10 Small Wire Haired Dog Breeds

small breeds with wire hair
Are you on the look out for a small wire
haired dog? ⁰

If you are looking for a small wire coated dog as the latest addition to your family, then you have chosen very wisely.

You see, one of the breeds in my list is the Wire Haired Fox Terrier.

And not only is this breed famous for being the cartoon character Tintin’s beloved dog, but Wire Haired Fox Terriers are the most successful dog breed of all time at the Westminster Dog Shows- winning it a staggering 15 times.  

So, how do wire haired dogs get their wiry coats? That is something that I will explore in the next section. 

How do dogs get wire haired coats?

Dogs, like humans, have between 20,000- 25,000 genes.

Of these, only three genes affect the type of coat that any dog breed will have. 

The FGF2 gene will determine if a dog has either short or long hair.

The KRT71 gene determines if the hair will be curly or straight.

And most importantly for us, the RSPO2 gene sorts out if a dog will wiry hair or not.

And, did you know that wire coats are sometimes called “broken coats”?

Now that we have sorted out the science, it is time to look at purpose? 

Why do dogs have wiry coats? Let’s find out. 

What is the purpose of wire haired coats?

Wire haired coats were developed for hunting dogs who would be having to chase their prey through some harsh and prickly undergrowth.

The texture of a wiry coat offers a lot more protection against thorns and prickles than softer coats.

In fact, “wire” is always made out of metal, so a wiry coat is a suit of armour if you will. 

Next, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of wired haired dogs.

Pros/cons wire haired dogs

The biggest advantage that I can see with owning any wire haired dog breed is that they don’t shed their coats as much as other breeds of dogs and so that makes them a safer choice of dogs for some allergies sufferers.

And the disadvantage? 

Wiry haired dogs have quite specific grooming needs that requires a technique called hand stripping.

Hand stripping is a very time consuming and fiddly process which is best left to a groomer.

A short cut that many people use is to have their dogs clipped.

But over time this could destroy the wiry texture of the coat. 

[1] Wire Fox Terrier

Wire Fox Terriers have short bodies
The most successful breed of dog at Westminster…¹

One of the many terrier breeds, the Wire Fox terrier is known as a highly-energetic dog with a comical expression, courtesy of its funny beard.

Dogs of this breed have a wiry rough coat, which can range in color from pure white to various mixes black and white, black white and tan or white and tan.

This type of terrier has short hair which requires at least one weekly brushing if you want to keep tangles at bay and have your pet look nice. On the plus side, Wire Fox terriers don’t shed much.

For over two centuries, Smooth Fox terriers and Wire Fox terriers were considered one single breed, but in the 20th century they were registered as two distinct breeds.

A male Wire Fox terrier will grow up to be  15½ inches (40 cm) tall in adulthood and weigh around 18lbs (8 kg), with the female slightly smaller.

The most famous Wire Fox terrier ever was Caesar, the favorite dog of King Edward VII. The love the king had for his pet made the dog quite popular throughout the British Empire in the first decades of the 20th century.

[2] Airedale

Airedale terriers have short bodies
Airedales are sometimes called “the King of
Terriers” ²

The largest type of terrier, the mighty Airedale is often referred to as the King of Terriers for its strength, intelligence and prey instinct, as before becoming family pets, they were bred as hunting dogs.

Unlike other terriers, the Airedale always presents a hard wiry coat. To prevent matting, an Airedale requires 2-3 brushings per week. To keep your Airedale’s coat in tiptop shape, your pet will need a light trim every 6-8 weeks, preferably done by a professional. 

According to the AKC standards for this breed, an purebred Airedale should have a black or dark grizzle saddle, with tan head and legs. Typically, the male of this breed is 22–24 inches (56–61 cm) tall and weighs around 40–50 pounds (18–23 kg), which puts him in the category of large wirehaired dogs.

Although independent and a bit stubborn, Airedales make wonderful companions and are very loyal to their owners.

