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16 Wire Haired Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

West Highland White Terrier

Not every dog in existence has a soft, luscious coat of hair or fur. Some have wiry hair that tends to be rough to the touch. That said, wire-haired dogs are no less loving and cuddly. Just because their coats are a little rough around the edges doesn’t mean their personalities and hearts are. Here are 16 wire-haired dog breeds to learn about—one might just be the perfect pet option for your home!

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How Are Wire-Haired Dog Breeds Classified?

Dogs are classified into seven different groups by the American Kennel Club that represent their purpose:

  • Sporting These dogs are typically bred as hunters and retrievers. They are built to do things like run and swim. These dogs have thick coats that repel water and resist harsh weather conditions.
  • Hound — All hound dogs were originally bred to hunt quarry, no matter their size. These dogs typically have long legs, great eyesight, and impressive speed. They rely on scent to get the hunting job done.
  • Working — These dogs are considered the blue-collar group, as they were developed to do things like pull sleds, guard flocks of livestock, and protect families. Many dogs in this group have been around since ancient times.
  • Terrier These dogs are usually feisty and proud. They were developed to hunt vermin and rodents, though many were also created for bullbaiting, an inhumane practice that has luckily fallen to the wayside in most parts of the world.
  • Toy — As the name suggests, this group includes dogs that are bred to be small, if not tiny. These dogs are meant to sit on laps and cuddle on feet. They can be good ratters too.

Wire hair dog breeds can belong to any of these dog groups, as their coat type does not affect their ability to perform any given task.


The 16 Wire-Haired Dog Breeds

1. Wire-Haired Fox Terrier

wire fox terrier dog in autumn forest
Image Credit: TSViPhoto, Shutterstock
Origin: First developed in the 17th century in England
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 13–16 inches

This Wire-Haired Fox Terrier was specifically bred to hunt foxes, and they would run through brush and thickets to chase their prey. Their thick, wiry hair helps protect their bodies from damage. Today, many owners keep their hair trimmed so it is easier to maintain as time goes on.

2. Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier dog standing on wooden bridge
Image Credit: Anna Tkach, Shutterstock
Origin: Scotland
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 10–11 inches

The typical Scottish Terrier is noble, independent, and quite smart. They have double coats of wiry hair that serve as a protective barrier from the exterior elements. The wiry hair on their chins gives them a sophisticated look, even though they’re anything but.

3. Dachshund

wire haired dachshund standing on the road
Image Credit: nik174, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany in the 17th century
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Height: 8–9 inches

The Dachshund was originally created to get into badger holes and dig out the badgers, which is why their bodies are shaped like sausages. This breed can have either long or smooth hair, but either variety looks wiry.

4. Schnauzer

Salt and pepper miniature Schnauzer
Image Credit: David Pegzlz, Shutterstock
Origin: Sometime between the 14th and 16th centuries in Germany
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 12–14 inches

This impressive dog breed comes in three sizes: miniature, standard, and giant. The smaller versions are the most common household pets. The larger variety was bred to help guard the homestead and keep rats at bay.

5. Airedale Terrier

Airedale terrier
Image Credit: jarobike, Shutterstock
Origin: England, specifically the Aire River region
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 22–24 inches

Airedales are renowned as the “King of Terriers” because they’re the largest breed in the terrier family. While friendly with people they know, these dogs can be protective of their family members at home and in social situations. This is a high-energy breed with a high prey drive.

6. Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier in a spring garden
Image Credit: Colin Seddon, Shutterstock
Origin: The Kerry mountains of Ireland
Lifespan: 13–15 years
Height: 17–20 inches

The impressive blue coat on this large breed shows off an agile, lean body when properly maintained. This multi-talented dog breed can hunt vermin, herd livestock, and guard the farm, all in one day.

7. Border Terrier

border terrier
Image Credit: Colin Seddon, Shutterstock
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 11–16 inches

This might be a small breed in size, but the Border Terrier’s personality is huge. They love to run and play and enjoy the company of kids. Their wiry hair gives them a “shaggy” look, but their personable temperament makes them seem like a cuddly teddy bear. They also enjoy a lazy evening on the couch after a day of fun and exercise.

8. Wire-Haired Vizsla

Wire-Haired Vizsla standing on grass
Image Credit: Colin Seddon, Shutterstock
Origin: Hungary during the 1930s
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 21–25 inches

This is a Hungarian dog breed that has a warm, rough coat of wiry hair and long, agile legs. Wire-Haired Vizslas are still popular hunting dogs today, just as they were when they were originally bred. This loyal breed loves nothing more than to please their human companions.

9. Jack Russell Terrier

wire haired jack russell terrier dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock
Origin: North Devon, United Kingdom
Lifespan: 13–16 years
Height: 12–15 inches

Not all Jack Russell Terriers have wiry coats and hardy builds. Some have smooth hair, but the wiry ones are more common. No matter the coat type, both wiry and smooth-haired Jack Russell Terriers are of the same breed. These dogs are known for their excessive barking.

10. German Wire-Haired Pointer

German Wire-Haired Pointer dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Drazen Boskic PHOTO, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany during the late 1800s
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 22–25 inches

The German Wire-Haired Pointer is similar to other German pointer breeds, but what sets them apart is their insulating and water-repelling wiry coat. This makes them ideal companions for waterfowl hunters and those who enjoy spending time outdoors in harsh weather.

11. Brussels Griffon

brussels griffon dog standin on grass
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Origin: Brussels, Belgium
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Height: 7–10 inches

While small in stature, the Brussels Griffon thinks that they are the largest dog on the planet. They don’t shy away from meeting new people and enjoy playing with children of all ages. These great ratters have medium-length wiry hair.

12. Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhound dog at the park
Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock
Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Height: 30–32 inches

The amazing Irish Wolfhound stands up to an impressive 32 inches at the shoulder and has a thick coat of wiry hair that looks shaggy and doesn’t need to be brushed regularly. This well-mannered, quiet breed gets along well in social settings. They do have a high prey drive and are known to chase after anything that runs.

13. Affenpinscher

an affenpinscher dog at the park
Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 9–11.5 inches

This small wiry-haired breed resembles a typical terrier and was bred to keep farm kitchens and granaries free of unwanted rats, mice, and other pests. These are not shy dogs, and they’ll happily greet strangers both at home and in public settings. They are nice and calm when spending time in the house too.

14. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier walking on grass
Image credit: Sue Thatcher, Shutterstock
Origin: Northumberland, England
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 8-11 inches

These long-eared pups are lovable, loyal, and eager to please. They have long ears, bright round eyes, and long, tubular bodies that are reminiscent of the Dachshund breed, which is also a wire-haired dog. The hair on their heads is wavy, thick, and wiry.

15. Otterhound

otterhound dog lying on grass
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock
Origin: The medieval period in England
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Height: 24–27 inches

The Otterhound was first designed to hunt otters, as their name suggests. However, the sport was banned in England, and since then, the breed has dropped in popularity among sportsmen. There are only about 600 Otterhounds registered with the British Kennel Club today.

16. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier dog in the garden
Image Credit: A. Kiro, Shutterstock
Origin: Scotland
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Height: 9–12 inches

West Highland Terriers are full of fun and energy, but their small size and tendency to relax in their homes make them suitable for apartment living. These dogs sport a double coat, where the undercoat is soft and the outer coat is wiry and protective.

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Each of the 16 wire-haired dog breeds highlighted here has one thing in common, which is their coat type. Otherwise, they all have their own unique personalities, temperaments, and characteristics. They all deserve a spotlight in front of dog lovers around the world.

Featured Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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