The 9 Types of Dog Coats

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Is it hair? Is it fur? Is it double? Is it wiry? We’re going to get to the bottom of this hairy situation (pun most certainly intended) and explain once and for all in plain, English terms… what’s the go with coat types?

Hair vs Fur
It’s commonly believed that hair continues to grow (poodles, white fluffies) as fur stops at a natural length (German Shepherd). This is actually incorrect. Hair and Fur are actually characterised by their ‘feeling’ and ‘look’ as opposed to growth cycle.  Excellent article explaining this here.
Dog’s that are often thought to be hypoallergenic simply have shorter growth cycles, thus shed less. Alas, still shed hair and skin dander – which I might add most people are allergic to the dander, not the actual hair. (I say most because I am not a doctor but I’m pretty certain it should be ALL)
That being said dogs with ‘fur’ have thick plush coat textures and dog’s with hair have long thin, single layered coats…But technically all dogs have hair!

Common Coat Types
Here’s a list of the common coat types seen on most dogs. The coat type generally refers to the length and/or texture of the coat. See where your dog fits in below!

Smooth Coat
This is a coat that lays close to and flat against the dogs skin. Often while patting you will have short “eyelash” length hairs on your hand (Or clothing…). These coats are often shiny and, well…smooth. Eg: Boxer, Whippet, Dachshund.

Short Haired
I like to think of this coat as a smooth coat with an extra layer. It looks like a smooth coat but it tends to have a shorter growth cycle that leads to more shedding. Think Jack Russel or Labrador hair.

Long Haired
Hair longer than roughly 1-inch. It tends to be thinner from experience or at least seemingly thinner than a short haired dog and there are some breeds with very silky flowing coats which are sometimes separated from this coat type into it’s own Silky Coat type.  Eg: Shih Tsu, Maltese, Yorkie

Combination Coat
Exactly as the title says, it’s a combination of Long and short hair sections or as groomers would call, feathering. Dogs like Golden Retrievers or setter breeds have short hair on their back and can have longer hair (feathering) down their legs, stomach, ears, tail, feet and chest. these breeds usually have a drop coated appearance that can be wavy.

Double Coat
The double coat is not to be confused with a heavy coated breed. A double coated dog has fluffy short hairs for insulation covered by longer, thicker ‘guard’ hairs. The thicker coverage helps to wick moisture, prevent bug bites and protect the skin form the sun. The guard hairs are often where the dogs coat colour comes from as the fluffy undercoat is generally white or lightly coloured. These breeds are not to be clipped!

Heavy Coat
Quite literally, a much heavier, denser coat. Dogs with heavy coats can actually also have a double coat (soft under, thick outer) but it’s generally characterised as an evenly spread thick consistency from the base of the hair to the tips. The perfect example of this type of coat are Chow-Chows and Pekingese.

Woolen/Curly Coats
Woolen or Curly coats are exactly that, where the hair strands circle around one another and create a woolen type appearance. The hair can be long like some poodles or short and compact like some Labradoodles. It’s considered one of the harder coats to look after but with a little brushing everyday to every other day this coat can be kept lovely and soft.

Wiry Coats
This coat has thin long and sometimes slightly spiky hairs, similar to guard hairs on double coated breeds. When you hear someone talking about hand stripping a dog, this is the coat they are referring too. Breeds such as  Schnauzers and Irish Wolfhounds sport this rough coat.

And Lastly, Corded Coats
Only few breeds have a corded coat. Personally this coat requires a more careful grooming approach, no turbo drying, no brushing everything by hand carefully until dry and re-corded if you will. These breeds are born fluffy and develop cords or dread-locks (as I like to say) as they mature. You can however continue to brush your dog to prevent the cording appearance if you will but the hair tends to have a predisposition to sticking together. Examples are: Puli, Komondor and Bergamasco Sheep Dog.


And this is the wondrous array of coat types that I get to see on a daily basis… Each requiring some sort of different grooming technique and care just to keep things interesting.

Which category does your dog fit into? Let’s talk easy grooming home care for your dogs coat type!

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