You may not have thought about it, but did you know that there are different types of dog coats? I’m sure you’ve noticed that a Poodle has a very different coat than a Husky! Did you know that their grooming needs are different? Most dogs need some type of grooming, and some dogs require higher maintenance than others. Some are easy to do yourself, others are likely to be better served by a professional groomer.
Did you know that there is also a difference between fur and hair? Breeds with hair only have one single layer, while breeds with fur may have two layers, known as a double coat, or a topcoat and an undercoat. Hair is usually smoother, longer, and finer than fur. Fur also goes through a faster growth cycle, and so sheds more heavily, which in turn, leads to a greater spread of dander, which is why many people believe that dogs with hair, rather than fur, are more hypoallergenic.
Smooth Coat: Smooth coats require the least amount of grooming, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the grooming process! The hair of a smooth coat lies closer to the body, like on a Dachshund, and needs to be bathed and brushed regularly. A smooth-furred dog can still shed a lot, depending on the breed or mix, and regular grooming will help keep it off your carpet and furniture!
Long Coat: Longer fur on dogs, such as German Shepard’s, needs to be brushed almost every day, especially during shedding season. Long coats can be coarse or silky, but for either one, it’s important to be gentle when brushing because this type of coat gets tangled easily and pulling too hard can cause pain.
Double Coat: Dogs with a double coat, like Huskies, have a soft undercoat that provides insulation, and a tougher top coat to repel water and dirt. This is why they do so well in the colder climates, and why they shed like crazy! This double coat, which can be short or long, also needs more maintenance and grooming than other types of hair or fur.
Curly Coat: You can recognize this type of coat quickly! Curly-coated dogs, like Bichon Frises, have thick, soft curls that rest close to the body. The grooming challenge with curly coats is that the curls grow quickly and need to be trimmed regularly.
Wire Coat: Some terriers, as well as Irish Wolfhounds, have wiry coats that are susceptible to tangling. Wire (or broken) coats are not supposed to be soft and silky, like the coats of most other dogs. A properly groomed wire coat will be rough and bristly. Dogs with wire coats do not shed, which makes these breeds a good choice for some allergy sufferers.
Understanding what type of coat your dog has will not only help you in your grooming efforts but will also help you understand other needs of your dog. A husky, for example, does exceptionally well in cold climates thanks to their double coat, but can overheat in warmer climates (and shedding… so much shedding…). And while all dogs should be sheltered in freezing temperatures, dogs with single layer coats are particularly susceptible to the cold and pet owners should even be cautious of short exposures (like walks) when it’s below freezing. What type of coat does your dog have?