Dog whiskers can often be one of the cutest parts of a dog’s face, and they’re definitely one of the most distinctive. Many dog owners, at some point or another, wonder about their dog’s whiskers, especially when it’s time for a haircut and they’re wondering if their whiskers need a trim. But just what are they, and why do dogs have them in the first place? Read on to learn about the importance of dog whiskers.
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What Are Dog Whiskers Exactly?
Dog whiskers aren’t even actually whiskers at all, but rather things that are called “vibrissae”, a word that comes from the Latin word “vibrio”, which means “to vibrate”. Of course, the whiskers don’t just vibrate on the dog’s face all the time, but they will vibrate under certain conditions, and that’s part of their primary function.
Dog whiskers have many different functions, and are highly tuned, extremely sensitive hairs that dogs rely on for a number of sensory functions that help them move throughout their world on a daily basis.
Whiskers are often the first hairs to start growing on a new pup, even before they’ve fully gotten hair or fur on other parts of their body. The whiskers grow on the muzzle, which isn’t exactly the nose but rather, the elongated portion of the face where both the nose and mouth are located. The whiskers grow out of the sides of the muzzle in random patterns that mostly depend on the breed and genetics of the dog. Whiskers can also be found on a dog’s forehead, above their eyes, above their lip, and on their chin. They are much coarser and thicker than the regular hair you’ll find on a dog.
Part of the reason why whiskers are so sensitive is because the roots of them are three times deeper than the roots of other hairs. Each and every one is full of nerves and blood vessels, which also makes them super sensitive to the slightest movement, such as a small breeze or someone just walking past them. To gain a better understanding of just how sensitive whiskers are, it might help to know that a dog’s whiskers are often compared to a person’s fingertips.
Should You Cut Your Dog’s Whiskers?
Many dog owners think that it’s okay to cut their dog’s whiskers, and often this is on the advice of a groomer. However, this should never, ever be done, not even if it’s just a trim. Whiskers will naturally fall out every now and then, but that doesn’t mean that they should be interfered with in any way, including pulling them out or cutting them. Your dog need whiskers for protection and to help them move through life on a daily basis, and so removing them in any way will take away some of this support and protection. In addition to that, whiskers are so sensitive and packed with so many nerve endings that pulling them out or cutting them could be very painful to your dog.
The importance of dog whiskers is something that should never be understated. Your dog needs these for so many of their daily functions and they should never, ever be tampered with by humans.
Kate Elliott has been a freelance content writer for the past 8 years, and has written creatively her entire life. In addition to her online work, she has written a fiction novel, as well as had poetry published in the “Songs of the Heart” collection. A lover of animals since she was young, she’s also always had a dog by her side. Currently her best friend is a 13-year-old German Shepherd named Chewy.