Double Coat Vs Single Coat Labs: 101 Difference

Labradors are beautiful canines known for their activeness, playfulness, lovable nature, and great companionship. However, above and beyond, Labradors are popular for their ‘Coat Type’, which isn’t just visually appealing but is also meant to serve several great purposes.

Labradors are famous worldwide for their heavy shedding double-layer Coat. According to American Kennel Club ‘AKC’ and United Kennel Club ‘UKC’ breed standards, all Labradors are born with a double-layer coat. However, these organizations also recognize a sparse undercoat or no undercoat at all. This, in simpler words, means that even though Labradors are meant to have a double-layer coat, there are a few of them with a single coat as well. Although Labradors with single coats are very rare, they do exist in a small recognizable number.

This article is all about Labradors, the ones with ‘obvious’ double coats and ones with ‘rare’ single coats. Continue reading to learn how a coat style can impact a dog’s breed and lifestyle.

Double Coat Vs Single Coat Labs

Double Coat Vs Single Coat Labradors Comparison

Labradors are double-coated dogs with a coarse outer coat and a soft yet thicker undercoat. The double-layer Coat is an asset for Labradors, and not only is it visually appealing, but it also serves many practical purposes. 

The first part of the Double layer coat in Labradors is the top/ outer Coat which is more likely of any single-coated dog. This outer layer has thick, strong, and coarse hair strands, which are also known as Guard Hair. Labrador’s outer Coat serves multiple purposes, including protection from water/ moisture, keeping dirt and debris from reaching the skin, and allowing the dog to swim. During the heavy shedding season, Labs often shed the outer layer in the form of strands. 

At the same time, the second part of the Double layer coat in Labradors is the undercoat. This layer is more likely dense, woolly, and soft, unlike what you may observe in many dogs around. Labrador’s undercoat is densely packed and is usually softer and lighter. The inner layer or undercoat works as an excellent insulator that keeps Lab warm during winters and simultaneously cools during summers. During the heavy shedding season, Labs often shed their undercoat (fur) in the form of mats and clumps. 

Things to know about Labrador’s Double Layer Coat

  1. Almost 99.9% of Labradors are born with Double Layer Coat (a thick and coarse outer layer and a soft and dense inner layer).
  2. The Double Layer Coat in Labrador’s helps is water-proof, and therefore even while swimming, it keeps the dog from getting wet. The water-proof protection also comes in handy during weather conditions like rainfall and snowfall. 
  3. Labradors are meant for surviving in colder climates, and thus their Double Layer Coat promotes insulation. It keeps the dog warm regardless of how harsh the outdoor conditions are.
  4. However, at the same time, the thickness of Labradors’ Double Layer Coat can result in overheating during summer. However, the insulation of coats keeps them protected even from heat, but in case of no grooming and brushing, their Coat can prove as a source of heating. 
  5. The Double Layer Coat keeps dirt, debris, and harmful UV rays from reaching Labrador’s skin.

Things to know about Labrador’s Single-Layer Coat

  1. Single Coat is extremely rare in Labradors, and therefore as an estimate, there are only a handful of such dogs present across the globe. 
  2. According to the breed standards in the dog shows, individuals participating with Single Coat Labradors must be severely penalized. 
  3. No breeder produces Single Coat Labradors on purpose since such dogs are regarded as inferior.
  4. The genes for the single Coat were most likely introduced by an early ancestor of the Labrador breed, but despite that, such dogs aren’t much popular and under demand. 
  5. Single Coat Labradors most likely show their skin under the Coat, the only layer of the Coat. It may appear similar to a human scalp with less hair.
  6. Single Coat Labradors aren’t as great swimmers as Double Coat Labradors. It is because a double coat wicks water off the fur, but a single coat doesn’t have similar water-repelling advantages. Therefore, Single Coat Labradors don’t glide easily through the water, which makes them bad swimmers.
  7. Single Coat Labradors have a longer hair growth cycle, and they do not shed very often. 
  8. Single Coat Labradors are prone to UV damage and skin irritation.
  9. Given they have single and less dense hair, Single Coat Labradors can’t make it well in winter, especially during the snowy season.

How do I know if my Labrador is single or double-coated?

If you have got your Labrador Retriever from a reputed and certified breeder, you definitely have a double-layer coat dog. It is extremely rare that a certified breeder will ever breed a single-layer coat Labrador on purpose, given such dogs can find many surviving challenges in the real world. However, even if by any chance you get to grab your hand on a single-layer coat Labrador, you can spot the difference very evidently. 

Labradors with double-layer coats appear fuller and fluffier due to a denser undercoat. Whereas Labradors with single-layer coats appear weak, and you can easily spot their skin under the Coat. Despite how physically fit they are, these Labs will appear malnourished, like any street dog or abandoned dog. 

Double Coat Vs Single Coat Dog Breeds

Dogs can either have a single coat or a double coat but not both. A single Coat means one layer of fur and nothing underneath. Dogs with Single coats aren’t very fluffy, and they tend to get chilly during cold weather. Such dogs often need a human-made second coat for insulation during harsh winters. At the same time, dogs with Double coats have a separate undercoat and top Coat, whereas the inner one is made of soft fur and the outer one is made of thick, coarse hair. Given their dense Coat, such dogs are well-suited for mountain regions. 

Example of Dogs with Single Coat

  • Greyhound
  • Poodle
  • Dachshund
  • Dalmatians
  • Afghan Hound
  • Boxer
  • Chihuahua
  • Great Dane
  • Samoyed
  • Whippet
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Example of Dogs with Double Coat

  • Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers
  • German Shepherds and Australian Shepherds
  • Pomeranians
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Chows
  • Border Collies
  • Newfoundlands
  • Corgis
  • The Great Pyrenees
  • Cavalier King Charles

Wrapping up…

The above discussion may have come out as a surprise for many, for there are Labradors with both double and single-layer coats. The latter, though, is extremely rare, but their existence isn’t impossible. However, even when you step out to find a Labrador with a single-layer coat, you may face disappointment even after much hustle and bustle. It is because such dogs are a handful in number, and there might not even be one in or around your region.

Cheers

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