Dog Breed Info

Compare All Coat Types

All About Coat Types and Coat Growth Patterns
In many cases, the basic body types of many dogs are the same, making the coat the "trademark" or defining characteristic for that particular breed or group of breeds. Many books discuss coat types placing them in very generic or very specific groups. We believe you must have a thorough knowledge of coat types to enable you to create ultimate expressions and profiles. You must study the natural coat growth patterns so that you are able to create a man made pattern that appears as though it naturally grew that way.

To begin our study of the various coat types, we must begin with the basics. There are two types of hair in the dog's coat that will be referenced throughout this section: the outer layer of hair that is the top coat and the inner layer of hair that is the undercoat. The variations in type and length of top coat, and type and length of undercoat, establish the type of coat in general.

Determined and Undetermined Hair Growth
Dogs also have determined and undetermined hair growth. For a dog with determined hair growth, the coat grows to a specific length, then sheds in a block or band pattern, much like your eyebrows. Coat types such as the short, smooth, and medium smooth coat types have determined coat growth. For dogs with undetermined hair growth, coat grows to an undetermined length and sheds in a mosaic pattern, much like your own hair. Coat types such as the tight curly and loose curly have undetermined coat growth. You will find coat types, such as the sporting saddle coat type, that have a combination of determined and undetermined coat types, the Cocker Spaniel being an excellent example.


Natural Coat Growth Patterns and Patterns that are created by the Stylist
There are basically two different types of patterns we see on all breeds of dogs. The natural coat growth pattern that grows that way naturally, and the styled coat growth pattern created by the stylist to appear as though it grew that way naturally. Typically, the overall silhouette or profile on breeds with determined hair growth have natural hair growth patterns, such as the Pomeranian with the rough Nordic coat type and is enhanced by the stylist. Breeds with undetermined coat growth, such as the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Bichon Frise, with curly coat types, the entire silhouette or profile is created by the stylist. As you can see, the natural hair growth patterns as well as the styled patterns are coat type related.


THE COAT TYPES

Coat Type: Short
The short coat type naturally follows the contour of the dog's body and has a very visible coat growth direction but no coat growth pattern due to the length of the coat. In this type of coat you see a short top coat and hardly any undercoat. The remains of undercoat, if any exist, are found around the withers and the neck area and sometimes in front of the tail. In the breed standard, in the ideal situation, this type of coat is described as having no evidence of undercoat at all. The short coat type is determined, which means that it grows to a specific length and sheds in a block or band pattern.

Breed Example: Boxer

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: No

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Smooth
The smooth coat type has a visible coat growth direction and a slight coat growth pattern. The natural coat growth pattern is most obvious in the contrast between the shorter coat on the head and on the legs and the slightly longer coat on the body and tail creating the beginning of a very short front and rear frill and skirt. The length of the front and rear frill along with the skirt, although not much longer than the rest of the coat on the dog, is determined by the individual breed. As the name suggests, this coat type has a smooth appearance with the top coat being longer than the undercoat and laying flat, following the contour of the dog's body. The smooth coat type has determined hair growth and sheds in a block or band pattern.

Breed Example: Bloodhound

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Medium Smooth
The medium smooth coat type is referred to as being the most original, meaning it is closest to the wolf's and to the earliest dog's coat type. This coat is double, with a top coat and a thick or dense undercoat which is never longer than the topcoat. Also, this coat type has a closed structure, meaning that it lays flat instead of standing out and it must be straight, never curly. There is a visible coat growth direction and a natural coat growth pattern. The coat growth pattern is most obvious in the contrast between the short hair on the head and legs, and the longer hair on the body and tail. The top coat is longer than the undercoat and lays flat, creating a jacket appearance with the beginning of a short apron, skirt and trousers, with furnishings on the legs. The length of the hair on the top of the tail is typically the same as the jacket, and the length of the hair underneath the tail is typically the same as the hair on the trousers, without giving a feathered or fringed appearance. As the name suggests, this coat has a smooth appearance, and demonstrates determined hair growth that naturally grows to a specific length and stops, and sheds in a block or band pattern.

