Mammals with reduced amounts of fur are often called "naked", as in The Naked Ape, naked mole rat, and naked dogs. An animal with commercially valuable fur is known within the fur industry as a furbearer. (See fur clothing).
The acquisition and use of fur is controversial. Animal welfare advocates object to the trapping and killing of wildlife, and the confinement and killing of animals on fur farms. More than 40 million animals are killed worldwide each year for their fur, 30 million of them on fur farms.
Nature of fur
Fur usually consists of two main layers:
- Ground hair or underfur — the bottom layer consisting of wool hairs which tend to be shorter, flattened, curly, and denser than the top layer.
- Guard hair — the top layer consisting of longer straight shafts of hair that stick out through the underfur. This is usually the visible layer for most mammals and contains most of the pigmentation.
Use in clothing
In clothing, fur is basically leather with the hair retained for its insulating properties. Such has long served as a source of clothing for humans, especially in colder climates. Modern cultures continue to wear natural fiber fur and fur trim and for many, such natural fibers are preferred alternatives to synthetic clothing from petrochemicals.
Animal furs used in garments and trim may be dyed bright colors or to mimic exotic animal patterns, or shorn down to imitate the feel of a soft velvet fabric. The term "a fur" is often used to refer to a fur coat, wrap, or shawl.
Common animal sources for fur clothing and fur trimmed accessories include fox, rabbit, mink, beavers, ermine, otters, sable, seals, cats, dogs, coyotes, and chinchilla. The import and sale of seal products was banned in the US in 1972 over conservation concerns about Canadian seals. While there is no market in the US for products produced by incorporating utilization into feral animal control programs, the import, export and sales of domesticated cat and dog fur was banned in the U.S. under the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000.
The manufacturing of fur clothing involves obtaining animal pelts where the hair is left on the animal's processed skin. In contrast, leather made from involves removing the hair from the hide or pelt and using only the leather. The use of wool involves shearing the animal's hair from the living animal, so that the wool can be regrown but sheepskin shearling is a fur made by retaining the fleece to the leather and shearing it. Shearling is used for boots, jackets and coats and is probably the most common fur worn.
Fur is also used to make felt. A common felt is made from beaver hair and is used in high-end cowboy hats.
Fake fur or "faux fur" designates any synthetic material that mimics the appearance and feel of real fur, without the use of animal products. It is not renewable or biodegradable, and there are mounting concerns about its ecological footprint. Plastic Bags on Our Backs
Animal welfare advocates object to the trapping and killing of wildlife, and the confinement and killing of animals on fur farms. More than 40 million animals are killed worldwide each year for their fur.
The soft, warm texture of fur appeals to many people; for some, the attraction becomes a fur fetishism, a fetishistic attraction to people wearing fur, or in certain cases, to the fur garments themselves.