If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between dog fur and dog hair, this 2022 ultimate guide will be for you.
Dog coat, dog fur, dog hair. We often use these terms interchangeably as synonyms for each other. But the reality is a little more nuanced than that.
Well, fur and hair are both specific types of coat. Although they are completely the same chemically, their texture, growth cycle, and grooming needs are completely different.
My article will reveal these aspects, and you can also find out if you should choose a dog with fur or hair if you have allergies.
Dog hair vs fur: What are the differences?
It’s worth knowing that fur and hair are chemically the same. The main component of both is keratin. This compound also builds up nails and skin. Nevertheless, there are important differences between fur and hair, which I will detail below.
Differences between the growth cycle
Whichever type of dog coat we are talking about, it goes through four important growth cycles. These cycles are as follows:
- Anagen phase: The hair follicles become active in this first step, and the hair or fur growth begins.
- Catagen phase: At this stage, the growth of hair or fur stops. More importantly, the root sheath and follicles are attached together.
- Telogen phase: It is, so to speak, a passive state where there is no change. There is no hair growth or dying.
- Exogen phase: This phase is the end of the cycle. The follicles push the hairs out of themselves. This is called shedding.
After all this, the whole cycle restarts. Well, both dogs with hair and fur have the same growth phases. However, in dogs with hair, the anagen phase is significantly longer. As a result, the coat will be longer before shedding takes place.
Differences between texture and thickness
If we examine the texture of the two coat types, we can also find differences. Hair is generally smoother and finer, but it can be varied in shape. For example, straight, wavy, or curly.
The latter tends to be a big problem in terms of matting. Shedding hairs can be easily trapped in this coat, which can easily lead to the formation of mats and knots.
On the plus side, however, you’ll find far fewer hairs on your furniture and carpet as well. This is one of the reasons why dogs with curly hair are often recommended for people with allergies (I will write about this in detail later).
Although dogs with hair can be double-coated, they are mostly single-coated breeds. This means that their coat consists of a single layer having a similar feel both outside and close to the skin.
Dogs with fur are mostly double-coated, meaning that their coat consists of a coarse outer layer and a soft undercoat.
Generally speaking, dogs with fur have more follicles, so this type of coat is denser than hair. This is why, although there are fur dogs with a single coat, we can experience a much denser feel in these cases as well.
What does all this mean for dog owners with allergies?
As I mentioned, many experts recommend dogs with hair for people with allergies. This is mainly because these breeds are often considered hypoallergenic.
But there is something worth noting. No dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, no matter which type of coat it has. Even hairless breeds can be a problem.
To understand the reason for this, we first need to clarify the exact causes. In humans, allergies are not caused by the hair or fur of dogs but by dander, saliva, and the proteins they contain.
Of course, every dog has skin (i.e., dander) and saliva production, so it can trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to it.
The type of hair or fur, on the other hand, largely determines the amount of these allergens that get out of the coat. The best example is curly hair, which can successfully trap skin cells and other allergens.
Moreover, because dogs with this type of coat shed less often, allergens remain hidden in the dog for longer.
The coat of dogs with fur traps the dander and saliva less, and these breeds are generally shed more often. The result, of course, will be that the compounds that cause the problem will cause allergic reactions in the pet parents.
So if you have a dog hair allergy, one of the best choices is a curly-haired breed like a Poodle. However, you should definitely know that this dog is not hypoallergenic either, only protected for a long time or from the dander and saliva that get stuck in his furry friend’s coat.
Dog hair vs fur: Are there any differences between grooming
Whatever the dog breed, whatever the type of coat, there will always be a need for grooming.
Dog hair grows further due to the difference in the growth cycle and sheds less during the year.
This will have not only a positive effect on your allergies but also on the cleanliness of your furniture and carpet. Less hair will mean significantly less vacuuming for you.
However, breeds with hair need regular trimming because of the longer growth. If you get a dog clipper for your home, you can do this task at home, but you can also take your pup to a professional groomer.
Frequent brushing is also essential in these coat-type dogs. This is because the hair is easily trapped in the coat, leading to knots, tangles, and mats in the long run.
You also need to pay attention to moisture, debris, and parasites that can easily hide in this coat. The solution is regular bathing. However, be sure only to use a shampoo made for dogs and not overdo the bathing.
Double-coated dogs do not need fur clipping. Moreover, it is not recommended to remove this coat, as the undercoat acts as a thermal insulator. This layer keeps dogs warm in winter and cools in summer. So shaving it would only hurt your little friend.
In addition, dogs with fur also need regular brushing to prevent mats and excess shedding.
As you can see from my article, there are important differences between dog fur and hair. They have different growth cycles and textures.
And because of these factors, they have a completely different effect on people’s allergies, and their grooming need is also different.
If you want to know a little more about the subject, check out my article on dog coat types.