Which Dogs Have Double Coats?
You can probably pick a double-coated dog mostly from the description above. Of course there’s the dogs that work in all weathers such as the sheepdogs and huskies, then there’s the Shih-Tzu’s or Havanese that make good lap dogs, so take a look at the following list and see what others there are and whether you could see yourself owning one. This is not a complete list, as there are various cross breeds such as the Leonberger (a mix of Newfie, St Bernard, and Great Pyranees), but this gives you a good starting point.
German or Japanese Spitz, or American Eskimo Dog: You will find a lot of the double coated herding, working, and toy breeds can trace their ancestry to the Spitz. The German Spitz is recorded as being the first in existence, and the word ‘Spitz’ means ‘pointed’ referring to the small pointed ears. The Japanese Spitz followed in the 1920’s and 1930’s when breeders began crossbreeding different types of Spitz to come up with an improved breed with regards to health and longevity. The American Eskimo was coined due to anti-German sentiment in America caused by the Second World War. Whatever you like to call these adorable pups, they have one the fluffiest double coats of the double coated breeds, and have one of the longest life spans ranging from ten to sixteen years. Known for their loyal, happy-go-lucky demeanor, Spitz’s are very bright, and would make a great companion or family pet. From personal experience, my boy is exceptionally well behaved, is a great guard dog (but doesn’t attack others), and loves being pampered (who doesn’t?), but it’s an awesome feeling running my fingers through his double coat. He is relatively easy to manage in regards to grooming, as he doesn’t let off a rank odour, and often only needs bathing once every couple of months. He also doesn’t require a great deal of exercise, once a day is fine (as he tends to slow down if he gets too much), or if I happen to skip a day, no problem. He does like to roam free though, and usually sticks close by when I’m at the beach or walking through the bush. You will notice if you do decide to adopt one, expect to find they will be a magnet for everyone passing by. I always get remarks and questions from people I come across in the street, or on walks.
Terriers including Yorkshire, Scottish, Cairn, or Parson Russell: Typically small and fearless, Terriers are great hunters of vermin including rats and cockroaches, and any other small rodent that causes a threat to crops or farm animals. These breeds are generally loyal and affectionate, and each have their own unique personality, but rest assured, it will be a big, characterful one. You will find that Terriers typically have a wiry top coat instead of a fluffy one just in case you were wondering why they look different. Terriers that are double coated include the Scottish, Irish, Australian, Norfolk, Tibetan, Cairn, West Highland White, Wheaten, Lakeland, Skye, Dandie Dinmont, Parson Russell, Yorkshire, and Miniature Schnauzer. With such variation, you will need to do your research to find out which one is for you and your family.
Samoyed: Taking on many of the traits of a Spitz, only larger with thicker legs and thicker coats, the Samoyed has traditionally been used as a sled dog (due to their weight and height), as well as for herding reindeer. They have been included on many an adventure to the Arctic or Antarctic circles, and shed heavily twice a year. The name Samoyed comes from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia, and like the Spitz, is generally a very smiley dog. As they are inherently used to pulling things along, they will want to pull you along when taking them for a walk, not walking beside you, but they need a decent walk or run at least once daily. And just like the Spitz, they attract attention from all by-standers. Their life span is usually twelve to thirteen years and can be white, honey-coloured, or a chocolate brown in colour (among others). A little known fact is that the fur these dogs shed has actually been used to knit sweaters or jerseys which help insulate the body against the harsh temperatures of cooler climates, even those less than zero. An even lesser known fact is that their fur can also end up as part of an artificial fishing fly used in fly fishing.
St Bernard: Traditionally bred for alpine rescue missions along the Italian-Swiss borders (running 744 kilometres or 462 miles) which included France and Austria. The first St Bernards were acquired between 1660 and 1670 for this purpose, and featured a barrel of whisky or alternative warming alcohol to bring some relief to those freezing lost men in the High Alps. But they were more commonly used as farm dogs guarding the flocks or herding alpine animals such as alpacas and the like. Known as a ‘gentle giant’, these dogs are of a calm and patient demeanor, and are kind and gentle to both adults and children. Proper exercise and nutrition are essential to stop the deterioration of their big bones, and there are some other health risks (some hereditary) that should be noted such as bone cancer, hip dysplasia, and eye disorders known as entropion & ectropion (where the eyelids turn in or out). The life span of a St Bernard is typically eight to ten years.
Pomeranian: Small in stature, but big in personality, Pomeranians are descended from the German Spitz, and are named after the Pomerania region linking north-east Germany and north-west Poland. They make great companions, and are of a more manageable size for sitting on your lap! To prove themselves, they may bark at other dogs and people to show assertiveness, but that’s the extent of their guarding. Having lived with one, I found him a joy to be around. So if you’re looking for a dog that doesn’t require a great deal of exercise, then this toy breed could be for you. These pups will suit smaller environments such as apartments and tiny homes, and are considered a good choice for senior citizens.
