The Real Reason Dogs Have Whiskers

Of all of the many things people love about dogs, their faces have to be in the top five. Running the gamut from long, sleek heads of Italian greyhounds to whatever microwave accident resulted in the Dogue de Bordeaux, the closest thing to a universal feature that our furry best friends possess is a set of adorable whiskers. But what do they do? Are they there just to give kids a simple, one line shape that they can draw when trying to replicate their pups? Did some unseen creator decide it would be funny if dogs sort of had mustaches but not very good ones?

Maybe, but the more academic answer is actually pretty cool, and it comes with neat science words to boot. Technically speaking, whiskers are called "vibrissae." Each one of these is connected at the base to a clump of nerves in the dog's snout, making the thick hairs extremely sensitive to touch. According to the American Kennel Club, whiskers are so finely tuned that they can even detect fluctuations in air pressure, allowing dogs to Spidey-Sense when they're getting too close to a wall or an obstacle. The Kennel Club even point outs that when a dog's whiskers are trimmed down, they become suddenly less sure of themselves in dark rooms, moving more slowly and purposefully as they try to adapt to what must be similar to the loss of a sense.

All of that being said, don't feel too bad if you or your groomer clipped your pup's sweet stache the last time they got a haircut. What with the important role that these hairs play, and the fact that they're more or less just made up of simple keratin like any other hair, it should only take a couple of weeks for them to grow back.