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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Breeds with coarse coats and why
Wirehaired dog breeds were initially developed to offer more insulation and protection for dogs working in harsh and cold terrain. Wirehaired breeds have a coarse, short coat that feels harsh and bristly to the touch. Its also described as broken-coated. Some dog breeds only have a wiry coat, and others may also have a smooth coat.
Wire coated breeds dont shed much hair and may be less likely to trigger an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to dogs. However, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic since allergies can be triggered by skin dander and animal saliva.
Most wirehaired breeds are terriers, which were developed in the British Isles. Breeds with this coat often have pronounced and characterful beards, mustaches, and eyebrows. Most are energetic, needing lots of exercise, and they may have built-in, instinctual prey drives.
Wirehaired coats arent fast-growing but need maintenance to keep a tidy appearance. To preserve the coats wiry texture, groomers use a unique hand-stripping technique. This time-consuming and technical approach is often best left to the grooming professionals. Clipping the coat is sometimes done for convenience, but this can soften the coats overall texture over time.
Here are 13 popular wirehaired dog breeds.
oleghz / Getty s Often referred to as the “King of Terriers,” Airedales are the largest terrier breed, and they always have a wiry coat. Airedales are known for being smart, independent, energetic, versatile, and full of character. Theyre often loyal and playful with their family but can be aloof with strangers. They tend to be strong-willed and have a high prey drive, so you might also need to spend a little extra time working on their recall skills.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 22 to 24 inchesWeight: 40 to 65 poundsCoat and Color: Hard, wiry, dense, straight, short topcoat, with a softer undercoat; head and ears are tan, and the body is a mix of tan and black or dark grizzleLife Expectancy: 11 to 13 years
Paul Wills / Getty s These spunky, affectionate, and intelligent small wirehaired terriers originate from Scotland. These dogs have lots of energy and bags of character. Border terriers are up for lots of fun in the great outdoors with their owners. Borders arent without their challenges, however. Like many terriers, they can be stubborn, vocal, and prolific diggers.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 12 to 15 inchesWeight: 11.5 to 15.5 poundsCoat and Color: Double coated with a wiry outercoat and a muzzle thats normally darker in colorLife Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
Laures / Getty s The Brussels griffon comes in a wire and smooth-coated variety. The coarse-coated version stands out for its rather profuse beard. Although originally bred as ratters in their native Belgium, their unique appearance, loyalty, and confident personalities quickly caught the attention of the aristocracy. Despite being fun-loving and curious, griffs arent always known for being remarkably tolerant of young kids. If introducing this breed to a family home, they are best suited to homes with older, respectful children.
Group: Toy (AKC) Height: 7 to 10 inches Weight: 6 to 12 pounds Coat and Color: Smooth coat or rough coat in red, black and tan, solid black, or belge (mix of black and reddish brown); distinctive black muzzle and beard Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
Friedhelm Adam / Getty s The enduringly popular dachshund comes in wire-haired, long-haired, and smooth-coated varieties. These low-slung dogs were originally developed in Germany to hunt badgers, often digging them out from their sets. These days, they come in a standard and mini variety, and theyre popular worldwide. Loyal, protective, smart, and snuggly, youre guaranteed a dog with heaps of personality if you get a Doxie. They can also be noisy barkers, often have a high prey drive, and arent always the most tolerant with young kids or strange dogs.
Group: Hounds (AKC)Height: 8 to 9 inches (standard); 5 to 6 inches (miniature)Weight: 16 to 32 pounds (standard); up to 11 pounds (miniature)Coat and Color: Low, long body; smooth, wirehaired, or long-haired coat; colors include chocolate, tan, black, red, and more; various markings include dapple, piebald, brindle, and sableLife Expectancy: 12 to 16 years Continue to 5 of 13 below.
