The Best Care for Wiry Hair

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A lot of people like smooth-coated, short-haired dogs because they don’t need much in the way of grooming. But wire-coated dogs are beautiful, too. Even better, they’re not as difficult to groom as a lot of people think. You just have to know a few easy techniques and have the right tools.

Are you ready to get started? Great! Let’s go!

How is Wiry Hair Different?

Obviously, a wiry coat looks different. It sticks up, out, and all over the place. It feels different, too: rough and coarse instead of smooth. A person’s first instinct might be to try to smooth out a wiry coat, but that would be a mistake. A wire-coated dog is supposed to look and feel rough. And that rough coat serves a purpose.

Unlike a smooth coat, a rough coat is actually two coats in one. Underneath is a shorter, smoother coat of hair, and on top is a longer, bristly layer. This combination repels water and protects your dog from the elements. We also think it looks quite sharp.

On the Other Hand

The tradeoff, however, is that a rough-coated Jack will need some special grooming to keep them looking their best. Some techniques that groomers and owners use with wire-coated dogs include:

Brushing and combing

Regular combing with a wide-toothed comb will keep the longer, wiry hairs from tangling. And when your dog seasonally blows his or her undercoat, giving them a daily brushing with a slicker brush will help to collect the loose hairs as they fall off. We’ll talk more about these tools later.


Stripping means removing the dead hairs of the undercoat. You can do this by hand or with a stripping knife. Start by combing the tangles and any dirt from your dog’s coat. Then divide the hair into sections. Gently pluck the dead hairs from the undercoat. This video can show you how.


Trimming means giving the long hairs around the face and ears a little scissor-trim — just like a man might trim his sideburns.

Rolling vs. taking down

Taking a wiry coat down means doing the stripping all at once. Rolling means doing it a bit at a time, whenever you think it needs to be done. You’ll find plenty of advocates for both methods. Choose the one that works best for you and your dog.

The Tools of the Trade

As you saw in the video, you can strip a dog’s coat by hand — and it looks like the dog rather enjoyed it. But there are also tools you can use to help you get the job done.

Wide-toothed comb

Image via Amazon

A wide-toothed comb is your first-line tool. Use it to brush out tangles in the overcoat, and to remove debris.

Slicker brush

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A slicker brush has closely-placed wire teeth. When your dog is blowing his or her undercoat, and you want to quickly and efficiently gather up the hair before it gets everywhere, this is your tool of choice.

Stripping knife

Image via Amazon

It sounds scary, but it’s not. The stripping knife is actually another kind of comb. You use it to remove dead hairs from your dog’s undercoat if you don’t want to pluck them by hand.


Image via Amazon

You could also call them really pretty scissors. These are used to trim and shape the long hairs on your dog’s face and ears.

Get Grooming!

Grooming a wiry coat might look like a hairy puzzle, but it’s not all that hard. With a little learning, a little elbow grease, and the right tools, you’ll keep your rough-coated buddy looking great.

Featured Image: CC0 by LabellaCavalla, via Pixabay

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