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Your Guide To Dog Coats

The first thing you notice about a dog tends to be its coat. But it’s not just a matter of appearances: your hound’s hair keeps it warm or cool, protects their skin – and encourages you to pet them and bond with them, too! 

So let’s untangle the mysteries of the different types and textures of canine coats: long, medium, short, wiry, curly, double, hypoallergenic – and even hairless. Which coat floats your boat?

Different Types Of Dog Coats

First, let’s clear up some confusion: the difference between fur and hair. Strictly speaking, hair is longer and requires cutting on a regular basis; and fur is denser, acts as insulation, and shouldn’t be cut. 

But they’re made of the same stuff, and the words are often used interchangeably. And some dogs are double coated, with both fur and hair – we’ll explain a little more about how that works below. 

We’ll also look at which types of coat might be best suited to your lifestyle, taking into account 

what grooming is required, what the climate’s like where you live, and whether anyone in your family has allergies. Let’s go!

Long Hair

A silky, long-haired beauty is a sight to behold – particularly when running or leaping when you’re out for a walk. Pet a dog with a long coat, and your hand can disappear into its luxuriant locks!

But these fantastically furry friends have considerable grooming needs: you might need to brush yours daily, wash it every four to six weeks, and cut it every eight to 12 weeks. Failure to keep up with a rigorous grooming routine can lead to the silky hair becoming matted, and your dog developing nasty skin conditions. 

Plus, long-coated dogs tend to originate from colder countries. If you live in a warm region, you’ll need to consider how you’ll keep your canine cool in the hot summer months.

Silky-haired breeds to put on your canine wish list include Afghan Hounds and Shih Tzus.  

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

Short Hair

Short-haired breeds boast sleek, smooth coats. They require far less grooming than those with luscious tresses, making them a lower maintenance option for busy owners. 

Plus, they keep cool in the heat - and in the winter, a jacket will help them stay warm during your outdoor adventures. 

This is a very wide category of canines, including Boxers, Greyhounds, Dalmatians and Chihuahuas. Many Terriers are classified as short-haired, too. 

Greyhound

Greyhound

Medium Hair

Can’t decide between all the beautiful breeds above? Then go for the best of both worlds: a dog with a medium coat. 

You’ll have that nice, soft feel when you pet them, but won’t have to spend hours every day on grooming. They won’t get too hot or cold, either. 

Which breeds fall into this category? Brittany Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers, and Golden Retrievers are gorgeous options with medium hair. 

Brittany Spaniels

Brittany Spaniel

Wire Hair

What wire-haired dogs lack in fluffiness, they make up for in ruggedness. If your idea of the perfect pet is a characterful canine who zips along by your side as you explore the great outdoors, then consider a wiry rather than a furry friend.

This is another lower maintenance category, though as with all dogs, you need to keep them clean. When it comes to keeping their wire hair short, they should be “stripped” rather than clipped, or else their wire coats may grow back soft. 

Terriers are renowned for their coarse coats, though you can also find wire-haired Pointers, Dachshunds, Wolfhounds and Hungarian Vizslas.

Wolfhound

Wolfhound

Curly Hair

There’s nothing as cute as a canine with a curly coat! They feel amazing when you’re cuddled up together on the couch.

In fact, those ringlets have a practical purpose, too: they keep your pooch warm and snug by preventing water from getting to its skin.

Grooming-wise, you should brush a dog with long curly hair every day, or every week if it’s shorter. Clip it every six weeks or so to keep it manageable. 

Poodles are a great curly-haired option, while Water Dogs are another popular pick.

Poodle

Poodle

Hypoallergenic 

If you’re desperate for a dog but start sneezing or itching around them, then a breed with a hypoallergenic coat seems like the ideal solution. However, take your time and do your research first. 

Humans tend to be allergic not to dog hair, but to dander – the dandruff that is released when a dog sheds its fur. They might also be sensitive to allergens in dog urine, saliva, or the dust and dirt that gets stuck in a dog’s coat. 

So no pup has entirely hypoallergenic fur or hair, but low-shedding dogs are the best option. Surprisingly, many are fairly long-haired. Breeds to consider include Poodles, Maltese, and Spanish Water Dogs. 

Maltese

Maltese

Hairless 

Another hypoallergenic option is a dog with very little hair or no hair at all. While they may not be fluffy, these bald breeds can be every bit as beautiful as their long-haired cousins. 

You’ll still need to wash them, protect their skin from the sun, and bathe them regularly. And jackets are essential in cool or wet weather.

Breeds that fall into this category include the Mexican and American Hairless Terriers, and the Chinese Crested. 

Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested

Double-coated 

At the other extreme, there are breeds with double coats. These have a short, dense undercoat of fur for insulation, plus an outer “guard” coat of hair to repel water and dirt.

Double coats are found on dogs from Arctic regions, who are famed for their gloriously thick second coats. But it’s less well known that many shorter haired breeds have double coats, too, with a wiry outer layer. 

All dogs shed their hair in the fall and, especially, the spring, to make way for their new winter or summer coats. But double-coated breeds shed a great deal, so are not suitable for families with allergy sufferers. They include Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds and Yorkshire Terriers. 

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

So that’s our quick round-up of different dog coats. Remember to keep your canine’s crowning glory in tip-top condition with a healthy diet, regular exercise and a great grooming regime.