What You Should Know About Your Dog’s Whiskers

A few weeks ago, I got chastised for not trimming Callie’s whiskers. Not being a groomer or an expert on doggie physiology, I thought I would do a little research project about dog’s whiskers. Here’s what I learned.

A dog’s whiskers — which are both on the side of its muzzle and above its eyebrows — serve several purposes. When a dog is outdoors, its whiskers tell it which direction the wind is blowing — which tells it which directions ever-important smells will be coming from. Also, if there are large objects nearby, that deflect the wind direction, a dog can detect the object with its whiskers. Finally, if a dog chases an animal into an enclosure — or if it tries to retrieve an object from an enclosure — its whiskers help it to know how large the enclosure is and whether there is room for its muzzle, or even its head.

So removing — or substantially trimming — a dogs whiskers is almost the same as removing a portion of its sense of smell. It deprives the dog of one of its natural ways of getting around in the world. Just because we humans don’t have such a developed sense of smell or whiskers to tell us when we’re climbing into too small a hole, is not a reason to assume that dogs don’t need their whiskers.

So, my friends, thanks for the advice, but Callie’s keeping her whiskers. They are an important part of being a dog.

By the way, if you’ve already trimmed your dogs whiskers, they will grow back, but, in the meantime, don’t toss your dog’s toys into a confined space. Just kidding; he or she will probably find the toy, but it won’t have the help of it’s whiskers.

Here’s a good article on petplace.com.

This post on terrificpets.com leans toward not trimming a dog’s whiskers, but it also gives the other side of the story.

This closeup photo of Callie shows her whiskers, if you look closely. Don’t know about you, but I’m for preserving a dog’s “dogginess” or dog nature.