10 wiry hair dog breeds and how to care for their coats

Border Terrier, one of several wiry hair dog breeds
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Wiry hair dog breeds are well worth considering if you’re looking for an active canine companion with a real go get ‘em personality. Most are highly intelligent with bucket loads of energy and enthusiasm that make them an utter joy to have in the home.

Bred so that they would have enough insulation and protection to allow them to weather the elements, wiry dog hair breeds tend to have hunting backgrounds where their wire coats protected them from cold water and prickly under bush. Their short coats vary in texture, but all feel coarse and bristly to the touch to some degree.

While there are no truly hypoallergenic dog breeds, wiry dog breeds don’t tend to shed anywhere near as much as some of our other furry friends and so they’re less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Most wirehaired dogs are terriers and tend to spot beards, mustaches and bushy eyebrows that give them an endearing and beloved look.

Most wirehaired pups are high energy dog breeds that require a great deal of exercise each day to ensure they don’t become bored and destructive. With that in mind, they are best suited to pet parents who live an active lifestyle who will ensure they have plenty of opportunities each day to walk, run and play. 

Although wiry coats offer less shedding and more protection than many other coat types, they do have their own special grooming requirements that you’ll want to learn to ensure your wirehaired pup stays happy and healthy. Below, we walk you through our favorite wiry haired dog breeds and exactly how to keep their coat looking its best.

1. Schnauzer

Standard Schnauzer

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With their trademark bushy eyebrows and beard, the bold and bewhiskered standard Schnauzer is a medium-sized dog that weighs between 35 - 45 pounds. Originally bred as ratters, herders, guardians and hunters, the Schnauzer is an intelligent dog that learns quickly and is flexible and adaptable, allowing them to fit in easily with their human family.

Spirited and fearless, their black or salt and pepper wiry coat is tight fitting and covers their robust, square frame. The standard Schnauzer is super energetic, requiring lots of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Protective of their loved ones and good with children, this breed makes for an enthusiastic and sociable companion. 

2. Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier

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Known as the ‘King of Terriers’ thanks to being the largest of all the terrier breeds, the Airedale has a reputation for possessing bucket loads of character and has a clever, friendly and courageous nature that has won many a heart. Standing at about 23 inches, their tan wiry coat is dense with black markings and they have a long head that sports a beard and mustache.

Independent and energetic, the Airedale Terrier are ever alert and an always willing participant in any activity. Loyal and playful with those they hold most dear, the Airedale does have a tendency to be more reserved and aloof around strangers. This is a strong willed breed with a high prey drive, so diligent training is a must, but with a firm hand they are a docile and patient dog that will blend in beautifully with the family. 

3. Border Terrier

Border Terrier

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The tough, no-frills Border Terrier is an energetic and upbeat little dog that’s full of spunk. Originating from Scotland, their wire coat can be grizzle and tan, blue and tan, wheaten or red, and they have a unique head shape and longer legs than other small terriers.

Plucky, happy, and affectionate, the Border Terrier has bags of character and they love nothing more than having fun in the great outdoors with their owners. Brilliant with children, this breed adapts well to both city and country life and are good tempered and highly trainable. 

4. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier standing on the beach on a sunny day

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Alert, lively and inquisitive the ever-popular Jack Russell Terrier was bred in England for use in foxhunts. A jaunty and eager little dog with a tireless work ethic, the Jack Russell Terrier may be small but he has the energy and stamina to rival working dogs like the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie.

A hardy dog that could easily live to be 18 years of age, the Jack Russell Terrier has a compact and rectangular body with dark, almond shaped eyes that wear an intelligent and alert expression. Confident and active, they’re affectionate with those they love and get on well with other dogs. 

5. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound stood outside

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One of the tallest dog breeds in the world, the majestic and dignified Irish Wolfhound has a calm and kindly manner that makes them true gentle giants in every sense of the world. Serene in nature with the patience of a saint, this breed has a rough, hard coat that comes in a variety of colors and males can stand as tall as three feet and weigh 180 pounds.

With a reputation for being loyal and affectionate, the Irish Wolfhound does great in homes with children, although their size means they must be supervised among small humans who could easily find themselves accidentally bowled over. They also have a strong prey drive, so if you have a cat or toy dog breed, an Irish Wolfhound is probably not the canine companion for you.

6. German Wirehaired Pointer

German Wirehaired Pointer

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The German Wirehaired Pointer has a harsh wire coat that is there to protect them from the thorny under bushes that they so love diving into. They were developed deliberately for their wiry coat, which repels water and is highly insulating because they are often used for hunting expeditions that see them having to brave cold water and harsh weather.

