Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

By Ameera Mills. Updated: May 14, 2019
Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

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All dogs have whiskers, be them short or long. These whiskers are visible on a dog’s snout as rigid and firm textured hair. Some people cut their dogs’ whiskers for aesthetic reasons in an effort to meet certain breed "standards." This is, however, incredibly dangerous and can cause unnecessary damage.

For more about why do dogs have whiskers, do dogs have whiskers and why you SHOULD NOT cut a dog’s whiskers, keep reading here at AnimalWised.

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What are dog whiskers made of?

A dog’s whiskers, also known as vibrissae, function as a type of "sixth sense" for dogs. Canine whiskers are tactile receptors, located under the skin. The follicles at the base of a dog whiskers are vascularized, meaning that they are connected to nerve endings that send sensors to a dog’s brain.

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers? - What are dog whiskers made of?

What are dog whiskers for?

When protruding from the skin, the vibrissae acts as a mechanism similar to a lever. A dog’s vibrissae receives outside stimulus which is sent to the follicle from which it is then transmitted to a dog’s brain, allowing it to decode this signal and generate a response. Thanks to this mechanism, a dog’s whiskers (and vibrissae) fulfill several functions:

  • Canine whiskers help a dog measure distance in the dark. Air currents, perceived by the vibrissae, allow a dog to obtain an idea about space size and object location in relation to the body.
  • The mystacial vibrissae (located above the eye), protect a dog’s eyes from dust and dirt in the air.
  • A dog’s vibrissae perceive air currents, providing information about temperature to a dog’s brain.

Fun fact: a dog’s vibrissae is proportional to its body, thereby informing a dog whether a space is large enough to allow it to pass through.

Do dogs whiskers grow back?

You may be wondering, do dog whiskers fall out? Yes, and it’s normal! It takes a dog’s whiskers a couple of days to grow back. In the same way that a dog molts hair, they lose whiskers. However, if you notice that your dog’s whiskers falling out are accompanied by symptoms such as loss of appetite or any change in behavior, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Can you cut a dog’s whiskers?

Some people suggest removing a dog’s whiskers to improve the appearance of certain dog breeds. However, you should NEVER cut your dog’s whiskers. Trimming your dog’s whiskers too early, before a dog’s natural molting period, leaves the animal defenseless against the outside world through loss of this necessary orientation mechanism.

In addition, trimming your dog’s whiskers can be an incredibly uncomfortable and painful experience for a dog. A dog that has had their whiskers cut or extracted with a clamp will also become distrustful and scared, as their natural senses are forcefully diminished. You should also always be sensitive and take care when touching a dog’s whiskers.

If you’ve just adopted a dog that has had its whiskers cut off you may be wondering, do dog whiskers grow back? Yes they do. Give it time and your dog’s whiskers should grow back.

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers? - Do dogs whiskers grow back?

Dog breeds with long whiskers

Although all dogs have vibrissae present on different parts of the body, some dogs have longer whiskers than others, offering them a peculiar appearance. These dog breeds with long whiskers include:

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers? - Dog breeds with long whiskers

If you want to read similar articles to Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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