[3] Border Terrier

border terriers have wire coats
A wiry coat with sand in it? That might need a
good brushing! ³

 Easily recognizable by its ‘otter-shaped’ head, the spunky Border Terrier has a double coat consisting of a rough wiry outer coat and a soft under coat.

It has very short wiry hair on the outside and, according to the AKC, the prevalent colors for the coat are blue and tan, grizzle and tan, although you might find red or wheaten Border terriers.

Though its coat is weather and dirt-resistant, your Border terrier will require weekly brushing or even daily ones during shedding season. Baths are not recommended as they destroy the coat’s dirt repelling properties.

Smaller than other terriers, Border terriers are sweet-tempered and fun-loving so they are the perfect pet for a family with children. As they were originally bred to hunt foxes, they love nothing better than to be put to a task, which makes them highly trainable. They will require lots of exercise, preferably in a park or yard where they can jump and run around to consume their impressive amounts of energy.

An adult male is 14-15 in (36-40 cm) tall and weighs 13-16 lbs (5,9 – 7,1 kg).

4. Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffon has a wiry coat
Don’t be fooled by their size. Brussels Griffons
are live wires!⁴

Rather small in size, these dogs compensate in personality. One look at a Brussels Griffon and you will understand this is a dog who knows what he wants.

This attention-seeking bundle of energy was bred from several other breeds, including the Affenpinscher from whom it inherited the miniature size and the wiry coat, and the English Toy Spaniel, which is obvious from its round irresistible eyes.

Brussels Griffons can have either a smooth coat or a short rough one with short wiry hair, while coat colors vary from red to black, or they can be of mixed colors.

A grown-up Brussels Griffon is around 7-8 in (18-20 cm) tall and weighs only 7-12 lbs (3-5.5 kg). Although it’s a toy-dog by size, do not imagine the Brussels Griffon to be some kind of lap dog, as it is full of energy and prone to yapping a lot if not properly trained.

Fun-loving and curious by nature, the Brussels Griffon has a very limited tolerance for boisterous young-children, but goes along very well with the rest of the family.

[5] Wire Haired Dachshund

dachshunds have three coat varieties
This little Dachshund looks a little cold! ⁵

With their long body and distinctive short legs, Dachshunds are very popular among dog lovers everywhere. They come in two versions, the standard one (between 16 and 32 pounds) and the miniature version, weighing up to 11 pounds.

Dachshunds can have one of three types of coat – smooth, wire-haired or long-haired and wavy, while the coat can have a variety of colors – black, chocolate, fawn, cream and anything in between.

If you’re looking for a small wirehaired dog, you must be prepared to brush or comb your new pet at least twice a week and get the beard and eyebrows trimmed once in a while.

Originally bred in Germany to hunt badgers, the Dachshund was for a long time a national symbol for the country, which did not bode well for the popularity of this dog during WWII.

However, pet owners were not ready to give up their pets for politics, so during the whole period the Dachshund was simply referred to as ‘badger dog’, with no mention made of their German-sounding name.

[6] Wire Haired Jack Russell

Wire haired Jack Russell Terrier
This cute Jack Russell has a wire coat ⁶

One of the most adorable and affectionate members of the large terrier family, Jack Russell dogs can have a smooth coat, a long haired wavy one or a rough wiry one. The prevalent color of Jack Russell dogs is white with black or tan markings, especially on the head and ears.

Rough coated Jack Russells need a good brushing 2 or 3 times a week and a head-to-tail stripping twice a year. This is done with a stripping knife you’ll find at the pet store and is needed to remove dead hair. It’s a time-consuming process and if you’ve never done this before, best leave it to a professional.

Jack Russells are medium-sized and grow 10 to 15 inches (25- 38 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh 13 to 17 lbs (5.8 – 7.7 kg).

Many Jack Russell terriers have made a career in movie and TV shows. You might remember Eddie, from the long-running TV series Frasier, a character played by two dog actors Moose and Enzo, who were father and son.

[7] Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier
Not only a wire coat but eyebrows too! ⁷

You can always tell a Scottie by the beard, as well as the long hairs on the legs and lower body. They are double-coated dogs, with a rough wiry outer coat and a soft silky undercoat.

