What is it about fluffy dogs that attracts us so much? If the owners are asked, many would say that their dog is cute. Fluffy and soft is certainly high on the cute factor. But scientific researchers tell us that it’s much more than that. When dogs and people look at each other, both experience a rush of the oxytocin hormone. That’s the same hormone that is experienced when parents bond with their babies. It also doesn’t matter what gender the owner is. Rises in oxytocin levels as much as 300 percent have been recorded in humans and as much as 130 percent in dogs.
Just by looking into each other’s eyes! So, when that fluffy dog makes us feel like it’s the adorable thing in the world, there is a lot of science to back up the warm and fuzzy feelings. What’s wonderful about it all, is that there is a type of fluffy dog to attract most any human. Just as humans have preferences for straight, curly, wavy, long and short human hair, fluffy dogs come with all those different preferences. Some of the fluffiest of all have scads of curls, and others have long and sleek locks.
Here are 20 of the truly fluffy dog breeds in the world:
The Affenpinscher is a small, purebred from Germany. The Affen is a tough little dog, with a scruffy coat. Though it’s body is covered with fur that’s about an inch long, it has longer fur on its legs, stomach, chest, head and neck. It has longer hair over its eyebrows and its beard, and for this reason, its face is quite like a monkey. Its nickname is monkey terrier; earned for its comical face and mischievous behavior. It loves barking, climbing and lots of activity. Originally bred to chase rats, it’s been an important part of life in Germany since the 1600s. Its coat needs extra grooming to maintain its healthy, but decidedly unruly appearance.
The American Eskimo, or Eskie is a descendant from the German Keeshond and Pomeranian. German settlers brought their Eskies to settle in America. The breed’s first job in America was as performing in the circus. Eskie puppies were sold after the circus shows, and this contributed to the breed’s popularity. Eskies are intelligent, calm, and enjoy running in cold weather. Eskies have a double coat and they shed heavily. Their undercoats are thick, and their outer coats have long guard hairs which need brushing weekly. Because their ears also have thick fur, they must be checked regularly for debris and dirt. They need lots of exercise, but they are intelligent, friendly, and affectionate, with cute button eyes which peek out from their furry faces.
The Bichon Frise always look like wonderfully goofy powder puffs. Italian sailors brought their ancestors, the Mediterranean Barbet and a small white coated breed, home from their journeys in the Canary Islands. As long ago as the 1300s, these popular tricksters became favorite pets of King Francis I and the Italian and French upper class. The Bichon Frise is iconic for its role performing with street minstrels. Their soft undercoat and curly outer coat are dense and springy. Their coats do not shed, but they do grow continuously and require both daily brushing and regular haircuts. Their old hair can only be removed by brushing and the new hair must be kept in shape by cutting it to keep it from growing too long. They are energetic and affectionate. Allergy sufferers appreciate this breed because it is also hypoallergenic.
This small white fluffy dog has been a favorite of royalty for generations. It is named after Bologna, Italy, where it was established. Bolognese have been owned by Russia’s Catherine the Great, Austria’s Empress Maria Theresa, and France’s Madame de Pompadour. The Bolognese dogs have been included in paintings by Titian, Watteau, Gosse and Goya, and in tapestries created by Flemish artisans since the 17th century. The Bolognese are loyal, playful and stubborn. Their coat is a single coat, with flocks of open and loose ringlets all over their bodies. They have shorter hair on their faces. Their coats are wooly in texture and don’t shed, but they do need combing every day to keep the curly ringlets from matting. Though they do not shed seasonally, but in similar fashion to human hair, they lose individual hairs, which are replaced with new ones. Their distinctive fluffy coats must be groomed and bathed once a month.
Bouvier des Flandres
This Belgian purebred, also known as the Belgian Cattle Dog, has a long history as a herding dog. Known for being a loyal, the Bouvier des Flandres has a tousled weatherproof double coat. The inner coat is very fine, while the outer coat is quite dry. Even with regular professional grooming, the Bouvier can look as if it hasn’t had a brush visit it recently. But it’s a gentle breed, and children enjoy snuggling in its wavy fur. The breed needs regular brushing, which makes the coat clean and soft. But, its sheds a lot, and the vacuum will be used often. The monastery monks of Ter Duinen are given credit for early contributions to the breed. These dogs were bred for work, not show, and their name means “Cow Herder of Flanders”. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy owned one when she was a child.
