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How do you recognize a real and fake sheepskin?

How do you recognize a real and fake sheepskin?

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Sheepskins have been used by humans for centuries and are loved for their versatility and beauty. Among other things, they are appreciated for their natural softness but also for their functional properties. For example, sheepskins are often used at home as decoration to bring more atmosphere and warmth to the interior, think of sheepskin rugs or for extra comfort in the chair or on the couch. If you want a new sheepskin for your interior you will want to enjoy the different advantages that real sheepskins bring, but how do you recognize a real or fake sheepskin? In this blog I will take you through the differences and how to distinguish them.

In this blog on how to recognize a real and fake sheepskin:

  1. What is a real sheepskin?
  2. How can you tell the difference between a real and fake sheepskin?
    2.1. The wool/texture
    2.2. The smell
    2.3. The shape
    2.4. The backside
    2.5. The colors
    2.6. The price
    2.7. The weight
    2.8. The washability
  3. What is an imitation sheepskin?
  4. How can you recognize a fake coat?
    4.1. The texture
    4.2. The smell
    4.3. The backside
    4.4. The shape
    4.5. The colors
    4.6. The weight
    4.7. Are they washable? (laundry label)
    4.8. The price
  5. Conclusion

What is a real sheepskin?

A genuine sheepskin is a natural product that comes from the sheep, where both the leather and wool are preserved and form one whole. The leather and wool are treated (tanned) in a way that preserves them. Genuine sheepskins are known for their wonderful softness and warmth. They have a unique structure where the wool hairs are fixed (anchored) to the leather.

How can you tell the difference between a real and fake sheepskin?

I sometimes get the question; "are all your sheepskins real?". I can be very brief about that, yes, they are all real. If you want to buy a sheepskin, it is important to distinguish the real ones from the fake ones, because there are big differences between the two. It depends on your personal preference, some prefer real ones and others prefer fakes. You can guess my preference ;).

Let's look at the real sheepskins, later we'll look at the fakes. You can in fact recognize a real sheepskin quite easily, I recognize them within an instant but if you are not sure you can look at the points I will explain:

The wool / texture

Natural sheepskins have real wool, the wool / hairs, are very soft (a bit depending on the sheep) and you can really feel this. The wool can be long and compact, but also extra long and even curly. The wool is compact but still resilient so they keep their nice full shape. In addition, they also have the characteristic heat, and moisture-regulating properties.

The smell

The smell of a sheepskin is also a good characteristic to distinguish real from fake. Real furs sometimes have a very subtle smell, mostly a natural smell of leather and wool. It can also occur , if they have been extra washed that a slight, I call it myself, fabric softener smell is present. If there is a very strong buck smell present you know it's a real sheepskin, but you don't want those in your house because then your whole house smells like sheep, so you won't find those in my collection.

The shape

The shape of the fleece is another characteristic by which you can recognize a real fur. This is because they are natural products and every sheepskin is 100% unique and hand-finished. Therefore, they are almost always "asymmetrical" because the tannery follows the natural contours of the sheep.

The back

The back (leather) of durably tanned sheepskins is almost always white (or cream/yellowish in the case of medicated coats) and feels firm yet supple. In the case of dyed furs, the leather is almost always the color in which it was dyed.

The colors

Color is a very easy one to control. A bit depending on the coat but the real coats always have natural colors, unless dyed of course, but these colors are almost never 100% the same all over the coat. Sometimes there can be a light spot in it, sometimes a dark spot, different shades of white, or brown, etc. This purely depends on the sheep. In addition, the wool closer to the leather, not always, can also be a different color and then overflow into a different top color.

The prize

Another characteristic for real sheepskin is the price, real sheepskins are usually more expensive because of limited availability (think of breed, size and colors) but also because of the craftsmanship and quality of the final product. Roughly speaking, the price of a good quality sheepskin is between 50,- and 300,- depending on the breed, color, etc. There are also very cheap real sheepskins, but these are often better to stay away from. Cheap = expensive.

