The Fox Terrier is a terrier-type dog originally developed to hunt foxes, vermin, and rabbits. It has its origins in the United Kingdom dating back to the 19th century from a handful of dogs that are descendants of earlier British terriers as well as from other modern terriers of white colours. There are two types of Fox Terriers – the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier. Both types share the same characteristics except the coat and markings. They both share the same facial characteristics but slightly differ in colouration and markings, which can appear black at birth on the head but may lighten as the breed grow older. The most common colour of the Fox Terrier is tan and black. Both types have been very successful in the show ring in the United States, with the Smooth variety winning Best in Show four times and the Wire variety winning fourteen Best in Show titles.
The Smooth Fox Terrier has a predominantly white coat made of straight, hard, smooth, and flat hair. It has an average height of 36-39cms at the shoulders and weighs between 7-8.5kgs. The head is long and wedge-shaped and has dark and moderately small eyes that give a bright and intelligent expression. It has a black nose, small triangular ears that fold forward and has a straight tail that is carried gaily but not over the back. Coat colours are white, white with tan, black and tan or black markings.
Fox Terriers were observed by the Romans in England as early as 54 BC and were used by hunters to go after foxes and other quarry into burrows and dens. The earliest known white terrier was owned by Col. Thomas Thornton in 1790 and was named Pitch. However, not much is known regarding the exact origin of the modern Fox Terrier but it is thought that the English Toy Terrier, Old English Bulldog, Beagle, Pointer, and the Dalmatian all played a role in the creation and stabilisation of the Fox Terrier that we know today. It was originally used by hunters together with foxhounds to chase foxes that burrow to the ground by barking at the game for the huntsman to kill. The Smooth Fox Terrier is one of several breeds identified by the Kennel Club as a vulnerable native breed because there are fewer than 300 yearly registrations.
In general, the Fox Terrier is an alert, cheerful, courageous, energetic, out-going, playful, and responsive breed. It makes for an excellent watchdog because of its protective nature. As a fox hunter with a high prey drive, it has a tendency to chase other small animals but early socialisation can help curtail this behaviour. It also has a penchant for digging, owing to its instinctive nature to dig foxes in burrows so it is best not to leave the Fox Terrier alone in the garden. It is a dog with a lot of stamina and energy and is most happy when playing outdoors with the children. When taken for a walk, the Fox Terrier should be kept on a lead especially on busy streets as it has a tendency to run and chase after cats and other interesting small animals.
The Fox Terrier is an intelligent terrier but it does have a stubborn streak and is not easy to obedience train which is typical of all terrier breeds. Training is quite easy but the handler needs to be firm and consistent to get the most out of the breed. It does very well in dog agility trials and flyball games. It has a tendency to bark a lot and dig holes so early training is necessary to help curtail this attitude. Some Fox Terriers are quite dominant with other dogs, especially of the same sex.
The Smooth Fox Terrier is quite easy to groom because it is a generally clean dog. Grooming two times a week using a grooming mitt or a stiff bristle brush will help remove dead hair which helps keep the coat clean and healthy. The coat also dries quickly and does not need hair drying after bathing. Generally, the Smooth Fox Terrier is a lot easier and less expensive to maintain than the Wire Fox Terrier.
The Fox Terrier is a generally healthy breed with a median lifespan of 13 years and 2 months. Like any other dogs, there are a few health issues that are known to affect the breed. Chief among them are:
Both the Smooth and the Wire variety are prone to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, Wobbler's syndrome, luxating patella, luxating shoulder, and hip dysplasia.
As a true hunting dog with a lot of stamina and energy, the Fox Terrier requires a lot of exercise in order to stay strong and healthy both physically and emotionally. Daily long walks, running alongside a bike on lead, or an hour of play in a secured yard or in a dog park are ideal exercises for this breed. Playing games that stimulate the mind are best suited for the Fox Terrier.
The Fox Terrier has a very protective instinct and will not hesitate in protecting its family members if they are in danger or threatened. It gets along well with children which makes it an ideal family pet. However, early socialisation from an early age is required especially around cats and any other household pets for him to get along with them well. It does not get along well with other dogs especially those that it is not familiar with, but early socialisation and training can help correct this behaviour.