Fox Terrier: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

The Fox Terrier is a very active and energetic dog, eager to always be on the go. There are two varieties of this breed: the wire – haired and the smooth-haired. In both cases, any activity or game is valid to keep this dog entertained and fit. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Fox Terrier.

Characteristics of the Fox Terrier breed

The Fox terrier is, along with the Bull terrier, one of the only two breeds of the group of terriers that has two varieties.

In this case the distinction is basically given by the hair. One, the so-called wire-haired Fox terrier, is semi-long, rough and hard, while the other, known as the smooth-haired Fox terrier, is short and straight. Both varieties originated in 18th century England. With the purpose of helping hunters in hunting foxes, and its specific mission was to make the animal come out of its burrow to start the hunt.

It is thus an intrepid dog, who does not know fear and who likes to go underground in search of its enemy. Traditionally, the wire-haired variety has been much more popular than the straight-haired variety, although its international recognition was much later.

It is an alert, cheerful, courageous and very resistant dog. Fearless and curious, it loves to survey and explore the terrain it moves through. It is a bit quarrelsome, dominant and strong-willed.

Regarding its general appearance, it is not a very large dog with a balanced structure, it is well proportioned, without being heavy or coarse. Let’s see in more detail what the Fox terrier is like, both its physical appearance and its temperament:

Physical characteristics of the Fox Terrier

  • General appearance: of small volume, it is a dog with robust bones, of great physical strength, and that is neither heavy nor coarse. Its body structure denotes a perfect balance, it is very proportionate and it is rather square, with a short back.
  • Size: medium.
  • Height at the withers: 39 cm (Male) and 37 (Female).
  • Weight: 7-8.2 kg (Male) and 6.8-7.7 kg (Female).
  • Origin: United Kingdom.
  • Variety: Wire Fox Terrier and smooth fox terrier .
  • Body: it is a dog with an almost square body structure, since its length from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock is practically the same as its height at the withers, which, at most, is about 39 cm in males and about 37 cm in females. The Fox Terrier has a very well proportioned body, is endowed with robust bones and has a short and powerful back.
  • Head: presents an almost flat skull at the top that narrows as it moves towards the muzzle. The stop is light and the muzzle also narrows towards the nose, which is black.
  • Skull: in slight decline, its width gradually decreases until it reaches the eye area. At the top it is almost flat.
  • Muzzle: the same length as the skull, gradually tapering from the eyes to the nose. In the area where the bridge of the nose and the forehead meet, it is slightly hollowed out, but not abruptly, but the area is full and well molded.
  • Nose: it is black.
  • Eye : they are moderately small, very round and dark in color. They are not prominent or set too far apart. They reflect an alert and intelligent expression.
  • Ears: They are small, shaped like a triangle or “V”, are of moderate thickness and are elegantly folded forward. The fold is high up on the skull.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is slight.
  • Jaws: the jaws are strong and muscular, and are endowed with a complete, perfect and regular scissor bite.
  • Neck: it is muscular, of moderate length, without dewlap, clear and widens in the area where it is implanted in the shoulders. When you look at the dog in profile, you can see an elegant curvature.
  • Chest: deep, but without being broad, the front ribs are moderately curved, and the back ribs are deep and slightly more arched.
  • Back: the loin is powerful and slightly arched, with a very short and strong kidney area.
  • Forelimbs : they are straight and have a good bone structure. The shoulders if seen from the front shows a pronounced inclination from the neck area towards the tip of the shoulder blades, which are thin. On the side, they are long and have a well defined cross region. The forearms and arms are strong and straight, they have well perpendicular elbows to the body, which do not impede movement.
  • Hind limbs: they do not form very sharp angles, and they are strong and muscular. The legs They are characterized by being long and powerful. Its knees are well angulated, they are straight, since they do not turn inwards or outwards. The hocks are fairly close to the ground.
  • Feet: compact and round in shape, they are provided with strong, firm and hard foot pads, and are made up of somewhat arched and straight toes, which do not deviate inwards or outwards.
  • Tail : set high and erect, the tail is quite thick and long, giving an appearance of balance. The dog carries it happily, without curling it on the back. Traditionally it was amputated.
  • Skin: smooth and close to the body.
  • Hair: in Wire-haired Fox terriers, this is dense, rough, semi-long (it measures about 2 cm at the shoulders and approximately 4 cm in the region of the withers) and curly, especially in the area of ​​the jaws and limbs. In the smooth-haired Fox terrier , on the other hand, the coat is flat, short, hard and abundant.
  • Color: in wire-haired individuals, white color predominates with black, black and fawn or only fawn spots. In those with straight hair, white is abundant, alone or with spots of tan, black and tan or only black.
  • Movement: the forelimbs and hindquarters advance straight and parallel forwards. The elbows do not interfere with the dog’s progress, since they move perpendicular to the body, and the knees do not deviate inwards or outwards either. The rear legs provide powerful propulsion.