Scottish terriers are moderate shedders and require a good brushing once a week. Occasional trimming is also recommended.

Most people think Scottish terriers are exclusively black, but you might also see black brindle, red brindle or wheaten ones.

While they are rather small dogs, only 10 inches (25 cm) tall and weighing 18-22 lbs (8-10kg), they have a strong and sturdy body and are very agile, when they care to. Although originally bred for hunting, Scottish terriers do not like running and would much rather walk along with their owner.

Scottish terriers rose to fame as presidential dogs, with Franklin Roosevelt’s pet Fala receiving more fan mail than many US leaders.

[8] Affenpinscher

Molly the affenpinscher

Affenpinscher are literally called Monkey terriers, as Affen means ape in German, while pinscher is the word for terrier. Well, they sort of look like monkeys, too what with their funny faces and hairy heads.

Affenpinschers have a medium-long wiry coat which requires grooming twice a week. Also, you need to trim the hair on their heads in a V-shape to keep it from getting into his eyes.

Their coat is typically black, but you might find some tan, red or silver Affenpinschers.

They were purposefully bred to be small in size, as they were meant to hunt for rats and be able to squeeze in small spaces, but it is this miniature size that makes them so popular as pets today.

A male Affenpinscher barely weighs 7-8 lbs (3-4 kg) and grows up to 10 inches (25 cm) tall. Since they’re rat hunters, they don’t get well with hamsters or other rodent pets.

[9] Kerry Blue

kerry blue
Kerry Blues have a softer wiry coat
than other breeds ⁹

Before getting promoted to pet dog, Kerry Blue terriers were bred as hunting dogs, to keep vermin under control, and later as herding dogs. Their coat is not as wiry as typical for other terriers, but rather wavy and definitely softer.

To keep its fur from matting, a Kerry Blue terrier needs a quick brush every day and at least one bath every month. Since it has long hair, trimming is better left to professionals. As for color, the name kinda says it all.

Some puppies are born jet black but their coat lightens up to the distinctive bluish color. Fortunately, they’re light shedders so they won’t leave hairs all over the place.

Kerry Blue terriers are medium sized dogs, reaching 17 to 19 inches (43 – 48 cm) in height and weighing between 37 and 40 pounds (16 -18 kg).

 Like many of their terrier cousins, Kerry Blue dogs are prone to digging, chasing and barking a lot. They can adapt to living in an apartment but need plenty of exercise

[10] Miniature Schnauzer

small breeds with wire hair
Not just a wire coat but with a beard as well…⁰

With their distinctive walrus moustache and their bushy eyebrows, Miniature Schnauzer steal your heart with their almost human expression.

A Miniature Schnauzer’s coat can come in three colors, black, salt and pepper or silver, and they have a short wiry hair topcoat and a soft and long undercoat.

This type of coat makes grooming quite challenging so you’d better visit a professional every two months or so. In the meantime, you can give your dog the occasional brushing and a bath every month.

Their name is a bit misleading, as they’re not exactly lap dogs. An adult male is 13 to 14 inches (33 -35 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs between 11 and 20 lbs (5-9 kg). But they’re mere toys when compared to Giant Schnauzers who weigh up to 110 lbs (50 kg).

 While they might look like your Uncle Wally, Miniature Schnauzers are all about fun, they have an extroverted personality and are very affectionate with their human family.

Photo Credits

⁰ Photo by Luis Hutchinson on Unsplash

¹ Photo by State Farm on Flickr

² Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

³ Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

⁴ Photo by Ger Dekker on Flickr

⁵ Photo by Filip Izrael on Unsplash

⁶ Photo by Valeria Dubych on Unsplash

⁷ Photo by liz west on Flickr

⁸ Photo by Dean Jarvey on Flickr

⁹ Photo by Martin Hesketh on Flickr

Sarah Pulsen

Hello, I have been in love with dogs since I was a little girl. I became even more infatuated with them when I was told by my Mum that I couldn't own one. Since I left home there has rarely been a time in my life when I have lived without a dog. My current dog is a Collie Terrier cross, called Ian.