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Most people think of fur in relation to dogs (and other animals) and hair in relation to humans.
But did you know dogs can have either hair or fur?
Scientifically, hair and fur are exactly the same—they are made from Keratin, a protein found in hair and nails, but beyond that, they differ in texture, length, and appearance.
Aside from how they look and feel, it’s important to know whether your dog has hair or fur so you know how to properly care for your pooch’s coat.
Primary Differences Between Dog Hair And Fur
First, let’s get into the science behind the two: dog hair usually has a longer growth cycle with a longer anagen phase (we’ll dive into the anagen phase later on).
What does this mean?
Well, due to the continuous growth, dog hair is more wavy, long, and thick. Plus, hair is considered hypoallergenic and does not bother people with dog allergies. Dog hair also has a fine texture; it’s thin and does not shed heavily.
Think Poodles—Poodles have dog hair.
Dog fur, on the other hand, is thicker and denser. It has a shorter growth cycle and therefore, dogs with fur, shed more.
Dog fur also grows thicker during the winter to produce warmth and keep dogs protected from the chills. A perfect example of dog fur is Huskies.
But there’s even more to learn about dog hair and fur, so let’s dive deeper.
The most significant difference between dog hair and fur is the growth cycle. There are different phases of fur or hair growth, and the initial phase is called the anagen phase.
It’s the phase where the fur or hair is growing actively. Dogs with hair stay in the anagen stage for a longer period, meaning they reach the exogen phase, or the stage where dog hair is lost, very late.
Dog hair needs more care and regular brushing to maintain the texture, prevent matting, and keep tangles at bay.
Dogs with fur shed early. Their anagen phase is not as long, which is why they shed more than dogs with hair.
Dog fur tends to be thicker because dog breeds who have fur have more hair follicles. More hair follicles equal more fur. This results in thick, dense coats. Dogs with hair, on the other hand, have less follicles, and can have thinner coats.
However, it’s often hard to notice this difference as plenty of dogs with hair still have very thick-feeling coats. Take Doodle-breed dogs, for example, who are famous for their thick, fluffy coats.
They might look like they have thick hair, but in comparison to dogs with fur, it’s actually a bit sparser.
Dogs with hair tend to be hypoallergenic. They shed less and are best for people allergic to dogs. But people are not actually allergic to dog fur or hair since they are made from the same protein compound.
Allergic reactions are caused by dander that is in dog hair or fur. Since dogs with fur shed more, it spread dander in a higher percentage causing allergies.
However, it does not mean that dogs with hair won’t cause any reactions. It simply means dog hair tends to be less effective.
Another difference between dog hair and fur is the type. Dogs with fur have a double coat. The top coat is called guard hair, and the underlayer is called the ground layer.
The underlayer is mainly for insulation and has a soft texture. The upper layer has a coarse texture to keep the dog protected.
Dogs with hair have a single coat with a mix of soft and coarse hair.
Dogs with hair need more grooming than dogs with fur. As hair grows longer, dander remains trapped inside it making dogs prone to matting and tangles.
Therefore, you need to brush them regularly—often daily—to keep the hair healthy. But don’t bathe your dog too often. Unlike humans, bathing your dog too often will make its hair dry and coarse.
Even though dog fur does not get entangled easily, brushing them frequently is recommended. Doing so will keep their hair free from knots.
Dog fur also does not need frequent trimming due to frequent hair shed and slow hair growth. Pet owners of dogs with fur should reach out to their local groomer to ask how often it’s necessary to take Fido in for a trim.
How To Spot The Difference Between Dog Hair And Fur
I know it could be tricky to spot the difference between fur and hair. But I’ll share with you some of the ways you can figure out the difference:
- Length: Check the length. As mentioned, hair is longer compared to fur. Hence it’s the best way to spot the difference.
- Texture: If your dog’s body feels very smooth, it means your dog has hair. Hair tends to be a lot thinner and smoother than fur. If it feels a bit coarse, it’s likely fur.
- Shedding: The fur follicle sheds more than hair. If you are tired of vacuuming and cleaning hair in your house, most probably, your dog has fur.
- Coat Type: If the dog has two layers, your pup has fur, and if there is only a single layer with a fine texture, they have hair.
Examples of Dogs Breeds With Hair
Some of the dog breeds with hair are:
- Shih Tzus
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Afghan Hound
- Coton de Tulear
Examples of Dog Breeds With Fur
Breeds with dog fur are:
- Bichon Frise
- English Sheepdog
- Bearded Collie
- German Shepherd
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Siberian Husky
- Great Pyrenees
Hopefully now you can identify whether your pup has hair or fur. Knowing which one they have will help you take better care of their coats.
If you have dog allergies, you should opt for curly coat dogs like Poodles, Shih Tzu, etc., since they shed very little and are generally hypoallergenic.
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About the Author:
Mira is a dog-lover and writer. She and her two dogs (Bren and Nala) can be found hiking during all four seasons, camping and exploring new places together.