Everything You Need to Know about Dog Fur

Everything You Need to Know about Dog Fur

Learn more about dog fur and how to better care for your best friend!
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Our dogs are perfect. With their sweet faces, those puppy dog eyes, and the way that they love us unconditionally, even when we’re at our worst, they have earned their important role in the family ten times over. There’s nothing quite like the love of your fur baby, right? 

No one at WINPRO Pet would disagree with you. However, as much as we adore our dogs, there are times that they’re just a little smellier than others, when they have dandruff, or when their fur needs a little TLC. 

If you want to maintain your dog’s healthy fur, here are a few helpful tips.

What Exactly Is Dog Fur?

Some dog breeds have hair, while others have fur. But what is the difference? 

Essentially, there really is no functional difference between hair and fur. In fact, human hair and pet fur have a lot in common. Both are made up mostly of the same protein, known as keratin. 

Keratin is found in the cells of the skin and is a protein that creates not only the structure of the hair (or fur) but also the skin and nails. It is also the main component of wool, feathers, claws, and hoofs, making it one of the most multifaceted types of cells out there. 

Hair and fur both grow out of follicles, which are little tunnel-shaped structures (sacs) located in the outer layer of the skin. The two differ because human hair only grows with a ratio of one hair to one follicle, while dog fur can grow several hairs out of a single follicle. 

In both humans and dogs, hair follicles also have oil glands that open into them called sebaceous glands. These glands release a very important substance into the follicle, known as sebum. It’s responsible for keeping both the hair and the skin soft and protected. 

Genetically, dogs vary in the amount of natural sebum they can produce. Dogs who are bred for water, like the Portuguese water dog and even labrador retrievers, have sebaceous glands that are most active, which is why their fur is considered to be “waterproof.” 

What Is a Double Coat?

Dogs are special for many reasons, but one of the most interesting is the fact that some of our furry friends can have what is known as a “double coat.” 

While some dogs have a single layer of hair, other breeds have a larger amount of hair. These dogs, which include breeds like the huskies, Pomeranians, Newfoundlands, and golden retrievers, have an undercoat made out of short, wooly hairs that protect them from extreme temperatures. The top part is made out of longer hairs known as guard hairs, which repel dirt and moisture. 

These dogs do require more work in terms of grooming and maintaining, but they are definitely unique dogs. The good news is that they have plenty of grooming tools that you can use at home to help keep them tangle-free and looking their best, and you can always enlist the help of a professional groomer for dogs with excessive shedding and hair growth.

Common Dog Fur Issues

Our dogs’ fur, skin, and glands can be vulnerable to a few potentially serious health conditions and illnesses that can affect their overall health. 

At the very least, they can make your pet uncomfortable and decrease his or her quality of life. Learning more about these issues and how to identify them can help you catch them early and treat them before they get worse.


Just like people, dogs are susceptible to developing allergies. While it’s not quite as easy to truly figure out the source of a dog’s allergies, being able to narrow it down can help you make changes to deal with them. 

Common triggers of allergies in dogs include diet, fleas, and even other pets, and those allergies can show up as excessively itchy skin, hair loss, dust, dry hair or skin, obsessive chewing of the feet, and chronic ear infections. 

Dealing with skin allergies in dogs can be tricky but generally involve treating the symptoms by hitting them at their source and attempting to identify and remove the trigger. Supplements like WINPRO Allergy can help reduce inflammation to provide relief for allergy sufferers while promoting healthier skin and dog fur.


Although it is called ringworm, this common skin condition is actually caused by a fungal infection. Unfortunately, ringworm is also considered “zoonotic,” meaning it can be passed from dog to human, causing similar symptoms. The fungi actually feed on the keratin cells, causing that telltale hair loss that occurs in patches all over your pet. 

Treatment usually includes an oral and a topical component, as well as symptomatic treatment if it has spread to you or anyone in your family. This can also be an incredibly itchy skin condition, so avoiding it is preferable. 

Some dogs can also be “asymptomatic” carriers, meaning they can pass the fungal infections to other pets and people in the house, even if they aren’t showing symptoms themselves.

A Dull Coat

If your dog’s coat just seems less shiny and soft than before, especially if it has happened suddenly, it is definitely worth a trip to your dog’s veterinarian. 

There are a variety of different reasons as to why this can happen, most of which will require blood work to really be able to diagnose and treat. Things like hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiency, parasites, and even more serious issues like cancer can show themselves visibly as a dull coat or skin irritation. Other issues with dander or saliva can also lead to hair issues.

