Dogs truly are fascinating creatures. There is so much to observe about them when it comes to their behavior, antics, and even their appearance. If you just got a pet dog, you probably have countless questions about these beautiful animals. One of the most commonly asked questions about dogs is related to their whiskers.
Have you ever wondered what dog whiskers are for? They are a prominent part of their body, so they must have a purpose, right? Interestingly, whiskers do have a very important and interesting role to play in a dogs’ anatomy and functioning.
So, let’s jump right into the topic and share the answers with you:
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What are whiskers?
In case you’re wondering what whiskers are, they are actually the long, thin hair that projects out of the snout of a number of mammals. Whiskers can also be found above the eyes, or on the chin or the upper lip, depending on the animal or breed.
The hair is generally stiff, long, and bristle-like. Plus, the roots are more than three times deep than regular hair.
You may have noticed whiskers on animals like dogs, cats, as well as hamsters, and mice. And this hair is not just a part of their body without any specific purpose. Whiskers actually have a number of uses for animals.
What do dogs use their whiskers for?
All dogs have whiskers. In fact, whiskers are one of the first types of hair to develop and appear when they are born. Compared to regular hair, whisker hair is very sensitive. This is because they are packed with sensory nerves.
Dogs’ sense of touch is actually located in their whiskers. And that’s not all. Whiskers are extremely essential in helping the dog perform most of its daily activities. So, how do whiskers really work?
Whenever there is an object or movement, the whiskers can detect them and relay the information to the dogs’ sensory cells. This whisker hair is also called ‘tactile’ hair. It vibrates whenever a sensation is felt, such as moving air currents.
Another fact you should know is that this vibration is what gives whiskers their name. The scientific name for whiskers is ‘vibrissae’ a Latin word that means ‘to vibrate’.
In short, whiskers play an important part in a dog’s life by helping it navigate the world and make sense of its’ surroundings.
Whiskers communicate dogs’ emotions
Whiskers have more than just one basic purpose. They even perform complex roles like expressing a dog’s current emotional state.
For instance, if the dog is excited, threatened, happy, or curious, you will also see a change in the movement of their whiskers.
And when the dog is resting, the whiskers also go into rest mode. So, whiskers are literally a form of expression for your pet dog!
Whiskers act as the dogs’ radars
Whiskers even play a part in improving the dogs’ not so sharp eyesight. Actually, dogs have good distance vision but they are not very capable of focusing on the closer objects. This is where whiskers come to play. They effectively let the dog know when something is close to it or right under its’ nose.
Additionally, whiskers help dogs detect prey nearby, and also help them locate things. It’s pretty cool, right?
Whiskers protect the dog
Whiskers have the ability to protect the dog too. From the greater things like enemies to the smallest, harmful dust particles too. It is similar to how the nerves on our hands tell us to stay away from fire. When a dog approaches something sharp or dangerous, its’ whiskers sense it and convey the message to avoid injury.
They even protect the dog from getting stuck in smaller spaces. Whiskers even help the dog decide their best possible route.
The next time you observe a dogs’ whiskers, you will now know that these hair are actually a vital organ for them. They are extremely reliable and useful touch sensors for animals, in more ways than we can possibly know.
This means that the whiskers need to be protected too. Always be careful when handling the dog and be gentle around their whiskers. Never pull or snip them because that will cause them pain. Plus, dogs ‘need’ their whiskers to function properly.
We hope this article was informational and you now know what the real purpose of a dog’s whiskers are.