Are you wondering whether you can cut (or trim) a dog’s whiskers?
If so, you are not alone.
There’s certainly some controversy around the trimming of a dog’s whiskers… and some owners are left confused about whether it’s something they should or shouldn’t do.
In this guide, you’ll find our take on the situation…
And you’ll also learn a few things about dog’s whiskers that may surprise you!
Let’s take a closer look.
Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?
The key reason why dogs have whiskers is to help them out with their perception of the world… and surprisingly… it mostly helps with the “visual” aspect of interpreting the environment around them.
The whiskers detect air currents, which allows them to figure out how far away an object is without touching it.
While dogs have fantastic long-range vision (and an impressive sense of smell!), they can struggle to see things up close.
So whiskers work like “radar” to help your dog discern their immediate surroundings better. This sense is extremely helpful when trying to navigate tight spaces, as well as things they’re very close to.
These “tactile hairs” are actually picking up subtle vibrations in the air, and how these change when they’re near an object.
This is what allows them to close in on prey or avoid bumping into things.
She sense of “touch” the whiskers provide when your dog comes nearby is nothing short of extraordinary, and they function almost like a sixth sense.
These sensitive hairs actually transmit what’s happening in close-quarters so accurately, that your pup can discern the size or shape of nearby objects before they touch them.
As you’d expect, this is especially helpful when trying to find their way around furniture indoors!
In some cases, a dog’s whiskers also reveal some interesting body language cues as well.
How Are Dog Whiskers Different From Other Hair?
Dog whisker facial hairs are actually much thicker, coarse hairs than the rest of your dog’s normal hair.
What makes them unique is that they’re highly sensitive (just like our eyelashes and eyebrows), and they can be compared to the tips of our fingers in terms of how delicate and sensitive they are.
Each whisker is connected to a hair follicle with blood vessels and nerves, and they’re located in key locations to help interpret the “data” your dog needs to better perceive what’s around them.
Do Whiskers Differ Between Breeds?
Canine whiskers are distributed across the face and muzzle almost identically between breeds, and it’s rare for there to be any major difference.
Even so, it does seem like some dogs have a more dense cluster of whiskers than others, but this is mostly due to genetics.
Dog Whisker Locations
Your dog will have whiskers:
- Above the eyes (supraorbital whiskers).
- Around their mouth and upper lip (mystacial whiskers).
- On the chin (interramal tufts).
- On the cheeks (genal whiskers).
However, there are no whiskers on hairless breeds.
Can You Cut or Trim Your Dog’s Whiskers?
According to experts, you should never cut or trim your dog’s whiskers.
Whiskers help your pup orientate themselves in space, so you can imagine what removing them would do to their balance and coordination. That’s the last thing you want, especially if your dog is a little clumsy or unsure of themselves still!
In effect, you’re reducing one of their most important ways of interpreting the world… and while they’d likely cope okay, it isn’t as desirable as keeping your whiskers.
The whiskers are also responsible for helping your pup navigate tight spaces, so they’re extremely helpful even when it comes to something as simple as going through a doorway.
So the quick answer is no, you shouldn’t trim or cut your pup’s whiskers.
What Happens If You Cut a Dog’s Whiskers?
If you cut your pup’s whiskers, it’s possible that your dog will be more “off-balance” and struggle with navigation.
The impact of their removal may be even more apparent at night when your dog is more dependent on using whiskers to navigate their surroundings… especially up close.
There’s a strong chance your pup will adapt quickly, but it does have the potential to negatively affect them.
In some cases, dogs may be so habituated to being without their whiskers that they become perfectly okay with it after a while. But this doesn’t mean it’s a recommended thing to do.
Can Dogs Feel When You Cut Their Whiskers?
There’s no nerve supply or pain receptors in these hairs, so they won’t feel physical pain when they’re cut.
However, it’s still not recommended that you do this because of the potential problems it will cause to your dog’s balance and coordination.
Do Dog Whiskers Grow Back?
Yes, whiskers do grow back, just like their other hair grows.
The rate at which it grows back can vary based on many factors, but it’ll often take several weeks or more.
Do Dog Whiskers Grow Back if Pulled Out or Plucked?
Yes, they will grow back if they’ve been pulled or plucked out.
However: Plucking these delicate, sensitive hairs will be a painful experience for your dog, so it’s something you should NEVERdo.
These hairs are located around three times deeper than normal hairs… and surrounded by nerve endings and blood vessels… so you can imagine how uncomfortable it would be to have these sensitive whiskers and facial hairs plucked out!
I Accidentally Pulled Out a Dog Whisker – What Should I Do?
Accidents sometimes happen when you’re grooming or brushing your dog… so if you’ve accidentally pulled out a dog whisker, your pup will likely be in pain for a little while.
There’s also the chance of a little bleeding, depending on which whisker came out.
If it was already quite loose and ready to come out, your dog may not even notice.
But the best thing to do is simply comfort and reassure your dog until they’re okay again.
What Other Reasons Are There for Removing Dog Whiskers?
Unfortunately, some owners may remove whiskers on their dogs… despite the fact it’s not necessary. Often, it’s purely for cosmetic reasons.
Perhaps these people also aren’t aware of the purpose they serve for your dog, so they see their presence as untidy and redundant.
But now you know better, you shouldn’t remove those whiskers.
How to Trim Your Dog’s Face Without Cutting Their Whiskers
Trimming your dog’s face fur can be tricky at times, depending on which breed you have and the positioning of their whiskers.
It’s best to not use clippers in this case, because your dog is likely to move around, and there are more chances of mistakes occurring.
Instead, use some simple shears (with rounded safety tips!) and take your time.
When you’re trimming their face and avoiding the whiskers, there’s no big secret to it other than patience and not rushing yourself.
Be sure to reassure and keep your dog calm throughout, as the more still they are, the easier your trimming task will be.
Should You Let Dog Groomer Cut Your Dog’s Whiskers?
In most cases, it’s best not to.
While some dog groomers will trim the whiskers for aesthetic purposes, it’s not recommended unless there’s a very good reason for it.
If you’re not familiar with how dog whiskers function and their importance to your dog, we hope this guide has helped you out!
And remember: It’s rarely a good idea to trim or cut your dog’s whiskers.
They serve a valuable purpose in your dog’s life, so please keep them intact whenever possible!