A Shag/High Pile rug is easy to recognize. That’s one of many beauties in both styles; their distinction from other rugs. There’s a subtle difference between the terms, though, and the many gorgeous styles they comprise.
High-pile rugs include any rug with a 1/2″-3/4″ pile height (which measures the fibers on the rug’s surface, or “nap”). Shag rugs, meanwhile, have similar or longer fibers, and in some cases their pile goes beyond the borders. It’s much easier to see the difference and admire it, though, as it’s more about the feeling and presence that dictates the difference.
Many in our field believe shag rugs are the oldest hand-knotted rugs and carpets. Thick rugs were a notable source of bedding and comfort in tribal cultures all over the world, after all. Greek Flokati rugs are the oldest shag rug known (as early as 700 B.C.), and were made from goat hair for warmth. Moroccan rugs are a younger provenance since the Berber matriarchs began the practice circa 622 A.D., but they’re one of the most widely recognized high-pile rug styles today.