Friday, October 2, 2009

Outfoxing A Steiff Dog Mystery

Questions about items on wheels keep rolling Steiffgal's way! Take a look at this note from a reader who asks about a precious family heirloom that is clearly still "on the go" after many, many years! Hannah from York, United Kingdom writes:

"My parents have come across the Steiff dog shown in the attached pictures. It was given to my sister as a baby over 30 years ago by a lady in her 80's then.

Please could you have a look at it - any information would be great as I cannot find much about it on the internet. The only thing I have found out via the pin in the ear (Steiff with the f going back to the bottom of the E) is that it is from around 1910 I believe.

Here are the details: he is 27 cm high and 30 cm long. I think he did have a tail at one time. He is made from mohair and beige in color; he doesn't seem to have spots or other color on him. His ears are also made from mohair.

Thanks, Hannah"

Hannah, Steiffgal can help you outfox this mystery. This dear doggy is what Steiff calls Fox terrier. Fox terrier is unjointed, standing, and made from white mohair. His nose and mouth are defined by simple black embroidery. When he was a younger pup, he had a pert tail and just a touch of airbrushing around his glass pupil eyes. This particular model was extremely popular in the Steiff line; the company made him in eight sizes ranging from 10 through 50 cm from 1908 through 1929. The picture on the left, from Pfeiffer’s 1892 –1943 Steiff Sortiment book, shows what Hannah’s Fox terrier looked like when new.

Interestingly, the wheels on the Fox terrier are the best way to figure out how old – in dog or people years – this item really is. Steiff made this model of Fox terrier on metal wheels until 1920; from 1921 onward he appeared on wooden wheels. The two largest sizes, 43 and 50 cm, were reinforced with an internal metal frame so the dog could be used as a ride-on animal. The wooden wheels on Hannah’s collectible dates him around the mid- to late 1920’s.

Fox terriers have been around almost as long as the Steiff catalog, which debuted in 1892. They could easily be considered a legacy breed for the company. The first fox terrier appeared in the Steiff line in 1899. Like Hannah’s collectible, it was also on wheels but was made from felt. Since then, Steiff has produced close to 40 different fox terrier models pre-WWll and over 20 designs from the late 1940’s onward.

And just what makes a fox terrier, well, a fox terrier? This dog was bred to assist in fox hunting. Besides breed size and appearance standards, they have to be able to perform three key hunting tasks. First, they have to have the endurance to keep up with foxhounds, who lead the hunt. Second, they have to be small enough follow foxes down into their holes during the chase. And third, they have to be feisty when they do indeed encounter a cornered fox.

Hannah, Steiffgal hopes this discussion about your wonderful vintage Fox terrier has put a pleasant end to your hunt for information about him!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.


  1. I have a Steiff terrier that has two puppies. They are approximately 65 yrs old. Possibly bought in England around 1944. Condition isn't very good. All three have a missing ear. Mama dog has disc in her ear which confirms they are Steiff. I can post a photograph. I would like to have an approximate value.

  2. Fox terrier are some excellent dogs, I would like to have a Teddy like those ones, so the information is so 22dd interesting , my son said me that he likes a lot the post!! thanks for sharing...congratulations!!


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