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The essentials

  • A dog’s coat can take many forms — A dog’s breed determines factors like the texture, length, and color of their coat. 
  • Double-coats consist of 2 layers — The outer topcoat is made up of long, coarse hairs, while the undercoat is short, soft, and dense.
  • Don’t shave double-coats — Because a dog’s cooling systems are different from our own, shaving their double-coat doesn’t actually cool them off.

You may have heard the phrase “double-coated dog” before, but what exactly is that double-coat all about? Double-coated dog breeds have coats of two distinct types of fur, both of which play an important role in keeping them healthy and comfortable.

However, not all double-coats are created equal. There are several different types of double-coats and even a few breeds with what could be considered triple coats. Understanding the differences between each type is essential if you want to give your dog’s double-coat the grooming and care it needs to thrive.

Double-coated dog breeds

Have you ever come across a dog you thought looked extra fluffy? You’ve probably seen a double-coated dog in person before. Like its name suggests, a double-coat consists of two layers: an outer layer of long, coarse hairs known as the “topcoat” and a shorter, denser “undercoat” whose texture is more similar to wool. 

Popular double-coated dog breeds include:

German shepherd Siberian husky Border collie
Australian Shepherd Golden retriever Labrador retriever
Pomeranian Shih Tzu St. Bernard
Bernese mountain dog Greater Swiss mountain dog Cardigan Welsh corgi
Pembroke Welsh corgi Great Pyrenees Chow chow
Newfoundland American Eskimo dog Alaskan malamute
Akita Keeshond Samoyed
Shiba Inu

👉 It can be hard to tell if some mixed-breed dogs have a double coat. Check by brushing your dog’s fur away from the direction that it naturally runs. You’ll know they’re double-coated if you spot a dense undercoat underneath instead of skin. 


Heat stroke and double-coated dogs

Double-coat or not, all dogs are susceptible to developing heatstroke, especially if left in a car with the windows up on a hot summer’s day. Double coats provide natural insulation that can actually keep a dog cooler in the summertime. However, we still recommend playing it safe by keeping your walks to cooler parts of the day, such as morning and evening. 

You can also keep your double-coat dog cool by giving them frequent baths (without shampoo if their coat is clean).

Types of double-coats

The American Kennel Club  states that there are officially four different types of double-coats a dog can have. These types are commonly based on a dog’s breed, consisting of short, medium, long, and triple coats (also known as Arctic coats). You can make sure you’re giving your dog the right grooming treatment for their coat type by learning more about the differences.

Short double-coats


Breeds with short double-coats, like the Labrador retriever and Greater Swiss mountain dog, are typically bred for hunting and herding livestock. Their dense outer coat protects them from cold weather and any dense brush they might run past, and they rarely require grooming. On the other hand, you can expect to comb out loose hairs from their undercoat at least once a week since they’ve been known to shed quite a bit. 

Medium double-coats

Breeds with medium double-coats are commonly herding dogs, like the Australian shepherd and the border collie. Because these dogs have longer hair than their short-coat counterparts, they require weekly brushing to prevent the formation of mats and get rid of loose fur. 

Long double-coats

This type of doublecoat is prominent among working breeds like the St. Bernard, Bernese mountain dog, and Great Pyrenees. Long double coats consist of a flat, water-resistant topcoat and a thick undercoat that requires regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Dogs in this category may also require additional trimming on their chests, on the back of their legs, on their tail, and around their ears, based on what their breed standard calls for. 

Triple/Arctic coats

Breeds with the thickest coats often come from colder parts of the world. These breeds include the Pomeranian, Samoyed, American Eskimo dog, and Alaskan malamute. When they were out in the wild, these breeds needed an extra layer of fur to stay alive. Triple coats are dense, oily, and wooly to the touch, and they require grooming with a specialized dog dryer after carefully being bathed, brushed, and line combed.

🚨Combing this coat type without bathing can result in painful hair ripping.

