In snowy weather when most of us would be dreaming of a cozy fire and warm cup of hot chocolate, a Siberian husky is ready to go run and play. The cold weather doesn't bother him at all because instead of just one thick coat of fur, he has two.
As a working dog bred for harsh conditions, a Siberian husky has what is known as a double coat. While single-coated dogs have only one layer of fur, huskies have two: a top coat and an undercoat. Each serves an important purpose in protecting the dog's skin and keeping him either cool or warm as needed. If a Siberian husky has a single coat he has either shed his fluffy undercoat for the warm summer months or is not a true husky.
The top coat is made up of long, thick guard hairs that provide protection for the coat and skin. The top coat repels water, holds in heat in cold weather or allows the skin to breathe in warm weather, and blocks harmful UV rays. Top coat hairs are straight, not curly or crimped, and shed gradually year-round.
The undercoat is the soft, downy layer that provides protection in cold weather. These fine hairs are usually slightly crimped to help trap warm air. The undercoat is thick and full. Siberian huskies shed their undercoats twice per year, usually in the spring and fall. The undercoat sheds in clumps and chunks over a two- to three-week period. In hot summer months, the undercoat is usually thin or practically nonexistent, and in winter months it becomes very thick and fluffy.
Some Siberian huskies have what is known as a wooly coat. This is still a double coat, but with guard hairs that are longer than usual. While this coat may be attractive to owners who like long-haired dogs, it is not good for a working Siberian husky. The long, soft guard hairs do not provide the protection needed against water, ice and cold. The coat also takes longer to dry, posing a danger in cold weather.