Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

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Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

Whether you are a dog owner or just curious about interesting factoids, you may have heard that cutting a dog's whiskers may unbalance them or cause them to go in circles. While you definitely should not take any scissors to your dog's whiskers to verify this myth for yourself, it is well known that cutting off the whiskers of a channel does not cause them to lose their balance. However, whiskers play an incredibly important role in your dog's life and also influence her ability to understand what is going on around her.

Define Whiskers

Before we can understand why dogs have whiskers and what they do for our dogs, it is important to know exactly what whiskers are. Simply put, whiskers, also called vibrissae, are stiff hairs that can be found in various places on a dog's face. While most people immediately think of the whiskers sticking out of a dog's snout, whiskers can also be found over the eyes of a dog, resembling sparse, limited eyebrows and under the chin.

Unlike the fur that covers most dogs, whiskers are thick, bristle-like hairs that are assigned to specific areas. Whiskers are much more deeply embedded in the skin of a dog than fur and, according to VCA Hospitals, are as sensitive as a person's fingertips. Why are whiskers so sensitive? Because the hair follicles from which they sprout are filled with sensitive nerves and blood vessels, which offer them a touch-sensitive reaction. This answer explains why dogs primarily have whiskers because they involuntarily provide protection, sensory observation, and spatial awareness.

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

What are dogbeards for?

Whiskers support dogs in many ways. One of the most important is the ability to navigate the world around them. We all know that dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to gather information about their surroundings, be it details of another dog, person or place. While a rabbit's sense of smell is exceptional and indispensable, a dog's whiskers give additional insights into the immediate environment. Whiskers allow a dog to sense how close it is to something, whether it's a wall it's about to go into, or a speck of dust that stays away from its sensitive eyeball for just a few seconds. This extra awareness can be especially helpful for long-nosed dogs, where it is particularly difficult to see things up close.

Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?

How do whiskers work?

Although whiskers are considered to be the equivalent of fingertips in a person, it is important to understand that whiskers, unlike fingers, feel nothing at all. Instead, they work as transmitters to send a message to a dog's brain. AKC explains that the whiskers begin to convey these messages by absorbing small changes in the air currents that move as a dog moves closer to the object or objects around it. These air displacements lead to very slight vibrations, which are absorbed by the whiskers and transmit a touch-sensitive reaction to the brain. VCA further reports that nearly half of a dog's sensory regions are directly aligned with the parts of the face that contain whiskers. This makes them a very effective way to navigate through their environment.

Whiskers are sometimes referred to as antenna or radar detectors because they can pick up information and pass it on to those parts of the brain that tell a dog to stop or move. Sometimes you can even observe how your dog uses his facial muscles to position his whiskers forward when examining an unknown object or an unknown person. Because whiskers are so important to a dog's physical safety and wellbeing that it is important to be careful, if you ever stroke your dog's mouth, brows, or chin, and resist the urge, Just to trim case.

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