Anatomy of Dog Hair
Hair is composed of the hair shaft (visible portion of a dog’s coat), the root, and the skin’s hair follicle which grows the hair. Dog’s have compound follicles meaning multiple hairs grow from each follicle - as many as 20. Each follicle has an oil or sebaceous gland to keep skin and hair smooth and elastic.
DOUBLE COAT - Coat is composed of two parts: a top coat of stiff guard hair and an undercoat of fleecy downy hair.
SINGLE COAT - Coat is composed of a single top coat.
SMOOTH - Very short coats that tend to lay tightly to the skin making it look like skin rather than fur. Can be single or double coated.
WIRE (Broken) - Coarse, wavy, and wiry on the outside with a softer feel on the inside. Can be single or double coats.
CURLY - Curly coats that require aggressive care, attention, and maintenance. Generally single coated.
CORDED - Twisted coats that have the appearance of dreadlocks that must be carefully maintained in order to prevent cords from matting together. Can be single or double coated.
Growth Cycle = 130 days
Anagen = Rapid growth
Catagen = Root detaches from the follicle
Telogen = Rest
Exogen = Shedding
Each dog hair grows outward from a root in a hair follicle during Anagen at a rate of 0.04-0.40 mm/day. This is a synchronized life cycle that varies in duration by breed, age, and hair type. Poodles, nortic breeds, and some terriers have a cycle that can last for several years (the average life span of a human hair is six years). This hair growth relies heavily on proper nutrition with a high quality protein source and proper balance of fats and other essential nutrients. Hair is 95% protein and 5% dead skin cells. Poor nutrition is quickly reflected in the health of the skin and hair coat: thin, dry, brittle, and lifeless hair, hair loss, dandruff, heavy oil residue, and itchy skin.
What Are Whiskers?
Whiskers are specialized thick, long, wire-like hairs called vibrissae or sinus hairs. They are the first hairs that grow in a developing puppy. A dog’s whiskers are used as receptors during night or low-light. Whiskers can be likened to our finger tips. They are deeply embedded into the skin - 3x deeper than other hair. The slightest touch triggers these receptors to let the dog know that they are close to another object. Whiskers help a dog to navigate the world around them. Of those areas of the brain that register touch information in the dog, about 40 percent is dedicated to the face (largely dedicated to the upper jaw whisker region). This suggests that whiskers are very important to dogs. Try touching the tips of your dog’s whiskers and watch the blinking response to protect the eyes. Please consider this before asking us to shave your dog’s muzzle - amputating whiskers is uncomfortable and stressful for dogs. It is rumored that groomers in Germany are not allowed to cut a dog’s whiskers!