History of the Wire Fox Terrier
(with thanks to Casey Celtic Charm
http://caseyscelticcharm.com/the-breed-p2.html
and The Kennel Club Gallery
http://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/gallery/exhibition.shtml


King Edward & Caesar

As the Fox Terrier has developed there have been many famous dogs and kennels. The Royal family have been known to keep Fox Terriers and perhaps the most famous of these was Caesar, the Wire Fox Terrier belonging to King Edward VII. Caesar, who was bred by the Duchess of Newcastle, was a constant companion to The King. On the death of King Edward, Caesar famously followed his funeral procession.


"Where's Master?" from the book "written by Caesar"
as he is lamenting King Edward's absence.

History of the WFT breed

Long ago, way back in English history early writers referred to a type of little dog called the " terrier", a French word stemming from the Latin Terrarus, meaning "of the earth". Available evidence indicates that these fearless, adventurous and bold dogs had almost all the same characteristics possessed by the various terriers of today, but there is no way of knowing what they looked like.

They were called terriers because when they went the rounds with the hunters and spotted a badger, rat or fox, they would follow the quarry down into the burrows, then chase it to the surface again for the hunter to bag. These wonderful little dogs followed their wandering masters all over the British Isles, sharing food, excitement and the life of the professional hunter.

In the early 1600's these terriers, which were slowly developing into the different ancestral types of our present breeds, also accompanied packs of hunting hounds owned by the gentry of the period. James 1, for instance, wrote in 1617 to Laird of Caldwell requesting that he be sent " two couples of excellent terriers or earth-dogs, which should both be stout fox-killers and stay long to the ground."

A hundred years later a sort of loose knit breed commonly called kennel terriers, somewhat similar to King James's earth-dogs, began to emerge. The offspring of this breed, in turn, crystallized into the distinct breed types with special names. A dog generally considered to be the old, rough-coated, working black and tan terrier of Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham was crossed with a variety of other terriers to produce the ancestor of the wire-haired fox terrier. The smooth fox terrier (antedating the wire-haired variety and used extensively for improving the wire-haired dog in the early days) owes its styling mainly to four dogs: the smooth-coated black and tan terrier, the bull terrier, the beagle and the greyhound. One explanation offered for the beagle blood is that this breed's predominantly white coloring, when added to the small tan or red terriers, made it easier for the hounds to tell dog and fox apart, a differentiation difficult for them to make in the excitement of the chase.


"OLD TIP" 1866
Ancestry Unknown.
The first Wire-haired fox terrier in history.
Photo from The Complete Fox Terrier
by Irving C. Ackerman (1938)

......and from The Dog Owners Guide

The Fox Terrier

Happy Go Lucky Dogs With A Talent For Mischief

Introduction

"The terrier should be alert, quick of movement, keen of expression, on the tip-toe of expectation at the slightest provocation." So begins the official standard for the Wire Fox Terrier, and the description is apt for this bright, energetic, bossy little dog.


Photo from The Complete Fox Terrier
by Irving C. Ackerman (1938)

Like most terriers, the Wire Fox Terrier and his cousin the Smooth Fox Terrier developed in the British Isles. His name describes his job; he was carried in saddlebags on the hunt and released when the hounds chased the fox to ground, and he courageously followed the fox into den or through underground rocky passages.


Cropped from a hunt print, "His Same Old Game"
Notice the terriers in the hole as the hounds gather around.

Terriers have an ancient history. Found in Britain by invading Romans, they are mentioned in the "Natural History" of Pliny the Elder in 55 BC, and their jobs have been well-defined for centuries. As a group, terriers are scrappy, independent, fearless, and blessed with a joy for life. Add a sense of humor, a talent for mischief, and an insatiable curiosity to complete the character of both fox terriers.

This is from the Pedigree "We're For Dogs" site.

The gentry and working class alike owned Fox Terriers. During the hunt, when the fox went to ground, Fox Terriers (which were carried in saddlebags on the horses) were brought up and sent in after the fox. Their job was to chase the fox out of its lair so the hunt could recommence. They were not required to kill the fox because if they did the hunt would be unable to continue. The working class also bred these dogs to keep vermin down a job they excelled at and which also provided much sport.


 

 

This site is from the United Kingdom and has some different information I haven't found elsewhere. One of the most interesting pictures on it shows a Wire being carried in the saddlebag behind the rider! The paragraph on the influence of Rev. Jack Russell's breeding program was new to me as well.
You can see it all here:
http://www.wirefoxterrieronline.info/origins_of_the_breed.htm

These links have additional information including pictures and anecdotes about the original, influential Wire stud dogs: http://www.wirefoxterrieronline.info/Breed%20index.htm

Don't forget to visit her Literature page which has books and videos on "everything Wire!" http://www.wirefoxterrieronline.info/FT%20literature%20list.htm

Additional information can be found at About.Com, some of which is reprinted below.

"The terrier should be alert, quick of movement, keen of expression, on the tip-toe of expectation at the slightest provocation." So begins the official standard for the Wire Fox Terrier, and the description is apt for this bright, energetic, bossy little dog.

Like most terriers, the Wire Fox Terrier and his cousin the Smooth Fox Terrier developed in the British Isles. His name describes his job; he was carried in saddlebags on the hunt and released when the hounds chased the fox to ground, and he courageously followed the fox into den or through underground rocky passages.

Terriers have an ancient history. Found in Britain by invading Romans, they are mentioned in the "Natural History" of Pliny the Elder in 55 BC, and their jobs have been well-defined for centuries. As a group, terriers are scrappy, independent, fearless, and blessed with a joy for life. Add a sense of humor, a talent for mischief, and an insatiable curiosity to complete the character of both fox terriers.

I added some new information since this page was first put up. It was gathered from a Wire site in the United Kingdom.