Tooshay Pomeranians Australia - Breeding Best In Show Winners

Articles & Links

Sub-links for this page



Dog hair is made of a hard substance called keratin, an insoluble protein that counts high amounts of sulphur (as the amino acid cysteine) and lesser amounts of the amino acids tyrosine and leucine. Hair emerges from follicles, just below the outermost layer of skin.

In humans each hair grows from a single follicle. Dogs have single and compound hair follicles; a central follicle that produces the primary hair or guard hair may have two or more lateral follicles that produce 5 to 25 secondary hairs each.

Dog hair varies considerable in its coarseness or thickness. Fine dog hairs measure about 75 microns; coarser hair may excess 200 microns.

Healthy hair relies on the balance of the diet: proteins (and especially the sulphur-rich amino acids such as cysteine (converted to cysteine during metabolism), as well as tyrosine and methionine), essential fatty acids, copper, and B vitamins. Up to 30 percent of the daily protein requirements of an adult dog can be used for the renewal of the skin and the hair.

Hormonal factors can also interfere with proper hair growth; thyroid and growth hormone stimulate the activity of the hair follicles, whereas corticoids and sexual hormones slow it down. When prolactin (a hormone produced by lactating females) levels stay high in the blood, the coat looks like the summer one, rather thing and sparse.

Changes in the texture or appearance of a dog's coat are an indicator of something going amiss within, but hair coat changes are not specific for any one disease or condition. Dull or brittle hair can be caused by dietary imbalance, or it may be due to diseases of digestive, hepatic, rental, thyroidal, immune, or parasitic origin. Alterations of hair typically appear rather late in the course of the disease progress before changes are noticeable in the hair. And it typically takes four or more weeks before dietary supplements will have any effects on the quality of the hair.

The shine attributed to a healthy dog's coat is largely due to a complex group of fat secreted through glands in the skin known as sebaceous glands, which function as a natural dispenser of hair conditioners.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a dog who does not shed; there are only dogs who shed a lot less. Each hair shaft produced by a hair follicle will eventually die and become dislodged from the skin (shed) and be replaced by a new hair shaft produced by that hair follicle. However, there are some breeds whose hair grows for a much longer period before it dies and is shed.

There are several phases in the activity of a hair follicle:

  • In the first, called the "anagen" or growing phase, the hair is produced by the follicle.
  • The "catagen" phase is a short interlude between the growth and the resting ("telogen") phase.
  • In the "telogen" phase, the hair follicle is basically dormant. 

The growth of the new hair pushes the old hair out of the skin. Even through spring and winter bring on prolific hair growth; the dog's hair follicles are not all in the same phase at the same time, so thankfully he never becomes totally bald!

In humans, the hair follicles on our heads spend most of the time growing (anagen phase).  This phase can last years, depending on the ultimate length of your hair (as determined by your genes). In contrast, the resting phase for each follicle is generally only weeks. Poodles have a predominantly anagen cycle like ours; their hair grows for so long, that is needs cutting (perhaps several times) before it falls out.

Most dogs, though, have a telogen (resting) predominant cycle. In these dogs the anagen phase is short, only long enough to achieve the genetically desired length of coat...anywhere from one month, to a year or more. The hair then cycles into the telogen phase and remains there for a prolonged period of time. This hair is tightly bound within the follicle and will not readily fall out or be pulled out. In the Nordic breeds, it is thought that the telogen phase may last for years.

Finally, any stress such as anaesthesia, disease, pregnancy or administration of certain drugs is likely to put most of the follicles in a resting phase. About two to three months after the stressful event, when the follicles start to be active again, abnormal shedding will often occur.


​A dog's coat colour is determined by his genes. A variety of environmental factors can alter the colour of his hair.

Specific nutrients may be involved in hair colour. Cystine, Methionine, arginine, tyrosine and phenylalanine deficiencies are reported to induce hair discolouration. Protein malnutrition induces disturbances in hair growth and quality.

A study conducted in 2004 by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences reported that trace-element deficiencies or imbalances also affect hair quality. Suboptimal zinc levels, it said, induce greying of hair, and copper deficiency causes fading of brown or black pigmented hair. Other trace elements such as iron and iodine can also affect hair colour, as well as vitamins A, B-2, and B-6, pantothenic, folic, and nicotinic acids, and biotin.

Too much exposure to sunlight can make the hair brittle and cause a black coat to redden or turn brown. After a dog has been clipped, the colour of tis hair is noticeabl7 lighter, and scars often leave a mark of hair that remains white throughout the rest of the dog's life.

In aged dogs, hair colour tends to fade. As a dog ages, his hair turns grey, especially on the head, beginning on the mizzle.


It is claimed that dogs should be bathed with dog shampoo only, because shampoo made for humans will dry out a dog's hair or skin. At times, the claim is bolstered by the 'fact' that this is because pH the difference in pH between dog hair and human hair.

Well, not all human shampoos made for humans are formulated with the same pH. Some may be quite acidic, as low as 2.0pH, and some are as alkaline as 9.0.  Most are around 5.0 to 6.0pH. Dog shampoos also vary in pH, although usually dog shampoos are slightly more alkaline, ranging from about 4.5 to 9.0pH

​Also, not all dogs (and not all people) have the same pH. Human skin is usually slightly acidic about 5.5.pH, and human hair is usually just a tad more acidic than that, about 4.5 pH to 5.0pH. Dog's skin tends to be neutral (about 7.0pH) to slightly alkaline (8.0pH). But these are averages; as always, variations are seen amongst individuals.

The phrase "pH balanced" is often used to sell shampoo and conditioner. As nice as this sounds, the phrase is often used to mean different things. Sometimes the manufacturer means that the product is formulated to approximate the average pH of the hair and skin on the intended consumers (humans or canine). But sometimes it's used to mean that the product has a neutral pH (7.0), like water.

Seen under a powerful microscope, the surface of hair resembles a terra cotta roof, with overlapping rows of flattened cells.  If you pull a strand between your fingers, you can feel that it's smoother one way then the other. Acidic substances (with lower pH) tend to harden and tighten the 'tiles' of the hair cuticle.  This creates smoother and shinier hair. That's why a diluted vinegar or lemon juice rinse makes your hair shiny.  More alkaline substances make the 'tiles' well up, making the surface of the hair rougher and dull-looking.

But the tendency of a shampoo or conditioner to "dry out" a dog's skin or hair involves more than just pH.  Shampoos made with soap tend to dry a dog's skin and leave a residue that can cause itching and dandruff. Soap solutions are also quite alkaline.

Shampoos made with detergents in contrast, rinse off dogs (and people) more thoroughly, and tend to be more acidic. Some products also contain humectants (which attract and hold moisture in the hair shaft) and/or conditioning agents (which control static electricity and make the hair easier to comb). Any of these can affect your dog's hair and skin in a way that you find please or annoying; it depends on what type of coat and skin your dog has.

As a rule of thumb, use products made with simple formulas or easily recognisable, pure ingriedents. And, if you dog seems greasier or itchier soon after using a particular type of product, take note, and don't use that type again.




Contact Details

Taryn Jones
Central Queensland, 4702
Email: [email protected]