Types of dog coats

It may surprise you how many different types of dog coats there are! I’ll cover the most common 5 dog coats on this page.

It’s good to understand the type of coat your dog has, especially for keeping it maintained all well groomed – not just for your dog to look good, but also feel good.

Did you know double-coated breeds like Border Collies shouldn’t be shaved. It destroys their ability to regulate their temperature in both hot and cold weather.

So that’s one good reason to understand your dog’s type of coat!

Other types of coat need regular grooming, either for keeping your dog cool in summer or for preventing matting and knots.

Let’s take a look at the most common 5 types of dog coats:

Double coat

A double coat on a dog refers to the presence of both an outer coat and an undercoat.

The outer coat is typically made up of longer, coarser hair, while the undercoat is shorter and softer.

This combination helps your dog keep warm in cold weather and keep cool in hotter weather. The double coat also helps keep off dirt and water, keeping your dog’s skin and fur clean.

Pretty clever, isn’t it? It’s the reason so many people comment on how wonderfully clean my Border Collie’s coat is, when I rarely wash her!

If your dog has a double coat just keep in mind he’ll require special grooming care, as the two layers of hair can become matted if not brushed regularly.

A double coated dog should not be shaved, as it stops their natural ability to regulate temperature.

However, with proper care, a double-coated dog can enjoy a healthy and lustrous coat!

A dog groomer will often split double-coated dogs into two categories:

Untrimmed or tidied double coats

These are the dog breeds most notorious for shedding, which means your life will be much easier with regular brushing or grooming to get rid of dead undercoat.

Good examples are Border Collies, German Shepherds, Rough Collies, Samoyed, St. Bernards, and Tervueren.

If you own one of these breeds you’ll know what I’m talking about when I refer to tumbleweed in the desert. Because that’s what your house will feel like when your dog is heavily shedding.

This type of double coated dog with need little to no trimming, only grooming. If you heavily trim or shave this type of coat you can damage it long term.

Trimmed double coats

Some double coated dogs have a much longer topcoat, with the Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, and Old English Sheepdog a good example.

Usually these double coated breeds aren’t trimmed as show dogs, but in Australia (and Australian climate) it can be more practical to trim these dogs.

This can offer a shorter coat which is far more practical for hot weather, and as long as the undercoat remains intact will not damage their unique double coat mechanism.

Silky coat

Some breeds, such as the Afghan Hound, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Yorkshire Terrier have a natural silky coat.

The silkiness is more from the texture rather than the length, and it’s the reason why these breeds have more of a sheen to their coat.

Silky coats may require a lot of trimming, or possibly only a small amount. It depends on how much your dog’s coat grows, and how much it sheds.

Having worked with many dogs over my years in the pet industry, it’s also very apparent diet is a factor in how silky a coat is. Not just for silky coat breeds, but all dogs in general.

Having a diet rich in meat and organs along with ingredients rich in omegas (such as oily fish or flaxseed) will often lead to a shiny, healthy coat (and likely better health overall).

Dogs fed a decent raw diet will often have a much silkier coat than those fed on cheap kibbles made of wheat and cereal by-products (nasty!).

Smooth coat

Smooth-coated dog breeds include the Boxer, Dobermann, Staffordshire Bull Terrier (aka the much-loved Staffy), and Weimeraner.

A smooth coat is a type of coat usually with short, fine hair which lies close to the body. Some smooth coated dogs have slightly longer hair, but still with the same smoothness.

Smooth coats are really easy to groom, and often low-maintenance (yay!). But that said, they are susceptible to dirt and debris, and this can effect your dog’s skin.

When a smooth coat gets tangled it’s often close to the skin, so it’s worth keeping check and making sure tangles don’t develop and get worse.

When a smooth coat starts to lose it’s glossy finish, a good grooming should remove the dead coat and leave your dog looking pristine once more!

Wire coat

A wire coat on a dog is a type of coat that is made up of stiff, bristly hairs. It’s a hardy coat which would protect your dog from weather and predators, if that were still necessary in this day and age!

Wire coats can be found on dogs of all sizes and breeds, but are most common on terriers, schnauzers, and poodles.

Wire coats require special care and grooming, as the stiff hairs can become matted and tangled if they are not brushed regularly. This can prove painful for your dog if the tangles get tight near to the skin.

It’s not as obvious on wire-coated dogs but they also have an undercoat like the double-coated breeds. A groomer would “hand-strip” the undercoat to maintain the correct texture and colour, but it’s common for them to be clipped instead (because it’s easier).

If your wire-coated dog is for showing, then you won’t get away with trimming over hand-stripping.

When grooming a wire-coated dog, it’s best to use a slicker brush or a pin brush to avoid damaging the coat.

With any wire coated breed it’s a good idea to trim them periodically (or get the groomer over), which will keep them looking tidy, impressive, and keep the positive comments coming in at the dog park.

Wool coat

If you dog has a wool coat, such as a Poodle, Irish Water Spaniel, or Bichon, then you’re in for a great deal of grooming and maintenance.

The wool coat is easy to distinguish simply because it has the same look as the wool coat of a sheep. Without proper maintenance they easily become unkempt, and notorious for trapping dirt and sticky stuff.

Wool coated breeds need more skillful trimming and drying techniques (more so if you’re planning a fancy cut).

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