If you are contemplating which breed of dog will be a good match for your family, one of the characteristics to consider is the variety of different dog coat types. Factors that include whether or not your schedule will allow you to groom a long-haired coat daily or whether or not a family member suffers from a mild allergy all contribute to the equation in determining which type of coat will be best suited to your needs.
Double Versus Single
There are two thicknesses of dog coats, which are known as the double coat and the single coat.
Double coats consist of a topcoat and an undercoat. The topcoat is made up of stiff, water-repellent guard hairs. The undercoat is dense and soft to insulate the dog against frigid temperatures. If you opt for a dog with a double coat, be prepared for two heavy shedding seasons annually. This seasonal shed is referred to as blowing out the coat. Some examples of dog breeds that have double coats include Siberian huskies, Shetland sheepdogs, Pomeranians, Shiba inus and Australian shepherds.
For less shedding, consider a single coated breed instead. These dogs are clad in a topcoat only. Some examples of dog breeds that have single coats include Poodles, Shih tzus, Maltese and Portuguese water dogs. While no dog is completely hypoallergenic, offending allergens are more likely to become trapped within a double coat than in a single coat. When it comes to dog fur versus dog hair, dog fur is typically associated with the double coat, and the single coat is described as a coat of hair.
The Long and Short Stories
If you find brushing a dog to be a relaxing stress-reliever, you may enjoy the grooming ritual that is required for maintaining a longhaired dog’s coat. The Afghan hound’s single coat of long, silky hair must be brushed through daily to prevent it from tangling and matting.
If the demands of daily dog grooming are not for you, or if your day is already taxed with work, school and family obligations, then select a shorthaired breed instead, such as a Labrador retriever.
Once you have decided on a coat type and length, then the texture of the coat comes into deliberation.
Wirehaired coats, which are sometimes called broken coats, are those most commonly sported by the terrier breeds. When you run your hand along a West Highland terrier’s back, the coat feels coarse. Wirehaired coats tend to shed minimally. Some other breeds that have wirehaired coats include the Wirehaired dachshund, the Scottish deerhound and the German wirehaired pointer.
Corded coats are so named because when the hair is left to grow long enough, it forms rope-like cords. Some dogs that sport these dreadlocks include the Komondor, the Puli and the Havanese. Corded coats are also seen on poodles, which have curly coats, when their curls grow out.
Curly coats are only seen on a handful of purebred dog breeds, and these dogs require extensive grooming efforts to keep knots from forming in the coat. Owners of dogs with curly coats often choose to keep the coats trimmed short for easier maintenance. Some dog breeds with curly coats include poodles, Portuguese water dogs, curly-coated retrievers, Irish water spaniels and bichon frises. Many hybrid dog breeds possess curly coats because poodles and bichon frises contributed to the creation of many of these breed combinations.
Smooth coats are the best choices for busy families and for those that do not relish the task of frequent grooming. These low maintenance dogs have coats that are short and tight. Smooth coats require little brushing effort, but dogs with smooth coats do shed. Examples of dogs with smooth coats include Dalmatians, Greyhounds, Weimeraners and Beagles.
Unique Dog Coats
Some dog coats are embellished with feathery wisps and fringes. For example, the hair that covers the ears of a papillon makes the dog’s head resemble a butterfly. The Saluki’s slender body has a smooth coat, but long feathered hair adorns the dog’s ears and tail. The most unique dog coat is that of the hairless variation of the Beagles. These dogs only possess hair on their heads, tails and on the lower portions of their limbs.
Whichever dog breed captures your attention, be sure to research the grooming needs for that breed. Chatting with breeders and groomers will provide insight into what the maintenance of the breed’s coat entails.