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Ask A Vet: Do Shih Tzus Have Hair Or Fur? (2023)

Do Shih Tzus Have Hair Or Fur

You look at your Shih Tzu and admire their luxurious flowing hair…

“Yep, they have better hair than me…”

But wait…

Is it really hair attached to them and not fur?

Continue reading to discover:

  • If Shih Tzus have hair or fur.
  • What’s the difference between hair and fur.
  • If Shih Tzus shed (and if they’re hypoallergenic).
  • And many more…

Do Shih Tzus have hair or fur?

Shih Tzus have hair that grows straight and less dense. Moreover, their hair is also thicker and fuller. With that, these dogs don’t shed so much. That’s also why they require monthly grooming and trimming of hair. Then, they’ll also need daily brushing and combing of their hair.

Differences between hair and fur

Hair and fur differ in length, thickness, and density. Moreover, the two have different shedding frequencies. 

But, they both grow out of the same kind of hair follicle.

Plus, they’re made of the same protein called keratin. And they both contain just the needed amount of it.

Moreover, keratin is also found in their nails and skin.

Going back…

Where do hair and fur differ from each other?

The difference in length

Type of coatQuality

As you can see, hair is longer than fur.

That’s why it isn’t hard to distinguish that Shih Tzus have hair.

But how come the two came in such a difference?

What affected it?

It’s because of the varying…

Hair (and fur) growth cycle in dogs

As I said, both hair and fur grow from the same hair follicles…

Now, those follicles run a lifelong process…

And it’s called the hair growth cycle.

Moreover, research says that that cycle consists of 4 phases:


This is the phase of active hair growth.


In this phase, the hair stops to lengthen. That’s because hair is finally fully grown.


A phase where the hair remains dormant. It just remains attached to the hair follicles.

Moreover, telogen is also called the resting phase of the hair cycle.


Ending the hair growth cycle is exogen. It’s when the hair falls out.

And you’d often refer to this as shedding.

After this, the cycle begins in Anagen again. With that, new hair will start growing…

You might also want to know: Can I shave my dog to stop shedding?

How hair cycle influences length

Now, the difference lies in how long it grows in the anagen phase.

For hair, they stay a long time in that phase.

And as for fur, their hair cycle is quicker. With that, fur only grows short when it comes to length.

The difference in thickness

Type of coatQuality
FurThinner or finer

Now, I’m talking about those individual strands…

And compared to fur, the strands of hair are much thicker.

What influences hair thickness?

You’ll come across many dogs that have thick hair. Just the same way you’ll encounter puppers with thin fur.

It makes you think…

What’s at play here?

It’s in their genes

Shih Tzu Hair Genes

A factor that affects this quality is the way they’re bred.

For example, Siberian Huskies have a naturally thick coat. That’s because they’re bred to stand cold weather.

Such a quality gives them a natural insulator. With that, they become more tolerant in icy situations.

Because of their nutrition

According to VCA Hospitals, nutrition can affect the appearance of a dog’s hair or fur.

And it doesn’t matter whether the dog is a shedder or not.

Nutrition plays a big role in maintaining the desired thickness of the dog coat.

That’s why inadequate nutrients can lead to a dry and dull coat.

Compare it to when the pupper receives proper nutritional requirements. Their hair or fur will be as thick as it can get…

It’ll look fuller, shiny, and soft.

Their health affects it, too

Unfortunately, coat quality reflects the dog’s general health condition.

If they’re ill, their coat is gonna lose its shine.

With that, their coat is dull, and its texture is rough.

Some conditions that can affect a dog’s coat are:

  • Diabetes.
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Metabolic problems.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Internal and external parasites.

Stress can also make them lose hair or fur

When someone’s stressed, they can have sudden hair fall. 

That’s the case with dogs, too.

They’re sensitive animals whose pain shows up physically.

According to vets, stress releases epinephrine in the hair.

What’s that?

You might know it by its more common name: adrenaline.

And unfortunately, the explanation behind such a rush is still unknown.

Regardless, the hormone causes your dog’s hair or fur to fly off. Therefore resulting in sudden shedding.

Read also: 9 Home Remedies That You Can Give Your Dog For Shedding

Difference in density

Type of coatQuality
HairLess dense

Despite being longer and thicker, hair is less dense than fur.

