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Fox Terriers: Soft vs. Wire | Playful Pets with Strong Prey Drive

Thinking about a Fox Terrier? Learn about their playful personality, exercise needs & if they’re right for your family.

Thinking about a Fox Terrier? Learn about their playful personality, exercise needs & if they're right for your family.

Fox Terriers, known for their spirited and lively personalities, come in two main coat types: Smooth and Wire. Both variations share a common history and similar traits, yet they also possess distinct characteristics that make each unique.

Historical Background

Fox Terriers were originally bred in England during the 19th century, primarily for fox hunting. Their agility, speed, and tenacity made them ideal for pursuing and flushing out foxes from their dens, allowing the hounds and hunters to continue the chase. The breed was developed by crossing various terriers, including the Old English Terrier, Bull Terrier, and Beagle. Over time, the Fox Terrier became a beloved companion, admired for its hunting prowess, charm, and vivacity.

Smooth Fox Terrier

The Smooth Fox Terrier is characterized by its sleek, dense, and smooth coat, predominantly white with black or tan markings. This variety is known for its clean and elegant appearance, with a short, flat coat that is easy to groom. Despite its refined looks, the Smooth Fox Terrier is a robust and energetic dog.

Wire Fox Terrier

The Wire Fox Terrier, on the other hand, has a wiry double coat that needs professional stripping or clipping every few months.

The Wire Fox Terrier, on the other hand, has a distinctive, dense, and wiry coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its texture and prevent matting. This variety often sports a beard and bushy eyebrows, giving it a charming and somewhat mischievous expression. The Wire Fox Terrier’s coat protects against harsh weather and rough terrain, making it well-suited for hunting.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Loyal and loving: Fox Terriers form strong bonds with their families and are known for their devotion.
  • Playful and energetic: These dogs are always up for a good time, making them excellent companions for active families with children (over 6 who can handle their rambunctious energy).
  • Intelligent and trainable: Fox Terriers can learn various tricks and commands with patience and positive reinforcement.
  • Relatively small size: Perfect for apartments or smaller homes with access to outdoor space.
  • Alert watchdogs: Their terrier instincts make them naturally watchful and will alert you to any suspicious activity.

Cons:

  • A strong prey drive can lead to chasing squirrels, cats, or other small animals. Careful supervision and leash training are essential.
  • Digging: A deeply ingrained terrier behaviour, it requires providing designated digging areas and toy redirection.
  • Stubborn streak: Their independent nature can make training challenging. Patience and consistency are key.
  • High energy needs: Daily walks and playtime are a must to keep them from becoming destructive or bored.
  • Grooming needs: While the Smooth Fox Terrier requires minimal grooming, the Wire Fox Terrier needs professional stripping or clipping every few months.

Suitable for Families?

Fox Terriers can be wonderful family dogs, especially for active families with older children (over 6 years old) who can handle their playful energy. However, their strong prey drive might not suit homes with small pets like cats or rabbits. Early socialization with children and other pets is crucial for a harmonious household.

Playful Personalities

Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers are known for their playful, alert, and curious natures. They are highly intelligent dogs that thrive on mental stimulation and physical activity. Their playful disposition makes them excellent companions for families, as they enjoy interactive play and can be quite entertaining with their antics. Fox Terriers are also known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners, often forming strong bonds with their human families.

Exercise Needs

Fox Terriers are energetic and active dogs that require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Daily walks, vigorous play sessions, and opportunities to run off-leash in a secure area are essential to meet their exercise needs. Their high energy levels and enthusiasm for play make them excellent candidates for dog sports such as agility, obedience, and flyball.

Challenges: Prey Drive and Digging

It needs constant movement to discharge the energy accumulated during the day.

While Fox Terriers are delightful companions, they come with a few challenges. One of the most notable is their strong prey drive. Bred as hunting dogs, they are instinctive to chase small animals, including squirrels, rabbits, and even household pets like cats. This prey drive means they should always be supervised when off-leash and in environments where they might encounter small animals.

Another common challenge with Fox Terriers is their tendency to dig. This behaviour is rooted in their hunting background, where they dig to flush out prey from burrows. Providing them with designated digging areas or engaging them in activities that satisfy their instinctual needs can help mitigate this behaviour.

Famous Fox Terriers:

These charming dogs have a rich history filled with famous companions. President Theodore Roosevelt’s beloved terrier, Skip, was a Smooth Fox Terrier, exemplifying the breed’s loyalty and energetic spirit. More recently, Mr. Peabody from the movie “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” was a Wire Fox Terrier, showcasing the breed’s intelligence and mischievous streak.

So, is a Fox Terrier the right fit for you?

These charming dogs are perfect companions for active owners who can provide the training, exercise, and mental stimulation they crave. However, their independent streak and digging tendencies might not mesh well with a laid-back lifestyle.

The Fox Terrier might be your perfect match if you’re looking for a playful, intelligent dog with mischievous charm. Remember, with great fun comes great responsibility – be prepared to provide the training, exercise, and love these spirited dogs deserve.