Dull coats can also be caused by over bathing your dog. Dog’s coats naturally produce the right amount of sebum (oil) to keep it healthy and balanced. 

When you bathe them too much, you also strip off the natural oils and cause the skin to overproduce them, making dog fur that feels oily and looks dull. While we understand wanting to have a good-smelling dog, bathing your pup too much can cause worse issues.

What Can I Do About Common Dog Fur Issues?

To help your dog maintain a healthy coat, there are a few things you should focus on.

First and foremost, you need to make sure to feed your dog a balanced, healthy diet. Dogs require a lot of different, specific vitamins and minerals like fatty acids. Many of the more upscale pet food brands do a nice job of including them, but not all of them. The same goes for brands that we can find in the grocery store. 

Sometimes you trade price for quality, and unfortunately, this can also impact the health and appearance of the dog fur. 

Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on how to make sure your dog is getting everything that he or she needs to stay as healthy as possible. However, when it comes to your pet’s coat, the most important vitamins to focus on are biotin, selenium, copper, zinc, and vitamin A.

You’ll also want to brush your dog regularly, even if he or she has shorter hair. This helps stimulate the natural oils, gets rid of knots, burs, and other debris, and is a bonding experience for both of you! It can also help you make sure your pet isn’t dealing with any fleas, which can be a huge problem for the entire household. Investing in the right conditioner, comb, and other tools can also help your pet's coat stay healthy.

Smelly Dog Fur Issues

Outside of these common fur issues, some specific problems can give your baby’s fur an unpleasant odor. 

If you’re dealing with smelly dog fur, here are a few things that may be going on and some potential fixes. Even when your dog’s coat looks healthy, there may be internal factors at play affecting their fur health.

Don’t miss one more minute of quality snuggle time because your dog doesn’t smell its best. 

“Wet Dog” Syndrome

You’ve probably heard the phrase that something bad smells “like a wet dog.” But you might not know that there is actually truth to that statement! 

The reason that wet dogs tend to be stinky really comes down to their microbiome… basically, the microscopic living organisms that live both on the outside and the inside of their bodies to help keep them healthy. Humans have them too, although we don’t often pay them much mind (this is why people take probiotics, if you were wondering!). While they’re usually a good thing when in balance, they do leave behind certain “organic compounds (AKA microorganism poop).” 

These compounds by themselves don’t have a smell but, when they mix with moisture after a bath or a swim in the lake, it can get iffy. When that moisture starts to evaporate, that’s when smelly dog syndrome really kicks in. 

Dogs Get Gas, Too

There’s a reason that people tend to blame it on the dog… Dogs can get gas just like we do. The only difference is that they haven’t developed the shame surrounding it that humans have! A little toot here and there is normal for dogs, and most of the time, you will probably smell it instead of hearing it. However, if your pup’s gas has gotten more frequent or stinkier (or both), it may be worth a trip to your vet to make sure everything is ok. 

Smooshy-faced dogs, like boxers, pugs, and bulldogs, tend to have this problem a little bit more often than dogs with longer snouts. This is likely because the way that their faces are shaped causes them to take in extra air when they’re eating. 

If your dog’s rear end smells particularly bad or “fishy,” they may have a problem with their anal glands. These tiny sacs are an important part of your dog’s anatomy, and they sit just inside of their rectum. If you’ve ever seen your dog greet another dog by smelling their butt, this is actually part of why they’re smelling them! 

Normally, anal glands don’t cause any issues, but they can get blocked or infected, leading to a specific smell that you won’t forget.

Stress Stinks… Literally

Did you know that stress has a smell? Not only can dogs smell stress on both humans and other dogs (specifically adrenaline and cortisol), it can also make them more smelly too! Just like people, a dog’s body chemistry changes when they’re under stress. 

While we can use more deodorant to help, dogs just have to deal with it. If you’ve noticed that your dog has smelled extra stinky and you’ve ruled out physical issues, take a look at their environment. Not every source of doggy stress is immediately obvious to us, so try to think on your dog’s level.

UTIs… Not Just For Humans

If your smelly dog seems to have an odor more like urine than dog breath, their issue may be related to a urinary tract infection. Female dogs are more likely to develop UTIs than male dogs, but it can happen to any dog at any time. 

If you’re noticing an odor alongside a change in your pup’s behavior, like wanting to go outside more frequently than usual or drinking more water than they normally do, schedule an appointment with your vet to check it out. If you’ve ever dealt with a UTI yourself, you know just how uncomfortable these can be. 