Now, there’s a question that a lot are still asking…

What’s the difference between thickness and density?

As I said, thickness refers to the individual strands of hair or fur.

Then, as for density, I’ll refer to it as the compactness of hair in one area.

You see, dogs have an average of 15,000 pieces of hair or fur per square inch. That number is the density of an average dog.

And for a canine with hair, the density can be lower.

So, their hair is individually thick. However, their whole coat isn’t compact as it’s less dense.

Then, for a pooch with fur, their hair density is higher.

With that, their individual fur is thinner. But on the other hand, their coat is fuller.

Are Shih Tzus hypoallergenic?

Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic. That’s because they have a double coat that catches fallen hair. Moreover, they’re hypoallergenic because they shed less.

First of all, Shih Tzus have a double coat.

The topcoat is made up of long hair. Then, the inner coat is made of a denser layer of shorter hair.

Now, these dogs still shed. Moreover, there’s no way to prevent some hair from falling off from time to time…

Luckily, the inner coat catches those fallen hairs.

Yep, those hairs won’t cover your place at all. 

Only when you brush their hair would you realize that they have so much.

With that, they’re considered great dogs for people with allergies.

But wait, VCA Hospitals wants to clear something up for us:

They say that no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic.

Instead, some dogs are less likely to stimulate an allergic reaction.

And as I said, Shih Tzus falls in that category. Then, AKC also gives us a list of such dogs. Those are:

  • Poodle.
  • Maltese.
  • Bolognese.
  • Bichon Frise.
  • Xoloitzcuintli.
  • Affenpinscher.
  • Afghan Hound.
  • Yorkshire Terrier.
  • Chinese Crested.
  • Giant Schnauzer.
  • Irish Water Spaniel.
  • Miniature Schnauzer.
  • American Hairless Terrier.

Moreover, let me clarify one last thing…

The allergen isn’t exactly hair or fur…

People are allergic to dander

People Are Allergic To Dander

Some allergic people are less sensitive to a few dog breeds. But, others are allergic to every dog.

According to AAAAI, 62% of U.S. households have a fur baby in their family.

Now, that makes it tough for both kinds of people I mentioned.

In such a dog-loving world, it’s hard to be allergic to canines.

Oh, what more if you’re allergic but a dog lover yourself…

But let’s not dwell much on that…

As I’m trying to clarify, hair or fur isn’t the exact allergen for those people. 

Instead, it’s pet dander.

What’s that?

It’s a microscopic particle that contains skin particles and a little bit of oil. Such is accumulated under a dog’s hair follicle.

Moreover, it’s also called flakes of dead skin.

Now, when a dog sheds, hair or fur isn’t the only thing that falls.

Along with it is dander that can easily spread around your place.

And when it does, experts say an allergic person will experience the following:

  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy eyes.
  • Coughing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Eyes turning red.
  • Runny and stuffy nose.

Do Shih Tzus shed?

Shih Tzus don’t shed much. Although hair can fall from them every day, their denser undercoat catches those. Plus, their hair cycle works in favor of making them shed less.

Let me clear something up first…

Shih Tzus still have hair falling out of them.

But wait, relax…

I assure you that tons of hair everywhere won’t be an issue…

That’s because a Shih Tzu’s coat comes with a natural hair catcher.

I mentioned it before, and it’s their denser undercoat.

Remember, Shih Tzus have a double coat…

And the second coat of hair they have traps any of those who fall.

Moreover, I also explained the hair growth cycle in dogs…

And to save you a scroll, here’s a summary of it:

PhaseWhat’s happening
AnagenThe phase of hair growth.
CatagenHair is fully grown during this.
TelogenAlso known as the resting phase.
ExogenHair falls during this phase.

Now, a Shih Tzu’s hair cycle consists of a long anagen phase.

And as I said, dogs who have that kind of cycle have longer hair as well.

Moreover, Shih Tzus don’t always undergo an exogen phase. Most of the time, hair just keeps growing and growing for them…

But for such a benefit in a dog, of course, there’s a price to pay…

And that’s the fact that…

Shih Tzus are high maintenance

In exchange for a non-shedder is one that’s high maintenance…

As their hair continually grows, Shih Tzus need a monthly haircut at best. 

Then, you must also brush their hair daily. Do so using a pin brush.

Continue reading: Revealed: 19 Dogs That Don’t Smell Or Shed