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Grooming the Wire FoxTerrier

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Q. How big is the Wire Fox Terrier?

A. The Wire is about 15 1/2 inches at the shoulder and 18 to 22 pounds.

Q. What is the difference between a Wire Fox Terrier and a Wire Haired Terrier?

A. They are the same breed. Some people refer to them as Wire Hairs, however, this is not the official name for the breed in any registry. They actually are Fox Terriers, Wire Hair Variety. There is also a Smooth Fox Terrier.

Q. Is there a toy size Wire?

A. No. There is a Toy Fox Terrier that is not AKC registered and it is smooth coated. It was bred down from the Smooth Fox Terrier and is about 4 to 7 lb.

Q. Do Wires shed?

A. Technically no. They do not drop their coats several times a year like shedding breeds such as German Shepherds, Samoyeds, and smooth coated dogs such as Beagles, and the Smooth Fox Terriers. However when they are shown, we hand strip the coat which means we pull the coat out. This would be painful if the coat was like our hair. Fortunately, the coat isn’t and will loosen up when it is ready for stripping. If the Wire isn’t clipped and in full coat (which will grow about 4 inches) you will find hair around the house but only a fraction of what you would find from a true shedding breed.

Q. How often should they be groomed?

A. I recommend every 4 to 6 weeks. For pets, I prefer clipping over hand stripping. It is less expensive ($30 to $40) and they look great. People that opt for stripping are in for quite a shock! They will not get back a dog looking like the show dogs. To achieve that coat there are many hours of work over several weeks. The main difference between a clipped coat and striped coat are color and texture. The stripped coat is more "wirery" and the colors are more vivid. The clipped coat is softer and since the undercoat is not stripped out, the colors are more muted.

Q. How are they with other pets?

A. Wires raised from puppy hood can adapt well with other animals. My own menagerie consists of an Irish Terrier female, a Wire female, a Wire male, and five Silky Terriers. I have also had over the years cats, hamsters, birds and a ferret as house pets along with the Wires. My foundation stud dog was raised by a cat and for years would dig a hole and bury his fecal matter like a cat. However Wires are not all alike. Some are more aggressive then others. They originally were bred to hunt foxes and rats so should be socialized with all family pets and never allowed to chase or play too roughly with smaller pets. I also recommend that if there is more than one dog in the household that all are neutered or spayed.

Q. How are they with kids?

A. I feel the Wire is one of the best dogs for children. I received my first Wire when I was 6 months old and he lived to be 18. He was an excellent companion. He allowed me to dress him in clothes and push him in a doll carriage. We went hiking, camping and swimming and he would never disappoint me at show and tell at school by doing his many tricks and impressing the entire class. A Wire is a tireless player with children. Sometimes they can come on too strongly with young children and scare them. I never recommend leaving a child under 7 years alone with any breed of dog.

Q. How active are they?

A. They are an energetic breed. If you want a quiet lapdog that sits around and does nothing, then the Wire is not for you. However, the Wire should not be wired. He should settle down and be quiet when you are not playing with him. Most hyper Wires are the fault of their owners. If you allow them to get away with every thing, do not do any training, play aggressive games such as wrestling, tug of war and chasing him, and leave him outside 24 hours a day you could have a dog that is difficult to live with.

Q. Are Wires smart?

A. Yes, sometimes too smart. The Wire is the clown of the terriers. He loves to learn but will not take abusive or repetitive training. Unlike top obedience dogs such as Boarder Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, he is not subservient. He will do the work but after repeating the task several times he will look at the trainer and appear to say now it is your turn. Many Wires have become hearing dogs, therapy dogs, worked in show biz, and obtained high obedience degrees. You can see Wires in the Thin Man and Hudson Hawke. Dogs purchased at Delayre Kennels have worked in Titanic and Jack Frost.

Q. What are their health problems?

A. The Wire is prone to flea allergies. The best way to eliminate this problem is flea control. Now that we have products such as Advantage and Bio-Spot this has really cut down on the problem. Occasionally they may become allergic to their diet and I suggest a lamb and rice or duck and potato diet. Genetically they have very few problems. However your breeder should guarantee any major problem that shows up during the first year that involves leg, heart or hearing in writing. If they won’t do this do not buy the puppy.