Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

Why do dogs have whiskers

Seeing how dogs are the most popular pets in the world, educating ourselves on our furry friends will better help us take care of them in the correct way. While we rarely may think of the whiskers that protrude from our canine’s snout, in reality each whisker plays an important role in their sensory perception and helps them communicate their emotions with the world. Below we take a closer inspection at what dog whiskers are, what functions they serve, and whether or not we should take action to protect the health of our canine’s whiskers.

What are Whiskers?

Dog whiskers, or medically referred to as Vibrissae, are made of a thicker natural material called Keratin. Differing from the rest of the fur on your dog’s body, vibrissae are highly specialized hairs which grow above their eyes as well as on their muzzle, cheeks, and chin. Canine whiskers are coarser than their normal hair and have roots that are three times deeper. Given how vital whiskers are to a dog’s survival, newborn pups are even born with whiskers as they are their first hairs to develop at birth. 

What Function Do Whiskers Serve?

All dog’s, even the hairless ones, have whiskers that help them perform a large variety of everyday functions, including:

  • Detecting up close objects.
  • Locating water and food.
  • Navigation assistance through narrow spaces.
  • Navigating in the dark.
  • Expressing emotions to humans.
  • Detecting wind direction.
  • Assists in avoiding potential injuries to the face.
  • Helps with swimming.

Although whiskers are often called “tactile hairs”, they actually don’t feel anything. Rather they simply transmit information to sensory cells when they detect objects, which helps dogs overall navigate the world.

Additional Dog Whisker Facts

Due to the fact that canines rely so heavily on their whiskers, it’s highly advised to not trim or remove their vibrissae whiskers. Though it may not be life threatening to a dog when their whiskers are removed, it will most definitely effect their well-being and overall quality of life. Dog’s with trimmed whiskers are known to become disoriented and stressed from the lack of sensory information they’re typically used to. In uncommon occurrences, canine whiskers fall out on their own, which usually signifies an underlying health condition so make sure to bring your dog to a veterinarian under these circumstances. Once the health issue has been corrected, expect for their whiskers to take around 3 weeks to a month to fully grow back. 

Ensuring Optimal Canine Health

Whiskers assist and provide canines with essential functions which help them navigate and interact with the world. To ensure that your dog’s whisker health is optimal, it’s important to make sure that your furry friend’s diet is biologically correct and healthy. The correct amount and type of food you should feed you dog depends primarily on their age, weight, and activity level. Originally formulated to help performance dogs reach their maximum potential, Canine Ultimate Fitness & Health is a delicious, concentrated nutritional powder, providing a balanced blend of 55 nutrients your dog needs for better health, increased activity, maximized performance, the prevention of age-related diseases, and ultimately a longer, healthier, and more enjoyable life.

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