This article contains numerous facts about dog hair. These dog hair facts are interesting because dogs have coats, and the coat is made out of hair. In this article, you will be able to learn more about what makes up a dog’s coat, how it grows, and different types of coats.
You might be wondering why I’m talking about an animal’s hair when I’m supposed to be talking about dog hair. I just wanted to mention that the article is going to contain facts, and this is a fact: fur and hair are basically the same things
One of the most interesting things about dog hair is that you never really know what type of coat your dog has until it’s time for its yearly shave! Shaving your dog is usually performed twice a year, before summer and before winter. Then you get to spend time admiring how pretty your dog’s coat looks as opposed to all those other hairy dogs out there.
The first thing you should know about a dog’s coat is that it’s made up of two different types of coats: an inner layer called the undercoat, and an outer layer called the topcoat. The undercoat is made up of soft, short hairs that come together in tight little bundles which help to trap air and insulate your dog. The base of each hair in the undercoat has a large number of sebaceous glands, which produce natural oils that condition it. This gives dogs their waterproof coats.
The topcoat consists of stiffer hairs that are coarser on the ends but get softer toward the roots where there are secretions from oil and sweat glands. These glands give dogs their water-resistant coats.
With all these oils being produced by all those glands found at the base of every dog hair, you can’t really blame them for getting stinky sometimes! But did you know that their saliva is also what gives them the smell? A dog’s mouth contains a lot of bacteria and as they lick themselves for self-grooming, those germs spread to their fur and eventually give it that musky scent we all know and love (or hate).
But just because dogs don’t have sweat glands as we do doesn’t mean they’re not able to get sweaty. Whenever you see your dog laying on hot pavement with its tongue out, panting heavily, you can tell that it must be pretty warm outside! Dogs only sweat through the pads of their paws, which means they rely on different methods — such as increased blood flow to the skin — to cool down. This is why you’ll notice dogs laying down or staying in the shade during hot days, they need to cool themselves off!
Finding out your dog’s coat type is one of those things that comes with experience. Not all dogs have coats made out of fur, some are covered in hair instead. These dog breeds are called ‘hairless’ and their lack of an undercoat means that these dogs do not form an insulating layer. This makes them more susceptible to temperature changes than other breeds, so you’ll want to keep an eye on these pups for signs of overheating or hypothermia. Other than that, there’s nothing wrong with having a hairless breed as long as you’re aware of its special needs!
The Shih Tzu has a double coat which consists of coarse hairs on the outer layer and soft, fine hairs on the undercoat.
Types of Dog Hair Coats
- Short-haired dogs have coats that are both smooth and shiny with just a bit of fluff. Examples are Bull Terriers, West Highland Whites, Pugs, Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds
- Medium-haired dogs’ coats are generally two to three inches long with a slight sheen. Examples are Pointers, Keeshonden, Collies, retrievers (Golden Retriever)
- Long-haired dog breeds have coats that range from three to six inches in length. Examples are Afghan Hounds, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Samoyeds
- Double-coated breeds have a soft undercoat that lies close to the skin and a harsh topcoat. Examples are Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Setters, Poodles.
The first section of this article contains factual information about dog hair coats. The following two sections contain knowledge gained from experience with dogs. Know that not everything contained in these sections is supported by scientific research or fact, as new discoveries about dog hair coats might change some claims made above. Please see the article’s talk page for more information on what is considered ‘fact’ and what is considered ‘opinion’.
When I first got my dog, I was surprised by how coarse his fur actually is. This made it difficult to maintain because if not brushed regularly, the ends of his hair would tangle up together and become matted very quickly. As an owner that hates having their pet being looked down upon as dirty or untidy, this really frustrated me. Then one day I just started randomly brushing him for a few minutes each day, and soon found out that he loves being groomed! Every time I brush him now he seems to take on the behavior of a contented house cat, laying down so perfectly still under my patient hand. He’s gotten so used to me grooming him now that if there are other people in the room, he’ll just stare at them until they start brushing him too.
The other thing I’ve learned is that dogs with longer hair have a higher chance of acquiring parasites. Luckily my dog doesn’t have this problem because his fur is so coarse and spiky that it’s impossible for fleas or ticks to survive on him. He also seems to be able to shake off any excess water really well after swimming, so I don’t have to bother drying him off most of the time either!
I think it’s important not to let your knowledge from experience eclipse actual facts from studies done by professionals though, as you could find yourself doing things with your pet that are completely incorrect. For example, some people think their hairless dogs can sunbathe just as long as other breeds, but my parents have a friend with a hairless Chinese Crested and they said the poor thing is always getting sunburns!
It’s very important to bathe your dog with a healthy dog shampoo, or else they’ll develop dry skin and hair that’s very brittle. Not many people know this, but you should also brush your dog with healthy dog hair brushes because they help spread the natural oils throughout their fur even better than just washing it!
All content as is, no warranty. You can use the information provided on this website for research and education purposes only. Always check with your health care provider before making any changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle. The author is not a vet and this article was not written by a vet.