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What is a Fox Terrier?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A Fox Terrier is a small black and white, or brown and white, dog sometimes called a Foxy. These dogs were originally bred in 19th century England to uncover foxes when the foxes would disappear into their holes during hunts. There are actually three breeds of Fox Terriers: the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Wire Fox Terrier and the Toy Fox Terrier. All three types of Fox Terriers are known for their energetic and nervous natures.

The Smooth Fox Terrier was the first breed of Fox Terrier developed. They have tough, flat, smooth coats and folded ears. These dogs are said to be easier to train than the Wire Fox Terrier, but will still try to dominate if they haven't been properly socialized as puppies. Smooth Fox Terriers may even try to dominate larger dogs, so early socialization is crucial so that they get used to different animals as well as people. Smooth Fox Terriers may be good with children, but should be supervised by an adult, as they may snap when excited.

The Wire Fox Terrier is very similar to the Smooth Fox Terrier, but needs much more grooming. A process known as "hand stripping" in which the dead parts of the coat are pulled out by hand needs to be done a few times each year. Wire Fox Terriers don't shed naturally themselves. The Wire Fox Terrier should be introduced to grooming from about three months of age and professional grooming is an option.

Some experts say that Wire Tox Terriers can even be more aggressive by nature than Smooth Fox Terriers,and this may make them more difficult to train. Both Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers are energetic and need long walks and exercise such as running and playing with children and other dogs. These dogs are always ready for digging or for a good chase. They may bark quite a bit and are known to be loyal and protective.

The Toy Fox Terrier was developed from the Smooth Fox Terrier as well as dogs such as the Min Pin, or Miniature Pinscher, and the Chihuahua. Like smooth fox terriers, toy fox terriers need minimal grooming. The Toy Fox Terrier has a longer muzzle and shorter tail than the Smooth Fox Terrier. Toy Fox Terriers often like to do tricks and are known for being affectionate and playful. These little terriers are said to be good apartment dogs and better with older children and adults than younger children.

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Discussion Comments
By Vincenzo — On Nov 25, 2014

@Markerrag -- I used to have a fox terrier. Great dog, but she was high maintenance. And that dog didn't just chase cats. She went crazy going after them. I mean the kind of crazy where the dog knocked over chairs, barked up a storm and scared our cat so much she wouldn't come in the house anymore.

And the dog digged a lot of holes in the yard, too (she stayed outside about half the day).

Don't get me wrong. I loved my fox terrier, but she required a lot of attention. If you are looking for a dog that won't hang around you all the time and is fairly quiet, the fox terrier is not for you.

By Markerrag — On Nov 24, 2014

@Soulfox -- I like these dogs a lot, but they are terriers and that means they have some personality traits that people might not want to deal with.

Namely, they need a lot of exercise, bark a whole lot and can be difficult to train because they are stubborn. Also, they tend to chase small animals, so a fox terrier or two can make your cat miserable if you own one.

Still, they are great pets. I am not a fan of cats, so I don't mind my terriers chasing my wife's and kids' felines one bit.

By Soulfox — On Nov 23, 2014

Fox terriers are known for their nervous and energetic natures? Name a terrier that isn't!

Seriously, though, fox terriers make for great pets. They are fiercely loyal to their families, great with kids and they don't shed as much as a lot of other breeds. Besides, they are a bit more substantive than other small dogs (they clock in around 20 pounds) and some people like that. You get a dog that does well indoors but isn't a ball of fur, see?

Oh, and these things make pretty good guard dogs, too. You probably won't have many burglars or thieves afraid of these things, but they make enough noise to wake up a house if someone wanders across your front yard.

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