It is generally believed that diets containing increased amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) result in improved canine skin and hair coat (SHC). However, the extent to which dietary fat amount and type play a role remains to be systematically investigated. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of both increased dietary fat amount and type on SHC assessments of dogs. Improvements of SHC conditions were investigated after feeding three diets containing increased total dietary fat (i.e. 13% total fat) for 12 weeks in relation to a lower fat acclimation diet (i.e. 9% total fat). The higher fat diets varied in polyunsaturated and saturated fat types and amounts but total fat was kept constant. Skin and hair coat assessments were performed at selected intervals by a trained group of veterinarians and graduate students. In addition, hair lipids were fractionated by thin layer chromatography after extraction of plucked hair samples. Significant improvements were found in hair coat glossiness and softness in all dogs fed the higher fat diets in relation to the acclimation diet. Improvements as a result of fat type were also seen but only at 12 weeks. A parallel finding was a marked increase in hair cholesteryl ester content determined at the end of the study at which time SHC scores were significantly improved. Skin and hair coat condition improvements may thus be related to increased cholesteryl ester deposited on the hair shaft surface when high fat diets are fed. Whereas this finding is preliminary, hair lipid analysis may be a useful, non-invasive technique with which to help assess dietary effects on canine SHC.