Dog Coat Types and How to Care for Them

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Dogs have different types of coats and the coats can be separated into different categories. The type of coat they have determines how you should care for them.

Dogs can have a single coat or a double coat. A single coat is made of guard hairs that protect the dog from UV rays and help repel water and dirt. A double coat has guard hair plus an insulating undercoat that insulates them from both hot and cold weather.

A dog’s coat can be described as short, long, wire, curly, corded, and combination.

A short coat can be a single or double coat. Often if it’s a single coat it’s described as a smooth coat. These coat types tend to shed little. A rubber curry works wonders for removing any hair that is shed. Dogs that have smooth coats include; Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Dalmatians.

Dogs with a short double coat, which includes Labradors, German Shepherds, and Huskies, tend to shed a lot. Rubber curries, carding tools, and undercoat rakes work well on dogs with this type of coat. The Nordic breeds (i.e. Huskies, Malamutes, and Akitas) tend to have a seasonal shedding cycle when they blow their coat. Tools like an undercoat rake, metal comb, and a slicker bush work well on removing this coat.

Dogs with long coats tend to not shed. This is due to the fact that they have a single coat. Since their hair is long, they need regular brushing to keep them tangle free. Slicker brushes and metal combs tend to work the best on long coated dogs. Another option is give long coated dogs haircuts, so there is less hair to manage. Dogs with long coats include Malteses, Shih Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriers.

A combination coat is a coat that is short in some place and long in others. They can be a single coat or double coat. Dogs with a combination single coat include Irish Setters, Flat Coated Retrievers, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Dogs with a combination double coat include Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. The longer hair on a combination coat can become tangled, and requires regular brushing. Dogs in this category with a double coat will shed. A variety of tools work well on this coat type since it has so many attributes. Undercoat rakes are great at removing the undercoat when the dog is shedding and a slicker brush and metal comb work well to keep the dog tangle free.

Dogs with a wire coat have a soft undercoat and a hard, wiry outer coat (the guard hair). Most of the terriers fall into this category. They will shed their undercoat. Owners of show dogs have their dogs hand-stripped with a stripping knife. However, most pet owners give these dogs haircuts. Keep in mind that using a clipper blade may change the texture of the wire coat. Carding tools can be used after the haircuts to help maintain the proper texture. The wire coat can also become tangled, so regular bushings are a must if the hair is allowed to grow long.

Curly coated dogs tend to have a long, single coat. Dogs with this type of coat include Poodles, Bichons Frises, and Irish Water Spaniels. Some curly coated dogs are short haired. These include the Curly Coated Retriever. The short curly dogs tend to have a more wash and wear coat, but the long curly coat needs all of the regular maintenance of long coated dogs. These dogs can also be given haircuts to reduce the amount of brushing needed in order to keep the coat tangle free.

Other types of coats include a corded coat (i.e. Komondors and Pulis) and a hairless coat (i.e. Mexican Hairless and Chinese Crested). These dogs tend to be rare and need special care to maintain healthy coat and skin.

One of the most important things to remember is that dogs with a double coat should never be shaved unless it is too matted or for health reasons. Many people believe that shaving a double coated dog will make the dog shed less and be cooler. This is simply not true. Dogs will shed either way, but after being groomed the loose hair is removed (regardless of being shaved or not). If they have been shaved it gives the false impression that they do not shed. Rather, the hair they do shed is now shorter making is harder to find.

Some owners claim that their dogs are cooler with a haircut. However, dogs do not cool off by sweating through their skin. Rather their under coat helps to insulate them from the heat while the long guard hairs protect the dog from the sun and the UV rays. The best thing to do to keep the dog cool is regular brushings to remove the undercoat that is being shed. Additionally, double coated dogs that are shaved often do not re-grow their hair properly.

Danielle Grimm has been a dog groomer since 2000.  The first shop that she worked in taught her how to groom dogs and cats.  She currently does grooming in Montrose, CA where she has fun working with dogs every day.  She lives there with her dogs Dillon and Leo.  You can email her at  Just mention MeowWoofChirp in the email.  Danielle is also a member of the MeowWoofChirp community.  You can see her profile at: