Breed information Smooth and Wire Fox Terrier


Both breeds have strong support from serious breeders, many of whom consistently import fresh blood when felt desirable, to keep the breeds winning in the top echelon at the world’s major shows. Popularity of both coats has drawn back from the period of the 1920s to the mid 1940s , during which period our grand parents made these breeds the most popular in the world. Wirehaired Fox Terriers in particular were registered in the U.K. by the Kennel Club in their tens of thousands, when King George’s faithful Wire accompanied his master everywhere and was even included in the marchers of his late owners funeral cortege. Smooths were kept in huge numbers in Australia and would make up more then 50% of all the entries at shows at Sydney Royal during the depression period of the 1930s. They were hardy, cheap to keep and kept down the vermin free of charge.
Smooth Fox Terriers are a perfect model of balanced conformation, vibrant good health, excellent stable character, ease of grooming, and ideal house dog size who will outplay any child, out jog any teenager on training maneuvers, and be a source of pride and delight out walking or shopping with its master or mistress. The breed is free of almost any hereditary health problems, as serious breeders have excluded such problems from their breeding plans by severe selection.
Should the showing bug bite you, you are one step ahead of most countries, as to supply and availability of top class Smooth Fox Terriers. Foundation stock here is better and cheaper then any other country on earth. Many of the bloodlines here have been jealously guarded over many decades and the end results are superior in a number of kennels in Australia. Breeders from overseas, including the judges who visit here in assignments, attempt to take advantage of the excellent blood which is already here, and has been bred here in the last 50 years, based on the very best which England had to offer between the world wars, and with several imports from the U.K. since, the current results are amongst the best in the world, if judged best to best. Due to lack of numbers we do not have the depth through the classes as we would like which only the Americans now have, largely as the result of importation from Australia plus Ireland and England in the last few decades. Some of these American dogs are now here doing sterling service refreshing certain kennels in Perth and Adelaide.
Many companion dog owners are currently rediscovering the Smooth Fox Terrier, as a medium sized moderate feeding cost, low upkeep "wash and wear" dog who rarely needs to see a vet. Therefore there is plenty of room amongst the exhibitor ranks to blossom into serious "showies" with a great deal of enjoyment to be gained from a breed which is seriously considered by judges in the All Breeds ranks for general specials. Not as a glamour breed, but as a sound typical example of a respected breed, which overseas judges have admitted, are amongst the world’s best.
The glamour of the Wire coat is nothing short of spectacular and many top awards are garnered by this variety around the globe. They are immensely difficult to purchase, in the highest caliber, but when you breed one, or buy a great one, you will see your efforts rewarded. This breed traditionally is often considered in the Best In Show line up, and certainly despite its small numbers makes its presence felt in the group judging. Trimming aside, the breed is known for its longevity and fifteen is not uncommon. They are smart as paint, know how to get their owners to co-operate so they can live the life of Riley, and are widely admired where ever they go.
When asked about the character of the two varieties, I tend to compare the Smooth with a boy scout. Full of fun, energy, out for a giggle, and quite disarming in their boyish charm towards strangers. They tend to take life as it comes and dont see the dark side of life at all. Their athleticism and self confidence and honesty, plus their uncontrolled enthusiasm endear them to almost everyone except rats, mice, running cats and slow possums . They take persistence to train to leave poultry and small game alone, but the rewards are endless. They are quite patient to stay at home in the regular routine of the household going to work or school, and you will get the most excited welcome home. They have the capacity to amuse themselves given a few simple toys, and will let you know when strangers are about especially during the day.
The Wire I see more as a member of a serious military organisation such as the Grenadier Guards, especially at shows where they are preened and polished, and have the deportment as befits a colour sergeant on parade, they do not walk but march to display their tailored jackets plus leggings called "furnishings". Their attitude to other dogs is one of always being prepared to accept any challenge and rebuff any insults by physical intervention if needs be. After all if you have spent many months having your coat and attitude nurtured to fever pitch and you know that you’re human is always there on the other end of the lead to back you up, in that knowledge you can chase all the demons from your patch, even if you are only there for the day. Making a good show of intense military training has after all bluffed many an adversary into giving up the fight before it began. Strategy and show is everything to these guys.
If you like a game dog with a huge heart, a sporting attitude, unbridled enthusiasm and boundless energy, who lowers his colours to no-one, who is totally trustworthy with your kids try one on for size. You will no doubt discover the reason that in your grandfather’s era these were the most popular dog in the entire world.
By Peter Luyten
Past President, Fox Terrier Club of Victoria

