What’s The Difference Between Hair and Fur On Dogs?

It might not seem like that at first glance, but these aren’t the same, prompting the question – what’s the difference between hair and fur on dogs? Even though the difference is subtle, not all dogs have the same thing on their coat.

In today’s article, we’re going to be taking a look at coats to see what’s the difference between hair and fur and maybe even find out what your dog has.

whats the difference between hair and fur on dogs
What’s the Difference Between Hair and Fur on Dogs?

Difference In Terminology

This is the most glaring difference to experts – the terms fur and hair are more or less interchangeable to people, but there is a difference. A fur coat is usually a double coat – this is the type of coat we find in Rottweilers and many other guardian dogs.

Hair, however, is a coat with a single layer, more common with smaller dogs. To find out whether your dog has hair or fur, just search for what kind of coat it has. Double-layered coats are generally considered to be fur.

Differences In Functionality

Firstly, fur is typically thicker. Dogs that have fur instead of hair can withstand colder temperatures as they usually have two layers of coat. Both hair and fur are, just like human hair, made of keratin – but that doesn’t make them the same.

Fur is also more densely packed, leaving less space for air, which makes it a much better insulator than hair. Fur is also usually shorter.

Keep in mind that, while many dogs with fur have two layers, there are dogs that have a single layer and it’s still formally fur. The number of layers isn’t the only defining characteristic.

Hair is also different to the touch when compared to fur, as it’s smoother and silkier (not to mention that it’s usually much longer).

Related Reading: Pug Is Losing Hair In Clumps: What Is To Blame?

Differences In Care and Allergies

There are also important differences when it comes to shedding. Since fur has a shorter growth cycle, dogs with fur shed more often (and the amounts in which they shed are greater). Don’t be fooled – all dogs lose hair and fur throughout the entire year.

The difference is, that dogs with hair only shed occasionally and they don’t shed greatly. Dogs with fur will shed in the spring and in the fall. During these shedding periods, they’re going to drop massive amounts of short hair around and it can be a nightmare for owners.

This is why grooming is essential during these periods and it’s the best way to avoid getting your entire home dirty and filled with dog hair.

Dogs with fur need much more attention and grooming when it comes to shedding, but dogs with hair need more attention throughout the entire year. Poodles, for example, need a lot of grooming to keep up their fancy look.

Since fur is typically shorter, less stuff is trapped in it. Dogs with hair typically have longer hair and a lot of different things can get caught up in it. This will require you to personally spend time plucking these things from your dog’s hair.

Hairballs are also a common sight – hair will get entangled around something that’s caused a knot in the dog’s hair. This is a problem that dogs with fur rarely have.

When it comes to allergies, there are differences from owner to owner. This primarily depends on your level of allergic reactivity – some people are allergic to dogs, but their allergies are so incredibly mild that they can easily spend time with a dog.

Other people can’t even walk past a dog without experiencing symptoms.

Know that no dog is hypoallergenic and there is virtually no difference between dogs with fur and dogs with hair. Dogs with hair lose more hair during the entire year and you’ll notice more hair everywhere.

However, when shedding seasons start, dogs with fur will compensate for losing relatively little hair during the entire year and they’ll occupy the entire area with their hair.

If you’re suffering from allergies, you’re going to have to find the solution at the doctor’s, not the vet.

Which Is Better?

The answer to the hair vs fur dogs debate depends entirely on your living situation. If you live in an apartment, you’re going to have to clean it every day to minimize the amount of dog hair (not to mention that you have to neutralize the dog smell).

There are dogs with hair, like the Westie, that keep their shedding to a minimum and they fit well into closed spaces.

However, when it comes to dealing with hair, it’d be best to keep your dogs outdoors either way.

difference between hair and fur on dogs
Difference Between Hair and Fur on Dogs

To End

Dogs with fur are usually guardian breeds, such as the Rottweiler. They often have two layers of coat, and their fur is short, thick, and dense. It’s a great way of staying warm during cold months and they can handle swimming much better.

Dogs with hair, on the other hand, usually have longer hair and less follicles. They also need more grooming throughout the entire year, but they don’t shed seasonally like dogs with fur.


How can I tell if my dog has hair or fur?

This information is available online so it's best to just find it there. However, keep in mind that fur is usually shorter, while hair is longer, smoother and it doesn't shed seasonally. Dogs with hair lose it throughout the entire year.

What dog breeds have hair instead of fur?

The most famous dog breed with hair is the poodle, the Yorkie, the Schnauzer, the Shih Tzu are all dogs with hair. The most famous dogs with fur are the Rottweiler, the German Shepherd and the Doberman.

How can you tell the difference between hair and fur?

Hair is smoother to the touch and it's most often longer. It's more similar to human hair. Fur is usually short and thick, with a greater density of follicles than hair. Dogs with fur require less grooming throughout the year in comparison to their hairy cousins.

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.