Breed Example: German_Shepherd_Dog

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Nordic
The Nordic coat type has an open structure, meaning that the top coat stands out because there is so much undercoat. This heavy undercoat lifts the topcoat, showing the coat growth pattern, but very little coat growth direction. The coat growth pattern will be most obvious in the contrast between the short hair on the head and legs, and the slightly longer coat on the body and tail. We see a coat growth pattern around the neck area, creating the beginning of a mane, skirt and trousers with slight feathering on the legs. The length of the hair on the top of the tail is typically the same as the jacket, and the length of the hair underneath the tail is typically the same as the hair on the trousers without giving a more or less feathered or fringed appearance. The amount of undercoat lifts the topcoat, giving a somewhat open appearance to this coat type, which is most apparent in a full winter coat, and less apparent in a summer coat. The lifting of the topcoat is due to the ratio between the topcoat and undercoat, which sets this coat type apart from the medium smooth coat type, which has a lesser number of undercoat hairs per topcoat hair. The Nordic coat type is determined, which means that the coat grows to an approximate or determined length and then stops.

Breed Example: Norwegian_Elkhound

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Rough Nordic
The rough Nordic coat type has the same overall appearance as a rough coat type, but exhibits a coat growth pattern that is more typical of many of the northern breeds. The breeds with this coat type have determined hair growth, which means that the coat grows to a specific length, determined by the individual breed, creating the overall silhouette naturally. The coat growth pattern is most obvious in the contrast between the short hair on the head and legs, and the longer hair on the neck, body and tail, which forms a well defined mane, a jacket, a skirt and trousers, with feathering on the legs and a full, plumed tail. The rough Nordic coat type has the same overall characteristics as the rough coat type with the only exception being the structure. The amount of undercoat lifts the topcoat, giving a somewhat open appearance to the coat, with this most apparent in a full winter coat rather than a summer coat, in which it is less apparent. The lifting of the topcoat is due to the ratio between the topcoat and undercoat, which sets this coat type apart from the rough coat type, which has fewer undercoat hairs per topcoat hair.

Breed Example: Pomeranian

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Rough
The rough coat type has the overall appearance of a long coat. The coat growth pattern is most obvious in the contrast between the short hair on the head and legs, and the longer hair on the neck, body and tail. The basic structure of the coat is closed, however it appears to be open. This impression is caused by the length of the topcoat and the undercoat, and is not based upon the way the coat grows. The undercoat and the topcoat seem to be of equal length in some areas, but in most areas the topcoat is visibly longer than the undercoat. The longer coat on the neck naturally forms a well-defined mane, with a long jacket, skirt and trousers. The length of the hair on the top of the tail is typically the same as the jacket, and the length of the hair underneath the tail is typically the same as the hair on the trousers without giving a feathered or fringed appearance. The rough coat type has determined hair growth, which means that the breeds with this coat type come by their overall silhouette or profile naturally. The coat grows to a determined length on the mane, jacket, skirt, trousers, tail and legs, depending upon the breed.

Breed Example: Collie

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Medium Long
The medium long coat type is the same as the medium smooth coat but with a longer topcoat, creating a more visible coat growth direction and a more distinct coat growth pattern. The coat growth pattern is more obvious in the contrast between the short hair on the head and legs, and the longer coat on the body, legs and tail, creating a jacket with an upper and lower apron, skirt and trousers, with the longer coat forming feathering on the back of the front legs and from the hock down on the rear legs. The length of the hair on the top of the tail is typically the same as on the jacket, and the length of the hair underneath the tail is typically the same as the hair on the trousers. The medium long coat type sheds in a block and band pattern and demonstrates determined hair growth, meaning that the coat grows to a specific length on the jacket and lays flat, creating a smooth coated appearance, with the longer coat forming the apron, skirt, trousers and feathering. The length of the longer coat that forms the coat growth pattern on the medium long coat type is determined by the individual breed.

Breed Example: Golden_Retriever

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Sporting Saddle
The sporting saddle coat type has the same coat as the sporting coat type except for the coat growth pattern. The coat growth direction on the jacket is clearly visible and so is the coat growth pattern that distinguishes the two coat types. This unique coat growth pattern creates a different shape jacket with short coat on the upper portion of the body and the longer coat on the lower portion of the body and legs. There are only two breeds that fall into this coat type, the Afghan Hound and the Cocker Spaniel, however, there is a difference between the placement of the saddle where the short hair on the top of the back blends into the longer hair on the body. The Afghan Hound naturally has a higher line than the Cocker Spaniel. The overall coat is a mixture of silky topcoat and soft, slightly wavy undercoat, almost like guard hair, only duller and softer. In cases of sporting saddles without profuse hair growth, there is a slight coat growth pattern around the pastern area where the coat is shorter. The coat growth on the saddle is considered to be determined and sheds in a block or band pattern, whereas the longer hair on the body and legs is undetermined and sheds in a mosaic pattern.