By the late Rev. Keith Braithwaite 

With regard to the desired movement in Fox Terriers one could easily make out a strong case that there is either little appreciation of what is appropriate or that it is a matter not worth worrying about. However it is not my purpose on this occasion to postulate reasons why but rather to draw attention to the required movement and to urge that it is a matter deserving every judge’s attention and one of importance when making an assessment of the relevant merits of one Fox Terrier against another Fox Terrier or any other exhibit it is competing against.

Within an earlier Standard of the Wire Fox Terrier this is part of a fuller statement contained in the category General Appearance, I quote ‘THE MOVEMENT OR ACTION IS THE CRUCIAL TEST OF CONFORMATION’. This is a truth for both Smooths & Wires which we as judges, breeders and exhibitors dare not ignore except to the ultimate detriment of these breeds.

Now let us pay attention to THE movement required for these breeds keeping in mind that there are three. basic aspects of movement of a dog when it is a matter of show judging. These are (1) movement away, (2) movement coming towards the assessor and (3) movement in profile. Let us look at each in turn.

Firstly, the movement away. The Standard is abundantly clear that the hind legs are to be carried straight forward and parallel with the stifles neither turning in nor out and the hocks not close. To get an appreciation of what this means we need to have in mind the stance of the Fox Terrier when viewed from behind as this is the starting point of movement away.

We see the required stance when viewed from behind. Now the movement should perpetuate, in general terms, this stance, i.e. staying virtually parallel which does not happen when hind legs tend to come towards each other. Some may say that it is not possible, however I assure you that it is possible, and the Standard is not in error.

It is true that the faster a dog is moved the more the feet tend to move towards a single line because of the laws of gravity. Therefore movement at not too fast a pace is necessary for a satisfactory assessment of the movement away of each Fox Terrier.

Secondly, movement coming towards us. Once again the Standard is clear requiring the fore legs to be ‘carried straight forward and parallel. Elbows move perpendicular to body, working free of sides’. The good illustration that used to be part of the Standard is ‘swinging parallel to the sides, like the pendulum of a clock.’ We will look at the application of the pendulum to movement in profile but it must not be ignored here. A pendulum swings straight through in the perfect perpendicular position, that is why an earlier Wire Standard said ‘when approaching, the forelegs should form a continuation of the straight(ness) of the front, the feet being the same distance apart as the elbows. When stationary it is often difficult to determine whether a dog is slightly out at shoulder but directly he moves - if it exists - becomes apparent.’

This quote makes the important point that in the movement as the dog approaches one is able to see demonstrated any looseness at the shoulder that may be there. The dog should be required to approach directly, at a reasonable (not too fast) speed and with the head reasonably elevated but without being ‘strung up’.

Thirdly, the movement in profile. What the Standards provide by way of a lead is ‘good drive coming from well flexing hindquarters.’ Recalling the image of the pendulum, the good drive is seen when the hind feet thrust well forward and then carry through about the same distance behind an imaginary perpendicular line from the hip joint. In determining the required amount of reach of the front legs so that the movement is coordinated. Any restriction in reach with a ‘tippy toes’ action spoils the picture, whilst insufficient drive, say with too straight a stifle, or too much drive by say, an exaggerated turn of stifle is likely to present strange pictures when the dog moves. The point being made is that a good turn of stifle is related as much to what provides sufficient drive for the dog, to move well as to what is pleasing to the eye when the dog is stationary. What is required is a forequarter and hindquarter ­construction that allow for a coordinated blend of good drive from behind and a positive reach in front. The correct reach is best seen by applying the pendulum principle with the leadingl front leg extending well in front of an imaginary perpendicular line passing through the elbow joint and carrying back about the same distance behind it.

