Wire-haired terriers, including the Airedale Terrier, the Wire Fox Terrier, the Scottie and several other breeds, sport two different coats: a soft undercoat and a wiry topcoat. The wiry outer coat consists of long hairs only loosely anchored in the follicles. To encourage a fresh and healthy new top coat to grow, hand stripping is recommended as it's the way the hair is designed to come out naturally. Although it sounds painful, it shouldn’t hurt your dog.
1. Coat Texture
Clipping a wiry-coated dog will mean that the top guard hair isn't removed but rather clipped short along with the undercoat. This method means that the guard hair can no longer grow back in the same way as before, and the undercoat's growth is affected, which will result in the coat changing the texture. For most wiry haired dogs their coat will grow back curly and frizzy and will lose the thick wiry texture that the breed is known for!
2. Coat Colour
Like with your hair, the hair shaft dies and thins out in dogs too. It's a natural part of the hair cycle. Although for the wiry breeds, if you don’t pull those hairs out and clip them instead, the guard hair grows back as downy as the undercoat. The undercoat, which is the beginning stage of the hair cycle, is fluffy and pale in colour (the colour develops later on in the cycle) so removing the guard hair means the dog's coat will look faded.
3. Temperature Control
Dogs have naturally weatherproof coats. This coat is an insulator; it is designed to keep the dog cool in summer and warm in winter. If you shave or clip the coat instead of hand stripping it, the soft undercoat will take over and no longer be able to aerate; it will not be weatherproof anymore which lowers the dog's natural defenses against cold and heat!
4. Skin Health
As mentioned in the last point, a wiry dog with a clipped coat loses its ability to defend themselves against weather and appropriately control their temperature and aerate. This means that they can develop skin conditions, especially if any moisture gets trapped in the woolly undercoat. Losing the wiry texture also makes dogs more prone to matting which can also cause sores to form on the skin.
Overall, wiry-haired dogs have coats that are designed to protect them naturally from all weather and their everyday activities. Although it takes longer and is slightly more expensive, however making sure they are hand-stripped is the best way to maintain their coats and overall health and wellbeing!
Img courtesy: wagwalking.com