Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers? Do They Need Them? Can You Cut Or Trim Them?

Closeup of dog's whiskers (caption: Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?)

Have you ever taken your dog to the groomer and then noticed that his whiskers are gone? Your dog probably feels a bit disoriented afterward. They’re more important than the hair that humans grow on their faces. What do dog whiskers do, and why should you never remove them? Read on to learn what dog whiskers are for and what happens if they’re gone.

Do All Dogs Have Whiskers?

Yes, all dogs have whiskers. In fact, most mammals have whiskers except for humans. Well, humans do have whiskers, but they aren’t the same type that other mammals have. The technical term for whiskers is vibrissa1, and they are more important than the hair that humans grow on our faces.

Do Whiskers Only Grow On My Dog’s Snout?

Beagle sniffing dirt and grassYou might be surprised to learn that whiskers grow on other parts of dogs’ faces and bodies, including their chin and eyes. The whiskers above the eyes help protect foreign objects from getting into their eyes.

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

Do dogs need whiskers the same way that cats do? Yes, they are very similar to the whiskers found on cats, rats, bears, and seals. Whiskers help a dog feel his way throughout the world.

Whiskers are sophisticated hairs that are different from the hairs elsewhere on a dog’s body because each whisker’s base has a high concentration of touch-sensitive neurons. When the whiskers are touched, it sends a signal to the neurons that serve as a warning device that something is near the dog’s face. This signal helps keep a dog from running into objects and walls. 

Can You Cut Dog Whiskers?

Dog being groomed (caption: How To Groom Dogs)Technically, you can trim a dog’s whiskers because scissors can slice through them easily, but you SHOULD NOT cut your dog’s whiskers off. Some groomers and pet owners are unaware of the importance of whiskers and cut them off for aesthetic reasons. Show dog owners often have their whiskers removed because it is thought to give the head a “cleaner” look. However, do not do this. Learn more about how to groom a dog properly.

What Happens if You Cut a Dog’s Whiskers?

If your dog’s whiskers get cut off, it can interfere with his ability to navigate his surroundings. Your dog may run into more items and thus possibly be more susceptible to getting injured. The removal of a dog’s whiskers can be uncomfortable and stressful for your dog.

Do Dogs Whiskers Grow Back If Cut?

Yes, dog whiskers can grow back if they are cut or if they fall out. The hair growth rate varies, and there is no exact timeline.

Don’t Pull Out Your Dog’s Whiskers

Do not pull a dog’s whiskers out. Some dogs may like having their whiskers tugged on a little, like a massage. Why are whiskers so much harder and more rigid than other hairs? AnimalWised talks about the whiskers of dogs and explains their various useful functions in this video.

Do Dogs Have Eyebrows Too?

Yes, dogs do have eyebrows. However, some dogs’ eyebrows stand out more than others because they are bushier or a different color from the surrounding fur on their faces. Learn more fun facts about dogs: do dogs have belly buttons? and why do dogs’ noses get wet?.

Has your dog ever been disoriented due to missing whiskers?

Sources: [1] Merriam-Webster