Dogs belonging to the American Kennel Club's toy group come in all shapes, sizes and finishes. They may be as solid as the pug or as slight as the Chihuahua. A number of terriers are in the group, including Manchester and silky terriers. There's a hairless dog, curly haired dog and short-coated dog. However, there's only one wirehaired toy terrier, and that's the affenpinscher.
The True Toy Wirehaired: Affenpinscher
Your cat can retire from mouse patrol if an affenpinscher is in the house. This little fellow, who runs between 6 and 13 pounds, hails from ratting dogs in Germany. He is an intelligent, playful and energetic dog who loves his family, though he can show a stubborn streak. His wired coat can be rough or smooth, though the smooth-coated affenpinscher will still have feathering on his legs and a ruff around his neck. He needs to be groomed two or three times a week to keep his coat looking good and tangle-free. This little "monkey-terrier" is one of the few purebred dogs without major breed-specific health concerns.
Kind of Wirehaired Toy: the Brussels Griffon Terrier
Depending on the coat style, the Brussels Griffon may fit the definition of a toy wirehaired terrier. He has two coat styles, smooth and rough, neither of which sheds much. The smooth coat requires weekly brushing, while the wiry, rough coat needs more frequent attention. He's similar in looks and ratting abilities to the affenpinscher, which is no surprise since he's descended from a German affenpinscher type of dog. He's intelligent, but he can be quite naughty when he's unhappy, such as when he's left behind by his family. He typically weighs between 8 and 12 pounds and has a few health concerns, including luxating patellas and hip dysplasia.
Wirehaired Terrier: the Norwich Terrier
The Norwich terrier also comes close to meeting the criteria of a toy wirehaired terrier, except he's not classified in the toy group. This little guy, weighing up to 12 pounds, is in the AKC's terrier group. He has a double coat that needs to be combed once or twice a week. This fellow lets his inner terrier shine, as he'll chase cats or other small prey. Unlike the affenpinscher, he's a sturdier dog, and is one of the few small dogs that's hardy enough to handle child's play. He's intelligent and learns quickly when it's time to train him. His health concerns are relatively few, though sometimes eye problems and luxating patellas occur in this breed.
Wirehaired Terrier: the Norfolk Terrier
The main difference between the Norfolk terrier and the Norwich terrier is length and ears; the Norfolk's a bit longer through the back and has drop ears. He has a similar hard, wiry, straight coat that needs to be combed at least once a week. Like the Norwich, he's a hardy little dog, able to keep up with the kids provided they're old enough not to get too rough with him. Intelligent and trainable, the Norfolk should be kept on leash or contained so he doesn't chase the little creatures he finds irresistible. Generally, he's a healthy dog; mitral valve disease is the most serious health issue for the Norfolk terrier as a breed.
Wirehaired Terrier: the Miniature Schnauzer
The word "terrier" isn't part of this guy's name, but he is a terrier, classified in the AKC's terrier group. Maxing out around 15 pounds, the miniature schnauzer has a wire coat that requires combing once or twice a week. His prey drive isn't as strong as that of many other terriers, so he often co-exists well with other pets -- though he's probably still bad news for a pet hamster. He's a good choice for a family dog because he's quite intelligent and trainable, as well as affectionate and loyal. His major health issues include urolithiasis and progressive retinal atrophy.
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