Dogs with hair (not fur)?

My dad got into a heated argument today about dogs having HAIR as opposed to FUR. He stood firm on the fact that if dogs had hair in the sense that people did, if you never got the dog trimmed it would have hair down to the ground. So they must have fur. Some of the guys thought this was nonsense, dogs have hair because why else would they get trimmed? Well that’s nonsense. You can not trim a dog (most dogs?) in its entire life and while some breeds may get shaggy in areas (ie Golden Retriever feet), it will keep a “normal” length.

However, I remembered hearing that some dogs DO have hair. After Googling I found this:

So my question is…what is different about these dogs with “hair” and not “fur”? How does it grow and to what length? Is it the same as human hair?

For further reference, here’s a site about What Is Fur? … doesn’t mention anything about these dogs with hair.

Also, I searched the board archives for this topic but couldn’t find a good thread on it. If someone can point me to an existing thread htat’ll do too.

AFAIK, the difference between hair and fur is somewhat semantic. Humans have hair on thier bodies that grows to a fixed length, like leg, armpit, chest and pubic hair. Fur and hair are chemically identical and form in the same ways. I can’t see saying some dogs have hair as opposed to fur, unless they are attempting to differentiate between hairs that continue to grow indefinately and those that stop at a given length.

A related Cecil column: “How does body hair know it’s been cut and grow back?”

Not exactly useful, huh? :smiley:

I am not a vetrinarian or dog breeder but we kept dogs and my mother said that the difference was in the quality. A dog with fur can stand cold temperatures, a dog with cannot. Fur tends to trap air within itself, creating an insulating blanket of air around the dog, hair does not and generally lies flat against the skin. Fur also feels softer than hair. Not a complete answer but perhaps it will help.

Arturas, I’m not sure if that is true - I think it depends on the breed, not on “fur” vs “hair.” A greyhound, for example, definitely has “fur,” but has a very thin coat with no undercoat at all, and can’t stand to be outside without a doggie sweater for longer than a few minutes if it’s cold outside. I spoke to a greyhound rescue group this week and they basically said if you (the person) need a coat to go out, you should put one on the dog. A standard poodle (“hair”), which is about the same size as a greyhound, will do a lot better than a greyhound in cooler weather, but of course nowhere near as well as a husky (“fur”).

Porcupine, you bring up a good point, an animal can have both fur and hair, the fur creating an undercoat. As to greyhounds, I have no experience but whatever they have is aweful short and so not very warm. So I suppose we could modify the staying warm part of my statement.

Yike! There’s so much misinformation on this issue, I feel like there’s a cloud of gnats in this thread. Allow me to swat a few, gently. I’ll start with ZipperJJ’s original post, where he quotes an argument with his family, and quotes some spurious advice from an organic-products site called “Care 2.”

First, yes, some dogs have fur and some have hair, but the dad’s reason doesn’t hold up. The hair on most dogs is like human arm hair. It doesn’t stop growing at a certain length; it grows to that length and then falls out. New hair replaces it. You can prove this on your own arm by using hair dye on a stripe of arm hair. Most dogs, left untrimmed, will have a coat that never exceeds a certain length. An untrimmed Wire-haired Fox Terrier, for example, just looks chubby. He’ll never have his body hair dragging the ground.

Fur has two kinds of hairs. The undercoat is kinky, shorter hairs that capture a layer of warm air next to the skin. The visible coat is longer, larger-diameter hairs. Some dogs don’t have this double-layered coat.

The Care2 quote has some fallacies. Folks who are allergic to dogs will generally be misled by that advice. Fur vs. hair doesn’t matter; it’s the dander they’re allergic to. All dogs shed. The wire-haired breeds don’t appear to shed as much, because the lost hairs remain caught in the standing hairs until you brush the dog.

I hope I made it a little clearer.