• Why can't we take the fur of a fox without killing or skinning it just like the sheep , what's the biological or chemical structure or even the trait which is on a sheep's body that separates wool from its skin
  • Why can't we apply the bioclip technology on furry animals too ?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not knowing anything about the fur trade, I would suspect it is mainly a matter of quantity of fur. Imagine taking only the fur (without the skin) of a fox. What could you want a do with it? The hairs are maybe 1cm long only. You need to take the skin to keep the hair together. With sheep, we are often not interested in the fur as we can process their massive amount of wool. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Nov 9, 2016 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b, see my answer. Quantity isn't a limiting factor, cow fur must be an abundant resource given the number of cows that get slaughtered. Also, sheep only have wool, no fur. $\endgroup$
    – Michael_A
    Nov 9, 2016 at 23:35

2 Answers 2


Fur, wool, and hair are all made of keratins.

To the best of my knowledge wool and fur are separated arbitrarily, based on the properties of the fibres. This arbitrary division allows rabbits to have fur but selective breeding has produced angora rabbits, which have wool. The opposite should be possible, with time you could breed a sheep that has fur.

Length; Wool grows continuously and animals are clipped when the fibres are long. Fur often has a maximum length.

Structure: The structure of the keratin in the wool makes the fibres kinked (crimped). These kinks aid the production of fabrics. I believe the cuticular scales also aid in the production of fabrics.

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Fur doesn't have kinks, so even if it's long enough to weave the fabric is likely to lack durability.

Some furs are used in textiles rather than pelts. Possum fur is 'plucked' and woven into fabrics with wool. The resulting fabric is slightly less durable. However, possum fur is hollow and smooth so possum fur fabrics are very soft and warm. The clothing is very good to to wear.

However, fur is generally inferior to wool for textiles and it took a couple of decades to develop techniques to produce textiles from possum fur. This happened because of odd ecological and economic drivers. Possums are are a major pest species in New Zealand where they contribute to the decline of native birds and insects. Millions of possums are killed every year in New Zealand. The market for possum skins is very small. This is why so much effort was put into producing a fabric from possum fur.

So you could shear a fox and produce a fabric but the fabric would likely be poor and there's no reason to do so.


Sheep wool is like cutting long curly human hairs: they stick together due to the length and curliness.

For foxes, chita, rabbit, lions, etc, the hair are really short and parallel: it's like cutting your eyebrows: they won't stick together. That why you (used to) find them as carpet, kept with the skin.

  • $\begingroup$ @user27247 It does not seem very strategic to chose an answer that has received two down votes (and one up vote) and lack any sort of reference while Michael_A's answer has received 7 up votes and is much more complete. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Nov 20, 2016 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ May you allow the OP to make his own choice, without "politics" or "strategy" considerations, about what is the answer he found clear ? I'm scientist, but I also do science popularization. I agree Michael_A's answer is detailed and very interesting... for readers having some scientific background. More importantly, how interesting it is, it doesn't answer the question (getting the hair without killing or skinning the animal). $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2016 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Fabrice NEYRET I'm not concerned by the OP exercising his/her voting right, even if I think it's a strange call. To be clear, I have answered the final question. Read the final sentence, you could shear a fox and produce a fabric but the fabric would likely be poor and there's no reason to do so. I have even provided, linked, evidence for my answer by giving a specific example where a fur is bioclipped/shorn and used like a wool. $\endgroup$
    – Michael_A
    Nov 25, 2016 at 3:50

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