Hair structure and types

Whether it’s long, short, curly, wiry, silky-smooth or stock hair, there are nearly as many varieties of fur as there are breeds of dogs. Every possible variety has developed during the course of evolution, particularly in relation to dogs. However, the overall structure of skin and hair does not tend to vary between the various different animals.

Hair Types

Hair, or fur, is made up of a substance known as keratin (a protein structure) and grows from follicles in the dermis, a deep layer of the skin. Whereas just a single hair grows from each follicle on human skin, animals have two types of hair, which both grow out of the same follicle. These include downy hair and guard hair, with each guard hair surrounded by between six and twelve downy hairs. Downy hair makes up the undercoat – this lies (as the name suggests) as close to the skin as possible, is particularly soft and fine and acts as a great insulator thanks to its density. Guard hair makes up the top coat, which has a coarser structure. It is also thicker and longer and lies on top of the undercoat. The top coat helps prevent injuries to the animal’s skin, forms an additional layer of insulation and, to a large extent, determines the animal’s appearance due to its own unique colouring.

Differences in the pet coat depend on the breed as well as on individual genetics. Coat types can be classified according to hair thickness, hair length and hair structure. There are hairless animals, animals with double coats, having both a topcoat and an undercoat and animals with a topcoat but no undercoat. The type and length of hair can vary widely among breeds.

Hairless breeds have little to no hair. Some hairless breeds have noticeable patches of hair on their heads. Great care should be taken to protect and moisturize their skin.
Some examples for hairless dogs are the American Hairless Terrier, Chinese Crested, Khala, Peruvian Inca Orchid (PIO), Xoloitzcuintle.
Examples for hairless cats are the Bramble Cat, Donskoy, Dossow, Peterbald, Sphynx and the Ukrainian Levkoy.

Single-coated breeds have a topcoat, but lack an undercoat. They are often referred to as non-shedding breeds because their shedding is so minimal, it is often unnoticed.
Follow the link to check which dog and cat breeds do not have an undercoat and you do not need to use the deShedding Tool for.

Double-coated breeds feature a soft undercoat (downy hair) and a coarser topcoat (guard hair). The downy hair lies as close to the skin as possible, is particularly soft and fine and acts as a great insulator thanks to its density. Many of our common breeds are double-coated.

Short-haired breeds have hair that lies close to the body. Quite often, short-haired dogs have more topcoat and less undercoat. Short-haired breeds are classified as dogs having hair shorter than 5 cm / 2 inches.
Examples for short-haired dogs are Beagle, Irish Terrier, Greyhound, English Toy Terrier, Boxer.
Examples for short-haired cats are Siam, American Shorthair, Bengal cat, European Shorthair.

Long-haired breeds are classified as breeds having hair longer than 5 cm / 2 inches.
Examples for long-haired dogs are Pekinese, Shih Tzu, Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Munsterlander (big), German Shepherd.
Examples for long-haired cats are Maine Coon, German Angora, Perser, Norwegian Forest Cat.

The hair type of rabbits is a little different and depends on their breed.

  • Normal fur breeds feature a hair length from 2,2- 3,8 cm / 0,9- 1,5 inches. Every hair follicle, including topcoat and undercoat, contains roughly 14 hairs.
  • Rex hair breeds are characterized through rex hair, whose follicle may contain up to 50 hairs. The ideal length is about 1,6 cm/ 0,5 inches. The topcoat is shorter and doesn't exceed the length of the undercoat.
  • Satin hair breeds have satin hair which is the same as normal hair (2,2-3,8 cm/ 0,9-1,5 inches), but the hair shaft is narrower in diameter and transparent. The transparent hair fiber structure gives the hair a very characteristic sheen.
  • Wool hair breeds have a very long undercoat and fur of 10,1-12,7 cm/ 4-5 inches long.

Restart your product search?

Welkom bij 8in1 België / Bienvenue sur 8in1 Belgique