I hate my hair. It’s slowly abandoning me. It’s graying. And some of it has somehow ended up in my ears.
Still, I have nowhere near as much hair as my dog. And she gets along just fine.
The impact on our household is another story. It takes her approximately seven days to shed enough hair to construct another full-size dog.
Why is that? What’s the deal with pet hair? Or is it fur?
Well, first of all, it’s more of a philosophical distinction than anything else. Many people use hair to refer to the continually growing type that has to be trimmed. Therefore, all fur is hair. One comical definition describes fur as what should be on the dog and is, and hair as what should be on the dog and is on your pants. Perhaps in humans, hair is what should be on your head and is, and fur is what should be on your head and is on your back.
My dog is a mammal, and so is yours. Thus hair is part of the package. All mammals have it, even the ones in the ocean. And we all lose it in some amount at some time. There is no such thing as a dog that does not shed. Some shed less than others, some are like my pup.
How fast hair is shed is related to the hair-growth cycle, and this varies widely. Some dogs shed so slowly they seem to not lose hair at all. But it is happening.
Many dogs have curly hair (looking at you, poodles). This hair also may keep the shedding of skin cells to a minimum as well, yielding less dander in the house.
Combine this minimal shedding and low dander, and you have a dog many people call “hypoallergenic.” This may be true to some people, but if you’re allergic to that dog, you’re allergic to that dog.
Dogs, like humans, have tons of variations in hair. And that makes the world a richer place. Just make sure you don’t blindly buy into the no-shed, non-allergenic pet idea. That’s a nice thought, but it’s also a sales pitch.
If you’ve ever seen an Egyptian Sphinx cat, you’ve seen an extreme example of variation in hair. If you have not, look it up online. And remember, it’s supposed to look that way.
Right now, I have some vacuuming to do.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org