Rough Coats Vs. Soft Coats on Dogs

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Rough hair in dogs is referred to as a wire or broken coat. This type of hair is easy to maintain and rarely mats. Soft coats are common and occur in both long- and short-haired breeds. Understanding the type of coat your dog has will enable you to provide proper grooming to keep your dog's hair and skin healthy and radiant.

Coat Types

Rough, wire coats are most common among terriers. Specific breeds include Scottish terriers, Irish terriers, affenpinschers and the otterhound. These dogs originally were used to hunt rodents and small animals underground or in brush. Their rough coats protected their skin from damage. Dogs with short, smooth coats include the beagle, boxer, dalmatian and bulldog. Some long-haired breeds have thick, fluffy hair that is as soft as a pillow. This includes the Samoyed, chow-chow, Pomeranian, Maltese and Pekingese.



Dogs with rough, wiry coats shed very little. This makes them ideal pets for people with allergies or folks who cringe at the thought of picking hair out of their couch all spring and summer. Many soft-coated breeds have a heavy undercoat and shed profusely. Chow-chows, German shepherds and golden retrievers in particular are heavy shedders. Some soft-coated breeds exhibit what is called a drop coat. Drop coats are long and flowing with no undercoat. This keeps shedding to a minimum. The Maltese, Lhasa apso and Afghan hound are examples of single-coated breeds.


Grooming Dogs with Soft Coats

Dogs with short, smooth hair are easy to groom and maintain. All you need is a bristle brush to keep the coat free from dead hair, dirt and debris. Dogs with soft and long hair are another story. Daily brushing is critical to prevent mats from forming. If your schedule is hectic, try brushing your dog at least three times a week. The area behind the ears and elbows mat easily. If the hair becomes tangled, spray a de-tangling solution to help brush out the tangles. If the coat becomes heavily matted, take your pet to a professional groomer. You may want to request a puppy clip for easier maintenance.


Grooming Dogs with Rough Coats

Wire-hair breeds require special grooming called stripping. This technique allows you to remove old, dead hair and make room for new, healthy hair. You can strip your dog's coat using your fingers or a stripping knife. Grasp a few hairs with your thumb and index finger and pull straight up. Latex gloves or a slight dusting of ear powder can help you get a better grip. If you're using a stripping knife, grasp the hair between the knife and your thumb. Stripping an entire coat can take several hours. You may prefer to hire a groomer to clip the coat instead, which is a much more simple technique. However, once the coat is shaved it may never grow back as rough or bristly as it once was. If you plan to show your dog, stripping is the only acceptable grooming technique for wire coats.


By Rachel Monroe


Pet University: Wire Hair/Broken Coat
Pet University: Smooth Coat
Pet University: Long Coat
Dog Grooming For Dummies; Margaret H. Bonham
Pet Place: Stripping: Reveal Your Wirehaired Dog's Show Quality Coat
Dog Channel: Grooming Your Terrier's Coat
The Everything Dog Grooming Book; Sandy Blackburn


About the Author
Rachel Monroe has been writing for the pet industry since 2007. She has operated several pet businesses and has worked as a copywriter for numerous pet product manufacturers and service providers.