What Can I Do About Smelly Dog Fur Issues?

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of why you’re dealing with a smelly (but still loveable!) dog, but now what?

Helping Your Smelly Dog From the Outside

If your smelly dog’s issue comes from the outside, the trick is to establish a consistent bathing routine. But it’s actually less about the bathing and more about the drying! As we know, wet dogs are also smelly dogs, thanks to the microorganisms that live on their skin. So bathing them can’t fix the problem all on its own… you also need to make sure that you’re drying your dog afterward. There are blow dryers meant just for dogs, or you can buy a heavy-duty pet drying towel. There’s also no shame in taking your dog to the groomer and letting the professionals handle it! Either way, a few times a month is all you need to keep your dog looking, smelling, and feeling great.

Helping Your Smelly Dog From the Inside

If you’re dealing with more of an inside issue, the first step is making sure that you address any health issues with your veterinarian. 

Keeping your dog’s mouth and gut healthy is essential to helping prevent issues, as are regular trips to the vet or the groomer for anal gland expression if your dog gets frequently blocked or infected. And always make sure that you’re taking your pup for his or her regular annual visits, too! This can help catch issues before they have a chance to get bigger. 

Recognizing and managing stress in your smelly dog can also help, both outside and inside. Working on behavior modification and changing their environment to lower their stress levels is important (check out these tips that the crew at WINPRO Pet has rounded up for you). 

Common Dog Ear Issues

When it comes to your dog’s fur health, we can’t forget their precious ears. Whether they are big and upright, short and droopy, or a little bit of both, there really is no understating the importance (and adorableness) of dog ears. 

Your dog’s ears are one of the parts of the body that tends to have the widest variety of things that could be wrong with them. If you’ve ever watched your dog digging at their ears with their back paws, you know that the trigger is rarely blatantly obvious. It takes a little detective work (and usually a trip to the vet) to really diagnose and treat the problem. 

However, having a little bit of a head start by knowing the more common issues can reduce the confusion so that you can get them back to that adorable snuggle pup you know and love. 


According to some veterinarians (including one who literally wrote the book on ear issues in small animals), allergies are the most common culprit of dog ear-related issues. 

Of those, airborne allergens (like pollens and grasses) and food allergies trigger problems the most. If you notice your dog scratching more during allergy season (usually from April to September, depending on where you live) but seem fine during the rest of the year, they’re likely dealing with seasonal allergies. If the itching is nonstop, it’s more likely to be food-related (but could still be an allergy issue). 


Yes, your dog can get ear infections just like we can! If you’ve ever had one yourself or had a kid who deals with them regularly, you know how painful they can be. Now, imagine you’re going through that with no way of knowing what’s happening and how it can be fixed! Because of the shape of dog ears, it’s easy for germs (mainly strains of staph) to get stuck in the middle ear, where they can grow out of control in a warm, moist environment. 

Ear infections are common conditions in dogs, especially those with floppy or drop ears, such as Basset Hounds, Collie, and Cocker Spaniels. Pointed ears that stand erect are called prick ears and are found on a German Shepherd or Siberian Husky, to name a few. Because the inside of a dog’s ears is shaped differently than human ears, they have deeper canals allowing for better funneling of sound to enhance hearing.

Yeast Infections

Although we tend to think of yeast infections as something else entirely, dogs are actually prone to having yeast of their own… only in their ears! 

In most cases, the yeast actually develops due to allergies, but not in the way you think. When your dog deals with allergies, a side effect is that its natural oils start to secrete onto the skin more than normal. Yeast thrives in the environment provided by the outer and middle ear, which is why they tend to be a recurrent issue. 

Yeast also has a telltale smell that accompanies it, which you’ll get familiar with if the issue happens to your dog a lot. 

Ear Mites

No discussion of the issues that impact dog ears would be complete without talking about the creepy-crawly variety… namely, ear mites. There isn’t an issue on this list that can make their ears itch quite like mites can. 

Not only are they annoying, but they are also contagious to other animals in the house and even you! If you look into your dog’s ears and see debris that looks a lot like coffee grounds, it’s a good sign you may have ear mites on your hands. 

Foreign Bodies

On rare occasions, the cause of itching with your dog’s ears can actually be related to a foreign body. This is more likely to be the case if you notice that they’re itching one ear specifically. Things like plant debris, a misplaced piece of dried ear wax or medicine, a bug, or even something placed in it by an unsupervised small child can be a problem and will need to be manually removed by your vet. Don’t attempt to do it on your own at home. 

