While our puppy’s face is cute and cuddly, most of his features aren’t just for looks. They serve an important purpose by helping dogs react and respond to the world around them. His whiskers, in fact, are one of those features that aid in his ability to survive and thrive.
However, you may have wondered at one point or another, “Can I cut my dog’s whiskers?” While whiskers add to his charm, if they become extremely long, you may be tempted to ask if the groomer can trim them as part of Fido’s summer hairdo.
While doing so may make your furry friend’s face appear more clean-cut, it can severely disrupt his ability to accurately feel and make sense of his environment.
What Are Whiskers?
Whiskers are those long, thick, coarse hairs that protrude from a dog’s face – typically around his chin, muzzle and above the eyes. According to the VCA Animal Hospital, the follicles from which they emerge contain blood vessels and nerves, which make them sensitive to the touch – similar to a human’s fingertips.
In fact, the sensitivity of his whiskers act as an information-gathering tool that aid in his spatial awareness, emotional responses and promote his protection.
Why Does My Dog Have Whiskers?
Whiskers, among other things, serve three distinct purposes: as sensors that help identify close objects and help his spatial awareness, as indicators of a dog’s emotional state, and as a means of protecting your pooch’s face.
Whiskers Act as Sensors
While his hearing and sense of smell are stellar, your dog’s eyesight is subpar at focusing on objects close to his face. The sensitivity of his whiskers helps him identify when things are approaching.
Moreover, they act as “feelers” so Fido can find his toys at night when it’s dark. Moving air that bounces off his whiskers even allow him to detect when objects are heading for him before they make it there, and they allow him to determine the size and shape of the object as well.
Whiskers Relay Your Pup’s Emotions
Apart from the practicality of these sensors, they also alert us and other dogs when Fido feels threatened.
When your pooch is relaxed, his whiskers are also in a relaxed, laid back position. However, if he senses impending danger, his whiskers will angle forward in the direction of the threat. This usually occurs simultaneously with other changes in body language, so approaching dogs will know your dog feels threatened and is on the defense.
Whiskers Protect Our Pups
Did you know whiskers help our canine companions determine if they can fit through small spaces? In addition to saving pup from getting stuck in unwanted locations, they also protect debris from entering your pooch’s eyes.
Even the tiniest piece of dust floating through the air that lands on your fur baby’s whisker will send a signal that something is close to his eyes, and he will shake it off to keep his eyes safe.
Can I Cut My Dog’s Whiskers?
Cutting or trimming your dog’s whiskers is never recommended. While it may be tempting if they appear long and unruly, they are necessary for sustaining your pet’s ability to successfully navigate his environment healthfully and happily.
If they were trimmed during your pet’s last trip to the groomers, don’t panic. Whiskers do grow back, but just be sure to let the groomer know next time to avoid trimming those long, lustrous hairs.
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