Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

Dogs have whiskers for sensory purposes. They help them to understand the world around them. These whiskers, also known as vibrissae, can detect air movements and changes, giving dogs a better sense of their surrounding environment.

Whiskers also provide information about the size, shape, and speed of nearby objects, even in the dark, which can be crucial for their survival. They can even help dogs to navigate narrow spaces or detect potential threats. Hence, dogs have whiskers as they play an essential role in their sensory perception.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

There are a lot of appealing things about dogs—their wide doggy smiles, their super soft paws tapping at you, their fluffy ears always pricked and alert, and their soft, fluffy fur which tends to shed all over the house. Many of the physical aspects of our dogs we find super cute also serve a far more practical purpose.

One of the most underrated elements all dogs possess is their whiskers. Whiskers are a feature we are accustomed to seeing on cats, to the point that it is easy to forget that dogs have their very own version, but just what is the point of whiskers on dogs? Read on to find out the truth!

Dog with whiskers

They Help Them Explore

Dogs whiskers may seem ineffective, but they play a massive part in helping your dog to explore and understand the world around them. Most dogs will not have excellent eyesight, so whiskers help them to locate smaller objects or anything which may be close to them. When air or an object touches the hairs, the nerves at the base are stimulated, and this sends messages to the brain.

Whiskers are essential for helping your dog work out how big things are, the size, shape, and speed of objects. They can be useful for seeing in the dark and, like cats, determining whether they can fit through a small space.

They Protect Their Eyes

Dogs also have little whiskers around the eyes, and these are for protection. Whenever the whiskers touch an object, they will cause the dog to blink, helping them to prevent getting dirt or debris in their eyes, or being poked by twigs and branches when out on a walk. These are essential for keeping your dog safe and are some of the earliest hairs to develop.

They Help With Hunting

Whiskers are also crucial tools in helping your dog to hunt. The whiskers can pick up on moving objects. As the object moves, it bounces back air, which is then picked up and used to locate the item. These signals also provide vital information such as the size and shape of the object or prey, and how fast it is moving— is it worth your dog pursuing? The whiskers work with your dog’s excellent sense of smell to hone and perfect their hunting skills.

They Help Them to Communicate

If you look carefully, your pooches’ whiskers can also provide vital information about their mood and how they are feeling. If they feel threatened, they will usually flare their whiskers, pointing them forwards towards the threat. This flaring is a clear signal to other canines that they are feeling unhappy. It is important to allow them to defend themselves and keep themselves and their pack safe.

Unless you are expressly advised to by a vet, it is never a good idea to cut your dog’s whiskers. This is robbing them of a crucial sense and means of communication and will leave them in a more vulnerable position. It may sound dramatic, but cutting their whiskers off is the equivalent of them losing their hearing or sense of smell. You would be putting them at a severe disadvantage in every aspect of their lives.

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