The aloof and quiet Chow Chow can be traced as far back in history as the Han dynasty in China. That’s more than 2,000 years ago. High maintenance grooming is certainly required for a Chow. They shed heavily in spring and again in the fall, and their grooming needs increase during those seasons. They also need a special grooming tool to protect their delicate skin while working with their difficult double coats. All Chows have a thick undercoat which is wooly and gives them plenty of insulation when the weather is cold. But there are two outer coat variations; one is rough and off-standing, while the other is hard and smooth. They do very well in cold weather, but not in heat. They tend to be lazy, and need to have daily walks to avoid behavior issues. Regardless, they are high on the fluff meter; even their tails are splendidly fluffed.
The Collie is the descendant of herding dogs, though its exact origin is not known. Collies are sensitive and loyal. Experts believe that its name came from its work guarding the Scottish Colley sheep. These distinctive sheep have black faces. Queen Victoria made the breed very popular, because she kept the hard-working dogs at Balmoral Castle. In America, J.P. Morgan, the wealthy business tycoon, also kept Collies. Lassie, the famous movie and television dog, was a rough Collie. Collies come with either rough or smooth coats. The rough coat version is double, with a harsh outer coat and a soft undercoat. This version is the fluffiest, and looks even more so due to the beautiful thick mane it has around the chest and neck areas. But as with many fluffy breeds, the long hair of the top coat is harsher to the touch than it appears. Their coats may be so heavy when wet that some rough Collies do not like to swim. They need a brushing every week and their under coats do shed two times a year.
Coton De Tulear
The Coton De Tulear, or Cotie, is a small purebred from Madagascar. Tulear was a popular sailing port for merchant ships, and it is thought that European sailors brought their companion dogs to port. The Cotie is probably evolved from the Bichon strains which sailed to the port. Affectionate, playful and talkative, Coties love to play and swim. The Cotie’s coat is quite unique among the fluffy breeds, because it requires a thorough brushing each day, and it must be bathed often during the year. They lose hair, but rather than shedding it onto surfaces, the hair which sheds becomes trapped within their coat. If not combed out and brushed daily, the fur mats and must be removed by shaving it off. All of this extensive investment in time is worth it for the many who seek a hypoallergenic dog. In the French language Coton means “cotton”, and the Cotie has a fluffy, cottony coat. Its topcoat is long, and this fluffy fur also covers its forelegs. By the 17th century, the tribal monarch which ruled Madagascar had adopted this breed as its own, forbidding anyone not of royalty to own a Cotie. It was given the title “Royal Dog of Madagascar” for this reason.
These majestic, giant dogs, sometimes nicknamed Patou, originate from Spain and France. Their long white fur needs occasional stripping and trimming in addition to brushing. When they shed, they must be brushed daily. But in exchange for this high level of grooming, they offer soft and fluffy cuddles as well as a double coat which is weather resistant. Their undercoat is wooly and dense, while their outer coat is long and flat. They are guardian dogs which are gentle with their family. They do bark often, and can be stubborn. They are descended from two Siberian and Central Asian breeds; the Maremmano-Abruzzese and the Hungarian Kuvasz. They are also relatives of the mighty St. Bernard, which explains the breed’s long time in the highest regions of the mountains. During the Middle Ages, they wore a spikey collar and protected the flocks of the French nobility from predators. In modern times, they have become avalance rescue dogs, ski trip pack dogs, sled dogs and cart pulling dogs. They are wonderful property and family defenders.
