by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 6, 2009)
It is generally conceded that the Wire Fox Terrier is an older variety than the Smooth-Haired, even though the latter was the first to be known to the show ring. . The Wire Fox Terrier was originally known as the Rough Haired Terrier but later became the Wire-Haired Terrier. Fox Terrier was added to the Wire-Haired variety's name at a later date, the smooth-haired variety being called "Fox Terrier" first.
That the Wire Fox Terrier is an older variety is given support in various ways. The broken haired or wire Terrier was a favorite vermin dog, later becoming identified with Foxhound packs where they were used to go to ground for foxes. Turberville, in I611 in his The Noble Arts of Venerie or Hunting alluded to Terriers of two kinds, stating that in his opinion, one sort came out of Flanders or the Low Countries and that "they have crooked legges and short heared" but that there was also another kind "shaggy and straight legged." He then went on to explain that the short-legged kind were better for getting down the holes and the long-legged ones were better for hunting above ground but "also would go down holes."
About 1748 a Dutch painting, executed by Hamilton, son of a Scotsman, was a still life of flowers and fruit with a Wire Fox Terrier in the foreground. The Terrier was quite similar in type to the breed as it was in the early 1900's.
Terriers were extremely popular at a very early date. They gained notoriety for their intelligence, bravery, and devotion. The Wire Fox Terriers were widely produced in North Durham and Yorkshire, England, where, for the most part, they were developed by the huntsmen of the Foxhound packs.
The Jack Russell strain became famous for their pluck and keenness. The white ones, moreover, were very popular. A white Terrier had been somewhat of a rarity. In 1803 it was considered unusual enough to have it mentioned that the mother of a wonderful litter of seven puppies, sold at the Running Horse livery stables in Piccadilly for one and twenty guineas, was a white-pied. The distinct varieties up to about that time had been generally black with tanned legs and muzzles, a spot of the same color over each eye.
The white color became increasingly popular as it could be easily seen and distinguished from the fox or badger. The reddish-colored varieties were often mistaken for the fox by the inexperienced. Terriers of the best blood and most determined ferocity became very fashionable. No Foxhound's establishment was complete without a brace of well-bred Terriers with one of these Terriers larger and stronger than the other. From the moment of throwing into covert these Terriers were indefatigable in their efforts to be up with or near the pack. The hard, dense jacket of the Wire Fox Terrier was considered desirable by many as being more suitable for standing the wear and tear of a day's hard hunting.
In the course of the Rough-Haired Terrier's development and use with Foxhounds, an occasional cross between the breeds very likely occurred. In a sporting publication dated about 1794, it was written that a Terrier had run a mile in two minutes, the second mile in four minutes, the third in six minutes, the fourth in eight minutes, and so on. Afterwards this Terrier ran the same distance, six miles, in thirty-two minutes. The writer intimated that the "Terrier" was half hound.
This variety of the breed should resemble the Smooth sort in every respect except the coat, which should be broken. The harder and more wiry the texture of the coat is, the better. On no account should the dog look or feel woolly; and there should be no silky hair about the poll or elsewhere. The coat should not be too long, so as to give the dog a shaggy appearance, but, at the same time; it should show a marked and distinct difference all over from the Smooth species.
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