The wire fox terrier is a breed of dog, one of many terrier breeds. It is a fox terrier, and although it bears a resemblance to the smooth fox terrier, they are believed to have been developed separately.
Wire fox terriers kept for show are hand stripped; if the hair becomes too long, it is taken out by hand in order to preserve the colors and the glossiness of the coat. Many kept as pets are clipped monthly by a groomer. Clipping dulls the colors and makes the coat soft, curly and more difficult to keep clean, but it is preferred by many owners due to being a simpler (and cheaper) procedure than stripping.
The wire fox terrier was developed in England by fox hunting enthusiasts and is believed to be descended from a now-extinct rough-coated, black-and-tan working terrier of Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham. The breed was also thought to have been bred to chase foxes into their underground burrows; the dogs' short, strong, usually docked tails were used as handles by the hunter to pull them back out.
Although it is said Queen Victoria owned one, and her son and heir, King Edward VII, did own a wire fox terrier named Caesar, the breed was not popular as a family pet until the 1930s, when The Thin Man series of feature films was created. Asta, the canine member of the Charles family, was a wire fox terrier, and the popularity of the breed soared. Milou (Snowy) from The Adventures of Tintin comic strip is also a wire fox terrier.
In the late 20th century, the popularity of the breed declined again, most likely due to changing living conditions in the Western world and the difficulty of keeping hunting terriers in cities due to their strong prey instincts.
As of 2014, the wire fox terrier has the distinction of having received more Best in Show titles at Westminster Kennel Club dog shows (currently 14) than any other breed. Matford Vic, a wire fox terrier, is one of only five dogs to have won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on more than one occasion. She won the competition twice, in 1915 and 1916. The only dog to win it on more occasions was Warren Remedy, a smooth fox terrier, who won it on three occasions between 1907 and 1909.
Noteworthy wire fox terriers
- Archie, owned by Gill Raddings Stunt Dogs starred in ITV's Catwalk Dogs.
- Asta, from the film adaptation of The Thin Man (the novel's breed was a Schnauzer)
- Bob, from the Hercule Poirot episode Dumb Witness
- Bunny, from Hudson Hawk
- Bella, who played Snoopy in the movie "Moonrise Kingdom"
- Caesar, the companion of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom
- Charles, brought to Ceylon by Leonard Woolf in 1905
- Chester, in the film Jack Frost
- Dášeňka, the dog of Czechoslovak writer and journalist Karel Čapek - also featured as the hero of his book Dášeňka čili život štěněte
- Dodger Herbie Tobacco (only a mutt in the film) from "Oliver & Company" is actually a Wire Fox Terrier.
- George, from Bringing Up Baby (played by Skippy)
- Ike Larue, from the Ike Larue series, written and illustrated by Mark Teague
- Mickey, the companion of French composer Francis Poulenc.
- Moll, from the book Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man
- Montmorency, from the book Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
- Mr. Atlas, from Topper Takes a Trip (played by Skippy)
- Mr. Smith, from The Awful Truth (played by Skippy)
- Pan, the companion of A.L. Westgard, AAA pathfinder. Pan was the mascot of the dedication tour for the National Park to Park Highway in 1920.
- Polly, a white rough terrier companion to Charles Darwin
- Scruffy, the Muirs' wire fox terrier on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir television series
- Skippy, also known as Asta, starred in many films including The Thin Man (film) and Bringing Up Baby
- Sky, winner of the 2012 Purina Thanksgiving Dog Show and the 2014 Westminster Dog Show.
- Snowy (French: Milou), companion of Tintin
- Van Gogh, Paul Meltsner's dog featured in his famous painting Paul, Marcella and Van Gogh
- Vicki, Rudyard Kipling's dog
- Wessex, the dog of British novelist (Tess of the d'Urbervilles) Thomas Hardy
- Willy, from Ask the Dust
- Wuffles, the Patrician's dog in the Discworld Series
- Rufus from Open Season 2
- Mel from Balto III: Wings of Change