Character of the Fox Terrier

The Fox terrier is a breed of dog with a courageous, affectionate and enthusiastic temperament, it is especially playful with children, who find in it a perfect accomplice for their games and adventures.

It is a very sociable animal that integrates fully into the family, to which it shows its unconditional love and devotion.

As the hunting instincts of this breed remain very high even today, when it is less and less frequent to see it hunting, the relationships that this dog establishes with animals of other species are complicated and problematic. Especially if it is about cats, birds and all kinds of rodents, which you want to hunt.

  • Energy: high level. It is active, it needs to exercise almost daily and, above all, always be involved in some activity that entertains them mentally.
  • Temperament: it has an always alert demeanor, it is an active, cheerful dog, with a lively expression and quick movements. It is friendly, outgoing and fearless.
  • Adaptability: can live in the city, but prefers life in the country and outdoors.
  • Sociability: high. It loves family life and gets along well with all its members, but does not tolerate other dogs well and can hunt other animal species.
  • Health: good. It does not usually suffer from any serious illness.
  • Longevity: high / very high. Live 12-15 years, or even longer.
  • Utility: versatile. Born hunter, it also stands out in guard, company, agility or flyball
  • Use: hunting, guarding and company.

With a naturally curious behaviour, this dog loves to explore its immediate surroundings. That is why it is important not to leave it loose in open or unsafe areas, unless there is absolute security in its obedience.

If you do not proceed in this way, it is more than likely that the animal will escape to inspect the area and that it will be distracted by looking for traces, which can lead to serious problems or even to get lost.

In any case, the two varieties of fox terrier, the wire-haired and the smooth-haired, in addition to their fur, also differ in character and in some particularities of behavior. Let’s see them:

Wirehaired Fox Terrier Character

The wire-haired fox terrier needs a lot of free space in which to run and move. You want to have a fenced and secure lot where you can experience a kind of freedom, although it can also be adapted to living in an apartment in the city center.

And on the other hand, as a good terrier that it is, it is selected for hunting, as it shows at the slightest occasion. For it, both cats and mice, birds or squirrels are pieces that can be hunted and eliminated.

It is also very quarrelsome, so it should not be left alone with other dogs of a similar character or of the same sex, as it is easy for hierarchical struggles to break out that will surely end badly.

On the other hand, its relationship with children is good, despite the fact that it must always be supervised by an adult. It is not highly recommended to leave it alone with smaller creatures, who are little aware of their size and strength and, even if involuntarily, can quickly end the dog’s patience.

For all these reasons, it is important that the owner of a Fox terrier is very committed and that it knows well the character of its pet to be able to face its education as a challenge, because if it is properly trained it becomes an ideal companion.

Smooth-haired Fox Terrier character

The straight-haired variety, on the other hand, has a slightly more tempered character. It is a dog that loves life and enjoys it, that always experiences great curiosity about everything that happens around them and that is extraordinarily friendly, since it likes to be part of everything that happens in its family.

Although its instincts for dominance are somewhat less pronounced than in the wire-haired fox terrier, it is not the most recommended friend to live with another terrier.

On the other hand, its relationship with children and the elderly is excellent, since its main objective in this life is to be part of the family and it shows a great propensity to participate in any outdoor activity with them.

Be that as it may, in its two varieties, this is a robust, long-lived and healthy working breed that can easily exceed 15 years of age and does not present serious problems that can be considered as diseases of the breed.

Fox Terrier puppies

If you are thinking of buying a fox terrier puppy, or better yet, if you want to adopt a fox terrier, you should know that from a very young age it is somewhat quarrelsome.

For this reason, when leaving it in the company of other conspecifics, it must always be under the supervision of its master. And, not even the slightest departure from tone is allowed. Well socialized, it is a splendid and friendly animal.