The Havanese are very much like mops made with silky fur. Their coats come in many colors and are long and full. They are curious, friendly, and walk with a spring in their steps. When their fur is left untrimmed, it flows in long, soft strands which flow all the way down their legs and tail. The fur is quite light and keeps them cool when days are hot. Some owners clip their fur to make it easier to care for, and some braid the hair into cords which are similar to human dreadlocks. Their fur grows very quickly and must be brushed to keep it from tangling. But, it is extremely soft to the touch and the breed doesn’t shed. Some Havanese coats can become frizzy, too. All Havanese need to be combed two times each week. They also have hair which grows under their feet, and this needs to be trimmed. Their hair is so long that it can cause tears, so some owners arrange the hair above their eyes in braids or a top knot to keep it away from their eyes. Havanese are thought to have originally come from Tenerife, Canary Islands or Malta, based on writings of Aristotle.
The Keeshond sports a plush, double coat of fur with a huge fluffy ruff around the neck. Its coat is silver and black. Their undercoat is thick and soft. Their outer coat has long straight hair which stands out from the undercoat. They have hair with the appearance of feathers on their front legs. Their back legs have fur extending down like a pair of pants legs. But, the fur on their legs is generally short and smooth. Their tails curve up and over their backs; ending with a fluffy plume. With so much fluffiness, they must be brushed at least one hour each week. They shed their undercoats seasonally. The Keeshond is descended from the German Spitz, but became the symbol for the Dutch rebellion in the 18th century. The Dutch patriot who led the uprising against the House of Orange was nicknamed “Kees” and that combined with the Dutch “hond”, which means dog, resulted in Keeshond.
The purebred Hungarian Kuvasz is a working dog with a coat that is curly, wavy or straight, and fluffy all over, except for its face, and even between its toes. It has a double coat which sheds frequently, but also repels water and dirt, so bathing is only necessary on occasion. Kuvasz puppies have soft white fur which sticks out all over, but as they grow up, those with curly coats can begin to resemble sheep. The Kuvasz has existed in Hungary since the 13th century, though its ancestry probably traces much further back in history. It was trained to guard flocks, protect its family and hunt. It’s a large, agile dog, and a wonderful companion.
There’s no doubt that the happy Lagotto Romagnolo shares the sweet appearance of a stuffed teddy bear. It has a coat which is thick and curly all over on every part of its body. It is a vivacious dog which is the only breed specifically bred to find the expensive and elusive truffle. It is a country dog from Italy, with historic representations located in the Spina Etruscan necropolis. There, a dog much like it is depicted in scenes of fishing and hunting. The Lagotto Romagnolo was first employed as a wetland hunting dog, or simply the “water dog”. This working dog is always shown with its tight curls and thick coat as they are. No combing out to straighten the coat is attempted, so that its rustic style can show off its muscular body. It has a double coat of curly hair which doesn’t shed regularly. The curly hair is water-proof, too. It’s the kind of dog that tempts a hug or two.
The alert Lhasa Apsos were originally bred to serve as interior guards in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. They are named after Tibet’s capital city, Lhasa, and the Tibetan language word apso, which means “bearded”. Their long and dense fur coats have a heavy texture and the fur is straight. It flows from the top of the dog’s body downward in long strands, just like human hair. They lose hair like humans do, continuously, but slowly. Their double coat includes an under layer of soft fine fur which lays flat with the outer coat. They need to be brushed and bathed regularly because dirt tends to become trapped within their long strands of hair. In historical times in Tibet, Lhasas were never sold, but they were given as gifts. This is how the breed was introduced from the remote Himalayas to the rest of the world.
The sprightly little Maltese has ancient, unknown origins. While references to the breed occur in Roman and Ancient Greek literature, it is also portrayed on a Greek amphora which was discovered in Vulci, and Etruscan town. The dog was rendered with the word Melitaie, and archeologists dated it to the time near 500 B.C. Aristotle wrote about the dog about 370 B.C. and named it Melitaei Catelli. Other ancient scholars wrote that noble women favored the breed, and that its origins were on Malta, an island in the Mediterranean. Over the centuries it has remained one of the more popular dog breeds. When fully groomed, the Maltese coat appears to flow like water from the top of its body downward. The fur is silky and long, and there is no undercoat. It’s pure white coat doesn’t shed, making it hypoallergenic for allergic owners. A Maltese prepared for a show has the appearance of a dog with a waterfall of white hair. This is particularly true when the dog is sitting, as only its facial features may be seen, with the fur flowing past its feet onto the floor.
