13 Dog Breeds That Are Wirehaired


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. It’s also described as broken-coated. Some dog breeds only have a wiry coat, and others may also have a smooth coat.


Wire coated breeds don’t 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.

Breed Characteristics

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 aren’t fast-growing but need maintenance to keep a tidy appearance. To preserve the coat’s 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 coat’s overall texture over time.

Here are 13 popular wirehaired dog breeds.

  • 01 of 13

    Airedale Terrier

    Airedale Terrier stting on a road with grass in the background
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    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. They’re 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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 24 inches

    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

    Coat 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 grizzle

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

  • 02 of 13

    Border Terrier

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    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 aren’t without their challenges, however. Like many terriers, they can be stubborn, vocal, and prolific diggers.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 11.5 to 15.5 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double coated with a wiry outercoat and a muzzle that’s normally darker in color

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 03 of 13

    Brussels Griffon

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    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 aren’t 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.

    Breed Overview

    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

  • 04 of 13


    Friedhelm Adam / Getty Images

    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 they’re popular worldwide. Loyal, protective, smart, and snuggly, you’re 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 aren’t always the most tolerant with young kids or strange dogs.

    Breed Overview

    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 sable

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.

  • 05 of 13

    Jack Russell Terrier

    Foto-Rabe / Getty Images

    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. They are 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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 13 to 14 inches

    Weight: 13 to 17 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth or broken coat; colors include white with black, brown, or tan markings

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 18 years

  • 06 of 13

    German Wirehaired Pointer

    Pavel Rodimov / Getty Images

    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 won’t 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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 26 inches

    Weight: 50 to 70 pounds

    Coat 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 patterns

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 07 of 13

    Irish Wolfhound

    Anke Sauerwein / Getty Images

    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. You’ll need to budget for a big food bill each month. They’ve also retained a strong prey drive and may not be suited to a home with small furries.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 30 inches and up

    Weight: 105 to 120 pounds

    Coat and Color: Tall, long body; rough coat; colors include black, blue, brindle, cream, gray, and more

    Life Expectancy: 6 to 8 years

  • 08 of 13

    Scottish Terrier

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    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. You’re not going to be getting a lapdog in this little breed. Some Scotties can be social with other dogs, but they don’t 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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 10 inches
    Weight: 18 to 22 pounds
    Coat 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 brindle

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

    Continue to 9 of 13 below.

  • 09 of 13

    Wirehaired Fox Terrier

    Colin Millum / Getty Images

    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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 16 inches

    Weight: 15 to 18 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth or dense, wiry coat; colors include white and black, white and tan, and black and tan

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 10 of 13

    Wirehaired Vizsla

    Kurucz Renáta / Getty Images

    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 and are best suited to a home where they will have company for most of the day since vizslas can be prone to separation anxiety.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 45 to 65 pounds

    Coat 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 rust

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 11 of 13

    West Highland White Terrier

    Eudyptula / Getty Images

    The affectionate and happy West Highland white terrier is a faithful family companion. It’s 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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 11 inches

    Weight: 13 to 20 pounds

    Coat and Color: White, with a double coat of medium length

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 12 of 13


    Feverstockphoto / Getty Images

    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 human’s 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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 20 inches

    Weight: 30 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double coat with wiry appearance; black and salt and pepper

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 16 years

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.

  • 13 of 13

    Kerry Blue Terrier

    Ihar Halavach / Getty Images

    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.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 19 inches

    Weight: 30 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short coat that is soft and wavy with no undercoat; Blue-gray in color in adulthood

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Breeds to Avoid

If your personality is happiest on the couch or you have very little time to spare, then, in general, most wirehaired breeds might not be suitable for your lifestyle. They are peppy, zippy, and require lots of exercise with the exception of maybe the Brussels griffon, which can get by a little less exercise. A wirehaired working dog breed that doesn’t get dedicated outdoor activity might start zooming through your house, digging in your furniture, and tearing up your rugs.

If you’re stuck on a wirehaired pooch, then think about getting a senior dog that has slowed down and plays for shorter periods. The great news is that the dog world is so vast that there’s likely a better match for people who have a busier lifestyle.

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