Scruffy Dog Breeds: 21 Bristled Barkers

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Breeds By Kelsey Leicht 14 min read June 26, 2023

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Scruffy Dog Breeds

While some pet parents love polished pooches, others feel that the scruffier the dog, the better!

Don’t worry; you’re not alone if you love the scruff. We think scruffy dog breeds are super cute too!

Below, we’ll share our favorite scruffy dog breeds and discuss scruffy coat care to help you determine if a scruffy canine fits your family.

What Is a Scruffy Dog Breed 

What Is a Scruffy Dog Breed 

A “scruffy dog breed” has multiple meanings depending on who you ask. 

The most commonly used definition (and the one we’re going with today) is a dog breed that looks untidy or messy with hair falling every which way, including over the eyes

These breeds may have longer, messy hair from nose to tail or facial hair that’s especially unkempt. Either way, we think they’re super cute.

The 21 Best Scruffy Dog Breeds

black and white scruffy dog

We’ve wrangled up the scruffiest of four-footers in all shapes and sizes. Let’s meet 21 scruffy dog breeds and see if any match your lifestyle enough to join your pack. 

1. Pudelpointer

This German gentleman comes from hunting dog origins. His wiry coat’s loaded with character, much like the breed himself, known to be eager to please and happy-go-lucky. He has the potential to be a fantastic family dog, and his somewhat kooky coat is easy to maintain, only needing weekly brushing to prevent matting.

A strong working drive goes hand-in-hand with the Pudelpointer. This isn’t the dog for a couch potato or someone who works long hours away from home since he needs lots of daily physical and mental exercise. Canine sports like agility and dock diving would be right up his alley.

2. Spinone Italiano

A member of the sporting group, this Italian hunting breed is quite the scruff ball with his shaggy coat. Hand-stripping as needed is important, but other than that, he’s a canine meant to be kept wiry. His floppy ears do require weekly cleaning, however.

This Italian pup is smart but stubborn, so pack your treat pouch with high-value rewards and be patient. Because of his strong-willed nature, he’s not a good pick for a first-time dog owner.

3. Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier

Cherished for his cheeriness, the cairn is a scruffy dog breed with a wiry coat that’s a breeze to care for. Brush him out once a week with a slicker brush and clip his nails as needed to keep him looking snazzy.

As a terrier, the cairn can sometimes be a handful, picking and choosing which commands to obey. Start obedience training and socialization early on, especially with small pets like cats and other dogs, as this scraggly sniffer can be surprisingly scrappy and stubborn. 

4. Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier

This Aussie terrier’s harsh double coat is designed to repel farm funk, only needing weekly brushing to maintain its appearance. The pup’s exercise regimen is more of a handful, as he’s among the most active of terriers. Daily play and walks are essential in keeping him out of trouble around the house. 

Training this little guy can be a treat if you keep sessions short, focused, and reward-based. He doesn’t like repetition and will tune you out if you bore him with too many basic lessons back-to-back. Introducing dog training toys to your lessons can keep him on track.

5. Norwich Terrier

Hailing from England, this small, scruffy pup is jam-packed with personality. He’s naturally curious, loving nothing more than getting into everything (including your garden if you’re not careful). As a vermin catcher in origin, he may also dig next to your prized peonies.

The Norwich is a great family dog, as he’s affectionate and friendlier with kiddos than many terrier breeds. Just be sure to start socializing him with other dogs and small pets, too, since he’s known to be scrappy with non-human housemates.

6. Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

Distinguishable from the Norwich terrier by his floppy ears, the Norfolk is a small terrier breed from England with a wiry scruff coat that needs hand-stripping a few times a year. Training this little one is pretty demanding since  he’ll go rogue if he tires of your lesson plan. Keep treats and humor close while working with him.

An active four-footer with a strong prey drive, be wary about introducing a Norfolk to a household with small pets like rabbits. Keep him leashed outside of fenced areas, too, as he’ll bolt after any perceived prey, whether it’s a rabbit or a bicycle.

7. Otterhound

A large mutt of medieval origins, the otterhound is one of the larger scruffy dog breeds on our list, weighing up to 115 pounds. All that dog and hair can be a lot to handle, as his coat needs to be brushed twice a week. You’ll also want to clean his beard occasionally since crumbs and other debris tend to tangle in the strands.

The otterhound is very affectionate with his family, but he can be a barker. He’s also sensitive, so avoid harsh punishment while teaching him manners and basic obedience. Like other woofs, positive reinforcement dog training works best with him.  

8. Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Affectionately known as the PBGV by breed lovers, this uncommon cutie has a shabby coat and a doe-eyed look that melts hearts. He’s a good fit for family settings and usually gets along great with other dogs, suiting multi-pup households. However, he did get his start hunting rabbits, so watch him around small pets.

