Part antenna and part sense of touch, whiskers are long coarse hairs on your Morkie’s face. If you cut your Morkie’s whiskers, you can expect him to be grumpy and growly because he’ll be disoriented; even his vision is affected.
Called vibrissae because they vibrate, whiskers are long, coarse hairs that act like a dog’s GPS.
About five times thicker than hair, whiskers are sensitive to air currents, touch, or vibrations, so they can help your Morkie find his way, especially in the dark.
Despite a dog’s incredible sense of smell, his vision isn’t so great. Dogs are naturally very farsighted (things in the distance are clear, but things that are closer are blurry).
Add the blocking effect of a muzzle, and most dogs are poor at seeing closer things. That’s where sensitive whiskers really help out.
Whiskers are so important, that 40% of the dog’s brain is set aside to process their signals.
How do dog whiskers work?
When a whisker touches a surface or is moved by an air current, it vibrates right down to the nerve, which transmits that message to the brain.
Whiskers are SO sensitive that they can pick up the smallest changes in air currents.
Whiskers themselves have no feeling, but the nerves at their base are highly sensitive to touch or movement.
There are FOUR types of whiskers on dogs, and each one has a special function
A dog’s very long eyebrows (called “superciliary whiskers“) have another function. When they touch something, the dog’s eyes automatically close, so he doesn’t get poked in the eye.
Mystacial whiskers on either side of the upper lips pick up shifts in air currents. A dog can have up to 20 on each side. They’re sometimes called moustache whiskers.
That little tuft of whiskers under your dog’s chin — called an Inter-ramal Tuft — helps him figure out how far away the food bowl is and what’s right under his nose, which is where most dogs have a blind spot.
Genal whiskers grow on the cheeks and help a dog judge the distance to the edges of his environment.
Rats, seals, walruses, and monkeys all have prominent whiskers
Most mammals have whiskers. Biologists think they first developed to help the animal in the dark, especially cats who tend to be nocturnal.
Did you know that a cat’s whiskers grow out to be exactly as long as a cat is wide/high? This is because cats use them to figure out if they can fit somewhere, like in an old box.
While cats have 12 neatly arranged whiskers that form four rows on either side of his face, a dog’s whiskers are random.
Ever notice, when kids draw cats, they always include whiskers; but they rarely draw whiskers on dogs
What happens if you cut a dog’s whiskers?
Noooooooo………..Don’t ever cut your Morkie’s whiskers! But if you do by mistake, you should know it can leave him feeling disoriented and lost. The stress might make him cranky and growly.
It doesn’t HURT a dog to cut his whiskers, but it does limit hunting and playing for a while. Dogs NEED their whiskers to get around their environment.
Four more cool things about dog whiskers
1. What are whiskers made of?
Whiskers are the same as hair, but they’re about three times thicker. Whiskers and hair are made from keratin, a strong fibrous protein.
2. Can I pluck my dog’s whiskers?
NO, definitely not. There are so many nerves at the base of a whisker that pulling one out will certainly hurt — quite a bit. Plus, each whisker is deeply embedded, much more so than regular hair.
3. Do dogs’ whiskers fall out?
They do fall out from time to time, and it’s nothing to worry about. A new whisker grows in to replace the old one. However, if your dog is losing a LOT of whiskers at once, it’s a good idea to see your Vet. This could be a sign of something else going on, such as mange or ringworm.
4. Why do groomers sometimes cut off a dog’s whiskers?
Some groomers think that whiskers look scruffy, so cut them off for a clean look. Dogs who are in shows sometimes have their whiskers trimmed off too. But it’s not a good idea. Whiskers are much more than cosmetic; they serve a purpose.