If you have seen the office, you must remember that scene when everyone was trying to remember whether Stanley had a mustache or not. This is exactly how I felt the first time the question of whiskers on golden retrievers popped up in my mind. I mean, I look at my dog more than I look at anyone else in my life, how can I not remember whether they have whiskers or not?
If you are in the same place, don’t worry, our minds just tend to like to play tricks on us all the times.
So, do golden retrievers have whiskers? Golden Retrievers have whiskers, the same as all other dog breeds. Your Golden Retriever’s whiskers are as sensitive as human fingertips, and they will have those whiskers throughout their life. Whiskers help the dog navigate the world by aiding his vision and other sensors.
A dog’s whiskers are actually very important for them, and they are much more than what they look like. To understand more why goldens have whiskers, how important these whiskers are, and what you need to know about them for grooming your dog’s face, keep on reading…
Why Do Golden Retrievers Have Whiskers?
Dog whiskers are kind of like the antennae on insects, they are a sort of a sensory radar that give the dog information about movements of objects around him. They are often called “tactile hairs”, but it’s important to note here that they don’t actually feel anything.
A dog’s whiskers are able to detect slight movements and changes in the air currents around them, these changes are so subtle that it’s impossible for us, humans to detect. By feeling these subtle changes, the whiskers can transmit information to sensory cells about the size, shape, and speed of nearby objects.
So, in essence, a dog’s whiskers are his radar. The whiskers can detect very faint vibrations that are caused by the slightest changes in air currents and send this information instantly to the canine brain, and by so helping dogs sense things that they may not be able to see.
Whiskers, much like other senses, are always working and are constantly sending information to the canine brain, helping it construct a better image of the world around the dog.
Whiskers can allow dogs to sense objects in their path in the dark to avoid pumping into stuff, and in the wild, it allows dogs to sense the presence of prey or a predator gaining on them. And, of course, they also allow them to be better hunters. You can learn more about golden retrievers as hunting dogs here.
Speaking of seeing in the dark, you can learn how dogs really see in the dark here.
Whiskers can also detect the slightest particles when they fall on them. This means that they probably help the dog in feeling the arrival of natural phenomenons such as storms, hurricanes, rain, or maybe even earthquakes and volcanic activities.
How Whiskers Help Dogs Communicate Emotions
If you have not noticed already, but dogs do not have eyebrows like humans, so whiskers also help the dog communicate emotions similar to the way eyebrows do with humans. They especially show when the dog is smiling, such as in the image above.
And yes, dogs smile, and goldens, in particular, have distinct smiles. You can learn about why golden retrievers smile here and I also explain the different types of golden retriever smiles, so make sure to check it out.
Whiskers accentuate the dog’s eyes and help them show facial expressions better. It’s not known whether this function has developed as a way of helping dogs communicate better with us or not, but I, for one, I’m pretty glad it exists because my dog’s smile always makes my day a thousand times better.
Whiskers and the dog’s brain
To help you understand how important whiskers are for your dog’s ability to perceive the world, it’s important to note that a good portion of their brain is devoted to just process data from touch sensors. That’s the reason dogs can pick up on stuff we’re completely oblivious to.
In fact, studies show that almost 40% of the brain’s sensory area aligns with parts of the body that have whiskers and that we can trace each individual whisker back to a specific spot in the brain. This means that whiskers occupy important and valuable neurological real estate in the dog’s body.
Can You Cut a Dog’s Whiskers?
You can’t cut a dog’s whiskers. Cutting a dog’s whiskers will seriously affect the dog’s ability to sense and interact with the world around them. Plucking a dog’s whiskers is also very painful to the dog as whiskers have a lot of nerve endings at the base.
You should be extremely careful when grooming your dog’s face to not cause any damage or harm to their whiskers. In some rare situations, the vet may order the whiskers trimmed or cut, but other than that, you should leave your dog’s whiskers alone.
Do Dog groomers cut dog whiskers?
Unfortunately, many dog groomers trim the whiskers on long-haired breeds. Trimming the whiskers of long-haired breeds has become a common practice with many dog groomers, but it is a bad idea as discussed before.
The whiskers of long-haired breeds are as important as the whiskers on any other dogs, and just because they are a bit longer is not an excuse to trim them. Whiskers are more than hair and they serve important functions for the dog.
If you are going to take your dog to a groomer, make sure to ask them whether they’re planning on trimming the dog’s whiskers or not, and if they are, ask them to not trim your dog’s whiskers and to just leave them alone.
I’m not going to lie, I am not a big fan of groomers. I grew up with a few anxious dogs that didn’t like strangers touching them with sharp tools, so I had to learn to groom my dogs myself, and even though it does take quite a bit of practice, especially when you own large double-coated dogs like goldens, it is absolutely worth it.
If you have the time and energy, I highly recommend you learn to groom your dog yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s not brain-surgery-difficult either, and almost anyone can learn to do it.
To help you start, here is my guide on trimming golden retriever tail and feathers, and I have another guide here on trimming your goldens’ paws.
Do Dog Whiskers grow back?
Thankfully, dog whiskers are still hair and they will grow back. Dog whiskers go through a growth cycle just like normal hairs and will grow back on their own.
Still, it’s never a good idea to cut them yourself or trim them short. Just leave them be.
How Many Whiskers does a Golden Retriever have?
Golden Retrievers typically have 40 whiskers on their upper lips with 4 to 8 whiskers above their eyes and 2 to 4 whiskers on their checks, and the number of whiskers can change depending on your dog’s size and age.
Grooming Your Dog’s Face and Whiskers
When grooming your golden retriever’s face, you should avoid pulling on their whiskers, and you shouldn’t trim or cut down their whiskers even if you think they are long. Golden Retrievers whiskers can be longer than other breeds’ whiskers but that’s because they’re a long-haired breed, so all the hair in their body is considered long.
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What happens if you cut off a dog’s whiskers?
Cutting off a dog’s whiskers can seriously negatively impact your dog’s spatial awareness and ability to detect objects and movements nearby. Cutting off the hair with scissors will not hurt as the hair itself doesn’t have any pain receptors, but plucking the whiskers can be very painful as the base of the whiskers have many nerve endings.
Do Golden Retriever’s Whiskers Grow Back?
Yes, Golden Retrievers Whiskers can grow back because whiskers go through the same growth cycle as the remaining hair in the golden retriever’s body. Golden Retrievers’ whiskers should not be cut down, pulled, plucked, or trimmed because they help the dog’s spatial awareness significantly.
Why are Golden Retrievers Whiskers So Long?
Golden Retrievers whiskers are typically long because they are hair that goes through the same growth cycle and because golden retrievers are a long-haired breed. You should not trim down your golden retrievers whiskers or allow the groomer to do so.
What are pumps with whiskers on my dog’s face?
Those pumps with whiskers on your dog’s face can simply be the spots the dog’s whiskers grow from and they are probably not acne. Unless they appear red or swollen, you shouldn’t worry about those pumps and leave your dog’s whiskers on their own.
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz (which you can also check on Amazon here)
Golden Retrievers for Dummies by Nona Kilgore Bauer
Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources
- Want the best diet for your dog? Check out the best and healthiest foods for golden retrievers at every age here – Dry, Wet, Homemade Recipes, and Treats!
- Looking for new toys? These toys will prove to be fun, engaging, and will stand their heavy chewing.
- Make them look GLAMOROUS with the best shampoos and conditioners and the best brushes here.
- Taking a walk? These are the best leashes, collars, and harnesses for the buck that you can find.
- Find my list of recommendations here.