Wire hair dogs and how to groom them
Love hardy dog breeds like Terriers? You are probably drawn to wirehair dogs! They are rough around the edges and full of character and charm, but that coat won’t take care of itself. Keep reading to find out how to care for them properly and keep their wiry fur healthy and hardy.
What are the characteristics of a wiry coat?
The fur of a wire-coated dog feels stiff or rough, and bristle-like to touch. Don’t bother investing in a whole doggy wardrobe to keep your dog cosy this winter, the wiry coat is designed to be hard wearing, water-repellent, and highly insulating. Spend the money on dog treats instead!
Wire coated dogs can be smooth or rough coated. The longer you allow the coat to grow out or “blow out”, the scruffier and more charming they will look, as the hairs begin to stand up away from the skin, causing the fur to become wavy and even more textured.
Do they shed?
Wire-coated dogs don’t generally shed their coats like other dogs do, although there are some breeds, like the Jack Russell Terrier, that shed significantly.
Dogs with wiry coats need to be hand-stripped. This means that you or your groomer must pluck out the longer dead hairs with your fingers, or with the use of a blunt stripping knife.
Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your dog! When the hairs are ready to be pulled you will know because the coat becomes “blown” and the dog starts to look increasingly disreputable!
The hairs can be plucked easily, several at a time, in the direction of the hair growth. Stripping your dog stimulates the skin, encouraging healthy new hair to grow in, keeping the coat weather-proof, clean, and looking smart.
It is not recommended to have a wire-haired dog’s coat clipped like a regular dog. Doing so will soften the coat over time, and the natural texture may not return. The hair will become fine, fuzzy and dull-looking, losing its natural water-resistant and dirt-repelling features.
What purpose do wiry coats serve?
Many wirehaired dogs were intentionally bred to work in rough terrains. The coat was bred to be hardwearing, weatherproof, and thick enough to protect the dog from twigs and thorns, and from snagging in the undergrowth during hunts. The hairs also repel dirt, keeping the dogs clean, healthy, and fit for work.
Dog breeds which have these types of coats
There are many breeds of dog that have a wire coat. You can usually tell by looking or touching the fur that it is coarse and ‘wiry”. Here is a list of some wire-haired dogs that you will probably recognise. They all have that “old man” look.
- Airedale Terrier
- Border Terrier
- Wirehaired Dachshund
- Jack Russell Terrier
- German Wirehaired Pointer
- Irish Wolfhound
- Scottish Terrier
- Wirehaired Fox Terrier
- West Highland White Terrier
How to care for them
You can maintain your dog’s wire coat at home by regularly brushing out knots. It helps to keep your dog’s fur clean and tidy, naturally plucking out dead hairs along the way, and stimulating the skin for good blood circulation and new growth.
You can also pluck stray or longer hairs with your fingers in the direction of growth. This will help to keep your dog's wire-coat in top condition in between visits to the groomer.
Wire-coated dogs don’t need to be bathed regularly because the hairs naturally repel dirt. But using dog shampoos on a regular basis to wash your dog will strip away the natural oils, leaving the coat vulnerable.
At the groomers
Take your dog to the groomers periodically to get their coat stripped professionally. Some groomers don’t recommend washing directly after hand stripping, and prefer to strip the coat while it is dirty as it is easier to grip the hairs. This means that you may have to visit the groomers twice if you want them to give your dog a thorough shampoo. You should get advice from your groomer.
Be wary of a groomer that suggests clipping your wirehaired dog’s coat. Some groomers find the stripping process to be too time-consuming, or may not offer the service due to pet dogs not tolerating the procedure because they aren’t used to it. If you want your dog’s coat to be regularly hand-stripped, get them used to it from an early age.
Useful grooming products
If you want to wash and care for your dog’s coat at home we recommend the following products:
RedBerry Performance Shampoo
This is great deep cleansing shampoo for removing dirt and grime, leaving your dog fully deodorised and gleaming.
Oatmeal Natural Hypoallergenic Shampoo
We recommend this more gentle cleanser for use after hand-stripping your dog.
Oscar Franke Purple Brush or Wow Super Brush
These are both great slicker brushes for your dog, with extra long pins to rake through the thick coat and remove debris and dead hair.