This is an introduction to the origin and main characteristics of some of the most common furs used today.

18 February of 2010 by

North American beaver (Castor canadensis)
This large, semi-aquatic, wild animal is from North America. The long guard hairs are very dark brown to reddish or blonde. Beaver is often plucked or sheared by designers to show the soft underfur and reduce the weight of the item. It is often used for trimmings and full fur garments.Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)

Originating from South America, the chinchilla is now totally protected in the wild. It is farmed in North and South America and Europe. This very soft and silky fur is mainly grey, but there are some black, white or beige-white natural colours. It is used mainly for small articles and trimming but also for full-length garments.


Coyote (Canis latrans)
This abundant North American wild fur-bearer produces long, dense fur ranging in colour from cream to dark grey, typically black-tipped. The fur is used for full coats and trim and is particularly popular for men’s coats.

Finn raccoon (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
Today, finn raccoon (also called Asiatic raccoon) is predominately farmed in Finland. A thick and luxurious fur with a natural colour range from beige to brown to reddish brown, it is often used in trimmings and sports coats, including menswear.
Silver fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Farmed silver fox has long, glossy, lightweight fur with natural colours in black and white, giving a feel of silver. Darker skins have more black and paler skins more white. Silver fox is traditionally used for collars and cuffs, wraps and stoles.

Blue fox (Alopex lagopus)
Farmed blue foxes are dark to pale grey in colour. They can also produce almost white fur, known as white or shadow fox. Often dyed in many shades, the soft and thick hair is typically used for collars and trimmings but also for jackets and full-length coats.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
This is the most common and well known of the wild foxes, found in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The North American pelt has long, soft red hair whereas the European fur is flatter and less silky. It is used for trimming and for full fur garments.

Karakul lamb (Ovis aries playtura)
This is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated sheep in the world. It is also known as Persian lamb and Astrakhan. The pelt is distinctive for its softness and lustrous wavy curls. Natural colours are black, grey, white, silver grey, pink and brown. It is typically used for full fur garments such as coats and skirts, and as trimming, edging and lining.

Tibet and Calgan lamb (Ovis aries steatopyga)
Found in China, this long curly-haired lambskin can be dyed many colours. It is used mainly for trimmings.

Canadian marten (Martes americana)
A wild fur-bearer found in Canada and parts of the USA, this cousin to the Russian sable exhibits particularly soft and luxurious guard hairs with dense, silky underfur. It is typically used for coats, jackets and trimming.

Mink (Mustela vison)
This is the most common farmed species, producing dense, lightweight fur. There is a wide range of natural colours from white to black, taking in pearl, violet and sapphire, demi-buff (medium brown) and ranch (very dark brown). The fur can be worked in many ways, including shorn, knitted and also dyed in many different colours. It is a very versatile fur and is used for coats, jackets, trimmings and accessories.

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica)
A semi-aquatic mammal, which is very prolific, the muskrat is found wild throughout North America and Europe, the former Soviet Union and China. It is also known as musquash. It has thick, waterproof underfur with a long, glossy overlayer of guard hairs. The colour varies from light brown to black. Muskrat is used for coats, jackets and trimmings.

North American Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
A wild fur valued for its soft, reddish pelt. It is typically used for linings, garments and some trimmings.

Weasel and Kolinski (Mustela nivalis and Mustela sibirica)
These fur-bearers have shorter guard hair than mink, with very lightweight leather and flatter, soft fur. They are used for full coats and trim in both natural and dyed colours. They may also be plucked and sheared for use as a lightweight spring fur.

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