Old English Sheepdog
There’s nothing quite as appealing as the soft, thick shaggy coat on an Old English Sheepdog. This large breed from the English countryside is iconic. The breed has so much fur, that combing, backcombing and even powdering the fur was commonplace during dog shows. When their fur is clipped shorter, it can appear curly or wavy, and their adorable eyes and nose are more easily seen. Dogs with longer fur might be seen wearing hairbands to keep the fur out of its eyes. Their coats must be brushed once each week, and it may take three hours to do it properly. Matted fur can be very painful to them and trap urine, fecal matter, debris and dust. Their shaved hair is often used to spin into yarn, much like wool. Old English Sheepdogs enjoy clowning, as they are quite social and intelligent. Owners often find them herding children; instinctively bumping into them. Their goofy appearance and shaggy good looks have prompted their inclusion as characters in many films.
When a Pekingese is properly brushed out, it resembles Chinese guardian lions, even though the toy dog breed is diminutive in size. At one time, Pekingese were companions to royalty, and spent centuries as lap dogs for the Chinese Imperial rulers. Their name is derived from Peking, which is the location of the Forbidden City. They originally were the companions of the Western Chinese Buddhist monks, and Chinese princes owned them, too. With more than 2000 years of history as a breed, the Pekingese appearance has changed little in all that time. They come primarily with coats of gold, sable or red colors, but other colors are common. They are essentially a swath of fluffy, long straight hair surrounding flat faces and paws. They need to be brushed every day, and seen by a professional groomer about every two months. Their fur covers most everything on their bodies, so their eyes, their face creases and their buttocks must be kept well-groomed and free of debris to prevent sores. They also must be kept cool. Some owners give them a “puppy cut” which relieves some of the responsibility that the longer fur requires.
The Pomeranian, or Pom, is a cocky and bold breed. Owners adore these little puffy balls of fur, and people are naturally drawn to their inquisitive little faces. For all their adorableness, they do need regular grooming to keep all that fluffy fur in good form. Owners occasionally trim and strip their coats as well. Their double coat is soft and thick underneath, with a long outer coat which stands out and gives them their distinctive makeup-puff appearance. They also have a thick fur ruff which encircles their neck. Pomeranians share the name of the German and Polish region where they originated. Though they were first bred to be sheep herders, they became the breed owned by the aristocracy. Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette, Mozart and Emile Zola owned them. Their agility and talent as circus performers contributed to their popularity.
Standard Poodles originate from France and Germany. They are highly intelligent and need plenty of activity. For all their fluffy hair, they don’t shed much. Their curly coats are truly dense and somewhat harsh. Their coats are often groomed and cut into traditional styles unique to the breed. It is thought that the breed’s ancestors arrived in Europe after leaving Asia. There are German and French varieties, but the German word for puddle gave the breed its name. After the French aristocracy popularized the breed, it became the national dog of France. Poodles adore water, which is helpful because they must have baths and weekly brushing to keep their thick coats in good shape.
With its plush, two layers of white coat, the Samoyed is famous around the world as a sled dog, bred to help the Samoyedic people with their transportation and herding reindeer. This breed comes from Siberia, and is known to protect its owners from the frigid cold by keeping them warm. Their coats are dense. The top layer is long and straight with white guard hairs touched with a bit of silver. The under layer has soft, thick and short fur. This under coat sheds completely, at least one or two times seasonally every year, and sheds fine hair throughout the year. The Samoyed tail is unique because it touches the dog’s back when it carries it high. They will use their tails to cover their noses when they sleep to help keep them warm. Samoyeds are so friendly that they are often nicknamed “smiley dogs”. Some call them “Sammie smile” because their mouths often appear to be smiling. They are alert and make great companion dogs, as they tend to enjoy playing their entire lives. Their fluffy fur is so very soft that it can be used to create knitted sweaters which can withstand temperatures below freezing.