Description of a terrier coat:
More than 30 breeds of terriers exist. There are the ones with short, straight coats, e.g. Bull Terrier, German Jagdterrier and Smooth Foxterrier. Then there are quite a few terrier breeds with a longer and softer coat, e.g. Kerry Blue Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Yorkshire Terrier. They all have to be treated differently, but none of those breeds are suited for what we call grooming.
The breeds suited for grooming are breeds like West Highland White Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Irish Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, Border Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Airdale Terrier, Norwich Terrier and Cairn Terrier just to mention the more well-known.
Normally, a wire-haired terrier breed has a double coat. I.e. a soft woollen coat beneath one – or sometimes several – layers of rough wire coat. The trick is to draw out the top layer of fur, so that new, fresh fur can grow out. When I specifically say draw out, is it because a wire coat must come out with the roots(!!), so there is room for new fur in the empty hair follicle. If you cut a wire coat, it loses its colour and structure and the entire function of the coat’s resistance is ruined.
That is one of the reasons that it is not a good idea to wash a wire coat. This will remove the natural grease that surrounds every hair and protects the fur from moisture and dirt. It is actually the same as when we waterproof a leather jacket or a leather bag, or we shine our shoes with a grease shoe polish. You can also compare it to an Oriental carpet that is not to be washed as that will remove the grease from the treads, and it will have no resistance towards dirt.
A wire terrier coat that is treated correctly can be cleaned with a good grooming and a thorough combing, where the natural grease does its job and hence makes washing redundant.