This article also relates to: Toy Fox Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier
Little is known about the early development of the Smooth or Wire Fox Terrier, although the speculation surrounding its ancestry is well documented. Whilst some classify the two varieties under the same breed, more recent evidence suggests that the two are genetically unrelated, having distinctly different forebears. Thought to have developed in the 18th century, the Fox Terrier is depicted in a portrait by Colonel Thornton in 1790, pin-pointing its very first reference. Thought to be the result of crossing between the Dachshund, English Hound and later the Beagle and Fox Hound, the Fox Terrier quickly established a concrete reputation for itself as a bold and willing fox hunter, bolting them from their den for the hunter to shoot or the hounds to track. The breed was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
Muscular and athletic, despite its small to medium-sized frame, the Fox Terrier is an adaptable working dog, eager to please it master and family. With strong, straight legs, a high-set tail and a slightly sloping topline, the Fox Terrier is distinctive and functional, with a narrow frame that would have enabled it to maneuver into dens to bolt its quarry. Despite being an illegal practice across Europe, tail 'docking' is commonly observed in the breed. The coat is either smooth or wiry, depending on the breed variety, and is seen in white with black or brown markings. Only a moderate shedder, the Fox Terrier is a suitable choice for the house proud.
Inherently vigilant to change and threat, the Fox Terrier makes an excellent watch dog. Its prey drive and tendency to chase smaller animals is strong, so early training against this is imperative. Otherwise, the Fox Terrier possesses a friendly, fun-loving temperament that renders it well suited to active family life. In order to discourage destructive behaviours around the home, regular exercise, mental enrichment and human companionship is essential. Despite its varied ancestry, the breed boasts the attitude of a typical Terrier, being inquisitive, energetic, responsive and eager to please. On average, a healthy Fox Terrier will weigh 6-9 kg, with a life expectancy of 15 years - an expectancy that is often outlived.
Genetically very healthy, the Fox Terrier is susceptible to few breed-specific complaints. Those it does suffer from include optical abnormalities, hearing loss, seizures, and orthopedic complaints. Congenital heart conditions are also prevalent in the breed.