As someone with both a dog and a cat, I have to admit that I don’t pay as much attention to my dog’s whiskers as I do to my cat’s.
I have to admit that my dog’s wispy whiskers do add a touch of charm to his face.
Over the recent months, I’ve had a number of dog owners ask me if it’s okay for them to cut their dog’s whiskers.
While it may be tempting to give your dog’s whiskers a trim, it’s generally best to leave them be. Your dog’s whiskers serve as an important sensory function to help it navigate and interact with its environment. It is best to respect and preserve these natural tools.
Hold on to those scissors for a moment because we’re about to unravel the mysteries of why dogs have whiskers and if you should cut them.
What Are My Dog’s Whiskers For?
Before you decide to turn your dog whiskers-free, you will need to understand more about the role of its whiskers.
Whiskers aren’t just these things that grow on your dog’s face, they are used as a sensory tool by your dog.
Dog whiskers are also known as vibrissae. Whiskers are coarse hairs that are thicker and stiffer than your dog’s regular fur.
Whiskers are a lot more sensitive than regular hair as each whisker follicle contains many blood vessels and sensory nerves that are continuously sending information to your dog’s brain.
Scientists believe that a dog’s whiskers are as sensitive as our fingertips.
Your dog’s whiskers help it to:
- Gauge distances
- Avoid obstacles
- Detect prey and danger
- Navigate small spaces
- Protect its eyes
There’s a lot going on for your dog’s whiskers rather than just being ‘fur’ on your dog’s face.
Can I Still Cut My Dog’s Whiskers?
Throughout all my years of dog ownership, I never once had the desire or need to cut my dog’s whiskers.
I would strongly advise you to not cut your dog’s whiskers unless it is necessary for the dog’s well-being.
However, it is crucial to approach whisker trimming with caution and consider the potential consequences.
Your Dog Is Undergoing A Procedure
There are some medical surgeries or specific treatments that may require you to trim your dog’s whiskers to ensure clear access and visibility.
This whisker cutting is temporary and necessary for the medical intervention at hand.
You can proceed to trim your dog’s whiskers if you are comfortable doing so but otherwise, it would be best to let the vet do it.
Breed Specific Needs
Dogs with hair coats that grow furnishings on their face routinely have whiskers trimmed or shaved off as part of their regular grooming.
These dogs are not harmed by the process.
Such breeds include:
- Border Collies
- English Sheep Dogs
It isn’t really possible to effectively groom a dog’s face without cutting the whiskers.
You would have to tug on each whisker which would be annoying and painful for your dog.
All that results in is your dog hating its grooming sessions and more headaches for you.
And it’s important to groom around the mouth to avoid gross matting and bacteria build-up.
Have you smelled a dog’s face with long hair that doesn’t get groomed regularly?
It smells pretty gross and very unhygienic for the dog.
There can be times when the groomer accidentally cuts off the dog’s whiskers which can disorient the dog.
This can cause to dog to shake in fear after being groomed at the groomers.
You Have A Show Dog
Dog shows are very popular in America and many dog owners will enter their beautiful show dogs with the hope of taking home the top prize.
The biggest ones are the AKC National Championships and Westminster Dog Show.
In the competitive world of dog shows, some exhibitors resort to trimming their show dogs’ whiskers for that sleek and polished appearance.
The aim is to impress the judges with a flawless presentation.
The difference between the 1st and 2nd prize in this ‘dog eat dog’ competition could boil down to one renegade whisker.
Although whiskers may be removed by handlers in pursuit of a cleaner facial look, their absence doesn’t impact a dog’s performance in the ring.
When Should You Not Cut Your Dog’s Whiskers?
Cutting a dog’s whiskers should be avoided in general but there are specific instances when you should never trim your dog’s whiskers.
Your Dog Has Vision Problems
Sighted dogs do fine with their whiskers shaved or trimmed. However, the lack of whiskers makes a huge difference to blind dogs.
Dogs that can’t see well tend to depend a lot more on their whiskers in such cases.
Whiskers help the dog navigate its environment without getting into trouble. it can gather a large amount of information about its surroundings via its whiskers and keen sense of smell.
You Have A Working Dog
A dog isn’t just a man’s best friend because of its unconditional love but also for its amazing ability to do things that we humanely can’t.
There are certain dog breeds that are used for special work such as:
- Search and rescue
- Detecting contraband and explosives
- Law and military enforcement
These work dogs rely heavily on their whiskers to perform their tasks effectively.
Trimming their whiskers may hinder their ability to fulfill their duties.
To Make Your Dog Look Better
If you don’t have a show dog and only want to cut your dog’s whiskers just to make it look better, please don’t.
You should respect your dog enough to realize that it isn’t some toy or doll for you to make pretty.
It is already perfect the way it is.
Whiskers contribute to a dog’s natural appearance and expression.
Do Dog Whiskers Grow Back?
The good news is that your dog’s whiskers can grow back if they have been cut off.
They have a natural growth cycle, similar to other types of hair. When a whisker is cut or falls out, a new one will eventually grow in its place
The whisker-growing process isn’t fast and can take up to three months for your dog’s whiskers to be fully grown.
Is It Ok To Touch My Dog’s Whiskers?
It is totally fine to touch your dog’s whiskers.
In fact, I do it all the time when my dog is lying next to me.
I’m guessing he likes it too when I stroke my dog’s muzzle as he falls asleep when I do that.
One thing that you should never do it to forcefully pull or yank on your dog’s whiskers.
That can cause a lot of pain and distress to your poor dog.
Can My Dog Survive Without Its Whiskers?
Your dog won’t have any problems surviving without its whiskers as it still has other senses to rely on.
Furthermore, being domesticated dogs, they don’t have to fend for themselves and are well taken of.
However, removing or cutting your dog’s whiskers can have negative consequences for its overall well-being and quality of life.
Your dog doesn’t have arms or hands, their nose sticks out way in front of its body and close vision is poor.
So having its whiskers intact is pretty important for your dog.
Dog Whiskers Vs Cat Whiskers
Not all whiskers are made equal when it comes to our pets. Some animals, like cats, rely on their whiskers a lot more than dogs do.
A cat’s whiskers are longer and more dense than a dog’s.
Cats use their whiskers to hunt for prey and ascertain if a hole is big enough for them to squeeze into.
If you have a cat at home, please do not ever cut its whiskers as that would disorientate the poor cat.