The weight

Real sheepskins are always a lot heavier than the lightweight fake skins.


As a rule, you should not wash sheepskins. I personally do not recommend doing this either, about why not to wash you can read here. This is because the tanning process keeps the leather super supple and the wool nice and soft. Real coats have a unique substance called lanolin (wool fat) and by washing you wash this substance out and the leather also becomes hard by the water. So don't wash!

What is an imitation sheepskin?

Imitation sheepskin are fake furs that are meant to resemble a real sheepskin. These synthetic versions are usually made of polyester, acrylic or another synthetic material. Where the material is processed so that it is supposed to look like a real sheepskin. (But actually it doesn't look like one, sorry, not sorry).

How can you recognize a fake coat?

If you put a real and fake sheepskin side by side you can see the difference immediately. They do not have as warm and full a look as the real furs. Let's look at several criteria you can consider when looking for a new sheepskin:

The texture

Because fake sheepskins are made of synthetic material, they never bring that warm atmosphere. The fake furs are almost always flat (but really flat). Also, the fake furs have no volume compared to the real furs. They offer you no comfort and resilient wool texture. In addition, they also don't bring you the heat and moisture regulating properties that a real coat does. With the fakes, you can't really talk about wool either because they are synthetic fibers from which it is made.

The smell

Fake sheepskins may have a chemical/plastic smell, as real ones may have a leather smell.

The back

When you turn a fake sheepskin over, you can see it immediately. The synthetic fibers are sewn onto a synthetic backing. If you look at it up close you can also see an even pattern from the machine used to attach the hair fibers to the backing.

The shape

Fake sheepskins almost all have the same symmetrical shape. They usually have a straight bottom as a real fleece follows the natural shapes of the sheep.

The colors

You can also tell immediately by the color that it is a fake sheepskin. The fakes have one uniform color overall, as real sheepskins have different colors and shades.

The weight

Because fake sheepskins are made of a synthetic fiber (plastic) they weigh almost nothing. Real furs are a lot heavier because of the leather and wool.

Finally, price can be a clue: if a sheepskin is significantly cheaper than usual, chances are it is a fake. By paying attention to these characteristics, you can more easily identify a fake sheepskin.

Are they washable? (laundry label)

The synthetic varieties are almost always (machine) washable. There is often a label on how to wash them. Washing real sheepskins is not recommended.

The prize

Lastly, you can look at the price, fake furs can often be had for some change , they are cheap because they are made in bulk from plastic. Real sheepskins are more expensive because a lot of craftsmanship and time goes into the whole process, from raw product to attractive coat for your interior.


In your search for the perfect new sheepskin for your home, you naturally want to go for the finest one. With the increasing popularity of sheepskins you see more and more fake sheepskins being offered, so it is important that you can distinguish a real one from a fake one. After all, you want to be able to enjoy all the benefits a real fleece offers, right?

Real sheepskins are distinguished by their softness, natural scent, asymmetrical shape, leather backing, natural color variations, higher weight and special care instructions. Fake furs, on the other hand, are made of synthetic materials such as polyester or acrylic, have a uniform appearance, a synthetic backing and lack the heat and moisture-regulating properties that real furs do have. They are lighter in weight and cheaper, but do not offer the same quality and durability.

By taking these points of interest into account, you can now easily distinguish a real sheepskin from a fake one.

Want to be 100% sure you are buying a genuine sheepskin? Then take a look at the finest and softest collection of sheepskins.

Need help picking out your new real sheepskin?

Would you like to buy a real sheepskin but are not quite sure and would like to get extra help and advice? I would be happy to help you with any questions you may have. Then you can make a well-considered choice and go for the fur that perfectly fits your wishes and needs. You can contact me at +31(0)6 17 52 13 63 (during opening hours), send an e-mail or come by in Boxmeer, the Netherlands (by appointment only) to experience them.

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