Any dog lover who’s ever suffered allergies has probably heard that certain dog breeds are “hypoallergenic”. Some folks believe that that comes down to whether the dog has fur or hair. But is that really true? Is there a difference between dog fur & dog hair?

Yes, there is! But the difference lies in their sameness: both fur & hair are actually…hair! Each is made up of keratin, and both grow from hair follicles. But there are differences, namely in how each strand behaves.

Dogs with a fur coat usually have shorter, coarser hairs whose textures are fine. They often come in two layers (a top coat & a soft undercoat). And, because fur coats tend to have shorter growth cycles, those dogs also shed more.

Dogs with hair tend to have longer coats that can come in different shapes, like curls. Hair also tends to be longer, goes through phases of growth & shedding, and feels softer than fur.

So, what does that mean for you if you have allergies? Well, unfortunately for folks who believe their dog is hypoallergenic, dogs with hair actually aren’t. That’s because what triggers those allergies is usually the dog’s dander, or skin particles (as well as dried saliva on the dog’s coat), not the hair, itself. And every dog has dander.

What hair does do is contain dander better than fur. Dogs with hair tend to shed less, plus they also tend to trap shedding hair in their coat, so that prevents dander from being dispersed into the air. Dogs with fur, though, tend to release those allergens more easily, since their coats are shorter & they tend to shed more.

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