A little Terrier named Terra was known by the kids in her family as "Terra the Terrible Terrier". Though she was actually a nice little dog, she may have been a terror to groom!
Wire-haired dogs from the terrier family have a different coat from most dogs. They have a soft, thick, undercoat, and wiry long hairs that grow through the undercoat and stick out. Sort of like a person wearing a polar fleece with a windbreaker overtop! The wiry coat traps water and dirt on the outside, keeping the undercoat dry and clean. This is probably great if you are a little dog that was bred to go down holes after rodents and such, like a Terrier, for instance! But it presents a grooming conundrum. How do you groom a coat that is made up of two different types of hair?
Well, there are two solutions: you can address it, or you can ignore it. Which you choose depends on whether you have a show dog that requires that wirehair is preserved and maintained by hand stripping so that new wire hairs grow and your dog maintains that scruffy terrier look. However, many pet owners opt for an easier method and clip the entire coat uniformly.
Hand stripping is time-consuming and may need to be accomplished in several sessions if it has not been done for quite a while.
Hand stripping techniques need to be done with care and taking small amounts of hair at a time so as not to cause discomfort to the dog.
Hand stripping techniques for specific breeds are very particular and can be difficult, so it is usually done professionally. A professional with experience specific to your dog's breed can be difficult to locate.
Wirehair undercoats can form mats, even when short, during the shedding season especially.
Clipping a wiry-haired dog may not address differences in the hair coat, and is not appropriate for dogs that are going to participate in shows.
Mud and debris between the toes of wire-haired breeds can mat hair and cause sores and cysts if not addressed during grooming.
Grooming your wiry-haired dog will require a decision on whether to maintain that wiry scruffy look by hand stripping or whether you just want to take it all off! This decision may be affected by whether you plan on showing your wiry haired pup and need to maintain a breed standard. Either way, your wiry-haired dog will appreciate looking his best--even ratters have a little bit of vanity after all!