How a Dog’s Skin and Coat Work to Protect


Dogs seem to be able to withstand several conditions that would make humans cringe. Their skin and coats are formed to protect. This protection extends to weather and attacks from other animals. Having ancestors that lived outdoors, modern dogs still retain traits passed down for generations. To understand how a dog’s protective layer works, we need to look into the biology of this amazing creature.

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Have you ever noticed that it often feels like your dog is dry almost immediately after you get him wet for a bath. Their coat seems to simply repel the water. Like ducks, dogs produce oil to help prepare their fur for wet climates.  While your dog may not ever be stuck out in the rain, rest assured that their coat serves as a protector from the water.

The famous dog shake is an engineering miracle accomplished by nature.  Studies have shown that a dog can remove about seventy percent of accumulated moisture from their coats in four seconds or less. The reason for this lies in all that loose skin. As the dog initiates the famous shake using their backbone, the skin soon takes over and does the rest. The skin is found to move 3 times faster than the dog’s back bone, exerting extreme force on the moisture within. This is the part where your dog shakes water all over you.

Insulation 

The skin and coat work a double job when it comes to insulation. They must keep the dog warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Your dog may begin to resemble a small bear in the winter as their undercoat thickens up in preparation for the winter months. Their thick skin also helps to insulate them.

Guard hairs are the base coat of your dog’s fur. They stay put even in the summer to help protect against sunburn and excessive heat. Get ready to sweep your floors when warmer weather arrives. The undercoat sheds when it is not needed anymore.

A Barrier 

All dogs have skin that seems to move around when you pet them. This loose skin feature is meant to act as a barrier between dangerous attacks and the dog’s vital organs. This skin is also much thicker than that found on humans.  Some dogs, such as bull dogs, have much more extra skin than others. When a dog is exposed to a bite from another dog or other animal, the injury is often limited to this outer layer of skin.  This genetic feature has stood the test of time, stemming from the wild ancestors of domesticated animals.

Your dog has a built in protection system from the outdoors and predators. While your dog may not seem all that sturdy as he snoozes on your couch, he is prepared to deal with some pretty harsh conditions. Blame the genetics next time your dog gives you a shower with a good after bath shake. That shedding is unlikely to end anytime soon, either. Take a moment to marvel at how nature protects the animals of this planet.

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About Eva Willis

Eva is not your average stay at home mom. She has a master’s degree in biochemistry and has a wealth of experience in anthropology. When she had her twins, she decided to put her career on hold, and has never regretted it for a minute. Her boys, now four years old, are her pride, and joy. To put her many talents to good use, Eva often does quite a bit of writing online. She has learned the art of making science come alive and breaking up big topics into to bite-sized pieces. Watching her boys grow up is one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. She is eagerly looking forward to teaching them about the beautiful world around us, but until they are old enough to understand, she is thrilled to share her wealth of knowledge online.

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