Wire Fox Terrier

  • Overview

    The Wire Fox Terrier was once a popular fox-hunting companion, but recently, he's become a star of stage and screen. Wire Fox Terriers appeared as alert detective dogs Asta in The Thin Man movies and Snowy in The Adventures of TinTin comic strip.

    Wire Fox Terriers make excellent companions for owners who are willing to put up with a little extra sass and some consistent grooming in exchange for a lively, conversational friend who will eagerly participate in their active lives.

    View Grooming Diagram for fox terrier (wire)
  • Personality

    Wire Fox Terriers are characterized by their alert intelligence. These plucky little dogs don't stand taller than 15.5 inches tall, but they're always up for a challenge. They love to think through problems and learn new tricks, but they respond best to training that highlights their natural intelligence and provides plenty of motivation for a job well done. Otherwise, they can be stubborn and willful, so if they don't feel motivated to learn, they will set off in pursuit of their own agenda. Wire Fox Terriers are extremely active and energetic. They will not be content to sit indoors all day. In fact, they will be happiest with a large, fenced-in yard where they can exercise vigorously throughout the day.

    Socialization is critical for these scrappy troublemakers. Not only will they refuse to back down from a confrontation, they'll stir up trouble of their own. Wire Fox Terriers have a tendency to be aggressive with other dogs, so they will need to be put in plenty of social situations to learn polite manners. Even still, they will never make excellent candidates for the dog park or other situations where they will be forced to get along with plenty of other dogs. They will prefer to meet new human friends and socialize with their families, because they tend to greet people exuberantly.

  • Coat Care

    It's probably not a surprise to learn that the Wire Fox Terrier has a wiry coat. It's dense and slightly crinkly or wavy. Ideally, the individual hairs should twist, giving the coat a broken appearance that looks and feels wiry. The stiff over coat, which should be too dense to part with anything other than a slicker brush, covers a soft, fine under coat. Their tails point straight up and quiver when they're alert. The coat should be predominantly white, as a throwback to the Wire Fox Terrier's successful hunting career, when white dogs were easiest to distinguish from foxes in the field. Wire Fox Terriers have black, tan or black and tan markings that are usually large splotches or saddle-shaped marks on the back. The heads are usually solid white, but some dogs have colored ears or a split blaze over their eyes and ears.

Wire Fox Terrier
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Their wiry coat should also be brushed with a slicker brush at least once a week to stay mat-free and remove any debris that the dense, textured coat picks up outdoors. The Wire Fox Terrier's long beard should be combed through with a metal comb, especially after eating or digging, to remove debris and keep it looking tidy.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

The Wire Fox Terrier's distinctly prickly coat texture is maintained through careful hand stripping, or plucking the hair out rather than clipping it with clippers. If you don't plan to show your dog, you can clip it at home. This might change the wiry texture and make the coat feel softer, and it can also cause the colors to dim. Wire Fox Terriers don't shed, so they will need to be either stripped or clipped several times a year.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.