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Wire Fox Terrier History

The Fox Terrier is an old English breed. For almost 100 years it was registered and shown in the United States as one breed with two varieties, Smooth and Wire. However, in 1984 the American Kennel Club approved separate standards for the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier; this ruling became effective on June 1, 1985.

Authorities believe the two Fox Terriers probably originated from very different sources. The ancestor of the Wire is thought to be the old rough-coated, black-and-tan working terrier of Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham. The important ancestors of the Smooth are believed to include the smooth-coated black-and-tan terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Greyhound, and the Beagle.

One of the first records of the breed was made in 1790, when Colonel Thornton's "Pitch" - a smooth-coated white Fox Terrier - was immortalized in print and paintings.

Smooth Fox Terriers preceded the Wires in the show ring by 15 to 20 years. At first they were classified with sporting dogs, a tribute to their keen nose, remarkable eyesight, and stamina in driving foxes from their hole.

Early breeders liberally crossed Wire Fox Terriers with Smooths to give the former predominantly white pigmentation, a cleaner-cut head, and a more classical outline. However, interbreeding has been almost universally discontinued for many years.

The original breed standard was so well drawn in 1876 by the Fox Terrier Club in Great Britain that, with the exception of reducing the weight of a male dog in show condition from 20 pounds to 18 pounds, changes were unnecessary for many decades. The American Fox Terrier Club, the parent club of the breed in this country, adopted this standard when the club was founded in 1885.
(AKC, 2008)