Different Coat Types Have Different Needs

Different Coat Types Have Different Needs

With pets becoming more than just property, their care has become more important. Gone are the days that we see pets solely living outside. Today, they not only share our couch, but our lives.

As more dogs and cats enter our homes, researchers are looking at pet related products more closely. For a long time, it was once thought that all dogs needed the same products for bathing because….well because they were just dogs. Now we know that the different coat types need different products to keep the skin and coat nourished and in good shape, ultimately benefiting the health of the pet. Higher-end shampoo companies are beginning to listen to the skin and coat gurus in our industry and are making shampoos and conditioners based on that research tapping into decades of experiences and science to benefit each coat type.

To simplify coat needs, I will break it down based on the latest edition of the veterinary textbook, Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology 7th Edition., into short coats, medium or double coated, and the long coat.

Short-Coated Dogs

The short-coated dog like the Chihuahua, Rat Terrier, Pitbull, or Doberman for example and the hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested and Xolo, need more oil in their products to keep the optimum health of the skin and coat. They do not have the protection of a thick coat so their skin depends on a thicker sebum layer to protect the skin. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin to add a layer of fatty lipids to keep the skin moisturized, keep out pathogens and protect against skin damage. Shampooing removes either a part of or all the sebum layer, making the skin more prone to damage causing dryness and itchiness. It is especially important to use conditioners to help replace some of the sebum layer for these dogs. Adding a few drops of a pet-safe oil such as extra-virgin olive, camellia or grapeseed oil to your conditioner can add in that extra oil needed if you do not have a breed-based shampoo and conditioner.

Medium and Double Coated Dogs

The medium or double coated breeds make up about 80% of our clients. This includes breeds like the Labrador or Golden Retriever, the wire-haired terriers like the Border Terrier and the Wire-Haired Fox Terrier along with the primitive coats like the Samoyed or Chow.  Unlike the short-coated dog, they have a thick, luxurious or wiry coat to protect their skin. Keeping that coat healthy is important for the health of the skin and this coat type needs more proteins and minerals to maintain their weather proofing coats.

Long-Haired Dogs

The long-haired breeds, such as the Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Afghan, need more collagen to maintain that long, silky coat. Their undercoat hairs are almost identical to the guard hairs and both continue to grow to great lengths. Maintaining that length, the hair needs to be strong and healthy. Even if they are kept on the shorter side instead of full coat, they can benefit from the hair strengthening effects of collagen.


Along with our canine clients, our cat clients can also benefit from groomers knowing what the skin and coat need. The hair-less or short coated cats like the Sphynx and the Rex need more oils. The natural and long-coated cats like the Domestic or British Shorthair and the Ragdoll need more minerals. Of course, always make sure the products you are using are cat safe because not all dog products are safe to use on cats.

I hope this shed some light on the ever-changing science of coat care.  More classes are now available to those groomers who want to take their careers to the next level and learn how the topical application of certain ingredients can greatly improve the skin and coat of our four-legged clients. Delve deeply into this subject, learning the details of skin and coat, what they need and also how to help alleviate skin and coat issues. Some programs will teach you how to mix up raw ingredients to specific coats or skin issues and others will teach you how to use their product lines. Whichever you choose, you will be better able to address the skin and coat needs of your clients.

About Lisa

Lisa Herbold, ICMG,MPAe,MGBS,CAH,PGC,FFC,PTI, likes to meld her knowledge as an educator and groomer with her knowledge as a veterinary technician to better educate groomers on the health needs of pets. Her goal is to improve how groomers are trained to handle health concerns and emergencies, thus making grooming safer for the pet


Miller, William H., et al. Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology. 7th Edition.  W.B. Saunders, 2020.