Shearling vs. Wool: What is the Difference?

Pologeorgis Furs

Posted on August 21 2023

Shearling vs. Wool: What is the Difference?

In the world of natural fibers, there are two popular choices for warmth and comfort: shearling and wool. While they both come from sheep, each of them have their own unique qualities and benefits. 

So, in this article we will delve into the origin, production, characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks of both shearling and wool, as well as compare these materials to determine which one may best fit your needs. 

Additionally, we will explore the environmental impact of both shearling and wool, and view some factors to consider when making your decision. But, first things first, let’s take a closer look at what each material is. 

What is Shearling and Wool?

Shearling is a type of sheepskin that undergoes a special tanning process to retain wool on one side and leather on the other, which provides superior insulation, making it an excellent choice for cold-weather apparel.

Wool, on the other hand, is a natural fiber that is obtained from the fleece of sheep and is renowned for its softness and it comes in different types including:

  1. Merino wool, which is known for its softness, breathability, and excellent moisture management.
  2. Mohair wool, which comes from the Angora goat and is highly durable.
  3. And cashmere wool, which is prized for its unparalleled warmth and softness and is obtained from the undercoat of cashmere goats. 

Now that we have understood what shearling and wool is, let’s take a closer look at the production process of each type of material to better understand their differences. 

The Production Processes of Shearling and Wool 

One of the biggest differences between shearling and wool is their production process, which is also why there is such a big prize difference between these materials. So let’s take a closer look at how shearling and wool are produced. 

The Production Process of Shearling 

The Production Process of Wool

  • The first step is to carefully select sheepskins for their high-quality wool.
  • The skins are then sheared and removed from the sheep.
  • After they are sheared they undergo a rigorous process of cleaning, where any impurities and dirt are removed.
  • After the cleaning they undergo a tanning process to further enhance their durability and longevity. 
  • Finally, they incur the finishing stage, which involves treating the suede or leather side of the shearling to enhance its appearance. 
  • The process begins with shearing the sheep, where skilled shearers remove the fleece from the animal. 
  • Once the fleece is sheared, it undergoes processing to remove dirt and other contaminants.
  • The carded wool is then spun into yarn, ready to be used for various applications. 
  • The yarn can be knitted or woven for garments or home accessories, providing  a sustainable alternative to fur.  

As you can see, the process in which these materials are produced are vastly different. So now that we have understood what shearling and wool is, and what their production processes are, let’s take a look at some pros and cons that come with each of the materials. 

The Pros and Cons of Shearling and Wool 

To better help you understand which of these materials may be the best option for your needs, let’s take a look at some pros and cons that each of these materials can offer. 





  • Its unparalleled insulation, making it ideal for extremely cold weather. 
  • Its natural elasticity, allowing it to adapt to your body.
  • Its durability, making it last longer. 
  • Its higher cost compared to other materials.
  • It can not be machine-washed.
  • It requires a higher level of maintenance. 
  • It is a heavier material. 


  • Its unparalleled softness.
  • It naturally regulates body temperature. 
  • It is very low maintenance.
  • It may be too itchy or irritating to the skin.
  • It requires hand washing. 
  • It is often lower-quality and mass produced. 

So now that we have seen the advantages and disadvantages that come with both shearling and wool, let’s take a closer look at which might best fit your needs, so you can make an even more informed decision. 

Shearling vs. Wool: Which is Best for You? 

When deciding between shearling and wool, several factors should be taken into consideration. So let’s take a closer look at some aspects you may want to consider before making your decision. 

  1. Consider the climate you live in or the climate you will be exposed to. Shearling is excellent for extremely cold environments. On the other hand, wool may not be as effective in extremely frigid climates.
  2. Think about the intended use of the garment or accessory. Shearling offers superior warmth and durability, adding a luxurious touch to any outfit. Wool, on the other hand, is commonly used in sweaters, scarves, and blankets due to its versatility and ability to regulate body temperature. 
  3. Consider how each material is maintained. Shearling may require more care and maintenance, such as regular cleaning and conditioning, while wool is often easier to care for.
  4. Consider the cost difference. Shearling is typically more expensive due to the complex and labor-intensive production process. Wool, on the other hand, can vary in price depending on the type and quality.

However, these aren’t the only factors that need to be taken into consideration. We also need to delve into the environmental impact that both shearling and wool have on our earth and our animals. 

The Environmental Impact of Shearling and Wool

In today's world, it is crucial to take into account the environmental impact of the materials we choose. Let's examine the sustainability of shearling and the eco-friendliness of wool.

  1. Shearling, being a byproduct of the meat industry, is sustainable, given it utilizes materials that would otherwise go to waste.
  2. Shearling is a durable material that can last for many years with proper care, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
  3. Wool is biodegradable, making it eco-friendly. 
  4. Sheep are not harmed during the shearing process, and their wool can be used to create a wide range of products, from clothing to home insulation.
  5. The natural insulation of these materials reduce the need for excessive heating or cooling, resulting in energy savings and reduced carbon emissions.

Both shearling and wool offer sustainable and eco-friendly options for consumers. By choosing products made from these natural materials, you can make a positive impact on the environment and support industries that prioritize sustainability and animal welfare.

Whichever route you take, be it shearling or wool, the task doesn't end in just purchasing your garment. You will also need to maintain these materials. So let’s take a closer look at some tips to make things easier on you. 

How to Maintain and Care for Your Shearling or Wool 

If you want to maintain the appearance and quality of your materials, you will need to maintain and care for your shearling or wool. So let’s take a closer look at some tips to help you achieve a long-lasting shearling or wool. 

How to maintain shearling

How to maintain wool 

  • Use a soft brush to remove any dirt or debris from the surface. 
  • For stains, it is advisable to consult a professional cleaner who specializes in shearling or fur.
  • Store your shearling in a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and damage to the leather.
  • Hand-wash or dry-clean your wool  depending on the care instructions, to maintain shape and prevent shrinkage. 
  • Store your wool in a cool, dry place, preferably in a breathable garment bag, that will protect wool items from moths and other pests.

By following these easy and simple steps you can ensure that your shearling or wool last for years to come, making it a very wise investment to add into your wardrobe. 

Final Thoughts on Shearling vs. Wool 

Both shearling and wool offer exceptional qualities and benefits. Shearling provides unmatched softness and insulation, while wool is renowned for its versatility and natural properties. When making your decision, take into account the specific characteristics, advantages, and drawbacks of each material. Whether you choose shearling or wool, you can't go wrong with these timeless and reliable options for warmth and comfort.

By carefully weighing these factors, you can make an informed decision that will ensure you stay cozy and stylish throughout the colder months. So, whether you opt for the luxurious softness of shearling or the versatile functionality of wool, rest assured that you are making a choice that will keep you warm and comfortable in style.

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