Grooming tips for double-coated dogs

While shaving a double-coated dog risks disrupting their natural temperature regulation, you can help keep them cool when the weather heats up by implementing these grooming practices. Good grooming keeps the coat free of harmful knots, tangles, and debris so the skin can properly let off heat. 

Groom regularly

Double-coated dog breeds require more brushing than others, typically 2 to 3 times a week. Baths and trims can be done less frequently but are still necessary when their coat gets too long or dirty. Many owners take their dogs to professional groomers for baths, brushing, and hair and nail trims, but home grooming is easily doable (and free!) if you’re willing to do some research before getting started. 

Use the right tools 

A grooming session is only complete with the right tools for the job. The specifics of this may look a little different depending on what type of double coat your dog has, but most owners will need a good detangling comb and raking brush for de-shedding. These help you cut through the topcoat to easily remove loose hairs that may have fallen from the undercoat. You can also try out a pet grooming glove as a gentler alternative for removing loose hair. 

When it comes time to trim, you’ll also need a quality pair of dog grooming scissors and nail clippers on hand. Many groomers advise owners to keep some styptic powder around to help stop bleeding in the event of an accidental cut. 

👉 Dogs who are anxious or uncomfortable with the process may need to be put in a special restraint when grooming. Ask your vet before using these on your dog. 

Nourish with shampoo and conditioner 

Specialized shampoo and conditioner products reduce shedding while nourishing your dog’s coat and skin with restorative ingredients, including omega-3 fatty acids, aloe vera, and vitamin E. Experts recommend bathing your double-coated dog once every 8 to 12 weeks at a minimum, but you may need to give them at least a surface-level cleaning on a daily basis if they’re prone to getting dirty. 

Brush your dog’s coat regularly 

We can’t stress the importance of regular brushing for double-coated dog breeds enough. Aside from removing loose hairs and promoting good temperature regulation, brushing helps the natural oils produced by your dog’s skin spread themselves evenly over the coat. This works wonders to eliminate overly dry or oily patches and makes for a great-looking coat, too. 

Trimming prevents matting

The more fur on a dog’s body, the more likely unwanted mats and tangles will form. These can be almost impossible to remove after they’ve formed, which is why prevention is your best friend when it comes to keeping mats away for good. You can do this by trimming their coats in all the areas outlined by their breed standard. Trimming during heavy shedding periods is especially important. 

Good grooming is necessary for keeping a dog clean, healthy, and happy, no matter what type of coat they have. Double-coated dogs may need extra help keeping cool during summertime, but the process doesn’t need to be difficult or unpleasant. Stick to the tools and tips outlined above, and use each grooming session as an opportunity to build trust with your dog. They will thank you with extra love when you’re all finished!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my dog has a double coat?

You can identify some dogs as double-coated just by looking at them. If your pup is on the fluffier side or sheds a lot of fur, there’s a good chance they have a double coat. You can confirm this by stroking their coat against the direction of their fur. If you see skin underneath, there’s no undercoat. On the other hand, if you see a layer of short, dense fur, your dog’s double-coated.

Why can’t you shave a double-coated dog?

Dogs developed their double coats for a reason, and shaving them away risks disrupting their body’s natural maintenance systems. Without the natural protection of their undercoat, a double-coated dog is more susceptible to extreme temperatures, sun and wind damage, and parasite infestations. 

Do double-coated dogs get ticks?

All dogs are susceptible to fleas, ticks, and parasites, whether their fur is long, short, or double-coated. Some long-haired breeds, like golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs, are more susceptible to ticks because their fur provides more room to hide. On the other hand, a thick undercoat can make it much harder for ticks to penetrate the skin, so double-coated breeds may have some natural protection against foreign invaders. 

What is a double coat on a dog?

Dogs with double coats have two layers of fur: a “guard hair” topcoat that keeps out dirt and moisture and helps ventilate the skin and a softer undercoat that regulates body temperature during extreme temperatures and protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. The two coats grow at different rates, with the undercoat typically growing longer in a shorter period.