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What is the Difference Between Human and Animal Hair?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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While there are a number of similarities between human and animal hair, there are also a few significant differences as well. While these differences are relatively well known to scientists as well as companies that manufacture hygiene products that are formulated for household pets, most people are unaware of how animal hair or fur differs from human hair. Some of these differences include the properties of the follicle core, growth patterns, and hair composition.

One of the key differences between human and animal hair is the core of the hair follicle. With animals, the core has properties that allow for the coating of hair to provide excellent insulation from not only heat and cold, but also a fair amount of protection from rain as well. The combination of thermal regulating qualities along with the coarse nature of animal hair work as a great means of holding in cold or heat, as well as preventing rain and moisture to work all the way to the skin of the animal. Human hair, by contrast, does little to nothing to provide temperature regulation for the body, and lacks the ability to prevent rain from soaking through to the scalp.

The growth pattern also differs between human and animal hair. In humans, the strands of hair tend to grow independently. For animals, the process of hair growth tends to be more synchronized. This is an important distinction, as it sets the stage for shedding during periods when the coat is too heavy for the weather conditions related to the season. While human hair can be cut to the specifications of the individual, animal hair will grow to a certain point and then simply fall out, to be replaced by new hair when and as the time is right.

One other notable difference between human and animal hair is the composition of the human head of hair and the pelt of an animal. Human hair tends to have the same texture, while animal hair generally includes a double composition. In addition to the coarser top layer of hair or fur, there is a shorter, finer layer that is referred to as the under fur. The under fur is found closer to the skin and helps to provide some of the temperature control for the animal. Along with helping to keep the body of the animal at an acceptable temperature, the under fur also helps to protect the roots of the longer hair strands from harm.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon122103 — On Oct 26, 2010

I have seen a recommendation that the tin supplement has been recommended as beneficial in reversing hair loss. A thought - the 'tins' for tinned food now seem to have a coating of some sort of plastic, therefore our diet is becoming less 'tin rich'. Copper supplement is recommended for loss of hair color.

By anon122101 — On Oct 26, 2010

Just a thought. As a kid I suffered from extremely prolific hair. Extremely fine. My hair had a determination to grow out like a fright wig, was so affected by electrostatic charge plus very light weight that no amount of brushing or combing could control it. The only available control method was Brylcreem - and lots of it

I still, at over seventy, still have most of it.

Perhaps many years of greasy lubrication has something to do with that.

I am considering searching out a source of brylcream to see whether it will reverse such hair loss as is now under way.

By abiane — On Jul 23, 2010

@anon96396 - Baldness is mostly a hereditary "disease" or "disorder" (I know that sounds bad, but that's all I can come up with). While many companies boast about successful transplants, medicines, scrubs and more, the truth is that there is not yet a miracle "cure" for baldness. Genetics has a lot of pull in the bald ring as it is, but there is also a lot of speculation that scalp massage and acupuncture are a great means of stimulating hair growth.

By anon96396 — On Jul 15, 2010

This article about the difference between human and animal hair is very, very interesting. I couldn't feel that its so unfair to humans especially those with not much hair on their heads.

I would like to know if this research has found anything for baldies? Wouldn't there be something here to help humans to avoid hair loss or help those already bald?

I really don't see why this should be s difficult.

I see so many young men and some women losing all their hair that I feel it's not fair.

Is there something that can really, really, encourage hair growth for these people? Not all the trash they advertise but something really, really good, or in its place, can people get a transplant from someone else or from an animal?

OK. I sound stupid. But do I deserve an answer?

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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