It is wise when observing movement in profile to pay attention to topline and not just leave the assessment of topline to the dog on the `stack’ where a dog’s outline may be organised.



The coat is the greatest difference between our two breeds. This is symbolised by the name given to each.

Let us look firstly at the coat of the SMOOTH. What is required is a protective jacket for the kind of work the breed had to carry out. This work was often in briars and under hedges of thorns. It also needed to offer some protection against the scratching and biting of the foxes, rats and other vermin. This Terrier often worked in all sorts of weather, not only rain,snow and wind but also extremes of heat and cold and had to be able to follow his quarry through bog, ditch and whatever. Therefore a very short and inadequate coat would not do. The Standard clearly defines the coat of the Smooth as `straight, flat, smooth, hard, dense and abundant. Belly and underside of thighs not bare.’ Those judging Smooths should note the latter sentence because there are occasions when dogs are presented in defiance of this requirement. It is worth noting that, as regards coat, there has been no change to the Standard over the years. The Smooth has an undercoat of short, soft hair.

As for the coat of the WIRE I could not put it any better, in a few words, than in the Standard adopted by the K.C.C. in 1950. I quote: ‘the best coats are of a dense, wiry texture - like coconut matting -the hairs growing so closely and strongly together that when parted with fingers the skin cannot be seen. At the base of these stiff hairs is a shorter growth of finer and softer hair - termed the under-coat. The coat on the sides is never quite so hard as that on the back and the quarters. Some of the hardest coats are ‘crinkly’, or slightly waved, but a curly coat is very objectionable. The hair on the upper and lower jaws should be crisp and only sufficiently long to impart an appearance of strength to the foreface.’ The current Standard calls for the coat to have a very dense, very wiry texture, about 3/4 inch length on shoulder to one and a half inches on withers, back, ribs and quarters with undercoat of short, softer hair.

We now turn our attention to colour and with both Smooths and Wires there are some consistencies and some differences.

The first thing applying to both is that white should predominate. Certainly this is preferable so that if one had two dogs of the same quality and with one, white was not predominating, then it would lose out. The main point being that white NOT predominating in not a disqualification but it is not desired.

Secondly in colour there are worse things than white not predominating these being actual colours of red, liver and brindle in both breeds and slate-blue in Wires. All of these are highly undesirable, that is they should be shunned. Red and liver colour are fairly readily identified especially if one notes these colours with breeds where they are desired. Brindle has caused some difficulties My suggestion is to check the ANKC’ s Glossary of Canine Terms which highlights an even distribution of light and dark colours in a pattern of stripes. Certainly, in Smooths that are tan and white there is often seen a mixture of black hairs, sometimes quite extensively, with the tan; but rarely, is there a pattern distinct enough to be defined as stripes and therefore brindle. A good clear tan colour is certainly to be preferred, colour wise, over a ‘smutty’ tan. The slate blue in Wires needs to be noted as it is highly undesirable and sometimes, if rarely, confronts judges. Perhaps it needs to be reinforced that none of these is a disqualification.Thirdly, there is colour. distribution. Although there are personal preferences of fanciers such liberty is not afforded to judges, i.e. all legitimate and desirable colouring and markings should be of equal value in the eyes of judges.With regard to colour and markings some of the following comments may be helpful.In Wires, all specimens have a basically tan head even when the markings on the body are black.In Smooths, all Black and White specimens have some tan usually on the cheeks, the hair moles on the head, often as eyebrows and also around the anus. Some dogs have more extensive tan edgings or markings and these are quite acceptable.Markings, themselves, can be tricky. They often provide an optical illusion. Specimens with a clown face often suffer sometimes because a judge does not bother to consider carefully the difference markings on the head make. Body markings, and even an absence of body markings can create optical illusions about such important things as the height to length ratio. Personal preferences are not part of the game for what is required is the application of effort by the judge to look beyond the markings.