The Fox terrier originated in the 19th century from dogs descended from early varieties of British terriers, and are related to other modern white terrier breeds. There are two types of Fox terrier, the Smooth Fox terrier and the Wired Fox terrier, in addition a number of breeds have evolved from these two types of Fox terrier and have been recognised separately, these include the Jack Russell and the miniature Fox terrier.

Terriers were observed by the Romans in England as early as 54 BC, being used by hunters to chase prey into burrows and dens, an instinctive habit of the modern Fox terrier, in the 18th century it was reported that all terriers were black or tan in colour.

In 1790 a dog called Pitch, owned by Colonel Thomas Thornton, became the first white terrier on record, the dog was the subject of a painting by Sawrey Gilpin. An engraving of this painting, made in the early 1800s, was accompanied by text;which read, It would be necessary to notice Colonel Thorntons terriers, if they were only on account of his justly celebrated Pitch, from whom are descended most of the white terriers in the kingdom. It was later revealed that the dog Pitch was a greyhound, terrier cross, which is how the white colour was introduced into the breed.


The modern fox terrier was created later in the 19th century, it is thought that Beagles, Old English Bulldogs, Pointers and Dalmatians were all used to create and stabilise the breed, from 1870 onward a complete pedigree exists for the fox terrier. Originally the fox terrier was a chunky dog with short legs and had a skull which was broad across the top, used in hunting packs, they were bred for their ability to drive the fox from its den.

Towards the end of the 18th century, as the pace of the hunt got faster, fox terriers were bred with longer legs to increase speed, however the increase in size meant it was too big for its original purpose, and it’s use in foxhunting declined.


In 1890 the fox terrier club of England was founded, with the American fox terrier club following nine years later, becoming the first breed specialty club to become a member of the American Kennel club. The fox terrier is the most successful breed at the Westminister Kennel club dog show, with four Best in show titles going to the Smooth fox terrier and fourteen titles going to the Wired fox terrier.

Both major types of fox terrier are mostly white with coloured markings and similar facial characteristics, they are essentially the same apart from the difference in coat, and slight differences in colour and markings. The markings on the head can appear to be black at birth, but may lighten in adult life, the most common colours being tan and black, they are made up of a type of piebald spotting.

A healthy fox terrier, both smooth and wired will weigh between 6.5 to 8.5 kilos and will measure around 14 to 15.5 inches at the withers, both have an average lifespan of between 13 and 15 years. Common health issues include Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease which is hereditary in the Smooth fox terrier, Megaesophagus which is hereditary in the wired fox terrier, both types of fox terrier are susceptible to cataracts.

Both types of fox terrier are brave and loyal to their owner, they make an ideal house dog if treated properly.

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michael simpson


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