Should you trim your dog’s whiskers?

Photo by seeks2dream. Licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Dogs have whiskers on their nose above the upper lip, chin, and forehead . If you trim them, it will not hurt them. However, they do use their whiskers as a sixth sense, so you might be limiting their ability to play or hunt for a while.

Dogs’ whiskers are called vibrissae. Their roots are three times as deep as ordinary hair and the whiskers themselves are twice as thick.

Whiskers are one of the ways dogs sense the world around them. They can feel air currents and dogs use that information to figure out the size and shape of nearby objects. They can also figure out how narrow or tight a hole is.

Whiskers also help protect dogs’ eyes like human eyelashes. If the whiskers are touched, they blink.

So you can safely trim your dogs whiskers (and they’ll grow back) but it might be like putting ear plugs in their ears or blinders on their eyes! There is no reason other than showing a dog to trim their whiskers.

11 comments for “Should you trim your dog’s whiskers?

  1. melissa perkey
    February 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I disagree that theres no reason other than showing to cut a dogs whiskers.
    I have a dog whose whiskers grow up and come close to touching his eye.
    I hate to feel like im dimenishing his senses but its better than him being constantly irritated

  2. Hugo Vieira
    March 13, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    I have one question, my puppie actually bites his own whiskers! He’s a 4 months old rottweiler and his whiskers are unusually small and bitten on the extremities. There is no way another animal is doing this since he’s our only pet.
    The vet said this was the first time he eared something like this and I can’t find anything similar on the web.

    Any thoughts why he does this or how to stop him from doing it?

  3. stormy
    March 14, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I think the first step is to actually figure out what’s happening. Maybe on a weekend, you can watch him closely until you see what’s going on. If he’s chewing his own whiskers, is he doing it out of stress? When you leave? When he’s bored? Can you change that some how? Maybe put something he doesn’t like on them? And give him a good bone to chew on too.

  4. Jay Horgan
    August 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I can tell you’re anti-showing but “Limits their ability to play”. Really?! Not in my house of dogs. I regularly trim my dogs whiskers – yes I like to show my dogs and they love a great day out, and I can tell anyone reading that they play just as well and are not ‘limited’ or suffering in any way. Maybe I should worry when my husband shaves that it will limit his ability to enjoy his game of rugby! Pff!
    To the lady whose dogs chew their own whiskers, your dog isn’t suffering, bored, stressed or ill – it’s a natural thing that dogs do just like biting their own fingernails or licking each others ears. Cats do it all the time too.

  5. Rhoda
    August 29, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Thanks for that information Jay Morgan. My 1 1/2 year old Shi Tzo Maltese, bites her toenails, rubs her face on the ground and I accidentally cut her whiskers and was concerned for what might happen because of it. Rhoda

  6. sarah
    November 5, 2015 at 12:17 am

    I just got an 8 week old pug puppy and I noticed that most of his whiskers are blunt like they have been cut. Some of them aren’t and I can definitely tell the difference. I first noticed this because kissing him hurt. They’re like needles. Why would someone do this to an 8 week old puppy? The puppy was already eating dry food when I got him and maybe I just have a dark mi d but what if they did this to wean the puppy faster? The whiskers could irritate the mother’s stomach and not want her to nurse the pup anymore?

  7. Gary
    November 26, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Dogs are dogs. They’re not human, (as much as we desire to treat them as such). Dogs have hair and whiskers for good reason. To groom them, as if they are human, is simply quite silly.

  8. Kelsey
    December 3, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I have a question my 3 year old pit bull girl likes to go up to my other dog and tap him with her snout on his snout trying to tell him to trim her whiskers and he will do it, her whiskers are really short, to me I think this is really weird, I always try to get them to stop, I was maybe wondering how I can prevent this, and was why she like it so much?

  9. Darin
    December 30, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Gary, et al. Actually dogs are not dogs, they ceased to be so thousands of years ago when humans domesticated them. Modern dogs, left to themselves would eventually die out do to the genetic damage that has evolved in them through that process of domestication. Modern dogs don’t rely on whiskers the way their wild Cousins do and as a result they do not suffer for the loss. A lot of modern dog breads need constant grooming as their hair mats quickly which can cause other skin irritations. Trimming the whiskers makes the hair cut look more finished and is a lot easier for the groomer.

  10. Ed raney
    March 31, 2016 at 1:57 am

    I have a one year old chichauhua and she has long whiskers and I wont cut them because they are there for a reason. Thats the way god made them. She is perfect just the way she is.

  11. Allene
    May 9, 2016 at 3:02 am

    I agree with Melissa that there can be good reason. I looked up this question because my dog has long hair and I need to groom her on a regular basis to ensure good health. She plays in the yard a lot and gets a lot of burs in her fur. Sometimes I need to shave the burrs out and if I don’t she gets matted fur and bald patches. I was wanting to groom her face because she got some burs that weren’t coming out with brushing on her face and she also gets watery eyes which mats the fur under her eyes and can go towards her nose. I was really nervous about grooming her face because I know she’s got whiskers hidden in all that fur and I didn’t want to hurt her. I’m glad that cutting her whiskers won’t hurt her but sometimes when grooming her these whiskers are just in areas of matted fur and places that are obstructing her vision. So, yeah I can see how trimming only whiskers can be a cosmetic practice, but in my case the whiskers are just in the way while I am trying to maintain a healthy coat for my dog.

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