My very first dog was a Chihuahua/Terrier Mix and he was the best dog ever, but that is another story for another day!  Anyway, I’ll never forget the day that I decided that Friskey needed a makeover!  He wasn’t the prettiest dog and his whiskers were getting really long!  I thought that if I trimmed cut his whiskers off, he would be much cuter so  I got out the scissors and I went to work making Friskey beautiful!  When my dad saw what I had done to Friskey, he scolded me and told me that I should never trim a dog’s whiskers.  Well, I guess he was a little late with that advice!  Anyway, my dad explained that Friskey’s whiskers were like his feelers and because I had cut them off, Friskey wouldn’t be able to feel with his whiskers.  I felt pretty bad and of course, I thought I had ruined Friskey’s life but fortunately for Friskey, his whiskers grew back!  Because of Friskey, I got to thinking…is it okay to cut off a dog’s whiskers and was my dad just telling me an old wives tale?  So I thought I would do some research and this is what I found out:

First of all, a whisker isn’t a normal pet hair.  They are called vibrassae and they are longer, thicker and more rigid than the normal pet hair.  They are also embedded much deeper into your pet’s skin than the normal pet hair.  They are like pet hair in that they will occasionally fall out and grow back.  So, when you see a whisker laying on the floor, don’t be alarmed!  It’s okay…it will grow back!

Should you cut your dog's whiskers

image courtesy of jason044 flickr

The primary function of whiskers is to help with a pet’s vision.  They help by giving out extra sensory information to the animal, especially when the animal is in the dark.  The whiskers act a lot like the antennae on bugs and are kind of like feelers.  Whiskers cannot feel but instead, if they are brushed up against they will react by vibrating.  Thus, the name vibrissae which is derived from the Latin word vibrio, which means “to vibrate.”

Cutting your dog’s whiskers isn’t like cutting your dog’s hair.  It could confuse your dog because they use their whiskers to sense the presence, size and shape of nearby objects.  If you trim your dog’s whiskers, your dog will have less sensory information to rely on which may cause your dog to become, shy, timid, meek or frightened.

So I guess cutting Friskey’s whiskers wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did!  If your dog’s whiskers are getting long and you think he would look better with a little trim, don’t do it!  It’s best for your dog if you just leave his whiskers alone!




Filed under: Dog Care

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