Jack Russell Terrier
Foto-Rabe / Getty s Most commonly found in a smooth-coated variety, Jack Russels are also often seen with a broken coat. JRTs are small, but they are anything but typical lapdogs. These dogs are known for their incredible smarts, energy, stamina, and determination. Hardy dogs that can live to a ripe old age. They would suit an active home. Be prepared to work on their high prey drive and propensity for barking.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 13 to 14 inchesWeight: 13 to 17 poundsCoat and Color: Smooth or broken coat; colors include white with black, brown, or tan markingsLife Expectancy: 13 to 18 years
German Wirehaired Pointer
Pavel Rodimov / Getty s Recognized as a separate breed to their relative, the German shorthaired pointer, the German wirehaired pointer was explicitly developed for their wiry coat. It is water-repellant, insulating, and protective. Their coat is perfect for hunting in cold water, harsh weather, and deep undergrowth. The breed has unlimited energy and stamina and wont be suited to a home that leads a sedentary lifestyle. They need plenty of exercise and enrichment to prevent problem behaviors from surfacing as a result of boredom. Providing they get plenty of activity, the loyal German wirehaired pointer can make a great family pet. They tend to be eager to please, affectionate, and fun-loving.
Group: Sporting (AKC)Height: 22 to 26 inchesWeight: 50 to 70 poundsCoat and Color: Straight, coarse, wiry topcoat, and a dense undercoat; usually have a distinct beard and whiskers; comes in liver and white or solid liver; can have spotted, ticked, or roan patternsLife Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
Anke Sauerwein / Getty s The tallest of all the AKC-recognized dog breeds, the rough-coated Irish wolfhound is often referred to as a gentle giant. Known for being loyal and affectionate, they are usually very patient and good-natured with children, despite their size. This giant breed does need more space than your average dog. Youll need to budget for a big food bill each month. Theyve also retained a strong prey drive and may not be suited to a home with small furries.
Group: Hound (AKC)Height: 30 inches and upWeight: 105 to 120 poundsCoat and Color: Tall, long body; rough coat; colors include black, blue, brindle, cream, gray, and moreLife Expectancy: 6 to 8 years
navi / Getty s This iconic wirehaired breed, with a distinctive silhouette and dignified beard, is now more popular in the United States than in their U.K. homeland. Scotties form strong attachments with their family, but they are still independent and strong-willed dogs. Youre not going to be getting a lapdog in this little breed. Some Scotties can be social with other dogs, but they dont always get along. Early and ongoing socialization is important. A typical terrier, this breed has retained a strong prey drive and may not be able to live alongside other small pets.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 10 inchesWeight: 18 to 22 poundsCoat and Color: A short, sturdy little dog with a long face and pronounced eyebrows and beard; hard, wiry outer coat that forms into a long skirt on the body when left untrimmed; most commonly found in black coloring, but they also come in wheaten and brindleLife Expectancy: 12 to 14 years Continue to 9 of 13 below.
Wirehaired Fox Terrier
Colin Millum / Getty s The fox terrier comes in a smooth or wirehaired variety. More commonly found with a coarse coat and beard, they can sometimes be confused with the Lakeland terrier or the larger Airedale. This spunky, fun-loving breed has a lot of typical terrier traits. You can expect them to have a high prey drive, and they tend to be energetic and independent. The wirehaired fox terrier is a bold and loyal companion for a person who is patient, active, and not looking for a lapdog.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 16 inchesWeight: 15 to 18 poundsCoat and Color: Smooth or dense, wiry coat; colors include white and black, white and tan, and black and tanLife Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
Kurucz Renáta / Getty s The wirehaired vizsla was developed in 20th century Hungary to produce a warmer and more weatherproof coat than their smooth-haired relative. The breed continues to be popular in hunting communities, but vizslas also make loyal, eager-to-please, affectionate pets. Vizslas have boundless energy and enthusiasm, and they need an active home that can give them the exercise they need. Known for being chewers, if they are bored, they can become destructive around the house. Best suited to a home where they will have company for most of the day, vizslas can be prone to separation anxiety.
