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Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

By March 2, 2020June 12th, 2020Dogs

Have you ever wondered Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers? Every living thing in this entire universe responds to certain stimuli. Be it humans, flora or fauna. Humans respond to the stimulus of touch, flora respond to the stimulus of light and fauna responds to different stimuli depending upon nature and the environment.

As far as the dogs are concerned, they respond to thick hair-like fibers called whiskers which serve as a communication gate between the canine and its surrounding.

Have you ever wondered why dogs serve as the best detective animals in the world? Even after the intelligence agencies have put all their skills in use, sometimes, they need sniffer dogs to solve the mysteries out.

It’s because dogs have whiskers.

What Are Whiskers?

Whiskers, technically called vibrissae, are coarse hair protruded gracefully from the dog’s face that performs multiple jobs in one go. However, whiskers are not regular hair and play an important role in tactile sensation; i.e. they give the stimulus to the dog’s body and serve as sensory organs for the canine.

The hair follicles from which the whiskers originate, although they seem similar to the regular hair follicles, they are packed with blood vessels and neurons.

Therefore, whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect changes faster than other body organs.

What Are The Functions Of Whiskers?

The dog whiskers are located on both the sides of the muzzle, the forehead, above the eyes and the upper lip and on the chin. Unlike body hair, whiskers are present on a dog’s body since birth.  Whiskers like every other body organ are designed to serve a purpose. The basic functions of whiskers are:

  1. Aid Dog’s Vision

Dogs often find it difficult to see things in the dark, and that is where these whiskers come handy. Whiskers pick up the slightest of vibration in the atmosphere and the changes toward the wind. This, in turn, indicates the dog that a particular kind of action is needed

The whiskers tell the dog about any prey present near to him and also hint the size, shape and the proximity of the danger and this is why a dog can hunt at night without crashing in walls and other hard surfaces.

  1. Help to Find Small Objects

It is a known fact that dogs can’t focus on objects close to them because their vision is blurry and as soon as the dog reaches its old age; the vision is compromised, and they often miss the details underlying their nose.

In such cases, the dog’s radar like whiskers help the dog find small objects near to him with no difficulty.

  1. Navigate through Narrow Spaces

Dogs love tight spaces and feel secure in narrow and confined surroundings. But sometimes, the dog cannot fit in the narrow spaces. Eventually, the chances of getting stuck are high.

Whiskers act as a blessing in disguise in such cases and help the dogs navigate through the narrow spaces.

  1. Protect the Eyes and Face

When a dog comes in contact with dirt, smoke, grass, bushes or anything, the whiskers force a dog to blink and close his eyes to avoid any possible injuries.

Similarly, when there’s a sudden outbreak of insects, the whiskers command the dog to keep shaking his tail to swish and swat away the insects.

In short, whiskers protect the eyes, face, and ears of the dogs from any damage caused by the external environment.

  1. They Reflect Canine’s Mood

There are certain actions that define and reflect our mood. In the case of humans, it’s the body language and gestures that communicate emotions. While, in the case of dogs, it’s the whiskers that define their mood.

You will notice that your dog’s whiskers are at rest when he is actually taking rest and are proactive if he is active. This means that they act as mood revealers of your dog and help you understand his actions.

Do The Whiskers Differ Between Breeds?

Many dog owners wrongly perceive that the whiskers differ between the breeds as some breeds bear more whiskers and hair than the other.

This misconception leads them to the conclusion that few breeds are more aware of their surroundings than the others, however, this is not true. It is just the genetic makeup that differs from one breed to another based on hair.

Every dog breed is equally aware of his surroundings, regardless of the varying degree in the quantity of their whiskers. Therefore, it is of no use worrying over the fact that your dog has not developed thick multitudes of whiskers.

Can You Trim Your Dog’s Whiskers?

Over the course of your dog’s life, they lose and shed the whiskers accidentally. It doesn’t hurt them much as there are no pain receptors in the whiskers, but it affects the dog’s body functions. Dogs might lose control and become disoriented and frightened if they lose their vibrissae.

Though the whiskers grow back naturally after some time, we do not recommend it to cut, trim and groom the whiskers as the dogs’ whiskers are an important part of their sensory system and they need them to remain intact and make sense of their surroundings.

Tips to Take Care of Your Canine’s Whiskers

Although you don’t really need to take care of your pet’s whiskers as they are graced by nature for every breed accordingly.

However, if you worry about your dog’s health so much so that you could do anything to keep his whiskers healthy and growing. You can follow these tips:

  1. Never cut or trim your canine’s whiskers for the sake of beauty and grooming. You might not feel the difference, but your dog does, and it affects his health.
  2. You can incorporate some essential nutrients and multivitamins in his diet to help nourish his skin and hair.

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