Most pet owners don’t realize that the whiskers on their poodle’s face are more than long hairs, but they serve a purpose. Whiskers play an important role in helping your poodle successfully navigate the world around them. They allow your dog to determine the size, shape, and speed of objects.
Poodles have whiskers to help them navigate their surroundings. It’s perfectly fine to trim your poodle’s whiskers if you’re trying to achieve a “clean” look. While not common to trim a dog’s whiskers, it’s relatively harmless and won’t cause your poodle any pain.
Most pet owners choose to leave their dog’s whiskers intact. However, trimming whiskers is very common in the show dog world. All show poodles, no matter the size, have their whiskers shaved off if they are getting a “clean” face before the big day. Similarly, other short-haired show dogs like cocker spaniels have their whiskers shaved for a cleaner look.
You don’t have to have a show poodle to get a “clean” face though. Trimming a poodle’s facial hair and whiskers is a personal preference. If your poodle’s muzzle hair is constantly getting food or dirt stuck in it, you might decide that a full facial cut is the best option to keep your dog clean, sanitary, and bacteria-free.
Do Poodles Have Whiskers & How Do You Spot Them?
All mammals, except for humans, have whiskers known as vibrissae. Whiskers don’t just grow on the muzzle, but you’ll find them on your poodle’s cheeks, chin, and eyebrows as well. Take a look at your poodle next time he’s cuddling up beside you—the whiskers are easy to spot due to being thicker and longer than your poodle’s natural hair.
Although commonly known as whiskers to most pet owners, whiskers on the muzzle, cheeks, eyebrows, and chin all have different names.:
- Mystacial whiskers
- Superbital whiskers
- Interramal tufts
The most commonly noted whiskers can be found on your poodle’s muzzle and are called mystacial whiskers originating from the word mustache. Superbital whiskers are found where your dog’s “eyebrows” would be. Those on the chin are called interramal tufts, while whiskers on your poodle’s cheeks are known as genal whiskers.
What Is the Purpose of Your Poodle’s Whiskers?
Like cats, bears, and seals, dogs use their whiskers to get a better understanding of their surroundings. Unlike the fur on their body, your poodle’s whiskers have a higher concentration of touch-sensitive neurons at their base. These neurons allow the whiskers to send a warning signal to let your dog know there is something near its face.
Aside from color blindness, dogs don’t have a great sense of sight. Because of this, they need assistance in detecting their surroundings to ensure they avoid potential obstacles and dangers. That’s why their whiskers play an important role in Poodle’s spatial awareness.
These signals from their whiskers help your poodle navigate through the world, preventing them from running into people, walls, furniture, and other objects. Your poodle’s whiskers become even more important at night when they need to navigate in the dark. Your poodle’s whiskers help them to understand and sense things in their environment before they come in contact.
Whiskers also act like a human’s eyelashes, instructing their eyes to close if something touches them. This instinct comes into play in real-world scenarios, helping your dog dodge branches and keep twigs out of their eyes when on a leisurely walk. Keep in mind that their whiskers are extremely delicate, which is why you might notice your dog flinch if you lightly touch their whiskers.
Your poodle’s whiskers not only send a signal to their brain but can signal you about their feelings as well! If a dog feels threatened, their whiskers might flare out or point forward. If you notice these subtle movements with your poodle’s whiskers, you should remove your dog from the situation to make them feel comfortable.
Along with signaling to you when your dog feel’s threatened, their whiskers can also tell you about their overall health. If you noticed your poodle’s whiskers are splitting at the ends or drooping, it could indicate health issues. Similarly, if your poodle sheds their whiskers and they don’t grow back over the course of a few weeks, your dog could be suffering from a vitamin deficiency. If your poodle’s whiskers are cut during a grooming session, you might not be able to catch a health problem should one occur.
Can You Cut a Poodle’s Whiskers During Grooming?
The short answer: Yes, you can cut a poodle’s whiskers without causing harm to your dog.
The long answer: Although most groomers do not cut whiskers and will trim a dog’s hair around them, you can cut a poodle’s whiskers—and it’s quite common for this long-haired breed.
Poodles have long-haired fuzzy faces, which are adorable but can cause dirt, food, and other debris to become encrusted or tangled in their muzzles. Because of the dirt and tangles, groomers may find the need to trim your poodle’s facial hair, including their whiskers, to help keep your dog’s face clean and free from bacteria buildup.
If you plan on showing your poodle, trimming their whiskers is the standard haircut. But you don’t need to own a show dog to have a clean look! You can request this with your groomer who will be able to give your poodle a “clean” face—resulting in a trim of all their facial hair, including their whiskers.
What Happens If You Cut a Poodle’s Whiskers?
Whiskers are the way your poodle sense their surroundings. Their whiskers around them sense the size and shapes of objects, navigate around walls and obstacles, prevent them from getting injured, and determine how narrow or tight a hole is. If your poodle gets a clean cut with the whiskers removed, there is a chance they feel a bit disoriented, run into more objects, and impact their spatial awareness.
It’s still unclear whether there are consequences other than mild disorientation, but overall, a slight trim of your poodle’s whiskers is harmless. If your poodle’s whiskers get cut during their grooming session, they will eventually grow back.
Does Cutting Whiskers Hurt?
Although whiskers have neurons that signal to your dog about their surroundings, the hairs themselves don’t have a nerve supply (like any other hair!). Cutting your poodle’s whiskers won’t hurt them, it’s the same feeling as if you were cutting their nails.
However, your poodle’s whiskers should never be plucked! This would be extremely painful for your dog.
Should I Trim Dog Whiskers?
This is your personal preference! If you are showing your poodle or prefer a “clean” face, you can choose to have their facial hair (and whiskers) cut.
If you don’t have a preference, whiskers don’t need to be shaved, trimmed, or cut and you can leave them as is. The removal of whiskers is an aesthetic choice but can reduce some of the functionality of their environmental sensors.
When you take your poodle to get groomed, have a clear conversation with the groomer about your preferences and what type of haircut you’re expecting.
Do Dog Whiskers Grow Back If Cut?
Yes, like the rest of your poodle’s hair, their whiskers will grow back. If a whisker-free look is what you’re trying to achieve, you will need to have your poodle’s whiskers trimmed during their regular grooming sessions. If your groomer accidentally cut them off, no need to fret, because your poodle’s whiskers will grow back.