What You Need To Know Before Buying A Sheepskin


Sheepskin rugs and cushions are one of our favourite items. But before you invest in a sheepskin, here’s what you should know…

Sheepskins are perfect for cooler months. Full of ‘hygge’ texture and warmth, they bring dimension to your décor. They’re also a popular choice for babies’ tummy time, offering a soft spot for little ones on the floor.

But buying a sheepskin isn’t as simple as picking one with a nice pattern or pile. Here’s what you need to know before you make a choice.

sheepskin rug and cushion from eb & ive home at zanui
Featuring the Vail Faux Fur Sheepskin and Vail Faux Fur Cushion from eb&ive HOME with assorted cushions. Shop all sheepskins online at Zanui.

How are sheepskins made?

All hides and sheepskins have to undergo stringent quality control to be sold in Australia.

The skins are taken as a by-product of the meat industry, which reduces waste from the animal by making it into something beautiful that might otherwise be thrown away.

They’re then processed through certified tanneries and factories to make sure the hides are of the best quality before they get to you.

mongolian sheepskin lambswool cushion and rug from bambury on zanui
Featuring the Mongolian Lambswool Floor Cushion and Mongolian Lambswool Rug from Bambury with assorted cushions and Esha Rug. Shop all sheepskins online at Zanui.

There are many different breed types

Because sheepskin rugs and cushions are made from natural materials, every piece is different and depends on the breed it was taken from.

Below are just a few sheepskin types (there’s also goatskin, alpaca, mohair and hide to consider!).

Icelandic sheepskin

Icelandic sheepskins are a popular choice for those who want a classic, Scandinavian look. The texture is smooth and soft – perfect for running your fingers through!

They’re characterised by a pelt of long and short hairs, giving it an organic feel full of texture.

Mongolian sheepskin

Mongolian sheepskins are great for making a style statement in your living area or bedroom.

The fur is easily identified by its naturally crimped texture which gives it a point of difference to other sheepskins.

mongolian sheepskin from heim and co on zanui
Featuring the Mongolian Sheepskin Throw from heim & co. Shop all sheepskins online at Zanui.

Shorn vs. long-haired

The length of the rug pile depends on when it was taken or how it was finished by the manufacturer. Some sheepskins have a shorter pile (like goatskins) and others are brushed out and lusciously long.

Consider practicality when choosing a pile length on a sheepskin. Do you want the rug to be decorative only or do you want to throw it down on the floor?

Faux sheepskin

For those who get a little squeamish when it comes to hides, a faux sheepskin is the ideal option.

Usually made from polyester or acrylic (super soft and silky!), faux furs are made to look just like the real thing without the animalism attached.

faux fur sheepskin from eb & ive home on zanui
Featuring the Vail Faux Fur Sheepskin, with the Alta Leather/Jute Rug, Ivory, Malam Basket (Set of 3) and Meribel Bedspread from eb&ive HOME. Shop all sheepskins online at Zanui.

Patterns and sizes will vary

It might seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that real, natural sheepskins and hides will vary from animal to animal.

The rug you see online will be different to what you receive. The quality will be the same. But the spotty pattern, the tone of brown, and the general size won’t be exactly like the picture.

But that’s the fantastic thing about buying a real sheepskin! You get a totally unique, one-of-a-kind product. And that’s special.

mongolian sheepskin cushion from bambury on zanui
Featuring the Mongolian Lambswool Cushion from Bambury with an ottoman from Cush & Co. Shop all hide cushions online at Zanui.

Colour dyes may transfer

Some brands specialise in coloured sheepskin rugs and cushions. Depending on the dye used and the breed of the sheep, the dye will absorb differently into the hide (and your furniture!).

It’s generally safe to assume that you shouldn’t put a bright pink sheepskin on your white leather lounge. It might look amazing, but you just never know!

Consider the colour and practical use of the hide you want. You might be better off buying an all-natural hide with no colour dyes, or getting a protective mat for underneath.

icelandic sheeskin from rug culture on zanui
Featuring the Abaer Genuine Icelandic Sheepskin from Rug Culture alongside the African Women Necklaces Canvas Print from Stoneleigh & Roberson. Shop all sheepskins online at Zanui.

How to look after your sheepskin

Most important: don’t put your sheepskin through the washing machine. Keep the hide away from strong sunlight as this can make the fibres brittle and damage the colour.

You shouldn’t really need to clean it often, but you can blot spills or (very) gently brush it with a pet brush. Let the hide dry naturally out of the sun.

If you do want to give your sheepskin a deeper cleanse, it’s best to go to a professional dry cleaner.

Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW. She has experience in copywriting, blogging, journalism, and social media. After completing two degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2013 she began work with the content team at Zanui. Kyra was the winner of the 2012 Questions Writing Prize and her work has been published in print and online for numerous sources, including Writer's Edit, Seizure, and Fairfax Media among others.