Whether you adopt a purebred puppy, a “designer” breed or the mutt-next-door, the first thing you’ll notice is his fur coat. A puppy coat can change as the dog matures, so it’s a good idea to know what to expect when Junior grows up. The color, pattern, and coat type varies between breeds, and impacts the amount of fur shedding and grooming care needed.
There are five basic coat types. "Long fur with undercoat" types include the Rough Collie and German Shepherd Dog; "silky coat" breeds include the Afghan Hound, Pekingese, setters and spaniels; "smooth coat" are the shorthaired dogs like Boxers, Chihuahuas, and Labradors; "wiry" coats are found on most terriers and the Schnauzer; and the "non-shedding curly" type coat grows constantly but must be trimmed on such breeds as Poodles and the Bedlington Terrier.
Specific types of coats require different levels of fur care. Smooth coats require the least amount. The longer fur can demand combing or brushing on nearly a daily basis especially during shedding season. Wired coats require plucking, and the non-shedding curly coats need to be clipped and sometimes shaved. All coat types benefit from a bath now and then, but some dogs get dingier than others. Special grooming products are designed for specific coat colors, too, to make white fur dazzling and rich or dark colors striking.
Dogs come in Westie white, Kerry Blue blue, Weimaraner silver, Scottie black, and a range of browns from Wheaten tan to Golden Retriever gold, Irish Setter red, and Labrador chocolate. Dogs in solid colors are referred to as "self-colored."
Pattern is equally diverse.
- Ticked refers to small isolated areas of black or colored hairs over a white ground color.
- Sable is produced by black-tipped hairs on a background of silver, gold, gray, fawn or brown.
- Brindle is a pattern of black tiger-like stripes on a lighter background (usually tan).
- Parti-color (also pied or piebald) refers to patches of two or more colors on the coat.
- Harlequin is patches of color (usually black or grey) on a white background.
- Tricolor is a coat with three distinct colors, usually white, black and tan.
- Merle color pattern has dark blotches against a lighter background of the same color, while a mottled pattern is characterized by round blotches of color on a lighter background.
- Points are the same color on the face, ears, legs and tail, and are usually white, black or tan.
- Grizzle is a mixture of black or red hairs with white (also called roan), and is often a bluish- to iron-gray color, or may be orange or lemon.