Lakeland terriers and wire fox terriers are both sturdy, square dogs with adorable bearded faces. While the two breeds have similar traits due to their shared terrier and fox-hunting heritage, if you'll learn their subtle differences you'll better be able to determine which is best for you.
The biggest difference in appearance between the two breeds is coat color. The wire fox terrier has a base of white, with black or brown markings on the face, and a saddle or large splotch of color on the back. The Lakeland terrier comes in a variety of colors, all of which are acceptable for show. Solid colors include blue, black, liver, red and wheaten. In saddle-marked dogs, the saddle can be one of the acceptable solid colors, with the remainder of the dog wheaten or tan.
Both Lakeland terriers and wire fox terriers are active and can be a bit stubborn to train, but there are differences in their temperaments. The wire fox terrier is a scrappy pup that won’t back down from a fight; he will do best in a one-pet home. This nonstop athlete would rather run than walk, so he's well-suited to an active person. Curious and playful, happy and excitable, he has a special love for playing fetch.
Lakies need their exercise, too, but they are a bit less active and like to be around their humans all the time. He is a quiet dog that gets along better with other pets -- but like all terriers he has a strong prey drive that you must contain. He is self-confident but not overly aggressive, although food and toy possessiveness are not uncommon.
While the two breeds are similar in size, the Lakeland terrier is a bit shorter, reaching 13 to 14½ inches at the withers. The AKC considers 14½ inches ideal, with a half-inch deviation either way permissible. Females are as much as 1 inch shorter. Average weight for show dogs is about 17 pounds.
The wire fox reaches 14 to 16 inches in height but for show should not exceed 15½. Average weight for show dogs is about 18 pounds.
These are both hardy breeds, and you can expect them to be part of the family for many years. The Lakeland terrier has an average life expectancy of 12 to16 years, a bit longer than the wire fox terrier’s average of 10 to 13 years. Both are prone to eye issues, including lens luxation.
While the Lakeland is a particularly hardy breed, \the wire fox terrier has a higher incidence of deafness, cataracts and von Willebrand’s disease, a bleeding disorder in which a clotting factor is absent.
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.