Double Vs Single Coat Labradors (List of Differences)

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Labradors are known for shedding quite a bit if they’re not appropriately groomed. While it’s pretty easy to create a brushing schedule, failure to do so can lead to them dropping hair everywhere. Labs with a double coat shed much more than those with a single coat, but how are you supposed to know which one your dog has?

The difference between a double coat and a single coat Lab is simple: double coat Labs have a thin layer under their hair, while single coat Labs don’t. As a result, a double coat Labrador has an undercoat that makes them warmer, sheds more often, and develops dandruff. Double coat Labs wick moisture better, though.

In this article, you’ll learn the differences between Labs with one coat and those with a double coat, how you can find out which coat style your dog has, and how it affects your dog, home, and more.

In this article

What Is a Single Coat Labrador?

A dog with a single coat typically has thin hair rather than thick fur. This coat will show itself around your home, depending on how much shedding your dog does. While their coat length doesn’t impact whether they have one or two layers, Labradors shed a lot. There aren’t too many single coat Labs, but here’s what you should know about them:

  • A single-coat dog shows their skin under the top (and only) coat. You can brush your Lab and see their skin behind the comb. Much like humans, dogs with one layer of hair show the scalp right below because they don’t have an undercoat. This method is typically the easiest way to know (I’ll cover this later in more detail).
  • Single coat Labs don’t overheat too quickly. Since they don’t have extra insulation, Labradors with one layer of hair feel much more comfortable in warm weather. However, they’re more prone to UV skin damage and radiation from the sun. Please make sure they get plenty of shade on sunny days.
  • They might not be as good of swimmers as double coat dogs. A primary evolutionary trait of dogs with a double coat is it wicks water off of their fur. Since Labradors with one layer of hair don’t have an undercoat, they won’t have the same moisture-repelling benefits. In other words, they won’t glide through the water as easily.
  • They won’t shed as often as double coat Labs. Dogs with one coat typically don’t lose as much hair, but they have a longer hair growth cycle. This is convenient for you and your dog since you won’t have to groom them or clean their hair around the house as often.

There are a handful of Labradors that only have one layer of hair, but it’s worth knowing more about them in case your pup is an outlier. If you’re convinced your dog has a double coat (which is more than likely if they’re a Lab), proceed to the next section to learn all about them.

What Is a Double Coat Labrador?

If you have a Lab, you’re probably used to dealing with their double coat without knowing it. Many dogs have two layers; The topcoat is usually made of hair, while the undercoat is made of fur. Fur mats and clumps together, whereas hair falls out in strands. A double coat Labrador has to deal with both, while a single coat Lab only has hair.

  • Almost all Labradors have a double coat. If you’re unsure which type of coat your pup has, it’s safe to say they very likely have two layers. Labradors are known to have a double coat, which is why many companies target this breed when advertising grooming kits.
  • They can get exhausted from excess heat and exercise. Labs can’t get too hot, or they’ll succumb to all sorts of illnesses. I cover everything you need to know about what temperature range Labradors can handle here. Brushing them will limit overheating, but it’s much more difficult with any breed with two coats.
  • Dogs with a double coat fare better in cold environments. Labradors originate from colder climates, which is why their insulation is crucial to their survival. You might’ve noticed your Lab doesn’t mind the rain too much. Swimming, rainy weather, and similar conditions are no problem for a Lab with an undercoat.

If you’re having trouble knowing which coat your Labrador has, you’re in the right place. Read on to follow the three-step process to find out how many coats they have, why it matters, how to take care of them, and so on.

How Do You Tell if Your Dog Has a Single or Double Coat?

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to know if your dog is a single coat or double coat Labrador. Once you know whether or not they have an undercoat, you’ll better understand how warm or cold they can get, whether they’ll shed everywhere, and whether they have fur or hair (or both).

Here’s a quick process to know if your Labrador has a single coat or double coat:

  1. Look at the hair or fur they shed to identify if it’s matted or single hairs. A dog with a double coat will shed matted fur that you’ll find in clumps. A Lab with a single coat sheds hair, so it’ll look similar to a cat or human hair laying around your house.
  2. Check beneath the visible layer of fur. Brush their hair with your hand and see if there’s another layer beneath. The undercoat is typically shorter, so you’ll notice long hair and short fur layered over each other. This step can be challenging if your Lab has a short double coat because the layers blend together.
  3. Figure out the breed (almost every Labrador has a double coat, so chances are your Lab is a double coat breed). While it’s not a guarantee, knowing if your dog is a full-bred Labrador will drastically narrow its chances of having one coat. If your Lab is a cross-breed with another dog with a single coat, you should check with a local vet.

Following these suggestions can make it easier to know if your Lab has one or two coats, but it’s up to you to decide which pup is meant for you. Weather patterns, temperature, and many other variables can impact you and your Lab’s lives, so let’s break everything down below.

Which Lab Is Right for Your Home?

Orvis shows single coat dogs are better for warm weather, and double coat dogs do better in cold or mild weather. If you live in an area that’s always extremely hot, it’s important to find a Labrador that can handle the heat. Also, remember that their undercoat can add more grooming and cleaning around the house.

Owning a Lab is a lot of responsibility, and their double layer of hair and fur is part of the process. That being said, they’re man’s best friend and are more than worth the cleaning and brushing required to maintain their grooming needs. In addition, Labs are adaptive dogs and can learn to love most environments!


Now that you know the differences between single coat and double coat Labradors, you can learn how to care for your dog better. Remember to brush your double coat Lab more often and that almost every Labrador is a double coat dog. You can quickly find out which coat your pup has by looking under their topcoat.