What Can I Do About Dog Ear Issues?

All that itching and scratching can make you lose just as much sleep as your dog does. Because you love your pup so much (and your sleep, let’s face it), you’re probably wondering exactly what you can do to help stop all that itching and get back to normal life. Below, we share some best practices and helpful tips.

Visit Your Vet

As with other dog fur issues, addressing your pup’s ear problems really starts by scheduling a trip to your vet. While you can often help manage chronic ear issues at home, they have to first be diagnosed appropriately by your veterinarian. 

You don’t want to use the wrong products, after all! Plus, if you use certain ear meds and your dog happens to have a burst eardrum, it can actually cause more problems than it solves. It’s really not worth the risk.

The treatment required to help get rid of ear issues directly relates to what is causing them in the first place, just like most other health issues. Ear mites, for instance, will be treated with specific medication, while bacterial and yeast infections will need other types. These are important distinctions, and ones that should be left to your vet to make. 

Make a Follow-Up Appointment

Once you get your pet back into a normal state of health, follow up by making sure to reduce the risks of recurrence. Ask your vet for tips on how you can clean your dog's ears at home and what products you should use. This is a great conversation for your dog’s annual wellness exam, where you can also discuss other issues like supplementation, nutrition, vaccination, and general care. Prevention really is so much better than having to treat issues, so keep an extra close eye on your dog’s ears even when they’re not showing issues.

Smell Their Ears

Healthy dog ears should not have an odor. Although it may seem strange, smelling your puppy's ears can help to identify an issue before it exacerbates. If you notice that your dog’s ear flap has started to look inflamed or swollen, you should take them to your veterinarian right away.

Clean Their Ears After Swimming

If you take your pup down to the lake, or even just to get a bath, make sure that you clean their ears out immediately afterward. Not only is a lot of that water dirty and has its own bacteria, but it can also get trapped in their ear and create infections more quickly than you think. 

When cleaning the ear on your own, though, make sure that you don’t put anything in your dog’s ear canal… ever. Stick with cotton balls and not cotton swabs, as swabs can push debris and water further into the ear. The rule of thumb is to only clean as far as you can see. 

Use the Right Cleansing Products

In any event, maintaining clean dog ears is vital to keeping them healthy and happy while preventing issues from arising down the road. Always avoid using harsh products like alcohol, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or witch hazel, which can make a bubbly sound inside the ear and scare your dog. 

In most cases, it's best to schedule an appointment with your veterinary dermatologist to thoroughly clean your dog's ear using a medicated ear cleanser. 

What About Dandruff?

Have you ever encountered tiny, white, flaky particles that you’ve seen on your dog’s coat? If you have, you’ve likely encountered dog dandruff. Dealing with dandruff is never fun, but you can manage it with the right product. The reality is that it’s important to learn what causes your dog’s dandruff to help fix it. 

Dog dandruff is essentially the same thing as human dandruff. Dandruff appears when dead skin flakes begin to fall out of place and hang out on the hair where they land. 

The result? White, dry flakes that appear on your dog’s body. 

While dandruff typically appears on the head of a human being, it frequently pops up on dogs’ backs, close to their tail. Their skin might appear to be dry. If you see white particles near this area, it’s all because of dandruff.

Another way that you can tell that your pet is experiencing dandruff is if you notice these flakes where they lay down or nap. You might also notice white flakes fly off their body when you give them a good scratch. If any or all of these signs occur, you can probably guess that your pet is experiencing dog dandruff.

What Causes Dog Dandruff?

You’re probably wondering how dandruff occurs. Technically speaking, dandruff is referred to as “seborrheic dermatitis.” The dog’s skin has sebaceous glands that produce sebum, which is an oil that helps keep the skin both flexible and moist. 

If your dog’s glands produce an overabundance of sebum, it causes an imbalance in your dog’s skin. There are two different types of seborrheic dermatitis: dry seborrhea (or seborrhea sicca) and oily seborrhea (seborrhea oleosa). Dogs can have a combination of the two. 

In reality, there are many reasons dandruff occurs that are often more varied than we tend to think. Dandruff is caused by various environmental and other health issues.

Sometimes if your dog is already dealing with one health issue, it can trigger another one. Secondary causes can include allergies to the dog’s food or environment, genetic disorders, or even skin problems.

It’s common for dogs to experience dandruff due to an allergic reaction, infections of various types (usually bacterial, parasitic, or yeast), or endocrine issues. 