The PBGV is an alert watchdog, which can lead to boisterous rounds of barking that your neighbors may not appreciate. He’s also intelligent and strong-willed, making training a challenge at times. 

9. Brussels Griffon

A member of the toy group, the Brussels Griffon is a pooch with quite the look, as his upturned pout seems forever grumpy. He’s not your stereotypical pint-sized pooch but loyal nonetheless, preferring to romp around and explore rather than warm your lap.

Brussels Griffon can be rough-coated or smooth, with rough-coated canines having the scruffy look we’re after today. He’s not a big-time shedder but must be brushed at least once weekly to remove tangles. You’ll also want to clean his beard, which can trap food and become smelly.

10. Bouvier des Flandres

Large and in charge, the Bouvier is a member of the herding group with a whole lot of hair. Despite his mighty mane, he only needs to be brushed twice weekly to banish tangles. As with other furry-faced friends, you’ll want to clean his beard frequently to keep the yuckies away.

A workaholic at his core, the Bouvier needs a job to put his brain and body to work daily. Luckily, he’s smart and relatively easy to train, so pairing obedience lessons with long walks or hikes is a good start in satisfying his needs.

11. Affenpinscher

Lovingly called a “little monkey dog,” this scruffy sweetheart has a face that’ll leave even the coldest heart swooning in no time with his eternal pout and expressive eyes. He’s a proud member of the toy group, but unlike the traditional lap dogs among them, he’s less concerned with pets and more focused on clowning around.  

The Affenpinscher is friendlier with strangers than most tiny dogs and famously fearless, sometimes getting himself into sticky situations with his boldness. For this reason, you’ll want to keep him leashed outside fenced areas.

12. Cesky Terrier


This Czech export has a scruffy look marked with epic eyebrows and a beard. He doesn’t need hand-stripping like other terriers, but traditionally, his body is clipped short while his face and “skirt” are left longer. Brush these longer areas a few times weekly to prevent tangles.

Training the Cesky’s easier than most terriers since he’s more eager to please. He’s also intelligent, so switch lessons up to keep boredom away. You’ll want to keep him leashed in unsecured areas, as he has a strong prey drive and will chase passing squirrels. 

13. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier


Weighing up to 40 pounds, the soft-coated wheaten is a medium-sized member of the terrier group with shaggy hair that’s silkier than you’d think. Daily brushing prevents mats, particularly around his mess-prone beard and bushy brows.

Smart but stubborn, he can be a joy and a challenge to train in the same session. Combining learning with fun is essential in keeping him focused. A prime example would be introducing dog walking games to spice up his everyday leash lessons.

14. Wirehaired Dachshund 


Coming in smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired varieties, the dachshund is one diverse-looking doggo. A wirehaired woof needs to be hand-stripped a few times a year to maintain his classic appearance, along with brushing once a week, focusing on his beard.   

As a low-riding Rover, the dachshund’s extreme frame is at risk of injury during rough play or accidental falls. Don’t let him run up and down the stairs, and prevent him from hopping off furniture. Watch his waistline, too, since extra pounds put too much stress on his back.

15. Scottish Deerhound

Clocking in at up to 110 pounds, this Scottish sweetie is one of the super-sized shaggy dog breeds on our list. Luckily, his wiry coat only needs to be brushed once a week, making him easier to groom than other big hairy barkers. 

Daily exercise is a must for this Scot, with running a favorite of this sweet sighthound. Jogging at your side should be avoided until he’s mature enough, but be sure he gets ample outdoor time to play in a fenced-in area daily. He also needs one-on-one time with his favorite people, thriving in settings where someone’s always home.

16. Parson Russell Terrier


Lovers of fun and adventure will adore this scruffy companion, coming in rough and smooth-coated varieties. He loves a good hike or romps around the yard with playthings. Just be sure you buy toys for aggressive chewers, as he can be chomp-happy.

This tenacious terrier is a ratter dog, so he needs careful socialization with small pets to avoid any issues. He’s a top-notch contender for Earth Dog competitions, but you’ll want to watch him around flower beds as he’ll happily dig wherever he suspects vermin are hiding.

17. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

A fuzzy body and mop-top head make the Dandie a classic scruffy dog. Caring for his coat requires careful stripping a few times a year and frequent brushing to avoid tangles. Since the breed’s known to be independent, start grooming and training early to ensure he cooperates with commands. 

Built long and low, the Dandie needs special care around stairs and furniture to avoid back injuries. You’ll also want to watch his weight to prevent unnecessary joint stress. 

18. Border Terrier


A friendly pup with a thirst for adventure, the border terrier is a great travel buddy and one of the best dog breeds for van life. His agreeable nature suits family life, while his eagerness to please makes him easier to train than many other terriers.

