What Are the Different Types of Dog Coats?

Written by lynne haley rose
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  • Introduction

    What Are the Different Types of Dog Coats?

    With more than 400 breeds of dogs in the world, it stands to figure there are several different types of dogs' coats. According to an Associated Press article published in USA Today in August 2009, only three basic canine genes contribute to this coat diversity, with "dogs like President Ombama's Portugeuese Water dog" having "variations in all three genes," while "short-haired dogs, such as beagles" have "only the ancestral forms of the three genes, none with variations."

    Only three genes contribute to dog coat variations. (DOG Shaking off Water image by Renata Lauermann from Fotolia.com)

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    Coat Length

    The length of a dog's coat comprises one category which dog enthusiasts use to describe different coat types. Within this designation are: hairless, short, medium and long, according to SmallDogsParadise.com. Hairless breeds include the American Hairless Terrier and the Chinese Crested dog. Short-haired dogs, like the Dalmatian and the Pug, have fur that grows close to the skin and requires little maintenance. Cocker Spaniels and Pembroke Welsh Corgis fall into the medium-coat category, while Afghans and Collies are longhair breeds. Medium and longhair dogs require regular grooming for the best appearance.

    An afghan is a longhair breed. (lévrier afghan image by Philippe LERIDON from Fotolia.com)

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    Coat Thickness

    The thickness of a dog's coat is another way to qualify its type. Dogs can have single or double coats, according to LocalWin.com. Long-haired breeds originating in warmer climates are often single-coated, such as the Afghan hound and the Maltese. Double-coated dogs have a top coat of "guard hairs" that provides waterproofing and an undercoat that is composed of softer, downier fur. Double-coated breeds include Irish Terriers and Alaskan Malamutes.

    Grey guard hairs help protect the Malamute from harsh weather. (Alaskan malamute image by Virginie Gomes from Fotolia.com)

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    Coat Texture

    Often, breeders define canine coat types in textural terms. A dog's coat can be straight, corded, curly, silky or wiry. Straight coats are often short-haired coats, but can differ in terms of oiliness. A water-going breed--such as a Labrador Retriever--is a short-, straight-coated dog with an oily, water-repellent coat; while a dachshund's straight, short coat is dryer to the touch. Corded-type coats--with a dread-lock appearance--such as that of the Puli breed, require lots of grooming to keep them under control. Curly coats, such as those of Poodles and Bichon Frise breeds, are soft and somewhat easier to groom. Silky coats, such as those of a Wheaton Terrier and Shih Tzu, are soft to the touch. Wiry coats, such as those of many terrier breeds, are rough-textured and double-layered.

    Cairn Terriers have wiry-type coats. (chien terrier image by Danielle Bonardelle from Fotolia.com)

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    Coat Color and Pattern

    Canine coat types can also be described in terms of colour and pattern. Colour terms range from white to black, golden to red to blue. Pattern types of dogs' coats include bicolour, tricolour, brindle (grey or brown-streaked), spotted, harlequin (half and half) and merle (streaked or speckled with black), according to SmallDogsParadise.com. Bull dogs often have brindled coats; Wire-haired Fox Terriers are often tricoloured, with white, black and brown patches; Dalmatians are spotted.

    Blue heeler pup (Heeler Pup 15 image by Lee O"Dell from Fotolia.com)

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