Old English Sheepdog: Standing roughly twenty one to twenty two inches tall (more with their shaggy coat), these fluffy dogs are solid in stature weighing anywhere between sixty to one hundred pounds (twenty seven to forty five kilos). You will have your work cut out for you grooming them, as they require more than most double coated dogs, you could spend four or more hours a week preening this breed. Unfortunately, the main reason these dogs are given up for adoption is the time and cost of grooming them – something to think about before adopting one yourself. If you have OCD about cleanliness, this dog may not be for you as they tend to drool and are heavy shedders. However, these huge teddy bears are good guard dogs, are playful and affectionate, and are great around children. While the Old English Sheepdogs can adapt quite easily into lying about on the couch, they should be getting lots of daily exercise to extend their usual lifespan which is ten to twelve years.
The Shetland Sheepdog, Collie, Border Collie, and Australian Kelpie: Known for being gentle and kind, these dogs are devoted to family (especially good around children), and while they bark when a stranger nears, they aren’t aggressive. Originating in the Highlands of Scotland and Northern England, they were used specifically for herding, and know how to guard and watch the whole family. They are easy to train (just look at Lassie’s acting talents) and are highly intelligent, especially the Border Collie, who particularly needs to be active. Collies are usually good with other dogs and family pets and there are many variations on the ‘Collie’, including height, weight and colour. You can even get miniature ‘Shetland’ Sheepdogs which are technically not Collies, but still look the part.
Siberian or Alaskan Husky: The Russian pure bred Siberian Husky was used in the development of the mixed breed Alaskan Husky, and while similar in look and feel, the Siberian stands taller and is bred more for competition these days rather than for working and hunting, whereas the Alaskan is bred for working hard (especially in the snow pulling sleds). Alaskan dogs are generally not fans of being indoors as they are energetic dogs and although loyal, can dig quite deep holes or jump over fences. If you love the blue eyes, then the Siberian Husky is the one for you (although they can have a mix of blue and brown). The Alaskan for the main part have brown eyes. One thing to remember if you are considering one of these dogs, is that they tend to howl more than bark, so think of your neighbours or your sanity before adopting one. I remember living next door to howling dogs, and my Spitz used to tell them to pipe down which they did – amazing. Both Huskies are prone to gradual vision loss as part of their DNA, but they can live into their mid-teens.
Shih-Tzu and Havanese: A loyal friend and companion, these toy breeds really are all-rounders when it comes to positive traits. They can adapt to apartment living, both are good for novice dog owners, don’t require a great deal of exercise, and tolerates hot or cold weather, although best to keep them indoors when it gets too hot. They are not bred for hunting, herding, or guarding, simply as a lovable addition to any family unit – large or small. They are less yappy and less demanding than other dogs, can live between ten and sixteen years, and just love curling up on a comfy lap. They can be high-maintenance in regards to grooming, but love every moment of it. They are easier to find when it comes to adoption as there are more being bred than a Japanese Spitz for example. A good friend had one, and he was the one to convert me from being a cat lover to a lover of dogs.
Shiba Inu or Akita Inu: Easy to groom because of their shorter, dense fur (as opposed to the thick fur of the Spitz), the Inu breed of dogs are high-spirited, independent hunters that will chase anything that moves. A leash is essential for this type of double coated dog as its quick reflexes allow him to outrun and dodge any human, and their skill set includes an impressive ability to climb, jump, and dig deep. Forget having one in an inner city apartment, you will need a back yard that has secure high fences that are well rooted into the ground, and are preferably covered. As hunters, they will prey on smaller animals including guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, birds, cats and smaller dogs, so it’s advisable to keep one as your only pet to avoid conflict. The main difference between a Shiba and an Akita is size. Apart from this, both groom themselves like cats, have the same traits, and will challenge you. If you want to own one, you must be firm, confident with your commands, stand your ground, and be consistent. Choosing an adult dog means you can see what you’re getting in regards to their characteristics, and most don’t have the negative traits found in rambunctious young pups. It also makes training them easier, as they have already had some growing up. Perhaps try an animal shelter or an animal rescue farm as a starting point.
Retrievers including Golden and Labrador: Popular as family pets, the Retrievers are loving, playful additions to any family unit including those with children. However, they are also good work dogs with lots of energy, and you frequently find Labradors used in Police operations or as a Guide Dog/companion for blind or disabled people. They have a good temperament, so much so, that they generally aren’t a great first choice as a guard dog, but they will bark if a stranger comes to the door. With a lifespan of between ten to twelve years, the main differences between the two are usually the colour and the length of their coats (the Golden having medium length hair, and shorter hair for the Labrador). Labradors don’t require regular brushing due to their short coat, something to think about when choosing. Otherwise, select the one that pulls at your heartstrings.