The covering of hair or fur on a dog's body is known as the coat. Understanding your dog's coat type is the first step in providing the best grooming possible, as each type of coat has specific grooming needs. Some coats may need to be brushed every day or trimmed every week, while others may require minimal maintenance.
Did you know that "there are approximately 400 separate breeds of purebred dogs worldwide"? And this does not include the multitude of mixed breeds around. Each breed comes with a particular type of coat, and they can have a variety of colors, patterns, textures, and lengths.
Groomers often classify coats in slightly different ways, but we have grouped them into 7 dog coat types: the smooth single coat, double, long and silky, curly, wiry, corded or flocked, and hairless. In this article, we look at these different types of coats, and what they may require in terms of maintenance.
Types of Coats
Smooth Single Coat
Smooth-coat dogs have short and silky hair or short coarse hair that lies flat and close to their body. Some smooth single-coated dogs include Boxers, Smooth-coated Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Dobermans, Greyhounds, Boston Terriers, and Great Danes.
Though these types of coats require the least amount of grooming, they can shed just as much as long-haired types, leaving short dog hair everywhere. As such, they will still need regular brushing, weekly or more often, to remove loose hair.
Long and Silky Coat
These coats are long, soft, silky, and flowing, and can vary in length from just a few inches to reaching all the way to the floor. Silky long-haired dogs, like Cocker Spaniels, Afghan Hounds, Yorkshire Terriers, and Maltese, do not have an undercoat.
Dogs with this type of coat tend to shed more seasonally. Regular brushing every day is key for removing knots and preventing them from developing into mats.
Double-coated dogs have two layers of fur, that can vary in length. Double-coated dogs can be long- or short-haired. The top or outer coat consists of longer and tougher guard hairs that resist dirt and moisture. The soft, thick undercoat provides insulation, helping to keep the dog cool in summer and warm in winter,
Double coated dogs often shed twice a year. In preparation for summer, animals shed their winter coat. Similarly, they grow a new winter coat before winter arrives.
Long-haired double-coated dogs differ from long-haired silky dogs in that they have a soft undercoat, and the hair is somewhat coarser. Examples are the Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Shih Tzu, and require daily coat maintenance.
Shorter-haired breeds like the Labrador Retriever, Corgi, Australian Cattle Dog, and Smooth Collie require brushing at least twice a week.
Combination Coats consist of both long and short hair on a dog, with what groomers call "feathering". Dogs like the Irish Setter have a medium-length coat that is flat and straight or wavy, with longer hair (feathering) on the back of the legs, chest, tail, and ears.
A curly-coated dog has thick, soft curls that grow close to the body, such as the Poodle, Bichon Frise, and Portuguese Water Dog.
Though curly coats tend to shed less, the loose hair can become trapped and cause knots and matting if not removed through daily brushing. It is also necessary to have them professionally groomed to keep their hair from growing too long and getting tangled up.
The texture of a wiry coat is rough, and it has a bristly or coarse feel, even after the dog has been properly groomed. Some wire-coated dogs can have a soft, thick undercoat that may shed due to seasonal changes. Airedale Terriers, Schnauzers, Irish Wolfhounds, and wire-haired Jack Russels are examples of dogs with wiry coats.
Wire coats require a significant amount of maintenance including weekly brushing. "Hand-stripping" is the removal of old hair, allowing new hair to grow. You can pluck out these strands by hand or with a stripping knife, but it is best done by a groomer. This not only keeps the wire coat looking neat and tidy but also helps to make it softer and less rough.
Corded or Flocked Coats
A small number of dog breeds have naturally corded coats (such as the Komondor and Puli) or flocked coats (like the Bergamasco). These breeds have coats that form cord-like structures, similar to dreadlocks, or felted flocks. Caring for these coats is different from other breeds. Check on the links below to read more about these dogs, as well as their grooming needs.
A "hairless" coat is still a coat type. They may have minimal or no hair on their body, but could have a fine layer of down covering their skin. Hairless dogs include the Mexican Hairless Dog, American Hairless Terrier, and the hairless Chinese Crested Dog.
Remember that a hairless dog's skin will require additional sun protection in the absence of a coat. Moreover, dogs with this type of coat are prone to accumulating their shed skin cells and natural oils on their skin, which can lead to a feeling of being unclean and cause skin problems more often than other dogs with other coat types. To prevent dry skin, it is important to give these breeds frequent baths using a mild dog shampoo and apply a dog-safe moisturizing lotion.
To Sum Up
Dog coats come in a variety of lengths, textures, and colors, and each one requires its own unique grooming routine. While some dogs require simple weekly brushing to maintain their coat's health and appearance, others need more frequent baths and special coat treatments.
Ultimately, it is important to find out what type of coat your pup has and follow the appropriate grooming routine for their specific needs. This will ensure that your pup looks his or her best, feels comfortable, and remains healthy throughout the year.
Stay tuned for our next post, where we'll dive deeper into the various tools (whether a slicker brush or a comb) needed to keep your furry friend looking and feeling their best.
Click on the links to find out more about Komondors, Pulis, and Bergamascos.
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