 A dog that does not tire easily, the German Wirehaired Pointer has seemingly endless energy and stamina, so if you take this breed on, an active lifestyle is a must. Eager to please, fun-loving and affectionate, this eager and enthusiastic dog is an ideal fit for anyone who loves adventures in the great outdoors and is looking for a dog that can keep pace. 

7. Wirehaired Dachshund

Wirehaired Dachshund

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Although they’re often known for being a smooth-coated breed, the Dachshund also comes in two other coat types: long haired and wirehaired. Clever and sometimes fiery, the Wirehaired Dachshund may look pint-sized but they have big personalities and tend to be friendly and outgoing. Coming in several colors, the Wirehaired Dachshund has the low frame you’d expect of this breed and their body is covered in a soft undercoat and a short and hard outer coat. 

Bold, persistent, spunky and endearing, this dog loves the outdoors and will adapt well to most living situations - although they tend to do best with older children as opposed to younger ones. They’re loyal and snuggly, but they can be noisy barkers, so training is a must if you want to save your hearing!

8. Otterhound


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The Otterhound is one of those charmingly amiable dogs that’s just a joy to have around. Well known for being playful clowns who love to entertain and amuse, this breed is super friendly and affectionate and gets on beautifully with children and other dogs. Big and boisterous, they are also loving and even-tempered, making wonderful companions.

Bred in medieval England to hunt otters, they have a dense and shaggy coat that is rough and waterproof. They have an incredibly sensitive nose that once allowed them to track otters over vast distances and because they were built to work, their stamina is up there with the best of them. The Otterhound is a very uncommon breed, so if you want one of these pups, be prepared to join a waiting list.

9. Wirehaired Vizsla

Wirehaired Vizsla

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Developed in Hungary in the 20th century, the Wirehaired Vizsla was deliberately bred to have a warmer and more weatherproof coat than their smoother-haired relative. Calm and gentle when around the house, this breed loves nothing more than zooming around when outside, swimming, running and playing any game their owners will indulge them in.

With boundless energy and enthusiasm, the Wirehaired Vizsla has an endearing zest for life and their shaggy beard and eyebrows frame a bright and lively expression. They make for eager to please and affectionate pets and because of this, they’re best not left alone as they tend to suffer from separation anxiety when they’re not with their humans. 

10. West Highland Terrier

West Highland Terrier

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One of the most happy-go-lucky dogs around, the West Highland Terrier has an always-entertaining nature that makes them an utter joy to be around. Diminutive but sturdy, this breed stands around 11 inches and has dark piercing eyes and a double coat that is hard to the touch. Wonderful with children, these adorable dogs are true charmers.

Bred to hunt rats and other rodents, the Westie looks like butter wouldn’t melt but under that cute exterior lies a courageous heart and a strong and tough mind that can be cunning when the situation requires it. Their self-reliant and independent streak can make them slightly tricky to train at times, but the effort is well worth it because this faithful and plucky dog makes for the most amazing pet. 

How to care for a wiry coat 

First things first: wirehaired dogs are supposed to look rough and scrappy, that’s part of their charm and it’s what allows them to barrel through the brambles and chase after prey both on land and in the water. So, they definitely do not need to look well groomed! 

But, that being said, their coat still requires a degree of care and attention that’s different to the needs of other breeds. In order to ensure all those wiry hairs look their best, you’ll want to engage in a process known as ‘stripping’, whereby you pull out the dead hair to allow strong, new wiry hairs to grow through.

There’s no getting around it, stripping is time consuming and tedious, although, it can actually also be quite therapeutic! And the good news is, when done correctly, it shouldn’t bother your dog in the slightest. Expect to spend around 2 hours every 4 - 8 weeks stripping your dog’s coat, depending on how quickly it tends to grow.

To make the stripping process easier and to cut down on how long it takes, it can be helpful to groom your dog weekly as this will allow you to pluck out bits of dead hair a little bit at a time. Use your index finger and thumb to tease out dead hair and then grasp it gently at the root, pulling gently in the direction of the hair growth.

We also recommend you use one of the best dog brushes once a week to give your pup a good going over. A pin brush is ideal for wiry dog breeds as it will pull out some of the dead hair while also stimulating the natural oils, promoting new, healthy hair growth. You can then go over the coat with a medium-toothed comb to remove any tangles and finish off with a slicker brush. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.