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Main article: Fur

Guard hair is the top layer consisting of longer, generally coarser, nearly straight shafts of hair that protrude through the down hair layer. The distal ends of the guard hairs provide the externally visible layer of the coat of most mammals with well-developed fur. This layer of the coat displays the most marked pigmentation and gloss, including coat patterns adapted to display or camouflage. It is also adapted to shedding water and blocking sunlight, protecting the undercoat and skin from external factors such as rain and ultraviolet radiation. Many animals, such as domestic cats, erect their guard hairs as part of their threat display when agitated.

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