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January 11, 2023 3 min read

by Moniqe Youzwa

Monique has been a full-time freelance writer for over 5 years, plus has a few fiction credits under her belt and is currently working on a novel. When not writing, she spends her time reading, playing video games, hiking, and camping with her husband and daughter.


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Sheepskin and shearling are often assumed to be the same material. Though they do have similar characteristics, these two fabrics are not identical. In fact, if you compare the two, you may notice that the difference between sheepskin and shearling is more noticeable than you realized. There are a few unique features that may have you choosing one over the other, so let’s take a look at what each one has to offer.

What Is Sheepskin?

Sheepskin is created when the hide of a sheep is removed, processed, and tanned, leaving soft leather on one side and intact wool on the other. If the wool is removed, you end up with sheep leather, which lacks the inner softness and warmth of sheepskin.

What Is Shearling?

Shearling is similar to sheepskin since it also has a soft hide on the outside and fuzzy wool on the inside. The difference is that shearling comes from a young lamb that’s been shorn only once.

How To Distinguish The Two?

Aside from the age of the animal sheepskin and shearling come from, there are a few other ways to tell these two apart.

Purpose

Shearling and sheepskin are both extremely durable, water-resistant, and offer protection from cold weather. These features make both options extremely functional during the colder months of the year. Even light rain or snow shouldn’t penetrate the soft outer hide.

Texture

One of the main differences between shearling and sheepskin is the texture. Shearling jackets are incredibly soft and supple, while sheepskin is somewhat rougher against the skin. These varying textures give the shearling material a more luxurious feel that’s hard to keep your hands off.

Warmth

When choosing a coat for the winter, warmth is likely the first consideration. Though you may expect that sheepskin and shearling will be identical in this area, this isn’t the case. Both sheepskin and shearling have an outer hide that blocks the wind while the inner wool retains heat for consistent warmth.

Shearling is somewhat denser, though, so this material is warmer. It’s fantastic for those extra-cold winter days, while sheepskin is better for cool spring or autumn temperatures.

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, sheepskin and shearling are closely matched. Both offer resistance to wind and moisture and retain heat, making them exceptional options for all types of weather. The inner wool of shearling is less wiry, while the outer layer of the pelt is incredibly soft, so the entire piece feels fantastic against your skin.

Style

Since sheepskin and shearling are similar in look, they can be styled the same way. You can wear them over a t-shirt, turtleneck, sweater, or button-up shirt and tie combo.

Cost

Making a coat of sheepskin or shearling isn’t easy, requiring a few matching pelts for a single full-length garment. Not anyone can handle this work, either. Expert craftsmen hand cut and sew the pieces together for the highest quality pieces. Both options are rather expensive, though shearling is slightly higher in price than sheepskin.

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Pros and Cons of Sheepskin

Sheepskin is a durable material known for warmth and comfort that is perfect for cooler temperatures. The downside of sheepskin is that it comes from full-grown sheep, so it isn’t quite as soft as the material of the younger animals.

Pros and Cons of Shearling

Shearling is a soft and supple material that feels incredible and keeps you warm in even the coldest temperatures. It is rather pricey, though, so it is likely out of reach for those on a budget.

Sheepskin and Shearling

Final Word

Though not identical, there are very few differences between sheepskin and shearling. Sheepskin is slightly rougher in texture and not quite as warm, though it is a bit cheaper to buy than shearling. Shearling, on the other hand, has a uniquely luxurious texture and warmth that are difficult to match, but this comes at a higher cost that not everyone can afford.


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