Group: Sporting (AKC)Height: 21 to 25 inchesWeight: 45 to 65 poundsCoat and Color: Dense, wiry, close-lying topcoat, with pronounced eyebrows and beard; the water-repellent undercoat is also dense on the top of the body; comes in varying shades of solid golden rustLife Expectancy: 12 to 14 years
West Highland White Terrier
Eudyptula / Getty s The affectionate and happy West Highland white terrier is a faithful family companion. Its brilliant, speedy for its tiny legs, and a cunning hunter for vermin in the Scottish Highlands. These energetic dogs need daily exercise every day. The Westie’s self-reliance and independent streak can make it difficult to train but can be overcome with early, consistent training.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 10 to 11 inchesWeight: 13 to 20 poundsCoat and Color: White, with a double coat of medium lengthLife Expectancy: 13 to 15 years
Feverstockphoto / Getty s The bushy eyebrows and beard of the standard schnauzer are the breed’s trademark. Still, these stately canines possess the intelligence and friendly nature that make them such outstanding companions. They were bred as ratters, herders, guardians, and hunters on the farms in Germany. This intelligent breed learns quickly and adapts to its humans needs. This highly active breed needs an outlet for its energy and content when adequately exercised and engaged. It also comes in a miniature and giant variety.
Group: Working (AKC)Height: 17 to 20 inchesWeight: 30 to 50 poundsCoat and Color: Double coat with wiry appearance; black and salt and pepperLife Expectancy: 13 to 16 years Continue to 13 of 13 below.
Kerry Blue Terrier
Ihar Halavach / Getty s This larger Irish terrier was born and bred to work. These dogs have the typical terrier tenacity—which makes them effective hunters but sometimes challenging canine companions. They are an all-around working dog traditionally used to herd sheep and cattle and hunt mice, rats, and rabbits on the property.
Group: Terrier (AKC)Height: 17 to 19 inchesWeight: 30 to 40 poundsCoat and Color: Short coat that is soft and wavy with no undercoat; Blue-gray in color in adulthoodLife Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
The 16 Wire Haired Dog Breeds Are:
The Wirehaired Fox Terrier (also known as the Wire Fox Terrier or Wire Hair Fox Terrier) was purposely bred to have a wire coat. Since this breed was used as a fox hunter, they would run through thick brush to flush out foxes. The rough, wiry coats of the Wirehaired Fox Terrier helped to protect the dog while rooting out dens and burrows.
If you had to choose one dog to stand for nobility and swagger, the Scottish Terrier would probably make a prime candidate. Their trademark gruff and black wired coats were used to protect them while they fulfilled their original purpose—rooting out badgers and foxes. Scotties do have a dual coat, however, with their undercoat being very dense and soft.
The Airedale is commonly referred to as the “King of Terriers” due to its being the largest of all terrier breeds. They’re exceptionally intelligent pups and quite protective of their families. But they can be a bit stubborn. Combined with a high prey drive and natural energy, the Airedale will happily make a day out of chasing down vermin or playing with their loved ones.
Don’t let their size fool you. These little munchkins are just full of energy and overloaded with personality. They’re among the smallest of the Scottish terriers, but don’t let them know that. They’ve got the heart of a lion and are essentially fearless. However, after a long day’s adventure, they’re more than happy to find a comfortable spot to rest curled up in your lap on the couch.
Border terrierWith their squarish heads, relatively flat faces, and alert expressions, border terriers are cute, playful, and feisty canine companions. Bred in Scotland as foxers, they still have a strong drive to chase small animals and aren’t afraid of much, even when they should be. Their wiry topcoats need hand-stripped about twice a year in order to reduce shedding. Border terriers are great companion dogs that are anxious to please, and their petite size makes them easy lapdogs. They’re easily trained, happy to accompany you on walks, and love nothing more than a big, open field to run around in.