|Barked: Fri Jan 26, '07 5:18pm PST |
|I personally advise against whisker-trimming if at all possible.
The whiskers are there as sensory tools. They're deeply rooted and very close to a very touchy nerve; this means that they are able to pick up on subtle tactile or motion cues. (Incidentally, this is why a dog can react so dramatcially when you blow in his face - the intense sensation can either be pleasurable or too overwhelming for your pet!) Trimming these little tools can actually leave a dog a little "out of it" for a few days until they acclimate to the loss of that sensory experience.
It isn't a cruel thing to do, but it can have an affect on a dog's behavior or mood for a few days. I've always likened it to burning your tongue really badly. Does it affect your daily experience? Yes - your ability to taste is altered (or absent) and you might be in a little pain. Is it beyond toleration? Nah - but it makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner a bit more difficult to experience.
My favorite whisker-trimming story comes from my undergrad advisor, who has been a canine behaviorist for about 25 years. He knew a woman who couldn't figure out why her dog would be a great performer in the Obedience ring at some shows but a dazed, confused mess at others. It turns out that she trimmed his whiskers from time to time to "neaten his apperance" - and she always trimmed the night before a show. The shows that followed a whisker-trimming were the ones that he had difficulty with. The loss of that sense was enough to throw her dog off of his game.
Some dogs are more sensitive than others, of course - and some cuts (like a standard kennel clip on a poodle) call for shaving the whiskers clean off. If you have the option, though, I'd just leave them as they are.
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