Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Bertie's furs experiment: the results

You may remember that after I was wounded back in September, Gail and I spotted an opportunity for an interesting scientific experiment.

You see, prior to being stitched back together, my shoulder was shaved leaving a 4"x 4" bald patch, part of which encroached on my much admired black 'saddle'.

When us wire-haired fox terriers are puppies, our dark patches are as black as coal. It is commonly held that this distinctive colour contrast can only be maintained through hand-stripping of the coat. Any use of clippers or scissors will, so the theory goes, result in the black fading to grey. Which of course is fine too.

But is the theory correct?

Well until September, I sported a 'virgin' black saddle, untouched by any form of sharp cutting implement. So what would happen to the colour of the shaved patch, as the months passed?

The data from the experiment are shown below:

26 September 2014
5 October 2014
19 October 2014
9 November 2014
23 November 2014
28 December 2014

Well, you will have noticed that the furs grew back just the same shade as the rest of the never-shaven saddle area.

Now here I must explain that Gail and I had a little disagreement about reporting these results.

She suggested that, since we had not proved the 'fading to grey' hypothesis, it was maybe not worth writing up the experiment.

Imagine that. I think she was forgetting what science is all about. Real science is not about proving one's pet theory, it is a search for the evidence-based truth!

I was not about to compromise my scientific integrity by suppressing important if inconvenient data. We rightly criticise drug companies for doing just that. Blogville deserves better from its best Bouncing Boffin!

What now? Gail is suggesting I dismount from my high horse and stop being so melodramatic. As if!

To be strictly honest, I will concede that the statistical significance of the experimental result is questionable, given the n=1 sample size.

Notwithstanding this minor issue, please tell me you found the results of my experiment both useful and interesting.


  1. It are interestin, dat are sure. But since I don't have black furs and it might encourage da dreaded fur-trimmins (of which I has only heard about and never experienced) I'm not sure bout useful. Steaks are useful, science, maybe not so much all da time. Unless it are da science of a properly-grilled steak.

  2. Even though the test sample was a tad bit small, you still had a 100% result!

    Maybe you 'd better set Jake on a few more WFTs.....

  3. Dat are real interestin', Bertie.

    Useful fur me? Nope... cuz I's lost so much furs due to my allergeez on my backs dat either strippin dat area or clippin it are a moot point, so to say... Though after da vet shaved me in a coupla spots to take a small sample of my skin, da furs didn't grow back at all!

    Now whut da tells ya, I ain't got no ideer at all. 'Cept to avoid da vetman, da groomer or anyone else wiff dose clipper things comin' at ya. Since science ain't fixed my itchies, I don't thinks it are very useful at all.

    I agree wiff Whitley... steaks is useful, barbeque is useful... science???

    Not so much.

  4. Doggy God Son!

    Useful and informative and interesting! SCIENCE! You are the best scientist bouncer in Blogville.

    And we also really love seeing how good that scar looks before your furs covered it up. Nice healing there.

    Must share this post with Dachshund Daddy, too.


    Much love,
    Toots and her mom

  5. Hari OM
    Bertie lad, you absolutely, definitely, unquestionably were correct in encouraging Gail to release the results. Very interesting - as to useful? There may be a requirement for further researches to determine that...which brings us back to the n=1 initial sampling. How dedicated to your science ARE you exactly? Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  6. Where I have black furs I also have black skin, where I have white furs I have pink skin. So....why don't I get pink furs ?
    I think this fur colour thingy is very, very interesting Bertie and more research (without any pup being harmed of course) is required! Oh, and without any trip to the fursnatchers either. Mmmm, this could prove very much more difficult than I first imagined!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  7. Well, Bertie, this is very useful indeed. My Angel Angus the Airedale was hand stripped for his first year, but was subjected to clipping after that. His saddle remained intact and grooming sessions were significantly less stressful. So there you go.

    Mango Momma

  8. the most important finding we think is that it did indeed grow back in it's normal wonderful way :)

  9. Well Bertie, you look great. You tried to make the best of a bad situation and learn something.
    Now on to barbeque science.