You should also be aware if you have other pets at home, due to its great hunting instinct, the fox terrier can pose a threat to other animal species such as cats, squirrels or even swans in the park.

The ferocity and bravery of the fox terrier lead them to participate even in hunts of animals much larger and more dangerous than them, such as, for example, the wild boar.

In the same way, you must be aware that it is a very active and energetic dog, eager to be always on the move.

Any activity or game is valid to keep you entertained and fit. So if you are a person who does not like activity, it is not the best breed of dog to have as a pet for you.

Fox Terrier education and training

One of the essential tasks that must be carried out with a Fox Terrier from the first moment he steps into its new home is intense socialization.

In fact, the ideal is that this process begins already at the breeder’s home. Exposing puppies a few weeks old to different situations and to the presence of noises and people unknown to them.

Once installed in its new home and provided that its good health and protection against any type of infection is guaranteed, the puppy must become part of all the family activities: accompany her in the car, visit other houses, walking through the streets among the bustle of people, getting used to the noise of cars … and starting to establish social relationships with other dogs.

The success of a good education is based on, if taught from a young age, it can get along quite well with other dogs.

Although you have to be cautious when leaving it alone with its fellows, because it is still a bully and a bit quarrelsome dog. If a hierarchical dispute arises, the situation can end in a very unpleasant fight.

As a dominant and very active dog, it needs a lot of exercise, so the best way to keep them physically and mentally balanced is by giving them an occupation.

Engaging it in an organized activity where it can expend its physical energies and focus its mental efforts. In order to prevent the animal from falling into a state of boredom that would inevitably lead to a situation of frustration and stress.

Every dog ​​owner, regardless of breed, must assume that they always have to work to become the leader of the pack in the eyes of their pet.

In this way, a fundamental step is taken to establish a correct relationship with them and to be able to integrate them into family life in an appropriate way. Well, this basic rule must be followed even more imperatively with a fox terrier.

With this type of dog, you have to be a leader 24 hours a day and, in addition, you have to be a firm and consistent leader, without ever giving up a single millimeter. This animal is always alert and takes advantage of any loophole to try to gain positions in the hierarchical pyramid.

It is almost never an aberrant attitude, do not be afraid that the dog will challenge its master and try to get away with it, but it is something natural.

Not all animals are equally submissive and the Fox Terrier, due to its strong and dominant character, instinctively tries to impose its temperament and its worth in order to decide what to do at home.

Deep down, no dog reveals themselves against a strong leader, whom it always professes admiration and dedication. Rather, it does it when it warns or senses that the pack is not being well led and considers that he can do better.

Despite its origin and its functions, which bring it closer to a strong, fearless and combative working dog than a mere companion animal, this breed has earned many points as a pet. Even urban life, and coexists with all kinds of people.

For this reason, it is also one of the breeds in which the well-known small dog syndrome occurs most frequently, which is characterized by the development by the animal of an asocial behaviour.

With varied attitudes that range from the simple expression of dominance to the tendency to bark uncontrollably, to becoming shy, possessive, destructive, sullen, biting, aggressive or suffering from separation anxiety if left alone for many hours at home.

Therefore, the best way to avoid all this type of behaviour is to carry out intense and continuous training and education work. Chaired by a coherent program.

This dog, contrary to what general opinion may think, is not suitable for any owner. This should have sufficient knowledge about the mechanisms of behaviour and the keys to communication between the person and the dog to be able to work solidly and fruitfully with them.

Even in the case of experienced owners, it is highly recommended not to face the fox terrier education alone and to seek the help of a professional. Or join a work group. The latter option, which also serves to socialize the dog and deepen its physical and mental development.

A dog that knows well where the limits are and what rules to follow can become a fun and fantastic dog to share life with. In addition, given its intelligence, it quickly learns any trick that is taught and all the commands that are given.

It can be used for a wide variety of activities, from purely recreational activities to more competitive or organized ones, such as agility, flyboll or hunting.

Food of the Fox Terrier breed

In general, to keep a Fox Terrier in perfect health it is important to give it a balanced diet, rich in nutrients.

Above all, good quality proteins and fats. Therefore, it is highly recommended to make the effort and invest in buying quality dog ​​food.

