To whisker or not to whisker..that is the question

Good grooming practices are essential for maintaining health and happiness for you and your dog. This is a forum to exchange tips and advice for proper care of your dog's hygiene needs.


Stubborn Wiener
Barked: Fri Jan 26, '07 2:44pm PST 
Hey guys... I've been wondering,the mommys and daddys that cut they're dog's whiskers...why do you do it? is there any special sniffing reason, or just because they are itchy when in contact with your doggy? please help me solve this dilema.

Old dogs gotta- have love too!!!
Barked: Fri Jan 26, '07 3:49pm PST 
Some of my customers have me trim their dog's whiskers. I have never had anyone give me any other explanation except that it makes for a neat and tidy apperance. I will tell you that the folicles that hold the whiskers can become swollen and infected if the dog is not used to having them done regularly. I have seen it happen a few times. A vet or your dogs' groomer can help you with making this decision. way to go
Socks - My Angel

I'm a GIRL!!!!

Barked: Fri Jan 26, '07 4:18pm PST 
Mom trims off my whiskers because I easily get mats around my snout, and it is difficult to cut the mats without cutting the whiskers.


Silent Observer
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.
Ginger DSA- ThD TT CGC - &hearts

My Angel
Barked: Mon Jan 29, '07 4:03pm PST 
The only reasons I know for trimming whiskers is because the owner likes it better that way and if you are showing in conformation, some breeds are supposed to have the whiskers trimmed.

Personally I'd never do it with my dogs. The only thing I do is sometimes I trim one of Ginger's 'eyebrow' whiskers if they are curling towards her eye... I've found when I do that the whisker that is trimmed tends to feel really sharp and scratchy/pointy and it ends up poking me when I pet her! If I leave the whiskers alone and with her muzzle whiskers which I never trim, they don't feel pointy or prickley at all...

Dreams sometimes- come true
Barked: Mon Jan 29, '07 9:23pm PST 
wow..Mom is study dog grooming and they have not mention anything about the whiskers hmmmmhmmmm.
So far ALL have been snipped and no one has said a thing

Is that snack- for me??
Barked: Tue Jan 30, '07 8:48am PST 
Storm what info are you basing this on? I've always heard this but I asked the vet and she said I could easily cut half Indy's wiskers and he'd be fine, the office has a cat that doesn't have any due to damage to the follicles following an accident and he leaps around with no problem.

Silent Observer
Barked: Tue Jan 30, '07 12:25pm PST 
I got this information while taking my canine behavior class with my undergraduate advisor (the canine behaviorist I mentioned above) a few years ago. We covered the canine's nervous and sensory systems and spent a good amount of time discussing how different they are from our own.

My mother has a toy poodle whose whiskers are clipped regularly, and she is fine. She's used to it.

I imagine that the reaction would depend on the dog, much like the reaction to blowing in a dog's face differs. My family's dog (a border collie mix) doesn't like having her face blown on, but her reaction isn't all that extreme. I've met dogs who absolutely flip out when the same is done to them. Other dogs seem to be indifferent (like my mom's toy poodle or Storm) and others seem to like the experience. I would imagine that the more sensitive dogs would be the ones who would notice the change and take a day or two to acclimate.

Edited by author Tue Jan 30, '07 12:26pm PST


more cheese- please
Barked: Tue Jan 30, '07 2:31pm PST 
My mom was clueless when she got me, and in the grooming part of my puppy class the teacher recommended trimming whiskers for a "clean face". Well my mom did it a number of times.

I earned the nicknamed "claudetsky" for my gneral clumsiness during this period, then one of my friend's mom pointed out to my mom that the whiskers are very receptive sensors and really shouldn't be trimmed. So now I'm a hairy face, but still a little clumsy.

I rule on high
Barked: Wed Jan 31, '07 3:40am PST 
Thanks for the answer storm. I see so many people state opinion as fact on here I was just curious. I don't clip my two current pups but we did our sheltie years ago and he never paid it any mind.