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Are Dog Whiskers Important? Common Functions of Dog Whiskers

Yes. Dog whiskers are very important for dogs. You must never cut them or try to pull them, as this can have various drawbacks for your dog. Dog whiskers perform many functions for your dog and help them navigate daily life and manage different situations.

Key Takeaways

Dog whiskers are specifically tuned and optimized sensory equipment that helps a dog navigate daily activities.

Dogs have 4 types of whiskers, and each helps your dog perform specific tasks. Cutting your dog’s whiskers can affect your dog’s senses and confuse him.

Dog whiskers may fall due to poor diet, health issues, or old age.

and help them navigate daily life and manage different situations.

What are Dog Whiskers?

Whiskers are specifically tuned and optimized sensory equipment that guides a dog in daily activities. Whiskers erupt from hair follicles like other hair, but they are coarser and thicker than regular hair on a dog’s body. Whiskers have three times deeper roots than other hair and are only found above the eyes, chin, and upper lip.

The number and location of whiskers vary from breed to breed, but they are usually found in these areas. Dog whiskers are completely different from human whiskers. Human whiskers don’t have any sensory function. Moreover, dogs of all ages have whiskers and don’t need to read puberty to grow whiskers.

whiskers and don't need to read puberty to grow whiskers.

The base of whiskers is loaded with thousands of blood vessels that act as sensory tools for dogs. Whiskers are compared to a human’s fingertips. The things you do with your fingers; dogs use their whiskers for the same tasks.

Whiskers are also called tactile hairs or vibrissae. They don’t feel anything but transmit information to sensory cells that help dogs detect different things in different situations. Dog’s whiskers differ entirely from the hair on other parts of your dog’s body.

Dog Whiskers Anatomy

Dogs have 4 types of whiskers. This is common in most breeds. However, the length and number of whiskers may vary from one breed to another.

  • Genal Whiskers: Cheek whiskers; help your dog in peripheral vision.
  • Mystacial Whiskers: Located on the dog’s upper lip, the most powerful and highly working whiskers help in almost all situations.
  • Supraorbital Whiskers: Eyebrow whiskers; just above your dog’s eyes and help in vision.
  • Interramal Tufts: Below the chin whiskers, help your dog sense things under his face.

help your dog sense things under his face.

Common Functions of Dog Whiskers

Radar Sensors

Dog whiskers are nothing less than a sophisticated high-end radar system. This radar system helps dogs compensate for their weak vision of nearby objects. Whiskers help dogs analyze nearby objects by continuously sending information to the brain.

When a dog approaches something nearby, he stirs up air currents that hit nearby objects and bounce back. Like a radar system, whiskers detect these vibrations, and the canine brain orders the dog to change his path or act accordingly.

Wild dogs use their whiskers to stay away from prey, dangers, enemies, and the guess the location of their pack. Pet dogs use whiskers to locate food, bowls, and toys, preventing them from bumping into walls or falling off stairs.

Communication Tools

Whiskers are used as a communication tool by dogs. They are signs for other dogs and humans and indicate particular emotions that a dog is having. For example, a happy or curious dog will have raised whiskers above the eyes. A scared dog will have muzzle (nose) whiskers directed forward. The whisker’s reaction to certain situations may vary from breed to breed. Hence, it is better to understand your breed before judging what your dog is thinking.

it is better to understand your breed before judging what your dog is thinking.

Protective Tools

What happens when a fly sits on you while you are sleeping? You shake it off. The same is true for whiskers. Whiskers respond immediately when touched by any particle. For example, if dust or debris falls on your dog’s eyes, he will shake his head or blink to get rid of the dust particles. It protects your pet’s eyes.

Whiskers help your dog avoid tall and sharp grass blades or thorny brushes. They also help him avoid getting stuck in narrow or potentially dangerous places, such as furniture in the living room or maneuvering in the wild.

What Happens when you cut off a Dog’s Whiskers? Can I cut my Dog’s Whiskers?

You must never cut your dog’s whiskers. Be careful when showering or grooming your dog’s hair. Cutting a dog’s whiskers may affect your dog’s senses and confuse him in reacting to different situations.

It can also lead to behavioral issues such as excessive barking, whining, crying, or losing appetite. Some dogs become less playful when you cut their whiskers. It may also affect your dog’s ability to judge the proximity of different things, making your dog confused and prone to accidents or injury.

Many groomers cut dog whiskers for aesthetic purposes because a dog’s whiskers grow sporadically compared to a cat’s whiskers, which are neatly aligned.

Do Dog Whiskers grow back?

Yes. Dog whiskers grow back, but the time they take to grow depends on the breed and how much the whiskers are cut. The time until whiskers fully grow back may be characterized by confusion and behavioral issues for your dog.

Don’t panic if your groomer has cut your dog’s whiskers. They’ll gradually grow back. Ask your groomer not to cut a dog’s whiskers unless someone asks them. Sometimes a vet may recommend cutting your dog’s whisker for medical purposes.

Do Dog Whiskers Fall Out?

Dog whiskers do fall like other hair on the body. Broken, damaged, and brittle whiskers are signs of aging, poor nutrition, or underlying medical conditions like stress, hormonal imbalance, and skin problems. Some dental problems may also lead to whisker shedding.

Some dental problems may also lead to whisker shedding.

How to Protect a Dog’s Whiskers?

Whiskers are very important for your dog. You must touch them softly along with the grain. Do not try to pull or pluck the whiskers, as it can hurt your dog and impair your pooch’s ability to navigate different situations.

Your dog may react aggressively to his whiskers being pulled or petted vigorously. Many kids pull the whiskers for fun without knowing their furry friend can harm them. Hence, teaching your kids not to mess with your dog’s whiskers is important.

If your pet shows signs of pain around the whiskers, take them to a vet immediately to diagnose them and rule out any medical problems. Moreover, if you notice rapid whisker shedding, take your dog to a vet.

What are the Sings of Whisker Pain in Dogs?

  • Dogs will not let you touch their whiskers and whimper away even at a soft touch.
  • Some dogs may start barking, growling, or yelping when their whiskers are touched.
  • You may see swelling at the whiskers’ base if something is wrong.
  • Some dogs may carry their tail low if they have pain in their whiskers.
  • You may see twitching whiskers.
  • Dogs with hurting whiskers may paw at their face, shy away from you by hiding their face or pull away.
  • They may give up their appetite and reject playing or going out.

give up their appetite and reject playing or going out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all dogs have whiskers?

Yes. All dogs have whiskers. Most mammals have whiskers for different functions. Humans also have whiskers, but they don’t have the same function as dogs or cats.

What are dog whiskers made of?

Whiskers are quite different from normal hair. They are curved, tapered, and thread-like strands made from keratin. Keratin also makes hair, skin, and nails. Whiskers grow out of different follicles than regular hair. These follicles are situated much deeper than regular hair follicles. Whiskers are also long, rigid, and have more nerves than regular hair.

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