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether Smooth or Wire-coated, Fox Terriers are spirited, intelligent, and affectionate dogs that bring boundless energy and joy to the right homes. Their playful nature and compact size make them wonderful family pets, particularly for active households that can provide the exercise and mental stimulation they crave. However, their strong prey drive, digging tendencies, and stubborn streak mean they’re not the easiest breed to manage. They require owners who understand their needs and are committed to consistent training and socialization.

A Fox Terrier will reward those willing to put in the effort with unwavering loyalty, hilarious antics, and a dynamic presence that keeps life exciting. But a Fox Terrier might prove too much of a whirlwind for those seeking a laid-back, low-maintenance companion. As with any breed, prospective owners should consider their lifestyle and expectations carefully to ensure a harmonious match. In the right hands, a Fox Terrier isn’t just a pet—it’s a lively, loving companion that embodies the very spirit of the terrier group.

Q&As

What are the main differences between Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers?

Smooth Fox Terriers have a sleek, dense coat that is easy to groom, while Wire Fox Terriers have a dense, wiry coat requiring regular grooming. Both are energetic and playful but have distinct appearances due to their coat types.

How much exercise do Fox Terriers need?

Fox Terriers are energetic and need at least an hour of vigorous exercise daily, including walks, playtime, and opportunities to run off-leash in a secure area.

Are Fox Terriers good with children?

Yes, Fox Terriers are generally good with children. They are playful and enjoy interactive activities, making them great companions for active families.

What are the challenges of owning a Fox Terrier?

Challenges include their strong prey drive, which makes them prone to chasing small animals, and their tendency to dig, a behaviour rooted in their hunting background.

How can I manage a Fox Terrier’s digging behavior?

Providing designated digging areas, engaging them in activities that satisfy their instincts, and ensuring they get enough exercise can help manage their digging behaviour.

What are some grooming tips for Wire Fox Terriers?

Grooming a Wire Fox Terrier involves several steps to maintain their unique coat and overall health. Here are some tips:

1. Brushing: Start by brushing your Wire Fox Terrier’s coat daily with a pin brush. This will help remove loose hair and keep the coat neat.
2. Hand-Stripping: Hand-stripping is a technique for maintaining the coat’s wire texture. A stripping knife is used to strip the body and neck to create the required length.
3. Trimming: Use clippers to trim loose hair around the stomach and groin area. Keep the hair in these areas short for hygiene purposes.
4. Ear Care: Clip or strip the hair on the ears, being extremely careful when doing the edges. Regular ear cleaning is also important to prevent infections.
5. Tail Grooming: Strip the top part of the tail and use scissors to cut the hair underneath. The hair around the anus should be cut short for cleanliness.
6. Bathing: To keep your Wire Fox Terrier’s coat clean, bathe it with dog shampoo or mild soap.
7. Drying and Brushing: Towel dry the dog’s coat and brush it after bathing. Allow the hair to air dry. You can also use a hair dryer.
8. Final Touches: Take another look at the dog’s coat and trim any stray hair as necessary. Comb the hair with a fine comb. Cut the hair between the foot pads and the dog’s toes.
9. Leg Hair Shaping: Shape the hair on the dog’s legs to get a tubular shape. You can do this by shaping the hair with your fingers and then trimming.

Fox Terrier Takeaways

  • Playful, energetic, and intelligent companions
  • Strong prey drive and digging tendencies require training and redirection
  • It is ideal for active families with older children or those seeking a lively canine friend.
  • Smooth Fox Terriers have low-maintenance coats, while Wire Fox Terriers need professional grooming
  • Consistent training with positive reinforcement is key to a well-behaved Fox Terrier.

Comparison Table: Fox Terrier vs. Jack Russell Terrier vs. Border Terrier vs. Beagle

TraitFox TerrierJack Russell TerrierBorder TerrierBeagle
Coat TypeSmooth or WireSmooth, rough, or brokenDense, wiryShort, dense
Size15-18 inches, 15-19 pounds10-15 inches, 13-17 pounds10-11 inches, 11.5-15.5 pounds13-15 inches, 20-30 pounds
Energy LevelHighVery HighHighHigh
Exercise NeedsAt least 1 hour dailyAt least 1 hour dailyAt least 1 hour dailyAt least 1 hour daily
GroomingSmooth: low; Wire: moderateLow to moderateModerateLow
Prey DriveHighVery HighHighHigh
Good with ChildrenYes, with supervisionYes, with supervisionYes, typically goodYes, very good
Tendency to DigHighVery HighModerateModerate
TrainabilityIntelligent, can be stubbornIntelligent, can be stubbornIntelligent, eager to pleaseIntelligent, can be stubborn
Common Health IssuesHip dysplasia, eye issuesPatellar luxation, eye issuesHip dysplasia, heart issuesHip dysplasia, epilepsy
Lifespan12-15 years13-16 years12-15 years12-15 years

This table provides a quick overview of how Fox Terriers compare to other similar breeds, helping potential owners understand their unique traits and requirements.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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