Caring for his wiry double coat isn’t too tricky. Brush him once a week to remove shedding hair and debris, and keep an eye on his nails to ensure they’re trimmed and neat for his next outdoor excursion.

19. Glen of Imaal Terrier


A farm dog to the bone, this Irish darling has a double-coated wiry look meant to be low maintenance. Brush him out every few days to remove any loose undercoat, and have him stripped two or three times a year to keep him looking and feeling great.

This is one of the calmest dog breeds among terriers, requiring a daily walk and indoor play to stay content. Just be sure he gets enough exercise, as he can pack on pounds if he doesn’t move around enough.

20. Irish Wolfhound


As the tallest of dog breeds, the Irish wolfhound offers a ton of scruff. Standing a minimum of 32 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 120 pounds, this huge hound can be a handful, but starting his obedience training and healthy socialization in puppyhood can shape a gem of a gentleman.

Maintaining the wolfhound’s grizzly coat isn’t as complicated as you’d think. Brush him out weekly to remove debris, loose hair, and tangles. He’s a year-round shedder, but not overwhelmingly so.

21. Skye Terrier

Skye terriers

White short in stature, the Skye terrier weighs up to 45 pounds. His long coat flows right over his eyes, but this pup doesn’t need clipping like other terriers. Just comb him out a few times weekly to keep tangles away. 

The Skye terrier isn’t as rambunctious as many other terriers, pleasing fans of the group who can’t handle the tenacity of some breeds. He’s smart and knows it, sometimes refusing commands if his way seems more fun. Treats and patience go a long way with him in training.

Caring for a Scruffy Dog Breeds

caring for scruffy dogs

Scruffy dog breeds have a unique look that usually makes your mind race straight to coat maintenance, as tending to all that hair can’t be easy, right? Scruffy hair doesn’t always mean more time on the grooming table, but it varies from breed to breed. 

Coat care routines for scruffy dog breeds may include:

  • Frequent brushing: Longer hair is prone to tangles, so you’ll need to brush a scruffy pup out more often than a smooth-coated canine. This is especially true if you frequent areas with brambles and other debris that can get caught in the coat.
  • Hand-stripping: Some scruffy dog breeds need a special type of grooming called hand-stripping to remove hair. This isn’t the easiest service to find, so you may need to call several groomers in your area to find a proper practitioner. 
  • Clipping: A few scruffier dog breeds have a breed standard that requires clipping around the body, like the Cesky terrier. That said, many other scruffy dog breeds have a standard that forbids clipping, with breeders advising against it to prevent damaging the canine’s unique coat, like the cairn.
  • Beard maintenance: Many scruffy dog breeds have enviable facial hair, with the beard and mustache area often trapping food and debris as your woof chows down or sniffs around. Brushing facial hair out and wiping it down with a wet cloth a few times a week keeps messes and odors away.
  • Eyebrow patrol: Scruffy dog breeds often have lots of hair around their eyes, potentially irritating them. Trimming this hair back avoids issues.
  • Sanitary trims: While not always mentioned in breed standards, keeping hair clipped close around your pup’s potty zone prevents unpleasant messes and smells from lingering. 

Every dog breed has a unique set of coat care needs. Read up on your breed’s grooming requirements to ensure you’re offering proper care.

Scruffy Dog Breeds: FAQ


Still curious about some aspects of scruffy dog breeds? Let’s comb through the most frequently asked questions surrounding these hairy hound friends.

What is a scruffy dog breed?

A scruffy dog breed is a pup with a coat usually described as “messy,” either because it hangs over his eyes, features a bushy beard, or is overly shaggy. Many terriers, including the cairn, Cesky, and Skye, meet the definition. Big barkers like the Bouvier des Flanders and Irish wolfhound also fit the bill. 

What is a rough coated dog called?

A rough-coated dog is usually called “wire-haired.” These coats typically feature a harsher outer coat for repelling rain and debris and an inner softer coat for insulating the dog’s body.

What dog has shaggy hair?

Many dog breeds have shaggy hair. You can find large shaggy canines like otterhounds and Pudelpointers, giant ones like Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds, and small pooches like cairn and Australian terriers.

What does scruffy fur mean?

The definition of scruffy fur varies from person to person, but the general consensus is that scruffy fur means a wiry coat that looks messy with bushy eyebrows or beards. An otterhound is a perfect example of a shaggy dog in most people’s opinions, as they feature nose-to-tail longer hair that’s always raggedy.

Do you have any of the scruffy dog breeds we shared above? Do you live with another we missed? Tell us about your scruffy sniffer in the comments. We’d love to get to know him!

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Written by

Kelsey Leicht

Kelsey is a lover of words and woofs. She worked hands-on with dogs for several years at a boarding kennel as a shift runner and office manager before venturing into the world of writing. She lives in New Jersey with her crew of crazy canines.


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