Some dogs are even predisposed to experience dandruff. This means that environmental factors such as humidity levels and temperature can make a tremendous difference in the result of your dog’s condition. 

Should I Reach Out To My Vet About My Dog’s Dandruff?

As we mentioned, dogs often get dandruff as a result of another condition. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to your vet to get their opinion about your pup’s state. 

If your dog only has a few occasional flakes (especially during winter), don’t worry; even stress causes mild dandruff for your pet!

Nevertheless, if your dog is experiencing these symptoms, visiting the vet is never a bad idea. This helps you rule out the possibility of more severe problems. 

Here are some things to keep an eye out for: 

  • If the skin underneath your dog’s dandruff flakes is extremely red.
  • If the dandruff is accompanied by an odor.
  • If the dog appears to be itchy or the skin seems to be uncomfortable.
  • If there are a lot of dandruff flakes that come on suddenly.

How Do I Prevent Doggie Dandruff?

You should be sure to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one. This means you’ll be less likely to deal with dog dandruff.

Our first suggestion is that you invest in regularly grooming your dog. Not only will this help you maintain your pup’s coat, but it ensures dandruff is kept at bay. This also could prove productive as grooming and brushing can help distribute the natural oils their coat contains. 

Another way to keep dandruff at bay is to consider using a humidifier. In instances where your house is extremely dry, this could work to maintain your dog’s coat. It will be especially useful if you keep a humidifier near where your dog sleeps. This increases moisture to help soothe your dog’s skin, and it counters dandruff that occurs as a result of seasonal allergies

It’s also important to ensure that diet is not to blame for your dog’s dandruff. 

What Can I Do About Dog Dandruff?

If your dog is currently experiencing dandruff, you might be curious what you can do to help them. Luckily, we have an answer for you. Rest assured, WINPRO Pet has the solution for you.  

Supplements For Your Dog

As with most dog fur issues, our best piece of advice is to consider getting a supplement that will help support your dog’s coat. The WINPRO Allergy supplement was formulated for precisely that. You will find that this supplement has a blend of animal blood proteins and other key ingredients. These will quickly assist your dog by helping to relieve issues with your dog’s skin and coat. 

Whether your dog is suffering from sore spots, runny eyes, itchy skin, or dandruff, you can’t go wrong by adding WINPRO Allergy into your dog’s daily routine. WINPRO is crafted to help ease the negative effects that environmental toxins have, and it helps your pup cope with their seasonal allergies. This is a dandruff fix that promotes healthier skin and can help prevent dandruff. 

Use an Anti-Dandruff or Oatmeal Shampoo

Oatmeal helps to soothe and moisturize dry, itchy skin. Be sure that the product you’re using is formulated for dogs, as they can sometimes get confused with products made for humans. There are many anti-dandruff and oatmeal shampoos on the market that can help keep your dog’s skin hydrated. 

Consider Changing Your Dog’s Diet

Some dogs may be more sensitive to certain types of dog food brands than others. Reach out to your vet for insight on what you can do differently in their diet if you’re worried it’s a food-related issue. If you decide to change your dog’s diet, do so slowly to prevent stomach issues.

In Summary

When it comes to dogs, how they look on the outside can tell you a lot about how they feel on the inside. While there is plenty of focus on how their fur looks and how soft it is (or isn’t), the answers to those questions can also indicate how healthy your pet is. What else can dog fur tell us, and what can be done with that information? 

If you notice any issues or changes with your dog’s fur, always make a trip to the veterinarian to rule out any major problems. Try WINPRO Allergy supplements to help manage itching and keep your pet looking and feeling his or her best!

Keeping your dog healthy both inside and out is one of our most important goals at WINPRO Pet, and we want you to have all the info and tools at your disposal to be able to live a long, happy life alongside your furry family member. Now take that pup for a nice, long walk. 



Just Add Water! 16 Breeds That Are Born to Swim | American Kennel Club

Ringworm in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital

Why Do Wet Dogs Smell So Bad? | American Kennel Club 

Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines in Dogs | Merck

Signs Your Dog is Stressed and How to Relieve It | VCA Animal Hospital

Small Animal Ear Diseases | Science Direct

Ear Infections and Otitis Externa in Dogs | Merck

Disorders of the Outer Ear in Dogs | Merck

My Dog Has Dry Skin and Dandruff | American Kennel Club

10 Most Common Skin Problems in Dogs | Animal Trust

How to Groom a Dog at Home | American Kennel Club