When you’re petting your Pit Bull, do you call his coat hair or fur? To you, the words might seem interchangeable, but there does indeed exist a difference between one term and another. So which does your Pit Bull have and how do you know?
Do Pit Bulls have hair or fur? Pit Bulls have fur, which is defined as a fine, short coat. Dogs with fur tend to shed more than dogs with hair, and Pit Bulls especially can be heavy shedders.
In today’s post, I’ll walk you through the differences between dog hair and dog fur, then explain further why Pit Bulls have fur instead of hair. I’ll also discuss the implications of that, such as whether Pit Bulls are likely to trigger your allergies. There will even be some fur care tips, so keep reading!
What’s the Difference Between Dog Hair and Fur?
You only have to briefly look through the world of dog breeds to notice that the coats of dogs can be drastically different. That’s due to how some dogs have fur and others have hair. Let’s talk first about what dog hair is and then contrast it to dog fur.
Keratin is a type of protein that produces dog hair. You’re probably familiar with keratin because it leads to hair growth for people, not to mention strong, beautiful fingernails as well. A dog with hair instead of fur will generally have a thicker, longer, more luxurious coat that lacks hair density.
More than 35 dog breeds are considered hairy instead of furry, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. A few of these breeds known for their hair include the following:
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Bearded Collie
- Airedale Terrier
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Wirehaired Fox Terrier
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog
- Miniature Poodle
- Bichon Frese
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
For dogs with hair, growing that hair is a multi-stage process, four stages to be exact. The first stage is known as anagen. During anagen, your dog’s hair begins growing. By catagen, the second phase, hair growth is complete.
That brings us to the third stage, or telogen. Once your dog reaches telogen, their hair is considered dormant since it’s done growing. The last stage, exogen, causes the hair to fall out and shed. Then anagen resumes and the whole process starts over.
Of all the four stages, anagen lasts the longest in dogs with hair. It can seem like your dog’s hair will grow to infinite lengths. To control their hair growth, trim your dog’s coat every now and again.
Compared to dogs with fur, dogs that grow hair tend to shed less. Your biggest concern is the abovementioned hair length.
Okay, so now I want to talk about dog fur. Like hair, dog fur is also produced by the protein keratin. The texture of fur is fine and short, and its density is also far greater than dog hair.
Fur growth still follows the four stages: anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen. The anagen stage is much shorter though, so when dog fur grows, it stops after getting so long. This precludes your need to trim your dog unless the fur is getting in their eyes or mouth or covering their paws.
Due to the abbreviated anagen growing stage, the other three stages follow through quickly. Thus, dogs with fur will shed a lot more often than dogs with hair.
So, Do Pit Bulls Have Hair or Fur?
You’re now pretty well-acquainted with the differences between dog hair and dog fur, so I think it should be easier for you to figure out which Pit Bulls possess. As I mentioned in the intro, the answer is fur.
The American Kennel Club describes the American Staffordshire Terrier as having a “short, stiff coat,” which is indicative of fur, not hair. On its page about Staffordshire Bull Terriers, the AKC states that this breed is “smooth-coated.”
Plus, if you remember in my recent article regarding Pit Bulls and shedding, I mentioned these dogs can shed quite a lot! This isn’t necessarily universal, as some Pit owners have said their favorite four-legged friend holds onto his fur more often than other Pit Bulls out there.
Still, more frequent shedding is further proof that Pit Bulls have fur instead of hair. The biggest sign by far is just looking at your Pit Bull’s coat. It’s not long and flowy, but close to the body and fine.
One Coat or Two Coats: Which Does a Pit Bull Have?
Besides being hair or fur, a dog’s coat can also be categorized as single-coated or double-coated. I’ve talked briefly about this before on the blog, but since we’re diving deep into the world of dog fur, I thought now is a good time to go a little more in-depth on single coats and double coats.
Dogs with a single coat have but one layer of fur or hair. Unless they have a dog jacket to wear, this is all that provides them insulation when the seasons get cold. That single layer also acts as a protectant from the sun, preventing direct skin contact that could burn the dog.
