Fox Terrier Versatility


Conformation events (dog shows) are intended to evaluate breeding stock. The dog's conformation (overall appearance and structure), an indication of the dog's ability to produce quality puppies, is judged. This is based on what is called the "Standard".

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Agility is a sport designed to demonstrate a dog's willingness to work with its handler in a variety of situations. It is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training and teamwork. Dog and handlers negotiate an obstacle course racing against the clock.

The AKC offers three types of agility classes. The first, Standard Class, includes contact objects such as the dog walk, the A-frame, and seesaw. Each of the contact obstacles has a "safety zone" painted on the object and the dog must place at least one paw in that area to complete the obstacle. The second is Jumpers with Weaves. It has only jumps, tunnels and weaves poles with no contact objects to slow the pace. The third is FAST, which stands for Fifteen and Send Time. This class is designed to test handler and dog teams' strategy skill, accuracy, speed and distance handling.

All classes offer increasing levels of difficulty to earn Novice, Open, Excellent and Master titles. After completing both an Excellent Standard title and an Excellent Jumpers title, handler and dog teams can compete for the MACH - faster than the speed of sound! (Master Agility Championship title.)


Demonstrating the usefulness of a dog as a companion to humankind, AKC Obedience is a sport with rules, regulations, judges, conditioning, training, placements and prizes. Dog and handler teams are judged on how closely they match the judge's mental picture of a theoretically perfect performance as they execute a series of specified exercises. Accuracy and precision are essential, but the natural movement of the handler and the willingness and enjoyment of the dog are very important.

Each level of obedience competition - novice, open, and utility - requires mastering a specific skill set, which increase in difficulty, before advancing to the next level.

Novice Class demonstrates good canine companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple physical examination, and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs. In the Novice Class, dogs earn an AKC Companion Dog (CD) title after receiving a qualifying score under three different judges.

Open Class is more challenging as more exercises are done off leash and retrieving and jumping challenges are added. In the Open Class, dogs earn an AKC Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title after receiving a qualifying score under three different judges.

Utility Class, includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping and silent signal exercises, is the most challenging class. In the Utility Class, dogs earn an AKC Utility Dog (UD) title after receiving qualifying scores from three different judges. Upon completion of the UD title, dogs may earn the Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) when they receive qualifying scores in both Open B and Utility B at 10 separate trials.

Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) title is often referred to as the "PhD" for dogs, is the highest obedience honor a dog can receive. To obtain an OTCH title, a dog and handler team must earn 100 points by placing first, second, third or fourth in the Open B or Utility B class. Three first places must also be awarded from the Open B and Utility B classes.


For generations small terriers and Dachshunds were bred as hunting dogs to track game above and below ground; to bark at their quarry in the den and to bolt or draw it for the hunter. Now these wonderful little dogs are very suitable as family pets, however, they sometimes have to be trained not to bark at every little noise and not to dig in the yard or garden. Barking and digging are what they were bred for all those years, so now AKC has developed the three levels of Earthdog tests for these game little dogs.

Introduction to Quarry
The initial test is the Introduction to Quarry (IQ) where the dog is introduced to a 10 foot tunnel with one right angle turn and at the end is a cage of rats behind a set of bars. There is a scent trail of rat scent leading into the tunnel and to the rats. At this level the handler can encourage the dog into the tunnel and the judge may help get the dog working at the rats by shaking the cage or making a noise to incite the dog's instincts.

Junior Earthdog
The first level where a title is earned is the Junior Earthdog test where the dog may earn a Junior Earthdog title (J.E.). The dog must travel a 30 foot den with at least three right angle turns in 30 seconds; work the rats at the end of the tunnel (in a cage behind bars as in IQ)for 60 seconds; and then allow the handler to remove him without injury to the dog or handler. Once the dog completes these requirements twice under two different judges he will receive the title of J.E. and receive a Junior Earthdog certificate from the AKC.

Senior Earthdog
The second level of Earthdog test is the Senior Earthdog test where the dog may earn a Senior Earthdog title (S.E.). The den is 30 feet with at least three right angle turns and there are the added distractions of a false, unscented exit and an unscented bedding area with used rat bedding at the end. The dog has 90 seconds to travel the tunnel length and get to the rats; must begin working the rats within 15 seconds of arriving at the end of the tunnel; and must work the rats for 90 seconds. At the end of the 90 seconds the rats are removed and the dog must recall from the den to the handler within 90 seconds. Once the dog completes these requirements under two different judges at three different tests, the dog will be designated a Senior Earthdog (S.E.).

