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Dog Coat Types

Updated on September 10, 2016

If you plan on grooming your dog or taking her to the salon you still need to know what type of coat your dog has so you can get the proper grooming needs for your dog. There are shampoos and conditioners for types of coats as well as color and feel. If you do go to the dog groomers they can tell you what type of coat your dog has but if you are a do-it-yourselfer then you definitely need to think about these issues.

A dogs coat is described by four qualities that are; coat length, coat thickness, coat texture and color/pattern. There are three types of hair that grows on dogs. They are; undercoat, guard hair or top coat and whiskers. Human hair grows one hair from each hair follicle while dogs can have one hair or many from one follicle. The undercoat is a thick smooth layer that grows in clusters from a single follicle. The top coat is a coarser hair and is usually water repellent. Whiskers are hair the same except longer and thicker. Whiskers have lots of nerves in them and are used for sense of touch.

There are four types of dog coat lengths; hairless - coat with little to no hair, short coat - 1/2 to 2 inches in length, single coat that lays next to skin, medium coat - 2 to 3 inches in length and long coat - at least 3 inches in length.

Dog coat thickness is simply described as thick or thin and is reliant on the type of coat as in single coat or double coat. A single coat has no undercoat, hair is even, smooth and next to skin. A double coat has a top coat and an undercoat as explained above. The top coat provides protection while the under coat provides warmth. Double coated breeds shed twice a year unless the climate is warm in which case they shed year round.

The texture of the coat is described by the following terms; corded, curly, smooth, silky and wiry. A Corded coat is long curls that are often described as being dreadlocks a hair style of the Jamaican Rastafarians. The Puli is an example of a corded coat. A curly coat is curly like a poodle's hair. A smooth coat is short hair, single coat that lies next to the skin like a short haired dachshund or Boston terrier. A Silky cot is a long coat that is smooth, shiny and has a soft feel to it. Afghan hounds and Salukis are two breeds that are examples of silky coats.

Other terms used to describe the coat are; broken coat - wirehaired, brush coat - short, straight and stiff, coarse - unrefined, fluffy - long coat with feathering, open coat - thin haired coat.

If you know what type of coat your dog has it will be easier to get the right grooming products on the first trip. Dog brushes, combs, dog shampoo and conditioners are all based on the type of coat your dog has. Save some money and some time by knowing the coat type before you go to the store.

Guy again at Crufts dog show in England. He is brother of my two (scruffier) spoos. Registered name is Acecliffe Star Guy, and he is owned by his breeders Bob and Wendy Ratcliffe.  Photo by John Leslie.
Guy again at Crufts dog show in England. He is brother of my two (scruffier) spoos. Registered name is Acecliffe Star Guy, and he is owned by his breeders Bob and Wendy Ratcliffe. Photo by John Leslie.


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