  10. We agree that seeking the truth is always the best in all things, including science and steaks. The truth of the latter being we don't get enough steak.
    Bonnie and Kenzie

  11. That was a very cool experiment and you are a brave doggie, self-experiments are the champions league of all academic research. Guess what? I still have dark marks on my fur where the devil-dog bit in my ham. My mom said I only have to take a bath, she is such a mean pawson...
    Easy Rider

  12. What an interesting experiment. Despite the disagreement, we think it was a good way to observe and we are just glad it did grow back and you're all better!

  13. Wow...we do think that this is interesting! OH, and very beneficial knowledge too!!
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

  14. Quite interesting Bertie. We know you are always right. Will my furs grow back black? White? Polka dotted?
    Lily (& Edward)

  15. WE think it was a VERY MUCH interesting result... we think that SHE was just being Green with Jellyness about the ensuing results, which is SO Peeplike.
    SHE should know that YOU are always RIGHT.

  16. Yes, it is a similar thing that is told to young girls that if they shave their legs the hair will grow back darker. OK, maybe the same thingie only opposite.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  17. Bertie,
    Yes I found this experiment to be worthy or tracking the growth and documentation. Scientifically it was 'spot on' no pun intended. HOWEVER, I, Madi(son) D. Cat, could have saved you and Gail months of experimentation. Being a superb, top of the line best in show WFT, I would never have doubted that your furs would return to their brilliant black and possibly even wavy more glisten than before Sept.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Madi your bfff and Mom who says to thank you and Gail for your birthday wishes.

  18. Crikey Bertie ...... I don't know about the science bit, mate, but I still found it interestin'. What I'm worried about, for you, though is this ..... is Gail still hand stripping your saddle where that scar is? Don't know about you mate but my scar, although healed, is a bit tender. I sure wouldn't like anyone pulling my hairs out, one by one, around it. Mum ALWAYS handstripped our Lucy. Her saddle maintained it's colour well. She knows several WFT's that have been shaved and they did go a much lighter colour. However I think it takes more than just one clipping for this to happen. So getting back to science you'll have to keep cutting that bit and hand strip the rest to prove anything, aye??

    1. Gail says: I suspect you have hit the nail on the head, that it is the repeat clipping that makes the difference. We will not be conducting that particular experiment, but will treat the scar area with care. (I personally have a large scar down my inner thigh, from an operation in 1992, and it is still very tender).

  19. Wow, Bertie, that is totally fascinating and it was fun watching your saddle grow back! My peeps sometimes threaten to shave me bald when I shed all over the floor. BOL I don't think they care what color it makes me. :o
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, Police Commish

  20. I think it was fascinating, you spend so many months to disprove a hypothesis...Ok gonna go that overload my littel brain

    Da Sus

  21. Howdy Bertie, we don't have any scientific brains between us but liked seeing the photos of your fur growing back and staying the original colour. We thought it would. Rory has had some fur rubbed off by his boots and now that fur has grown back white. We don't know why. Also for some reason mum's hair seems to change colour on a regular basis but she won't tell us how or why. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  22. Hahahaha - great experiment! I like hearing results even if they aren't what you expected. :)

  23. This is VERY interesting, Bertie! Of course, the experiment would have to be repeated with a larger sample size to be conclusive, but it's still interesting data.

  24. Dachshund Daddy here, offering an unbiased PEEr review.

    In spite of the reduced sample size, the experimental evidence contained in this post appears to indicate that the 'fading to grey' theory is merely somebody's pet theory.

    Given the nature of the event that enabled the collection of the empirical evidence, this reviewer would strongly discourage the authors from engaging in FURther experimental work in this space.

    For the journal version, this reviewer strongly recommends a proper contextualization of their scientific contribution with respect to the related literature.

    1. Many thanks, DD, for the unbiased (and unsolicited!) peer review and advice. I shall set to work on a 'proper contextualisation' right away...

  25. Interesting. I always heard it grew back with the wrong texture - but that's only what I've heard from Jack Russell folks. Totally different fuzz, I bet.

    Monty and Harlow

  26. Replies
    1. Hurrah! My comments seem to be disappearing, Blogger doesnt seem to like my WordPress account sonetimes. And I've been so witty too!

      So Bertie, does this mean Gail will be getting the shears out now, since you've sort of prooved it'll grow back black?