Last Updated on September 30, 2021 by Marco
All dogs have whiskers. If you are grooming your dog and trying to make them look a certain way, you may have wondered, can you cut dog’s whiskers?
The answer is NO! Never trim your dog’s whiskers. Read on to learn why.
What Are A Dog’s Whiskers For?
Dogs have whiskers for a reason. Whiskers act as a visual aid to a dog. If you cut a dog’s whiskers they will not feel it. But the whiskers are there to help your dog with its spatial awareness. If you cut their whiskers then they may have trouble navigating their world, be it at home, in the yard, or at the dog park.
But My Groomer Wants To Cut My Dog’s Whiskers!
Some groomers may trim the whiskers of a show dog to make them look ‘neat’; dog whiskers do not grow in nice and neat rows, unlike a cat’s whiskers. Don’t allow it!
Read more about: The Furminator and Your Dog’s Coat- Furminator Ruined My Dog’s Coat!
Dog Whiskers And Sensation
Dog whiskers, whilst having no sense receptors of their own, are still considered part of a dog’s sensory system, Dog whiskers are wiry, and the proper name for them is ‘vibrissae’. This word is taken from the Latin for ‘vibrate’ – ‘vibrio’.
Whiskers are different from the fur on the rest of a dog’s body. For one, they are a little stiffer. Secondly, whiskers are deeply rooted. So never pluck them out because this can hurt your dog!
At the base of each whisker, your dog has neurons that are touch-sensitive. This means that if you touch them then it will create a neural response in your dog.
A Dog’s Whiskers Offers Protection
When your dog is out doing its doggy business, if something (for example, a bug) collides with their whiskers then your dog will instinctively turn their head away or blink their eyes.
If you cut a dog’s whiskers off, then they lose this protective feature that helps them to avoid injury from external factors.
So even though you may be tempted to trim or cut your dog’s whiskers for the sake of making them look neat, don’t do it – you will make life harder for your dog than it has to be.
Oh No! I Cut My Dog’s Whiskers. What Now?
The actual cutting or trimming of the whiskers will feel uncomfortable and even stressful to your dog.
Afterwards, they may be more accident-prone, so you will have to watch them more closely so that they don’t hurt themselves by bumping into things, etc.
Dogs naturally shed their whiskers, just as they shed their fur. So if you see the odd dog whisker lying on the carpet, it is nothing to worry about. This would also suggest that dog whiskers do grow back! It is thought that dog whiskers grow back at the same rate as their fur, so they should be back in a few months (depending on their breed type.)
Amazing Dog Whisker Facts
- Dogs that have had their whiskers trimmed move more slowly in dim light.
- Dog whiskers can register changes in the air current.
- An example of this is when a dog gets close to an object, the air current bouncing off it bends their whiskers ever so slightly. This sends a message to the dog’s brain to move away from the object if they have not already seen it.
- Dog whiskers communicate their emotions. Whiskers in a neutral position suggest the dog is relaxed. If the whiskers are swept back and close to the cheeks, this may indicate that the dog is scared. And when a dog’s whiskers are in a forward position, the dog may be angry or alert.
Where Do A Dog’s Grow Whiskers?
Dogs have whiskers on their upper lip/muzzle, on their chin, and even on their ‘eyebrow’ area. They commonly get the occasional whisker sticking out of the sides of their face too.
What Animals Other Than Dogs Have Whiskers?
Whiskers are quite common in mammalian species.
The animal that we most associate with whiskers is the humble cat. It is thought that cats use their whiskers to measure the width of an opening to see if they will fit through it; the whiskers of a cat are meant to be of equal width to their body. So the fatter the cat, the longer the whiskers!
The world record for the longest cat whiskers belongs to a Maine Coon called Missi, who lives in Finland. Her whiskers measured an incredible 19 centimeters long!
Yep, these big beautiful animals have whiskers too. Especially on their chins! Foals are born with almost a full beard. This helps newborns find their mother’s teats so that they can take their first big drink of milk.
Again, horse whiskers have a sensory function which help them find food. Horses forage their food off the ground, so their beard whiskers will detect the food before their eyes can see it.
We are all familiar with the image of a mouse or rat paused, sniffing the air, their whiskers twitching. This is a common scene in movies when there is a cat afoot!
Rodent whiskers grow in a grid formation, and they are superior to dog and cat whiskers in that a rat or mouse can actually move their whiskers about to map out their surroundings. Amazing!
Pinniped species include seals, walruses, and sea lions. These beautiful sea creatures are referred to in the science community as ‘opportunistic feeders’, and they use their whiskers to detect the movement of fish in the water current.
Again, like the other animals discussed in this article, pinniped whiskers not only provide assistance with food-finding, they also help the animal navigate their environment in the dark.
The Take-Away Message About Trimming Or Cutting A Dog’s Whiskers:
If you are considering trimming or cutting your dog’s whiskers, stop and put down the scissors!
Your dog needs its whiskers to help it get through life uninjured, and cutting them not only disables them somewhat it also feels uncomfortable to them having it done.
If your dog goes to a groomer, next time be sure you tell them to leave those precious whiskers alone!