A good diet is the best way to prevent health problems in a dog. Today you can find a huge variety of excellent quality food, both in stores and online. There are even brands that produce different feed or kibbles for each breed.

You also have the possibility to buy all kinds of vitamin and mineral supplements. But yes, your veterinarian is the best professional who can advise you on this matter.

Fox Terrier breed health

Allow the Fox Terrier to practice adequate exercise, without straining its muscles and joints, especially in the growth stage.

Maintaining constant hygiene routines with it, and completing routine visits to the vet, are the best preventive health measure.

Precisely, it should be in charge of drawing up a long-term health plan that includes a vaccination program, a deworming plan, and a periodic control of the condition of the dog’s mouth, eyes and ears, as well as following the evolution of your weight and the condition of your skin and hair.

It is true that there are some cases of specimens with skin problems, especially in the hard-haired variant, and eye problems (such as glaucoma).

The incidence of these pathologies is not greater than that which occurs in other breeds, they are not considered very indicative. Sporadic cases of deafness can also occur, especially in specimens with smooth hair. Perhaps associated with the predominant white color of his hair.

With these simple cares and a bit of aesthetic repair, especially in the wire-haired variety, it is possible to have a healthy, vigorous, elegant, fun and very active animal.

It will delight all members of the family, as this pet’s greatest desire is to always feel an integral part of its family nucleus. The one it adores above all things.

Fox Terrier care

The smooth-haired Fox terrier requires a very basic and simple aesthetic maintenance. Routine brushing with a terrier mitt is enough.

The wire-haired one requires a slightly more complex traditional grooming, which should be started when the dog is a puppy and maintained throughout its life.

Wire-haired Fox terriers require regular grooming work to adopt the characteristic and typical figure with which they are known throughout the world: long eyebrows, mustache, beard and tubular legs.

Brushing the Fox terrier

The essential and basic part in the maintenance of the hair of this breed is brushing, a practice that must be carried out quite frequently and on a regular basis, since thanks to it all dead hair is eliminated and the proliferation of knots is avoided. tangles, so common in this type of coat, especially with the specimens that usually go out into the field.

A good brushing should always be done with a metal card and a comb for areas with longer hair.

First moistening the mantle with a little water spray. It is finished by rubbing the whole body well with a chamois, a towel or a special mitten for terriers.


For the bath, a special shampoo for terriers should be used, so that the natural texture of their hair is not altered.

Sometimes it is also recommended to use a special product for areas of white hair, which are more in contact with moisture or dirt. It is possible that due to oxidation, very unsightly yellowish spots appear.

Rinsing must be done thoroughly so that no soap remains, which could cause dryness, flaking and even annoying eczema. Once it is well rinsed and after having cut the nails, the dog is dried. First with the help of your hands, paper or towels, and then with an air dryer.

Hair arrangement

First, with the clipper, the areas that have to be shorter are worked. Face, cheeks, forehead, to the height of the eyebrows, front of the neck, chest and shoulders, and the tail area.

To give them a more uniform finish, a suitable trimming blade can be used.

Next, the lateral part of the shoulders and the inner thighs are worked. An area of ​​transition from areas of shorter hair to others that have longer.

Here you can continue with the machine but using a blade that leaves a bit more length, or work by hand, changing the trimming blade.

Finally, proceeding in the same way as in the previous step, the rest of the body is attacked. Except for the legs, the eyebrows, the beard and the ventral fringes, which are left even longer.

To achieve a more homogeneous result, the dead undercoat must be pulled out and the excess must be removed with the fingers. Using rubber thimbles if necessary. It is also convenient to pass the terrier mitten, which helps to remove all the dead undercoat more quickly.

Now the scissors are used, with which the parts of the body where the hair will be longer are worked. Legs, belly fringes, and eyebrow and beard hair.

First, the hair on the legs is well stretched with the comb. Then, with the scissors, it is given a tubular shape that conveys a feeling of homogeneity and solidity.

Sculpting scissors can be used first, as they tolerate mistakes better, and finish off the job with smooth ones. And this same procedure is followed with the fringes of the body, trying to trim them following the natural silhouette of the dog.

To finish, the eyebrows and beard are combed and stretched well with the metal comb. They are then shaped appropriately with scissors. In this way you can make it very beautiful, even almost for exhibition and following the Fox terrier breed standard .

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