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Whiskers, or vibrissae, are long, coarse hairs protruding from a dog’s muzzle, jaw and above its eyes. The follicles at the base of these hairs are packed with nerves that send sensory messages to a dog’s brain.

They are strategically located above the eyes, on the chin, and above the upper lip. The exact pattern and location of whiskers varies with breed. Unlike humans, dogs of all ages have whiskers. Newborn pups do not need to reach puberty before growing whiskers, which are among the first hairs to develop and are present at birth.

it’s important to note that the vibrissae are distinct from body hair. They differ from normal hair in that they are innervated (directed by the nervous system). Whether the whiskers are around your dog’s eyes, nose or chin—or all of the above—they’re still the same structure, just in distinct locations on your dog’s face.

Dogs just wouldn’t be dogs without those cute and hairy faces. But whiskers are functional too, helping keep our canines safe and active.

What are Dog whiskers For


Whiskers can be used in dog communication. A threatened dog may flare its whiskers and point them forward as a show of aggression. It’s also common for small mammals to rely on their whiskers to tell them if they can fit into small places. Some dogs use their whiskers for this reason as well.

Important for Body Language

It may be surprising to learn that your dog’s whiskers can also demonstrate how they’re feeling. When a dog feels threatened, they flare their whiskers and point them forwards, which alters their body language and helps them signal to other dogs that they’re unhappy. Because of this, whiskers may also form part of a dog’s defence strategy.

Whiskers Help Dogs Hunt

From one breed to another, the size and number of whiskers on a dog’s face can differ. This is most evident in dogs bred for hunting. For instance, hound breeds like the very large and fast Irish wolfhound have immense whiskers that appear proportional to their body, making them long, dense, and coarse.

The Irish wolfhound was originally bred to hunt big, quick game like elk. During a fast hunt through a dense forest or overgrown fields, the whiskers would aid the wolfhound in navigation, helping the dog move effortlessly and avoid trees.

Grooming Dog Whiskers

Technically, you can trim a dog’s whiskers because scissors can slice through them easily, but you SHOULD NOT cut your dog’s whiskers off. Some groomers and pet owners are unaware of the importance of whiskers and cut them off for aesthetic reasons. Show dog owners often have their whiskers removed because it is thought to give the head a “cleaner” look. However, do not do this.


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