You can refer to your dog’s hair as fur or hair. Although they might seem like they can be used interchangeably, they are actually different. Although both dog hair and fur are made of keratin (keratin), they have distinct textures and growth cycles to give your pooch a unique look.
The American Kennel Club has officially recognized 36 breeds with hair instead of fur. We step in to the discussion about dog coats and ask: Is there a difference?
Dog Hair vs Dog Fur
Their chemical compositions and the fact they grow from the same hair follicles make them technically identical. They share the same chemical component, keratin. This can also be found on a dog’s skin or nails. They do however have differences that can be immediately identified when it comes to grooming and appearance.
Dog hair is generally longer, thicker, and less dense than fur. Fur, on the other hand, tends to be shorter, finer, and more often has a double-coated coat. There is more to the debate about the differences between fur and hair.
What’s the difference between dog hair and fur?
You can dig a little deeper to find the root cause of the problem and discover the main differences between dog hair and dog fur.
You will notice the texture of your dog’s coat if you gently stroke it. You will notice that not all dog coats are the same. This can help you determine if they have fur or hair.
The hair of dogs is usually longer than the fur, so it will feel finer. Hair can become curly or wavy, but it isn’t always straight. Dog hair has only one layer, so it will feel the exact same on both the surface and close to the skin.
One characteristic of pet hair is the fact that long hairs, especially curly or wavy, can trap hair and dander. This will require regular grooming.
Dog fur will be shorter and denser than dog hair, due to its higher number of hair follicles per square inch. Two layers are found in a dog fur coat: a soft undercoat and a coarser topcoat. This helps regulate the pet’s temperature and increases their fur shed.
Hair and fur growth cycle
The main difference between fur and hair is the way they grow – that is, how fast and how long each one sheds. Dog hair grows to a longer length than fur so it will shed less often. To answer the question “What is the difference between dog fur and dog hair?” we must look at each phase of its growth.
Hair and fur both grow in four phases.
Phase 1: Anagen
Anagen is the beginning of the growth cycle. This phase sees the follicle activate and start growing.
Phase 2: Catagen
Catagen, also known as the transitory stage, is when the sheath from the root attaches to fully grown hair, preventing any further growth.
Phase three: Telogen
The telogen phase is when the hair or fur becomes inert. It doesn’t grow, but it becomes dormant. This is also known as the resting phase. Your dog’s hair will remain attached to it.
Phase 4: Exogen
The final phase is when the hair begins to fall out of the follicle. This happens as part the natural shedding process. To get rid of winter’s old coat, the exogen phase is usually faster in summer.
While we all know that fur and hair have the exact same growth cycle as each other, what really makes them different is their speed and how they move through each phase.
Dog hair will experience a longer anagen phase (growing), and therefore will shed less if the cycle is prolonged. Dog fur will, however, only grow to a certain length before it sheds.
Are Dog hairs more hypoallergenic than human hair?
Dog hair that has an extended anagen hair cycle could mean that dogs with hair shed less than dogs without fur. This will reduce the likelihood of allergies. It isn’t as easy as it seems.
The actual allergen is not hair or fur, but what they might contain that could trigger allergic reactions. Some proteins and compounds found in your dog’s skin cells, saliva and hair can trigger allergic reactions. This is called dander, and it is the main reason people get allergies to dogs or their hair/fur.
Your dog should have fur. A shorter, more frequent or more constant shed coat can indicate that allergy-causing dander is more common in your home. This could potentially cause more reactions. However, dander can be carried by pet hair and fur. If a dog is constantly shedding, those allergens may also be present.
Hypoallergenic dogs and breeds can include dogs that have a low shed rate. This is because their coat traps and retains dander, which in turn reduces the spread of allergens into the home. People with allergies can benefit from dogs with curly, long hair. However, there is no true hypoallergenic dog.
Popular Breeds with Hair, NOT Fur
It is not an uncommon occurrence for canines to have hair or fur. Instead, it is a breed-specific phenomenon. According to the American Kennel Club there are 36 dog breeds with hair instead of fur. While you might expect these breeds all to have long, flowing, silky hairs, there are a few breeds like the Brussels Griffon that don’t.
Large dogs like the Giant Schnauzer and Afghan Hound are some of the most loved hair breeds. The medium breed category includes the Miniature Poodle and Wirehaired Fox Terrier.
If you’re looking for small breeds of dog hair, the Yorkshire Terrier and Shih-Tzu are the best.
Hair or fur – The Last Word
You see, although dog hair and fur are basically the same, they have different characteristics in terms of texture, length, and growth patterns. These differences will help you choose the right breed for you dog.
If you are looking for a dog with less hair, a breed that has hair might be the best choice. However, it does not guarantee that they will be hypoallergenic. You will still need to take care of your dog’s coat by giving it a good grooming regimen.
It all comes down to personal preference. So, regardless of whether you choose hair or fur, your canine friend will be a beautiful, loving companion that you can love, cuddle, and pet.
LARA SYPNIEWSKI Dr. Cherie Pucheu–Haston Dog Hair and Dog Fur: What’s the Difference? PawCulture
What is the Difference between Dog Hair and Dog Fur? Top Dog Advisor.