Not all dogs have one coat or layer. Some breeds have two, and they’re known as double-coated dogs. The first layer is the one that’s closest to the dog’s body, and this is called the undercoat.
The undercoat consists of wooly short hairs that insulate the canine. These hairs can create bulk, especially as the seasons begin to change, giving the dog a large, fluffy appearance.
Over the undercoat grows the guard hairs. These hairs stand out for their length, thickness, texture, and feel. Guard hairs aren’t exclusively for insulating, but also intended for safeguarding the dog from damage that could come to him through everyday activities.
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say your pup took a giant leap in the mud in the middle of a rainy day. The guard hairs would let most of the mud slough off so he doesn’t get too dirty. He’s also protected from scraping himself up thanks to the presence of the guard hairs.
Many dog breeds have double coats, including these breeds:
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Australian Sheepdog
- Siberian Husky
- Shiba Inu
- Alaskan Husky
The Pit Bull is nowhere to be found on that list because he’s not a double-coated dog. Why? Well, he doesn’t need to be. Most of these dogs are cold-weather canines that would tow cargo and people across freezing cold tundras. Without their insulating undercoat hairs and the protecting guard hairs, these dogs might not have survived.
The Pit Bull breeds didn’t have such an upbringing, so they never had to adjust to temperature changes with a second layer to their coat. This isn’t such a bad thing, though. Double-coated dogs tend to shed fiercely!
Is Pit Bull Fur More Likely to Cause Allergies?
If a member of your family has an allergy to dogs, is a breed with fur versus one with hair more hypoallergenic or is it the other way around? In this case, it is indeed the other way around. Dogs with hair shed infrequently, and with less hair floating through your home, your rate of allergic symptoms with these dogs may be less.
I do want to take a moment to point out that if a loved one in your home has a dog allergy–to Pit Bulls or otherwise–it’s not the dog’s hair or fur they’re allergic to. Rather, it’s pet dander.
Dander is all the material shed from your animal, so it does include fur or hair, but not exclusively. Oils and skin also comprise pet dander. We people have dander too, such as human hair and dead skin, which is why allergists say people are allergic to pet dander. There is a difference.
When a dog sheds, they’re not just releasing fur or hair, but the other materials that are dander as well. Otherwise, the dander remains under the fur, where only petting or sitting near your dog may lead to allergy symptoms.
That’s why dogs with hair have the reputation of being hypoallergenic, but don’t be fooled. No dog is truly hypoallergenic, even the ones without fur or hair since they still have skin. Oh, and on top of all that, some people have allergies to dog saliva, which is again unavoidable if you have a four-legged companion.
I know you’re looking for some good news in all this, and I do have it. Pit Bulls are considered less likely to trigger allergic symptoms than some other dog breeds. Among the worst offenders are Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, Boston Terriers, and Pekingese.
Tips for Maintaining Your Pit Bull’s Fur
Whether it’s to ward off allergy symptoms in a loved one or just for the cleanliness of your house, I wanted to wrap up with some tips for keeping your Pit Bull’s fur neat, tidy, clean, and shiny!
Brush Him Often
For the American Staffordshire Terrier, the AKC recommends using a soft-bristled brush such as this one from JW Pet Company on Amazon. The GripSoft should work for any and all dog breeds, including your Pit Bull. You can even brush around his face with the GripSoft.
The AKC says you only have to brush your Pit Bull once a week, but I’d recommend doing it daily when he’s shedding. This controls fur and limits dander spread.
Bathe Him When He Gets Stinky
For both Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers, bathing too frequently isn’t advisable, says the AKC. Instead, you want to wait until your Pit Bull is borderline stinky before plunking him in the bath.
Use a Coat Spray
When you wrap up bath time with your Pit Bull, don’t forget to finish with a coat spray such as this one from Blissful Dog on Amazon. As a detangler as well as a coat spray, your Pit Bull’s coat will be matte-free, static-free, and shining like he was on the set of a doggy shampoo commercial. Pull out your phone, as you’ll want to take lots of pictures of your Pit Bull in this state!