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There is a saying that Noah must have had a brace of Fox Terriers on the Ark to keep the rat numbers in check. Like so many breeds, the origins of the Fox Terrier are obscure although in 54B.C. Julius Caesars soldiers reported seeing small dogs which followed their quarry under the ground. The word "terrier" is derived from the Latin "terra", meaning "earth".

England has always been a country of sporting men and although the image of the fox hunt is one of men wearing hunting "pinks", mounted on magnificent horses, following a pack of fox hounds in pursuit of a wily fox, it is not generally known that in days past the hunt also used small terriers, of many varieties, to flush foxes when they took refuge underground to escape the hunt.

These small terriers were known as Hunt Terriers, and from these dogs, the Fox Terrier, as it is known today, was developed.

It was only the wealthy who could afford to ride to the hounds but there were many others who also kept these small Terriers as workers. Terriers were cheap to acquire and to keep and they were the dog customarily kept by gamekeepers, but they also became the companion of the poorer classes. They excelled as rat killers and were kept by grain millers to keep down the rat population and last century those who kept these game little dogs would pit their dog against that of the others in the village in rat killing competitions. The dog who could kill the most number of rats in a few seconds was the winner and was highly prized.

The first record of Fox Terriers being exhibited at a show is in 1860 and by 1879 it is recorded that fox terriers comprised about one fifth of the total entries at dog shows and when they were being judged attracted one half of all spectators present. Fox Terriers became one of the most popular breeds, even attracting the attention of Queen Victoria who, in 1885 added "Jack" to her already diverse kennel. "Jack" was inclined to nip the footmen so was banished and resold at "Tattersalls" horse market.

Fox Terriers come in too coat types and are recognised as two separate varieties of Fox Terrier - the Smooth and the Wire.


The Smooth has a close fitting easy-care coat while the Wire has a hard textured, thicker and longer coat which requires regular grooming and stripping or clipping to keep the dog tidy. Except for the coat the varieties are almost identical.

Both varieties are game, active. alert, quick of movement and are always on the tip-toe of expectation. Although two dogs are double the fun and a pair of Fox Terriers are attractive it is advisable not to keep two dogs of the same sex as these little dogs require little provocation to have an argument!

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 15/05/07 21:16 Views: 8354

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