartment-friendly: this breed is a good choice for smaller houses and apartments.
First-time owners: Fox Terriers have a robust temperament that makes them an ideal puppy choice for first-time owners.
Child-friendly: Fox Terriers are sociable and enjoy spending time with children.
Some downsides to the Fox Terrier:
Exercise: Fox Terriers are excitable and energetic and require plenty of stimulation.
Barking: many Fox Terriers tend to bark excessively and thus may not be ideal in quiet homes.
Digging: this breed has a nasty habit of digging up gardens and flowerbeds.
Small dogs go back to antiquity, where the inhabitants of pre-Roman Britain were observed using terrier-type ancestors to chase quarry into earthen burrows. This is from whence the terrier’s Latin root “earth” is derived. It was not until the Mediaeval period that the English terrier breed was documented in greater detail. These early terrier breeds are the root of white-coloured terriers, and it is from these terriers that Fox Terriers were subsequently bred in the late 18th century. Two main Fox Terrier breeds were developed, perhaps separately, the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier. The Wire Fox Terrier most likely came from the black and tan-coloured terriers common in Wales, Durham, and Derbyshire, and is said to have been owned by Queen Victoria. At the very least, it is known that her son, King Edward VII, owned a Wire Fox Terrier named Caesar. The Smooth Fox Terrier, on the other hand, was the first Fox Terrier breed to be recognised by the Kennel Club of Great Britain in 1876. Many believe that this specific breed borrows its white colour from the breeding of terriers and greyhounds.
Fox Terriers are small-sized dogs. Males grow on average to 36-41 cm in height, whilst females can grow up to 33-38 cm high.
Fully-grown adult male Fox Terriers weigh between 7-9 kg on average, whilst females weigh between 6-8 kg.
Fox Terriers have the following commonly-accepted coat colours:
Combinations of white and tan or black are common.
For such a small breed, Fox Terriers are no slouch in terms of courage and fearlessness. They’re also highly energetic and active, so they’ll fare best in households with active owners and families with which they can play and release their energy. They love to play, chase, and spend quality time outdoors as well. One feature of the Fox Terrier that may prove problematic, however, is their natural inclination to dig up flowerbeds and gardens. This dates back to their original purpose of fox bolting, the act of driving foxes out from their burrows and hiding spots. Consequently, owners should attempt to correct this behaviour at a young age. As an intelligent breed, positive reinforcement will work far better than harsh punishment. Both breeds of Fox Terrier are similar in temperament and thus no specific distinctions are required.
Fox Terriers are amongst the best watchdogs, but they are seldom aggressive and thus make poor guard dogs.
This breed is known to bark frequently. Some will bark excessively, especially if they haven’t been properly raised as puppies.
Although intelligent, Fox Terriers may show signs of stubbornness and therefore require persistent training in order to become obedient. They are prone to naughty behaviours such as digging flowerbeds and gardens and should be trained as puppies to curb this type of behaviour.
Silly and playful are practically synonymous with Fox Terriers. They love to play, regardless of whether they’re puppies or fully-grown adults.
This breed gets along well with children. They may engage in play which is unsuitable for younger children, however, so ensure that your children are supervised at all times.
Generally, Fox Terriers don’t get along well with most other pets. Small pets and cats, in particular, may not get along well with this breed, but other dogs may also prove problematic.
As a sociable and friendly breed, Fox Terriers require regular attention and don’t tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time. Moderate lengths of separation, however, can be tolerated from time to time.
Some Fox Terriers love taking a dip while others may not like water at all. This comes down to their personal preferences, so don’t attempt to force a puppy to swim if it doesn’t want to. This breed doesn’t much like being on boats.
Generally, Fox Terriers are expected to live anywhere from 13-14 years, with some living as long as 19 years on rare occasions.
This breed requires plenty of physical exercise every day to remain fit and healthy. Furthermore, this excitable breed needs constant physical and mental stimulation and as such should be given at least an hour of solid exercise every day.
There aren’t many health issues common to Fox Terriers, but a few worth noting include:
Although Fox Terriers are small, they prefer smaller homes to apartment dwelling. For those living in apartments, take your Fox Terrier puppy outside frequently and avoid letting it feel confined indoors for too long. Small homes with gardens are ideal.
This breed requires 1 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food daily, divided into two separate meals. Puppies’ diets should be monitored and adjusted according to their levels of physical activity and to avoid overfeeding.
Neither type of Fox Terrier requires high maintenance in terms of grooming. Wire coated Fox Terriers do require more frequent brushing, however. Regular eye and ear inspections should be scheduled to avoid painful infections.
Wire coated Fox Terriers tend to shed a moderate amount and should be brushed more frequently than their smoother counterparts. Smooth Fox Terriers don’t shed much at all.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly £500-1,000 for a well-bred Fox Terrier puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £70-100 per month
You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Fox Terrier puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Fox Terrier puppy buying advice:
Traditionally, Fox Terriers had their tails docked. This practice is no longer permitted in England and Wales without valid medical reasoning and as such one should always enquire with sellers if a Fox Terrier puppy has had its tail docked whether or not documentation is available.
This breed is recognised by the Kennel Club as a vulnerable breed, yet Fox Terriers remain a popular breed in the UK. This means that prospective buyers should ensure that puppies are bred in an ethical manner according to Kennel Club breeding standards. Avoid scams and ‘puppy mills’ claiming to sell desirable Fox Terrier puppies.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: Kennel Club of Great Britain: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/display.aspx?id=3067 Federation Cynologique Internationale: https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/012g03-en.pdf Dogell: https://dogell.com/en/dog-breed/smooth-fox-terrier https://www.foxterrierrescue.co.uk/ https://www.terriersos.com/