Do dogs have hair or fur? It’s a very good question. One that even dog experts have long pondered. Read on to find out the answer to this mysterious question pet owners want to know…
Do Dogs Have Hair Or Fur?
Here’s the answer you’ve long been waiting for – there is no difference between hair and fur.
Just as humans have variations in hair across different parts of their body, dog fur is just another way for hair to present itself.
So why doesn’t dog hair seem to grow as fast as the hair on your head? This is because of different hair patterns. It’s the same reason why your eyebrows don’t grow down your face. Genetically, hair understands where and how long it needs to grow.1
In fact, even between dog breeds, the hair that makes up the coat is really quite unique.
Coat Type: Different Coats For Different Breeds
Different breeds of dogs have their own distinct hair or fur system. Some dogs, for example, have what’s known as an undercoat as well as the usual topcoat.
An undercoat essentially means that the dog has two “hair coats.” This undercoat is usually very fluffy and soft and it lies under a much coarser outer coat.
These “double-coats” are often found on dogs who have been bred to work outdoors and withstand various weather conditions. This extra coat provides warmth and insulation. Think Alaskan Malamutes, Huskies, German Shepherds, English Sheepdogs, and Golden Retrievers.
If you own one of these breeds you will know that that shedding is a major part of the deal. They shed a lot more hair than other dogs. But this is simply because there’s a lot more hair to shed – they have two coats, which shed on vastly different schedules.2
Just like humans, dog fur also comes in greatly varying textures. Think about the fine, silky coat of an Afghan Hound or a Yorkshire Terrier compared to the short, dense, wooly-coated Airedale Terrier. Some coats may indeed feel more “furry” while others feel more like what you recognize as hair. But rest assured, this is all hair.
Hypoallergenic Dog Coats
When looking to add a pooch to the family, many with allergies stop to consider the fur type of a dog.
This is because some dogs create less allergy issues. While these dogs are often known as hypoallergenic, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. But some coats are definitely a far better choice.
A low-allergenic dog will have a low or non-shedding coat and produce less dander than other dogs.
Fun Fact: it’s actually pet dander (skin fragments) that tend to provoke allergic reactions, not the hair itself.
However, dander sticks fast to pet hairs. Some people are also allergic to the animal’s saliva which is also often found on the skin and fur (from licking).
Some of these low-allergenic dog breeds include:
- Bichon Frise
- Poodle (and poodle mixes)
- Afghan Hound
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Miniature Schnauzer 3
Shedding: Grooming Guidelines Based On Coat Type
From big dogs to small dogs, grooming is an essential part of your pup’s ongoing health and wellness. No matter the coat, all dogs benefit from the cleanliness of brushing and bathing.
This is because brushing helps to remove loose hairs and dead skin cells – which means a cleaner home, and a cleaner coat – to keep them free of parasites. It also keeps coats looking glossier.
Here are some more specific grooming guidelines for your particular breed and their fur.
Smooth and Short Coats
eg. Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Dachshunds, and American Staffordshire Terriers. These coats generally require less brushing, but a daily brush will help the amount of hair they shed around the home. This is especially true if someone in your home has allergies.
Long, Silky Coats
eg. Afghan Hound, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, and Maltese. Dogs with hair that’s long and silky should be brushed daily to prevent hair mats.
eg. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, Sheepdogs, and Pomeranians. As discussed, a double-coated puppy has a lot of loose hair because of different coats shedding on different schedules. So, dog owners should look to daily brushing to keep shedding hairs off the couch. Without brushing, the undercoat can also tangle and mat.
eg. Jack Russell Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, and Airedales. Dogs with fur that is wirey don’t shed. But if left unbrushed, the outgoing hairs can become entangled with the new hairs and mat. Pet owners should regularly brush the coat from the skin out so that the hair closest to the skin does not mat.4
Regardless of coat type, always brush in the direction that the fur grows. When brushing the face and ears, be very gentle and switch to a soft bristle brush. While brushing is easy to do at home, you can always take your pet to the groomer, especially if their coat tends to get matted.
Know When to See a Veterinarian
Normal shedding aside, some dogs also get alopecia (hair loss) – just like humans. Hair cycles can get “stuck” in the telogen stage (the sleeping stage) and therefore stop growing.
If your dog has abnormal hair loss and is also scratching at the area, you should talk to your vet.
So, next time someone asks, “Do dogs and cats have hair or fur?” You can confidently answer, “It’s all hair!”
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