Master Earthdog
The final level of the Earthdog test is the Master Earthdog (M.E.) title. The dog must actually hunt his way to the den with a bracemate 100 to 300 yards. On the way he must investigate an empty, unscented den when the handler asks him to. Then both dogs must find the entrance to the den and mark it decisively so that there is no question the dog is indicating an active den. The den itself is like the Senior den with the addition of two obstacles: a 6 inch diameter PVC pipe crossways in the den to simulate a root and a narrowing down to 6 inches for a distance of 18 inches. The Master competitor has 90 seconds to get to his quarry; must work the rats for 90 seconds and must allow himself to be removed from the den by his handler within 15 seconds. While one dog is working the other dog is staked out and must wait his turn with minimum amount of noise while his bracemate works the quarry. Once a dog successfully completes all parts of the Master test four times under three different judges the dog shall be designated a Master Earthdog and may continue to compete at all three levels at Earthdog tests.

Few small terriers and Dachshunds are regularly hunted to ground by their owners in natural hunts, but the AKC Earthdog tests allow these game little dogs an outlet for their excess energy and instincts in a way that benefits the dogs and the owners.

Breed History

Fox Terriers have a lot of history behind them. They've been companions to kings, entertained the masses in circuses and film, and won more Best-in-Show awards at the Westminster Kennel Club show than any other breed

When fox hunting became popular in England in the late 18th century, hunters quickly discovered that they needed a dog that could "go to ground" (enter foxes' dens) and "bolt" the foxes to drive them out of their hiding places. And so the Smooth Fox Terrier was developed.

While breeders didn't keep many records about the development of the breed, it's likely that the original Smooth Fox Terriers were a blend of black and tan terriers with smooth coats, Bull Terriers, Greyhounds, and Beagles. In 1790, a Colonel Thornton had a portrait painted of his dog Pitch, a Smooth Fox Terrier, which gives us an idea of what the early dogs looked like. They've changed little since then. Well-known Smooths of the 19th century who contributed to the breed's development were Old Jock, born in 1859 at Grove Kennel in England, and Belgrave Joe. By the late 19th century, uniform type had been established.

For many years, Smooths and Wires were considered one breed of two varieties. Their main difference is coat type and, to some extent, head shape. Despite their similarities in size, shape and temperament, they likely had different ancestry. Wires are thought to have descended from rough-coated black and tan terriers from Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham. Early breeders liberally crossed Wire Fox Terriers with Smooths to give the Wires more white pigmentation, a cleaner-cut head, and a more classical outline. This interbreeding no longer continues, however, and has not for many years.

Smooth Fox Terriers entered the show ring about 15 to 20 years before Wire Fox Terriers, and at first they were classified with sporting dogs. England's Fox Terrier Club was founded in 1876. The members drew up a breed standard that remained unchanged for decades, with the exception of reducing the weight of a male dog in show condition from 20 pounds to 18 pounds.

Caesar, a Wire Fox Terrier, was beloved of England's King Edward VII. He wore a collar with the inscription "I am Caesar. I belong to the King." When Edward died in 1910, a grieving Caesar marched behind his casket in the funeral procession.

The first records of Smooth Fox Terriers being imported to the U.S. date to 1879, with Wire Fox Terriers being imported a few years later. The American Fox Terrier Club, the parent club of the breed in this country, was founded in 1885 and has the distinction of being the first specialty club to become a member of the American Kennel Club. The first Fox Terrier to be registered by the AKC was Cricket, in 1885.

The AFTC adopted the English breed standard when it was formed, and it wasn't until a century later that separate standards for the two breeds went into effect. They are still quite similar in their descriptions.

In the 1920s, the Smooth Fox Terrier became one of the most recognized of purebred dogs when RCA used in its logo a picture of a Smooth Fox Terrier named Nipper, head cocked, listening to a record machine. Wire Fox Terriers became popular as family pets in the 1930s, when a film series called The Thin Man was created. A Wire Fox Terrier named Asta was a regular in the show, and the popularity of the breed soared.

In 1985, the AKC formally recognized the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier as separate breeds, but the standards for both are still maintained by the American Fox Terrier Club. Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers are uncommon breeds, ranking 78th and 102nd among the 155 breeds and varieties registered by the AKC. While they might not be seen frequently in homes, they are stars in the show ring, with Wire Fox Terriers carrying off 13 Best-in-Show awards at Westminster and Smooths four, making them together the winningest breeds there.