A dogs whiskers are so fine they almost look like they don’t have any purpose. So if they don’t serve a purpose, they don’t need them right? If this is the case, can you cut dog’s whiskers and if not why?
Well as it turns out, a dog’s whiskers are important but that doesn’t mean the end of the world if you cut them by accident.
In this post I’ll explain what a dog’s whiskers do, why they’re important and whether or not you should deliberately cut them.
Table of Contents
- What Are Dog Whiskers?
- Why Are a Dog’s Whiskers Important?
- Can You Cut Dogs’ Whiskers?
- Do Dog’s Whiskers Grow Back?
- Related Posts
What Are Dog Whiskers?
Well this may be over-explaining since you’re here to find out whether you can cut a dog’s whiskers. However, for completeness I’ll give a brief summary of what they are.
Whiskers are the hairs on a dog’s chin, muzzle, cheeks and around the eyes. They’re not fur since they’re stiffer, more coarse and longer than fur hair and they tend to protrude outwards rather than lying flat against the body.
Whiskers can vary in length and regularity on dogs and they sometimes appear to be sporadic and purposeless.
However, dog whiskers provide a range of useful functions even if they seem randomly placed.
Why Are a Dog’s Whiskers Important?
As I’ve referenced, whiskers are different from other hairs on a dog’s body. Like all animals that have them, dog whiskers actually serve a variety of important and useful functions.
Firstly, unlike fur, whiskers have roots that lie deeper in the skin. Additionally, the follicles around whiskers contain many more nerves and blood vessels than other hairs.
This leads me on to explain why whiskers are important for dogs. I mentioned earlier that whiskers appear in four locations on a dogs face:
- Around the eyes
The whiskers under a dog’s chin are called “interramal tufts”. These are designed to help it understand if there are things beneath its head.
So for example, interramal tufts are useful when a dog is swimming as they tell it where the water level is so they can keep their heads above it.
Furthermore, interramal tufts enable dogs to keep their noses close to the ground when following a scent, without putting their muzzles into the dirt. They’re particularly helpful in low light where visibility is poor as they enable dogs to keep their noses at an optimal distance from the ground for sniffing.
Whiskers around a dog’s muzzle are called “mystacial whiskers”. Traditionally this is what people imagine when they think of whiskers as they’re long and they protrude on both sides of a dog’s muzzle.
Life interramal whiskers, mystacial whiskers also provide dogs with information about their environment. But whereas chin whiskers tell dogs what’s beneath their head, the whiskers on the muzzle are useful for dogs when they forage, especially if they’re sticking their heads into small spaces such as holes.
Additionally, a dog’s mystacial whiskers indicate when something is within biting distance in situations where either they need to protect themselves in a fight with another creature or are snaffling for their quarry.
The whiskers on a dog’s cheek are known as “genal whiskers” and they help avoid getting stuck in places likely to cause it harm, such as holes where something it’s hunting has entered.
Not only this, but genal whiskers likely help dogs to avoid bumps to the head since they’ll indicate the vicinity of objects to their heads.
The last type of whiskers a dog has are “supraorbital whiskers”. These are located above the eyes and have two purposes.
Firstly, supraorbital whiskers help a dog with spatial awareness as with all whiskers. Secondly, they are designed to protect a dog’s eyes from potential hazards. They provide early warning in advance if something is moving towards their eyes and triggers a dog to either move or close its eyes momentarily to protect them.
Dogs Use Their Whiskers to Communicate
Finally, dogs use their whiskers to provide visual clues to how they’re feeling. For example, if dogs feel fearful or threatened, they can point the whiskers on their muzzle (mystacial) forward somewhat and flare them. This is a defensive mechanism designed to let other dogs know they could be in for a fight if they’re not careful!
Can You Cut Dogs’ Whiskers?
Hopefully you can see how important a dog’s whiskers really are, so the answer to this should be pretty straightforward.
Although a dog can survive without whiskers their daily lives without them are hampered. So while if you cut a dog’s whiskers by accident it won’t signify the end of the world, you oughtn’t deliberately cut them.
Whiskers play a vital role in how a dog interacts with the world around them. They are important as a tool to inform dogs about the world around them. If you cut a dog’s whiskers you will impact its spatial awareness, meaning they:
- Might bump their noses or heads more frequently
- Lose a tool to help them protect their eyes
- Get their heads stuck in holes or small spaces
- Lose a mechanism for displaying warning signs to other dogs
So although you may feel your dog’s whiskers look untidy or uneven, they are vital instruments for helping it to navigate the world.
Do Dog’s Whiskers Grow Back?
The upshot of all of this is that you should never cut a dog’s whiskers. Of course, if you inadvertently cut a whisker or your dog loses some by accident, try not to worry as they will grow back.
But don’t cut a dog’s whiskers because you feel they need grooming… they don’t!
A dog’s whiskers play an important role in helping dogs understand and interact with the world. They also help to protect a dog and keep them safe.
While cutting a dog’s whiskers won’t hurt them, pulling them out most certainly will.
Sometimes we all make mistakes and you wouldn’t be the first person to cut your dog’s whiskers by accident, but deliberately cutting them should be avoided.
The upshot is, whiskers do grow back so don’t panic if you’ve clipped a few thinking you were contributing to your dog’s visual appeal. Cutting whiskers should not be a part of your regular grooming process, but that doesn’t mean to say your pooch isn’t beautiful… even if it has a few straggly whiskers!
Have you ever cut your dog’s whiskers? Did you notice any undesired effects as a result? Please tell me about it or ask me a question in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
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