Breed Example: Cocker_Spaniel

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Sporting
The sporting coat type naturally shows off the coat growth direction and a coat growth pattern. The topcoat on the body and jacket is water repellant, has a silky appearance and texture, and can vary in length but always follows the contour of the body. This creates a smooth jacket appearance with hardly any signs of undercoat, is determined, and sheds in a block or band pattern. The coat on the ears, legs and tail has a longer, silky, softer appearance creating a feathering effect that is similar to the drop coat type, and is considered to be undetermined, shedding in a mosaic pattern. The coat is short on the top of the skull, cheeks and muzzle, on the frontside of the front legs and also on the rear pasterns. The longer hair growth on the ears, chest, underline, backside of the front legs, the tail (if it is not docked) and the rear of the body creates the signature silhouette of the sporting breeds. The undercoat of this coat type should be neither profuse nor dense, and may be nearly invisible.

Breed Example: Irish_Setter

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Broken
The broken coat type looks like the smooth coat type, which means that the coat follows the contour of the dog's body. The actual length of the hair on the body can vary from short to medium short, depending upon the breed. The topcoat is very harsh and brittle. The undercoat remains short and is never profuse. In some cases this coat type has no undercoat at all, like a short coat type. There is a visible coat growth direction, though nearly no coat growth pattern at all except for around the head, where there can be sparse furnishings forming eyebrows, mustache and beard, with a slight but visible frill and sparse furnishings on the legs and tail. The broken coat type is determined and sheds in a block or band pattern.

Breed Example: Ibizan_Hound

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Scruffy Wire
The topcoat on the scruffy wire coat type has a more open structure than the tight wire coat, and the undercoat can be longer. When the coat is short there is a visible coat growth direction, but when long, even though it still exists, it is less visible. If a coat growth pattern is visible, it has been created by trimming. There is even, determined hair growth all over the body, but because of the mingling of the topcoat and undercoat, which can be of approximately the same length, this coat type has a shaggy appearance. The overall look on this type of coat is somewhat natural or untouched. The longer hair on the face (mustache, beard and eyebrows) is referred to as head furnishings, and this coat type also features a jacket and skirt, with furnishings on the back of all four legs.

Breed Example: Irish_Wolfhound

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Tight Wire
The tight wire coat type has the same structure of topcoat as the broken coat type, but it is accompanied by more undercoat as well as increased length and density. When the coat is short, a coat growth direction is visible, but when the coat is long, the coat growth direction becomes less clear. There is no visible coat growth pattern, whether the coat is short or long, and if a coat growth pattern is visible on a breed with a tight wire coat type such as the Wire Fox Terrier, it has been created by trimming. This coat type is considered determined, with an even coat growth all over the body. The density and restricted length of the undercoat and the closed appearance of the topcoat set this coat type apart from the broken and scruffy wire coat type.

Breed Example: Wire_Fox_Terrier

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Determined

Shedding Pattern: Block or Band

Coat Type: Loose Curly
The loose curly coat type does not have a visible coat growth direction or a coat growth pattern. There are cowlicks but they are only visible when this coat is taken very short. All coat growth patterns that are visible on the loose curly coat types are a result of trimming, with the exception being the American Water Spaniel. Unlike all the other breeds with this coat type, the American Water Spaniel has determined hair growth, whereas the rest of the breeds in this category have undetermined coat growth and must have the excessive coat removed by trimming. The coat growth pattern on the American Water Spaniel is visible around the muzzle and the pasterns. The loose curly coat type has a silky appearance and a soft feeling, and are not as harsh feeling as the tight curly coat types. The appearance seems to be open, but the top coat doesn't have the structure and texture of a true, open coat.  This means the volume which is typical for the tight curly coat is missing. The undercoat and the topcoat are almost the same length, especially when the overall length of the coat is short. When this type of coat is combed outward, however, the topcoat is slightly longer than the undercoat. This type of coat does not shed like most of the coat types; instead, it sheds randomly in a mosaic shedding pattern. This coat type may occur in a corded style, with the cords broad and flat in their appearance, and if there is a visible coat growth pattern, such as on the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, it has been created by trimming the coat.

