Difference Between Fur and Hair


Main Difference

The main difference between Fur and Hair is that Fur is soft hair that forms the thick outer covering of an animal body whereas Hair is the growth of protein filaments that form the outer cover of a human body.

Fur vs. Hair

The word fur is for animal hair, but hair is for human hair. The fur grows short. The hair grows long. The diameter of hair is approximately range between 17 to 181 μm whereas fur is denser. The consistency of fur varies. The hair has the same consistency. Fur grows in the synchronized way while human hair grows unevenly. The fur is attached firmly to the core of hair follicles. The hair does not form a thick coating. Fur has single or double composition; on the other hand, hair has one. Fur grows according to the condition of the season. The hair grows until the hair follicles are active. Fur has a rigid nature, but, hair is softer. Fur offers more insulation than hair. The fur is used as camouflage. The hair does not offer this ability. The fur growth cycle is shorter than hair. Animals shed fur after a certain period. Humans do not shed hair.


Comparison Chart

The compact coat of soft hair on non-human mammals is called fur.The extension of the protein coat of humans is called hair.
Animal hairHuman hair
Three layersSingle-layer
Growth Pattern
Grows in an orchestrated mannerGrows independently
Short and roughLong and soft
More protection and insulationLess protection and insulation

What is Fur?

The fur is an old French word “fourrer,” meaning “covering,” or “to the line.” The word also found its origin in the proto-Germanic word “fodram” defined as “sheath.” The word “fur” was first used in the 15th century. The fur is an evolutionary character that outlines the mammalian ancestry. The fur is dense growth of soft hair covering on animal’s body. Hair is the character of all mammals, while fur talks about animal hair. According to Kamal Khidas, the curator of the vertebrate collection at the Canadian Museum of Nature, the short hair growing densely on the body is familiar as fur. The fur is made up of three layers — vibrissae functions as sensory organs that look for the environment, i.e., whiskers. Guard hairs are helpful in protection. Under hairs provide insulation. The composition of fur is the same as hair, made of keratin, a protein that forms fingernails, claws, horns, etc. Fur grows in a definite pattern and stops growing after a certain time. It may be short or coarse, long or soft, colored or transparent; all depends on the type and requirement of animal. Usually, fur grows thick in winter season to provide insulation. The growth cycle of fur is short. After a certain time, fur falls off. Fur provides insulation, protection, and thermoregulation. Humans use fur for clothing purposes. Some animal’s fur act like a mask, i.e., have a color of fur like the dirt. It is a weapon for self-defense.


What is Hair?

The word “hair” came from the English word “haer,” meaning “to bristle.” Many evolutionary biologists believe that hair evolves with the evolution of the endothermic process of mammals. Many biologists also described the progression of scales into hair according to the need of mammals. Hair is an extension of protein filaments from the dermis of the skin. Hair is composed of keratin protein, polymers of amino acids. It grows autonomously from hair follicles present deep in the dermis of the skin. The growth of hair depends on the active hair follicles. If hair follicles are damaged, then hair does not grow. There are three main types of hair; two are categorized as fur while whiskers are hair. Whiskers are long and inflexible. These hairs have receptors that detect the surrounding environment. Human hair does not provide a thick coating with the core of follicles; hence, protection and insulation ability is less. Humans need to wear clothes to protect themselves from heat and cold. Hair behaves like sensors, can detect the movement of air and physical touch. Wigs and hair filaments are made up of with human hair. Dough conditioner, l-cysteine, which is present in labels of bread, is made from human hair.


  • Anagen: The stage of new hair growth.
  • Catagen: An intermediate period in which hair growth stops.
  • Telogen: The resting stage.
  • Exogen: Hair starts to fall, and hair filaments enter the anagen stage.

Key Differences

  1. The fur is a profuse layer of soft hair on non-human mammals whereas hair is the growth of protein filaments on human mammals.
  2. Animal hair is known as the fur on the flip side; a human hair is called hair.
  3. Fur has single or double composition while hair has a single composition.
  4. Fur grows in a synchronized manner, but the hair grows independently.
  5. Fur grows shorter as thick crust conversely; hair grows longer and finer.
  6. The fur is thick thus provides more protection and insulation on the other hand; hair provides less.


Hair and fur have the same composition, but the difference is that fur covers the body of non-human mammals, whereas, hair is an extension of protein strands that covers the body of humans.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson