All About your Dog’s (or Cat’s) Whiskers


Many mammals have whiskers, including rats, bears, and seals. These are no more obvious than in our domestic furry friends, especially dogs and cats. And they serve very specific purposes…

Animal whiskers are hairs with a difference. They are longer, thicker, and stiffer than other types of hair, and they are very deeply embedded in the skin. Each individual whisker is rooted in a blood-vessel-rich hair follicle that is also very abundant in nerves.

Cats have a very uniform pattern of whiskers on the cheeks, chin, and above the eyes, as well as behind their wrists, however whisker patterns in dogs are more random. Cats are more reliant on their whiskers than are dogs, yet they are still critical to a dog’s wellbeing.

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

A dog’s whiskers stick out from his muzzle, as well as his chin, top lip, and, to a lesser extent, above his eyes. The pattern of a dog’s whiskers depends entirely on his breed and genetics.

The function of whiskers in dogs is primarily to assist with vision. Forty percent of a dog’s brain registers touch information from the face, particularly from the muzzle. Every whisker is a sensitive receptor, as sensitive as a human’s fingertips. Like antennae on insects, whiskers vibrate when they touch an object, and this stimulates nerves in the attached hair follicle. Even a slight change in air currents can, via the whiskers, alert a dog (or cat) to a nearby wall, prey, or other obstacle – particularly in the dark. They are a dog’s radar.

Whiskers above the eyes protect the eyes from being poked by plants and other objects, by causing the animal to blink to avoid injury.

Whiskers also serve the additional purposes of sensing prey and determining whether the animal can fit through a narrow space. This is why the can whiskers grow so long!

Leave Whiskers Alone!

You should ideally not cut or trim a dog or cat’s whiskers. Though it will not affect Fido or Puss’s balance, trimming whiskers can compromise an animal’s senses and ability to feel objects around his face.

Some groomers may want to trim whiskers – don’t let them!

Urban Paws Dog Grooming at Yarraville always has your pet’s best interests and welfare at heart – from his whiskers to the tip of his tail! Call us today.


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Vic 3013, Australia

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Vic 3220, Australia
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