Dogs, like people, have various body parts, and each one serves a specific function. The purpose of some of those canine features is pretty obvious; without their feet, for example, they wouldn’t be able to go on those enjoyable walks on their dog harness or wear those super adorable dog boots, and without their mouths, they couldn’t eat their dog food or play with the dozens of toys they have, like their plush dog toys, rope and tug toys, or interactive dog toys (of course, these body parts serve more basic functions, too.) But have you ever stopped to think about what their whiskers do?
Below, we’ll shed some light on dog whiskers and explain why they are an important feature on your canine companion.
What are Dog Whiskers?
Whiskers, which are actually called vibrissae, a term that comes from the Latin word “vibrio”, which means “vibrate” in English, serve an incredibly important function. Believe it or not, they are actually more than just cute little piece of hair that poke out of your pup’s muzzle; they are highly sensitive hairs, and your pup relies on them to perform a variety of everyday tasks. If you take a closer look at your pooch, you’ll notice that he has whiskers right above his eyes, underneath his chin, and above his upper lip, too.
These sensitive hairs are super coarse; much coarse than the rest of his luxurious dog hair that you wash down with a high-quality dog shampoo and comb out with a dog brush. They’re also embedded deeper into his skin than the rest of his hair and they contain dozens of blood vessels and nerves.
What do Whiskers Do?
As mentioned, dog whiskers are highly sensitive, thanks to the blood vessels and nerves that they contain. Believe it or not, they are as sensitive, if not more sensitive, than your fingertips! Since they are so highly sensitive, when anything touches your pup’s whiskers – even if the air blows through them – they vibrate, and that vibration stimulates your furry pal’s nerves. These hairs help your pup navigate through his environment, which makes his whiskers an incredibly important feature.
Whiskers actually work in conjunction with a canine’s vision. Because they can pick up even the most subtle changes in the vibrations of the air that surrounds them, their whiskers can alert them of the presence of nearby objects; in the wild, whiskers would help canines spot prey, for example. Believe it or not, whiskers can actually even tell your pooch the size and shape of a nearby object, and how fast it’s moving, too! It’s because of whiskers that canines are able to hunt in the dark, and it’s how they avoid pumping into things.
Your pup’s whiskers also help him find small items, such as dog treats, chew toys for dogs, and even piece of dry dog food that may have escaped his dog bowl. Another function: they help your pup navigate; for example, his whiskers can tell him if a space is big enough to fit through or if he needs to go around.
Picture your dog’s whiskers as small little radars that are attached to his body. They are an extremely important feature and play several vital roles in your furry friend’s life.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our dog product reviews!