Dogs come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of coat types. While we might commonly refer to all dog coats as “fur,” there is a big difference between the hair on your average golden retriever and the fur on a majestic Siberian husky.
So what’s the difference between dog fur vs. dog hair? Let’s take a closer look!
- What is dog hair vs fur, and what’s the difference between the two?
- How does dog hair grow, and why doesn’t it fall out like human hair does?
- What are the benefits of having a dog with fur instead of hair?
- How do you take care of a dog’s fur?
- Hair vs fur: which one is better for a person with allergies?
What is dog hair vs fur, and what’s the difference between the two?
So, do dogs have fur or hair?
Dog hair and dog fur are two terms frequently used interchangeably, but there is actually a big difference between hair and fur on dogs. Dog hair is the thin coat that dogs grow to help keep them cool in warm weather, while dog fur consists of thicker, coarser strands that act as insulation in colder weather.
Different types of fur layers
Dog fur consists of two layers. The first layer is composed of thick, coarse hairs that stick straight out from the dog’s body when rubbed against the dog’s grain (the direction in which the dog’s hair naturally lays).
This layer provides insulation in cold weather and protection for the dog’s sensitive skin when out in the elements. This first layer is often called “guard hair.”
The second layer, which is closer to a dog’s skin, consists of a much finer and softer coat similar to human hair. This dog fur acts as insulation against the cold and as water-resistant protection during wet weather.
Dog hair is much shorter than dog fur and generally lacks the protective qualities of dog fur. This is why most dogs are seen wearing dog clothing in inclement weather. Some dog breeds have very short coats that are nearly indistinguishable from the dog hair on your average household pet.
Some dog breeds such as the Siberian husky, German shepherd dog (GSD), and Newfoundland dogs have a double coat like dog fur. They grow an insulating undercoat in colder weather to help keep them warm and dry which is usually shed seasonally. The outer layer or “guard hair” keeps water and heat in and acts as a protective barrier between the dog’s skin and the elements.
Dog hair coats are not generally seen in small breeds such as poodles, bulldogs, and Shih Tzus. These dog breeds have very short dog hair coats that require little grooming other than occasional brushing to keep their coats free of tangles and debris.
Short dog hair coats are not compatible with cold climates and need to be protected by clothing in colder weather. Since dog fur is so much thicker than dog hair, owners might consider boots for their dog’s paws to protect them from the elements to make sure they stay healthy.
How does dog hair grow, and why doesn’t it fall out like human hair does?
Dog hair coats grow at a much slower rate than human hair. Dog hair can easily grow one inch per month and dog fur even more quickly. However, it does not fall out like human hair (and dog owners rejoice because of it!).
Unlike humans, when dogs shed their fur, it will generally grow back in the same coat length when it falls out.
What are the benefits of having a dog with fur instead of hair?
The biggest benefit of dog fur is its weather-resistant properties. Dog fur, as mentioned before, acts as insulation during cold weather and provides a dog’s skin with protection in wet conditions.
Dog hair coats are much thinner than dog fur, which means they can offer little to no protection in colder climates when exposed to the elements for extended amounts of time.
How do you take care of a dog’s fur?
Since dog fur is so thick and weather-resistant, owners will need to brush their dog more frequently than those with hairier breeds. Dog fur needs to be brushed regularly in order to keep the coat free of tangles that can cause pain and discomfort. Your dog’s fur also may require a trip to the dog groomer for maintenance. All just a regular part of doggie care!
Hair vs fur: which one is better for a person with allergies?
Dog hair and dog fur both have a dog grain that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Dogs with fur coats will produce more dandruff during shedding season which also spreads throughout your home as you brush or pet your dog. The dander from dog dandruff is an allergen.
Dog hair on the other hand will not produce dog dandruff, but may require more baths to keep your dog clean and free of allergens. Dogs with longer hair coats will also shed more causing increased allergen levels in your household.
We hope that this article has helped you to better understand the difference in dog hair vs. dog fur.
If it has, then please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!