Types of Fur
Fur has been valued for its comfort and beauty by people all over the world. With a rich ceremonial and fashion history, fur types have personalities as varied and unique as the countries and cultures that have nurtured them.
Semi-aquatic builder of dams and certainly one of Canada’s favorite animal icons! Natural beaver has very long, lustrous hair, but sheared beaver is also a favorite with designers who create elaborate, surface effects of varying color and pattern.
Originally from South America, but now farm-raised in both North and South America and in Europe, chinchilla has always had snob appeal, though it is also quite fragile. It’s very silky (in fact no fur is softer) and is mainly grey to slate blue.
This wily North American critter has a hardy kind of fur. Dense and durable, it’s creamy, tan or grey and often used for men’s jackets.
The winter phase of the weasel, this silky white fur with telltale black tips, was once the fur of European nobility who swept about with it decorating their capes and trains. Traces of this medieval tradition survive in the ceremonial robes of judges and academics.
An unusual wild North American fur, fisher is longhaired, dark and silvery.
The majority of fox fur sold in North America is farm-raised (often from Scandinavia), and is available in the widest range of natural colors of any fur, apart from mink, including silver, crystal blue, red, grey and white. Running neck and neck with mink in the popularity race, this luxurious fur makes an ideal trim for collars, cuffs, wraps and stoles.
Lamb is the chameleon of fur with a host of personalities. The queen of lamb is broadtail: of Russian origin, it is sleek, lightweight, shiny and flat, with a slight wave, like fine moiré fabric. Mongolian is an extroverted fur that is both longhaired and curly. Often white, its silky hair is frequently dyed in a kaleidoscope of hues. Mouton pelts are sheared closely for a soft, thick flat fur. Persian lamb is farmed in both Asia and South Africa and pelts are prized for their soft, wavy curls with natural colors of black, brown and grey. Shearling is natural lamb pelts with the leather side sueded or leatherized and worn on the outside, and the curly fur worn as a lining.
Wildly furry, lynx has an exaggerated edge to it and is indigenous to both North America and Russia. The whiter the fur, the higher its value.
A close cousin to Russian sable, American marten has long silky hair and varies from dark brown to golden in color. Baum is softer, silkier and shinier than American and Stone, the finest variety, has a bluish-brown coat and pale underfur.
Mink has never been knocked off its pedestal as the all-time diva of furs. Soft and lightweight with lustrous guard hair and dense, soft undertur, it is primarily farm-raised. Female pelts are smaller in size and have a softer, silkier feel than the larger male pelts. Mink is available in a wide range of natural colors and may be sheared for a sporty, casual look. It is a very durable fur despite its luxurious look.
Muskrat is a North American wild fur that is popular for its natural color and can also be dyed rich jewel shades. New Jersey muskrat is lighter in weight with contrasting colors while Northern muskrat has longer guard hair and heavy, thick underfur and is often worked skin-on skin. Southern muskrat is flatter with little underfur and is usually pale in color.
Found mainly in Argentina and the Southern USA, it is also farmed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Similar to beaver, it is often sheared for a sporty, more lightweight feel. Because its underfur is very soft and plush and its fur can be dyed in a variety of shades, nutria is a popular fur for linings and trims.
Woolly and coarse, opossum is often used for liners and men’s coats. The very different American variety has long silvery black-tipped guard hair with thick underfur while the New-Zealand variety has a short, dense plush-like fur in colors ranging from yellow-grey to natural brown.
Rabbit generally has medium length guard hair in a variety of natural colors and is often sheared or grooved. While not very durable, this is a very reasonably priced fur.
Long gray/black guard hair with silvery tips over a woolly, dense undertur makes it a very durable fur. Finn raccoon or Asiatic raccoon has long, thick tan guard hair with black tips and dense underfur.
Russian sable is still the most prized fur in the world, renowned for its legendary silky quality, rarity and light weight. Brown with a silver cast, it is the most expensive fur, especially when there is an abundance of silver hair. Canadian sable (brown or golden) is somewhat less expensive.
Also called Japanese raccoon, has very long guard hair and a full texture. Color is light amber brown with dark, distinctive markings.