Depending on who you ask, there are as many as several hundred dog breeds in the world; the American Kennel Club officially recognizes 195. Though all the same species, dogs likely offer the most significant variations of a single species in the world. Individuals come in all sizes, shapes, weights, and coat types. Dog hair can be long or short, thick or thin, curly or straight, smooth or rough. All these differences across dog breeds mean that they have different needs for coat care and grooming. So, read on for your guide to dog coat types.
Short, Medium, and Long Dog Coat Types
The length of your dog’s hair dictates a lot about how you need to care for them.
Short-coated dogs are generally smooth-coated, meaning their fur lies flat and smooth along their skin. These dogs often have glossy, shiny hair and include breeds like the Staffordshire Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, and Boxer. If your short-haired dog also lacks an undercoat, chances are they will need a coat or jacket during colder months. Short-coated dogs typically require less grooming and brushing compared to other coat types. They tend to shed dirt quickly and require less bathing.
Medium Dog Coat Types
Medium-coated dogs fall in the grey area between short and long coats. A dog with a medium coat that also has a double coat often has an overcoat that stands up away from their body, giving them a bushy appearance. Huskies are a great example of a medium-coated dog with a fluffy double coat. Dogs with medium-length coats need regular brushing to prevent matting, especially with the feathering on the back legs and tail. German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are additional examples of medium-coated dogs with double coats.
The show-offs in the dog show world are the long-coated pups. While stunning, these long coats require regular, thorough grooming to make sure they don’t get matted or cause skin issues. While you shouldn’t shave any dogs with double coats, owners of long-coated breeds that lack an undercoat often get their dogs trimmed into a “puppy cut,” which is easier to maintain. We see long dog coat types in breeds like the Afghan Hound and Old English Sheep Dog.
Single Coat vs. Double Coat
One of the most essential pieces of information to consider when assessing your dog’s coat is whether they have a single or double coat. We sometimes refer to single coats as “hair” and double coats as “fur,” but in reality, all dog coats are fur. A double coat comprises a dense overcoat and thinner undercoat, whereas dogs with “hair” only have a lighter topcoat and lack the fluffy undercoat.
Double-coated dogs usually have an undercoat that is shorter than their overcoat. Their fur appears thick and wooly. A prime example of double-coated dogs with long hair are the Rough Collie and Bernese Mountain Dog. Double-coated dogs shed more and need regular, thorough brushing. Twice a year, dogs with double coats will “blow out” their undercoat as the seasons change. As the weather warms, double-coated dogs shed their thick winter undercoat in favor of a thinner one. When the season turns cooler, your dog grows another dense undercoat. During these times, your dog needs help getting all that pesky undercoat off. The Ferminator is a fantastic tool to help you accomplish this task.
Other Dog Coat Types
Here are some other types of dog coats and how to care for them.
We discussed above that many dogs with short hair have “smooth coats,” where the hair lies flat on their skin and is often shiny. In contrast to smooth-coated dogs, we have rough-coated dogs. Unsurprisingly, this coat category is dictated by texture more than anything else. Rough coats can be medium or long, they can even look soft and fluffy, but they are always rough to the touch. The harsh feeling of a rough coat is almost always due to a water-resistant quality in the hairs. Some other subcategories of rough dog coat types are called “wiry” or “broken.”
Wire coats are a subcategory of rough dog coat types and are categorized by texture as well. These coats are sometimes called “broken” coats and have a wiry texture. Hair in wire coats is stiff and stands away from the body, especially on the face, back of the legs, and tail. Wire-coated dogs often sport a distinguished mustache, beard, and eyebrows. Wire coats require a lot of grooming; they need to be hand-stripped to maintain the coat’s appearance, which is quite time-consuming. The Airedale Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier are prime examples of wire-coated breeds.
Curly Dog Coat Types
Like all dog breeds, curly-coated dogs sport a wide variety of coat appearances; curly dog coat types range from tight ringlets to pronounced waves. Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs are well-known curly-coated dog breeds. Many dogs with curly fur shed much less than other dog breeds, making them ideal for those with allergies. They do require regular grooming, however, to prevent matting.
These show-stopping breeds, the silky-coated dogs, have long, flowing coats that shine. They need regular grooming to prevent the long, gorgeous locks from becoming tangled and painful. You might think you need to bathe silky coats more often, but in fact, silky coats don’t need any more bathing than other dog coat types. The Yorkshire Terrier, Irish Setter, and Silky Terrier are all examples of silky-coated dogs.
Though not incredibly common, no list of dog coat types can exclude hairless dogs. Hairless dogs have such fine, short hair they appear bald. They shed less and have less pet dander, making them a fantastic option for dog-lovers with pet allergies. You need to keep hairless dogs like the Chinese Crested safe from the sun and have unique skincare routines as well. Hairless dogs need more frequent bathing and moisturizers to keep their sensitive skin healthy.
A (Dog) Coat For All Seasons
Dogs are a species with an immense amount of variety among individuals. Their coat colors, textures, and lengths are no exception. What kind of coat does your dog have? Understanding what kind of coat our canine companions sport helps us to groom and care for them in the best way possible. A dog with a healthy coat is happier and less likely to suffer from annoying or even dangerous skin problems.