10 Most Popular Wire-Haired Dog Breeds

Sure, they may seem a little rough at first, but these soft-hearted wire hair dogs make great additions to your family!

Have you ever dreamed of curling up on the couch next to a sweet, loveable pup—with wiry hair? Wire-haired dogs may not scream “soft and cuddly,” but for the most part, these funny-furred dogs have coats that are soft to the touch and not rough or scratchy. And they account for some of the world’s most popular dog breeds.

Thanks to their crinkly coats, many wire-haired dog breeds have other distinctive features, such as bushy eyebrows, beards, and mustaches. But these working dogs weren’t bred for beauty contests—most of them were working dogs, used for hunting rodents or larger prey. Their wiry coats made them more resistant to the thorns and branches they encountered when chasing their quarry through the underbrush, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Like many curly-haired dogs, wire-haired breeds are mostly hypoallergenic dogs. While they may not be 100 percent allergy-proof for allergy sufferers, they’re generally low shedders and don’t give off much dander. To keep their coats looking sharp, most wire-haired dogs require hand-stripping of their dead hair. Many owners leave this to a professional groomer, though it can be done at home. It can also be skipped if you don’t mind a dullish coat during certain times of the year.

Here’s a look at some of the most popular wire-haired dog breeds, plus a few you may be less familiar with. Remember, when it’s time to add a new pet to your family, first check your local animal shelters or breed-specific rescue groups for a homeless pup waiting to be adopted.

Wire-Haired Fox Terrier standing on Lawnslowmotiongli/Getty Images

1. Wire fox terrier

The more common variety of fox terrier—the other is the smooth fox terrier—foxys were bred to be tireless hunters, and they remain an energetic, feisty breed. Like most terriers, they’re intelligent, curious, and bore easily if they’re not kept engaged. Regular walks, games of fetch, and other play activities are essential. Because of their strong prey instinct, you need to keep them out of run-ins with rodents, cats, and the family gerbil. With that in mind, foxys are great pets for kids—playful and full of energy just like they are. These low-shedders need to be brushed once a week.

Portrait of young hunting dog, German Wirehaired PointerGabi Uhrova/Getty Images

2. German wirehaired pointer

With their expressive facial hair, these pups also made our list of popular dogs with beards. These bird dogs were bred for hunting and have a rough, wiry waterproof coat that made them perfect for chasing game into ponds or dense, thorny bushes. They’re still favored by hunters, but these energetic pups make great family dogs, especially when there are active kids or adults around to play with. Just don’t leave them alone for too long or let them get bored, or all their energy might be channeled into destroying the lawn—or the couch. German wirehaired pointers shed a fair amount but otherwise have no special grooming needs—a weekly brushing should do it.

Jack Russell dog outside in the grassIuliia Bondar/Getty Images

3. Jack Russell terrier

Surprisingly, this popular breed is not registered with the AKC—though its close cousin, the Parson Russell terrier is. Jack Russells developed in England in the early 1800s as the perfect fox-hunting dog—swift, smart, fearless, and small enough and fast enough to chase a fox out of its den. Rough- or broken-coat varieties have wiry hair that needs hand-stripping or clipping in order to avoid tangling and matting. If you’re looking for a dog that just might outsmart you, look no further. These friendly, happy, willful dogs need lots of attention and time devoted, or else they can turn into a really destructive handful.

Portrait of cute miniature schnauzer at the park.romaset/Getty Images

4. Schnauzer

Schnauzers come in three different sizes—miniature, standard, and miniature. While they’re actually three different breeds, they have a lot in common—especially their dense, wiry coats. Those wiry hairs need to be hand-stripped a few times a year. If you trim instead of hand-strip a Schnauzer his coat will soften, but he’ll shed more. These intelligent, sometimes hard-headed pups need early socialization with kids and other pets and could do with some obedience training. Breed experts say that Schnauzers sense weakness like a shark can smell blood—so they might not be the best breed for a novice dog owner. If you are inexperienced, check out the best dogs for first time owners.

Portrait of two dogs breed Wire-haired dachshundVKarlov/Getty Images

5. Wirehaired Dachshund

Their smooth-coated kin is more popular in the United States, but wirehaired Dachshunds have that same big Doxy personality tucked into a small, elongated package, complete with short legs. Wirehaired varieties have short, thick, double coats with a soft undercoat and a wiry topcoat that needs hand-stripped a few times a year to retain its color and luster. These pint-sized pups, a favorite long-nosed breed, were bred to hunt badgers and still have a strong “kill” instinct—so watch them around pet birds or other small animals. Friendly, playful, and sweet-natured, Dachshunds do well in apartments and need a moderate amount of exercise.

Border terrier dog sitting outsideZuzule/Getty Images

6. Border terrier

With 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.

airedale terrier sitting on rock outsideatomadog/Getty Images

7. Airedale terrier

All dogs require a commitment of time, love, and care from their owners—Airedale terriers more than most. This smart, sensitive breed may stare at you incessantly until you agree to throw his ball, pretend to not hear you when you call or give him orders, or bolt like a deer when they see something worth chasing a trait that makes them a great guard dog. Airedales are recommended for those who know and love the breed and know how to train them. Their wiry topcoats and soft undercoats don’t do too much shedding, though this curly-haired dog breed can start looking rather scruffy without regular trimming and stripping a few times a year.

Irish Wolfhound. Big gray dog sitting on the river bank.Kamila Veresova/Getty Images

8. Irish wolfhound

The tallest of all dog breeds, these graceful giants can usually rest their paws on the shoulders of their human companions and look them right in the eye. Known in ancient history as fierce hunters and war dogs, today’s Irish wolfhounds don’t inspire fear so much as they do wonder—they’re simply spectacular looking dogs with long lean good looks and warm, friendly expressions. Their wiry coats shed a fair amount, and need weekly brushing and occasional trimming and stripping. They also need a lot of space, both in a home and outdoors, as well as frequent walks and a fenced-in area to run. They need early socialization in order to learn to be around smaller dogs and cats.

Otterhound looking over fenceLourdesPhotography/Getty Images

9. Otterhound

The Otterhound’s fortunes started to wane after otter-hunting was outlawed in England in the 1970s. Today, there are fewer than 1,000 of them across the world, about half of them in the United States. His long, wiry topcoat and thick undercoat have a naturally disheveled look to them and don’t require much more than regular brushing. If you’re looking for a big, goofy, kid-friendly dog with lots of energy, this rare breed might be for you—though you’ll have to reserve with a breeder well in advance and expect to pay a premium—puppies usually sell for $1,500 and up.

Wirehaired Vizsla dog running on water and stones from a river with a piece of wood in its snoutFoto Para Ti/Getty Images

10. Wirehaired Vizsla

A distinct breed from their short-haired brethren, wirehaired Vizslas were bred in Hungary as hunting dogs but today, as just as happy accompanying you on long walks or for movie night on the couch. He’s a sweet family medium dog breed, but may be a little too bouncy for houses with very young children. His wiry coat will shed twice a year, during which time you’ll want to hand strip him and brush him more frequently. Otherwise, a weekly brushing will do the trick. Keep these smart, loyal dogs active, and don’t leave them on their own for too much time, lest they get anxious and destructive.

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Italy. Her writing on travel and sustainability appears in national and international publications, and she is the author of several guidebooks. For RD.com and sister publication FamilyHandyman.com, she writes about pets (especially dogs!), books, seasonal gift guides, home improvement and outdoor living.