Breed Example: Soft_Coated_Wheaten_Terrier

Visible Coat Growth Direction: No

Coat Growth Pattern: No

Type of Coat Growth: Undetermined

Shedding Pattern: Mosaic

Coat Type: Tight Curly
Breeds with the tight curly coat type have a coat that continues to grow to an undetermined length with no visible coat growth direction or coat growth pattern. There are cowlicks but they are only visible when this coat is trimmed very short, as on the Poodle in a Continental Trim. The tight curly coat type has a very dense appearance and a coarse feeling due to the curly structure of the coat. The undercoat and the topcoat are almost of the same length, however, when this type of coat is combed outward, the topcoat is slightly longer than the undercoat, which gives the coat volume. This type of coat sheds randomly in a mosaic shedding pattern. All coat growth patterns on the tight curly coat types such as the Poodles and the Bichon Frise are trimmed, with one breed as the exception, the Curly Coated Retriever. Unlike all the other breeds with this coat type, the Curly Coated Retriever has determined hair growth, whereas the rest have undetermined hair growth. The natural coat growth pattern on the Curly Coated Retriever is visible on the feet, pastern and muzzle, with the coat being shorter than the body and legs. It is also possible that the tight curly coat type can cord, only not as profusely as in the "true" corded coat type. Two types of cords exist, with one more round and evenly shaped on the Tight Curly Coat Type, and one that is more broad and flat on the Loose Curly Coat Type. To clarify further, the corded coat types are actually a variation of either the tight curly or the loose curly coat type, and are not really a distinct coat type.

Breed Example: Poodle_Standard

Visible Coat Growth Direction: No

Coat Growth Pattern: No

Type of Coat Growth: Undetermined

Shedding Pattern: Mosaic

Coat Type: Corded
Although the corded coat is not really a coat type, but more of an appearance of a coat type, we feel that we need to address this coat's appearance. Some experts describe this type as a coat with excessive growth of undercoat, so that it "overgrows" the topcoat. We see two types of cords: one is more broad and flat, and is seen on the Loose Curly Coat Type, and the other is more round and evenly shaped and is seen on the Tight Curly Coat Type. To clarify further, the corded coat types are actually a variation of either the Tight Curly or the Loose Curly Coat Type, and are not really a distinct coat type.

Breed Example: Puli

Visible Coat Growth Direction: No

Coat Growth Pattern: No

Type of Coat Growth: Undetermined

Shedding Pattern: Mosaic

Coat Type: Hairless
The Hairless Coat Type has no hair at all, or there may be hair on the top of the head and neck area, on the front legs from the pasterns to the feet and on the rear legs, from the hocks to the feet, and on the tail. There is no coat growth direction or coat growth pattern on the dogs with no hair, however, the dogs with coat, have a visible hair growth pattern. The Hairless Coat Type has the same coat texture as the Drop Coat Type, meaning that the hair is soft and silky and demonstrates undetermined hair growth that sheds in a mosaic pattern.

Breed Example: Chinese_Crested

Visible Coat Growth Direction: Yes

Coat Growth Pattern: Yes

Type of Coat Growth: Undetermined

Shedding Pattern: Mosaic

Coat Type: Drop
The textures of the drop coat type range from silky to coarse and have been described by expects as "long and flowing," and of all the coat types, resembles human hair the most. On the silky textured coats, there is very little difference between the topcoat and the undercoat. On the more coarse coats the difference between the top coat and the undercoat is more visible. Since there is hardly any undercoat, or none at all, the top coat has no lift, so the coat seems to drop along the body. There are no signs of the coat growth direction or a coat growth pattern due to the long coat. There are cowlicks, but they are only visible when this coat is trimmed very short. This coat type has undetermined hair growth and sheds randomly, in a mosaic shedding pattern.

Breed Example: Maltese

Visible Coat Growth Direction: No

Coat Growth Pattern: No

Type of Coat Growth: Undetermined

Shedding Pattern: Mosaic

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