I’ve written about this before, in passing, in a couple of my other papillon posts. Because it still shocks me how many people, even groomers and people who own papillons, don’t know that this breed is supposed to have a single coat, I was inspired to write a post about it.
Do papillons have a double coat?
Breed standard papillons should not have a double coat. Papillons have a single coat, which consists of a topcoat only. The undercoat on a double coated dog is the insulating layer of fur that naturally works to protect animals against extreme temperatures. Papillons lack this layer.
You can check out the official AKC papillon breed standard here.
I wrote this post to help illustrate the difference between a topcoat and an undercoat. It’s convenient that, besides my papillon Kitsune, I also have a double coated Alaskan Klee Kai, Fenrir. The following image shows the difference between Fenrir’s top and under coats.
Breed standard papillons have only topcoats.
I keep saying “breed standard papillons” because there are papillons out there with undercoats. It’s not really normal or desired going by the breed standard, but that doesn’t mean that those papillons who have undercoats won’t still make awesome pets.
While, to pet owners, it may not matter much whether your dog conforms to the breed standard or not, I think it is important to know what type of coat he/she has.
There are some differences between double and single coated dogs and how they, and their fur, should be cared for.
Single coated papillons, for example, may not deal with extreme cold as well as a double coated dog would. As I already stated above, they lack the insulating undercoat which serves to keep double coated dogs warm in the winter. I always keep a close eye on Kitsune when the weather is extreme. During our winter adventures I sometimes put a coat on him to help keep him warmer.
Kit sheds a lot less than double coated Fenrir does, which is a nice perk to him not having an undercoat. In addition, because Kitsune has a single coat, I’ve never had any issues trimming his fur. This is a hot button issue among “papillon people”. I’ve gotten a lot of criticism over the years for clipping Kitsune’s fur, even though doing so does not hurt him nor damage his fur.
I always have to mention, though, that I don’t recommend shaving even single coated dogs down to the skin. While a single coat may not do as much to protect dogs from extreme temperatures, guard hairs (topcoats) do protect the skin from sun exposure. Dogs, like humans, can suffer from sunburn if their skin is exposed to the sun’s rays.
Papillons are well known for their long, silky, flowing coats. They are often referred to as a “wash and wear” breed, because their fur doesn’t normally require any special care. Papillons should be brushed regularly, however, to ensure their beautiful fur doesn’t mat. Pay special attention the the fur on and behind the ears. This fur is often especially soft, and more prone to developing tangles.
Comment below! Does your dog have a single or double coat? What are some things you do to keep your dog’s fur healthy?