by Alton Pertuit
Published article by Al Pertuit
"What Wires Were Bred
Midland counties of
, where hunting always has been a popular sport, are the origin location of fox
terriers. Fox hunting replaced deer hunting as a sport there some two to three
hundred years ago. To locate the fox
when he went to ground, suitable terriers were necessary; so, terriers, later
called fox terriers, were bred for color (predominately white, so it could
easily be seen in a fox hole), size (ca. 15-18 lbs., so it could fit into saddle
bag and into a foxhole), a strong tail of adequate length (called “the
handle,” so the dog can be positioned/maneuvered when in pursuit), and
character (not easily discouraged when in pursuit).
The 15-18 lb. weight specified in the original British Standard (height
was not mentioned) equates to ca. 15.5 inches at the withers.
Some huntsmen breeders had a coat (i.e., smooth or wire) preference, so
eventually two coats (breeds) were developed separately employing the same and
different terriers/non-terriers for each coat/breed. In other words, the Wire
and the Smooth do not have exactly the same ancestors; therefore, coat type is
not the only difference between these two breeds.
Cropped from a hunt print,
"His Same Old Game"
Notice the terriers in the hole as the hounds gather around.
When The Fox Terrier Club (
) was founded in 1876, the two breeds became two varieties (Smooth and Wire) of
the same Breed (Fox Terrier). One could interbreed them; however, interbreeding
has not been allowed for years by breed clubs in the
Photo from The Complete Fox
by Irving C. Ackerman (1938)
a hunt, the fox terrier does not “run with the hounds.” Instead, he rides in
a Terrier Man’s saddle bag and is “entered” (i.e., allowed to follow the
fox underground) once the fox has “run to ground” at the conclusion of the
hunt. The fox terrier does not attack the fox. He simply locates the fox and
holds the fox in position via barking, not retreating if scratched/nipped, so
that huntsman can dig down to the fox.
Note the use of the "handle" as the dog is entered.
in some European countries ( ie: France
), fox terriers must demonstrate the ability to pursue the fox underground in
order to acquire their conformation championships.