We all love our furry friends, cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and more. And sometimes it’s surprising how little we know about them.
We learn the basics when we get a pet like we know how a cat usually always lands on its feet, we know that some parrots will mimic how we talk, how rodents like to have a wheel or a ball for exercise.
But what about their bodies, their natural defenses that we are somewhat oblivious to?
Animals groomers will sometimes declaw a cat, or give a long-haired pooch an unusual hair cut, or sometimes cut whiskers. And that is what we are here to talk about.
What are a dogs’ whiskers? Why do they have them? Do they need them? Can you cut them? And of course, what happens if you do?
Let’s have a look!
Why do dogs have whiskers?
All dogs have whiskers, on their nose just above their upper lip, on their chin, and on their forehead. If you trim it, it will not hurt your dog make it may render them a bit disorientated.
As a dog’s whiskers are like their sixth sense, they will likely be limited when it comes to play time or hunting. You may also find that they may be a bit dazed around the house. Expect some bumping into tables and possibly the odd broken lamp.
Whiskers on a dog are called Vibrissae, the roots of a dog’s whiskers are so much as three times as deep as their normals hair and fur and they are also twice as thick as their normal fur.
They use these to get a sense of the world around them, much like cats and rodents do, in some cases whiskers act like night vision in the dark.
They use their whiskers to feel air currents and therefore use them to find out the size and shape of objects nearby and also how close they are. They can often use them to figure out how tight or narrow a certain space is and whether or not they can fit in a particular area.
A dog who has had its whiskers cut may try to fit into spaces way too small for them due to the lack of this sixth sense. Often dogs with cut whiskers may get a stigma as being a bit clumsy, but we know this is not their fault.
Your dog’s whiskers are a lot like a person’s eyelashes in some way, mostly in the way that if you touch them your dog will blink, try it! If you touch your eyelashes you will blink, if you touch your dog’s whiskers, they will blink.
Trimming whiskers can be a lot like putting ear plush in your dog’s ears or blinders on their eyes, as it mutes one of their senses. This tends to render them confused and takes away a natural ability.
Can I cut them?
The short answer is yes, but we do not recommend it. When you put your hand out to feel what is in front of you in the dark, this is much like what a dog’s whiskers do for them all the time, they grant spatial awareness.
But, even better dogs can also use their whiskers to communicate, for example, if your dog’s whiskers are rigid and forward it will likely indicate that they are afraid, upset, or anxious.
Other dogs can therefore read your dog’s whiskers to know how they are feeling and respond accordingly. A dog without whiskers may get into more confrontations with other dogs due to being unable to communicate with fellow dogs.
We strictly recommend against cutting a dog’s whiskers, although you can do it. The only time it is within reason to do so is when it is advised by your veterinarian.
However, some dog groomers will snip off your dog’s whiskers for aesthetic reasons, especially when it comes to showing dogs and dog pageants, though it may give them a cleaner look, it takes away some abilities from your dog and will leave them distressed and confused.
Dogs’ whiskers often appear more sporadically than cat whiskers do. But much like if you were to take a cat’s whiskers, a dog too would be confused and spacially unaware.
They may also be unable to judge when others are nearby, so your dog may be less aware when you are around. They may also lose their confidence, especially in their freedom and mobility capabilities.
Can I pluck them?
It is extremely important to NEVER pluck your dog’s whiskers. In our opinion, if you wouldn’t take your dog to have a bikini wax, don’t pluck out its whiskers.
The reason being that a dog’s whiskers have an extremely large number of nerve endings and plucking these out would be exceptionally painful for your dog and would hurt them a great deal.
Most people don’t enjoy plucking their eyebrows very much, and we have fewer nerve endings on our eyebrows than a dog has on its whiskers, so you can imagine how painful this would be.
It is strongly advised against doing so as you do not want to cause your furry friend any pain.
What should I do if my dog’s whiskers are cut?
If you do go to a dog groomer and they do cut your dog’s whiskers, you may wonder what to do with your dog now being disorientated and confused.
Do not worry they will grow back eventually and your dog will be back to normal soon. But ensure that your groomer does not do this again.
Make sure to keep your dog happy and full of life, and its whiskers are part of this. Keeping your dog happy is simple with plenty of rich food, fun exercise, cleanliness, and natural instincts kept intact.
Trimming, cutting, or taking away a dog’s whiskers denies them of their natural abilities and though dogs are domesticated now, they still need their whiskers to be as energetic and orientated as they are.
Take care and love your furry friends.