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Where Do Sheepskin Rugs Come From?

Updated on October 13, 2010

How Are Sheepskin Rugs Made?

Sheepskin rugs are a traditional floor covering that has been popular for many years for its ability to provide a soft and luxurious element to homes.  Sheepskin rugs are warm and also very hardwearing and will last for many years if looked after well.

Sheepskin is literally the hide of a sheep that has been preserved with the wool still attached.  It is used for many different applications including clothing, upholstery and rugs.  In general sheepskin is a by-product of the lamb and mutton industry but in some cases sheep can be reared specifically for the quality of their hide.  Each breed of sheep has a slightly different type of wool in a range of natural colours from blacks and browns through to light creams and whites.  Some wool is long and curly and some short and tightly clumped together.  The manufacturer will choose the sheepskin carefully when making a rug in order to provide a hardwearing, soft and attractive looking finish.

Making Sheepskin Rugs

In the lamb industry sheep are slaughtered whilst they are still very young.  This means that fleeces are not very large but do tend to be quite soft.  The majority of high quality sheepskin rugs are produced from more mature sheep as this provides a larger hide and this can be a by-product of the mutton industry (older sheep).  If the sheep are being specially bred for their fleeces then they will be slaughtered when the wool has reached the desired length.   Depending on the type of rug required the wool will then be trimmed down to the appropriate length to provide a more uniform overall appearance.The sheepskin will then be preserved using curing chemicals and the hide spread out to create a flat, even surface. The cure is needed to prevent the hide from degrading over time and will inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus.  This ensures that the sheepskin is a clean and sanitary product to use safely in the home.

Once fully cured and dried the skins will then be inspected and trimmed to produce a more attractive shaped rug.  In some cases the sheepskin will be lined and this provides and additional layer of warmth and will help the rug to last longer.  Lining can also be used to help prevent the rug from slipping or wrinkle up when it is laid on the floor.

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