When you hear the name Fox Terrier (sometimes called Foxy), you may think either of the Wire Fox Terrier or the Smooth Fox Terrier. The two dogs are very similar with the only difference being their coats, although they were each bred independently of each other. The Smooth Fox Terrier has a coat that is flat and smooth but yet hard and dense. The Wire Fox Terrier, on the other hand, has a coat that has a broken appearance and has a dense wiry texture. The color of the coats is similar with both dogs. They each have a base coat that can be either black and tan or tan with some occasional white spotting.
Another actual similarity is that they were both bred for fox-hunting. The Fox Terriers were bred and trained to not only chase a fox to a hole, but to actually go in the hole after the fox. Because the fox would often turn on the dog, it was important that the Fox Terrier be brave enough to stand up to the fox, which they were. They both still have the same courage today, never backing down from another animal, regardless of the size.
Through the years, the Fox Terrier was a generic term for a group of fox-hunting dogs. The Wire Fox Terrier and Smooth Fox Terrier continued to be shown under the same breed standard for many years. Research from many experts states that the two dogs should not have been lumped together as one breed. Although many dog lovers call these two dogs "cousins", their belief is that these two dog have no relation whatsoever.
They claim the Wire Fox Terrier is a descendant from the Rough Black and Tan Terrier from Wales and the Smooth Fox Terrier is from a combination of the Smooth Black and Tan, the Beagle and the Bull Terrier. Eventually, the Smooth Fox Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier were broken down into different breeds. It wasn't until the 20th century, in 1985, that they were actually broken into their own breed. Now they are each registered individually. Many don't realize this, but the Smooth Fox Terrier was shown as a breed in the United States for over 15 years before the Wire was shown.
They are very similar in size, both being from 15 to 25 pounds and measuring 15 to 18 inches. They both have the same energetic and active personality as well as independent streak. They say that if you give the Terriers a chance to make a decision, they will quickly make one, only it may not be the decision you want them to make.
In addition to their coats being different in texture, they also each need different care. The Smooth Fox Terrier doesn't need the work that the Wire Fox Terrier needs, such as the process of stripping.