Why do dogs have whiskers above their eyes? Are they just cute, or do they have a function that helps protect the dog?
Dogs have whiskers above their eyes as a sensory tool. Those whiskers help discern their environment, keep their eyes safe, and portray emotions. Without them, a dog has trouble carrying out their average day.
We know most animals have these tools, but they do tend to look different depending on the species. We’ll go into detail about all the basics of the whiskers above the eyebrows.
Basic information about dog whiskers
Whiskers above a dog’s eyes are also known as supraorbital whiskers. They help dogs navigate and sense their surroundings in the same way we use our hands on a daily basis.
They’re extremely sensitive to touch, too, making them excellent sensors for processing various elements and situations. Dogs use them day or night to function properly.
Supraorbital whiskers are some of the most important of all the whiskers on a dog’s body. They are deeply rooted in a dog’s skin and are surrounded by nerve endings at the base, helping a dog discern what’s happening around them.
Why do dogs have whiskers above their eyes?
Essentially, like antennae, these whiskers detect anything from danger to how close an object is to the dog’s body. The whiskers then signal to the brain how to react to the specific stimuli at the moment.
The brain then reacts with the correct action. This can look like the dog closing its eyes to avoid debris or tightening the eyelid to show expression, depending on what the dog is experiencing.
The supraorbital whiskers work as a highly sensitive security system to keep dogs’ eyes clean and healthy, as well as safe.
How supraorbital whiskers work
Whiskers are sensory organs that help dogs keep their bearings in the dark and avoid bumping into objects. The hair above a dog’s eyes is called an “eyebrow,” and although this is technically not a whisker, it serves the same purpose.
Dogs have other types of whiskers, too—on their snouts, around their mouths, and on their chins. All of which act as sensory tools for other parts of dogs’ daily routines.
They help dogs with their sense of touch and direction. The whiskers are attached to muscles that control the movement of the nose, so if your dog has them cut off or removed, he or she will have trouble finding their way around.
Communication and expression
It’s true that the whiskers are used as expressive communicators for both humans and other animals. The way a dog holds its whiskers signifies how the canine is feeling about something at the moment.
We’re all very familiar with puppy dog eyes. The eye whiskers are partially responsible for that cuteness overload by accenting the emotion the dog feels.
In the same spirit, the movement of those whiskers helps showcase everything else, too–nervousness, anger, excitement, etc. Your dog may even use its eye whiskers to express “I love you.” Next time you come home, take a look at your dog’s eye whiskers.
Supraorbital whiskers are an essential part of how a dog filters the events of the day. Specifically, anything that involves your dog’s vision.
These whiskers are hyper-sensitive and can pick up any outside stimuli and send messages to the brain to respond. They act as a defense system to ensure the dog’s safety.
Eye whiskers can relay a lot of information to a dog’s brain about the outside world. They can communicate how a dog feels, orient the dog inside or outside, and allow them to sense movement or sense proximity to any given object.
These whiskers help your pup navigate the world around them. Dogs use their whiskers to show emotions and sense movement.
Your dog uses them to detect movement, wind direction, and even temperature changes in the air.
Without these sensors, a dog becomes disoriented and unable to process its surroundings, making it harder for them to discern what’s safe.
From the moment they wake up until they go back to sleep, the whiskers process information.
Whisker care and maintenance
Effects of trimming or removing whiskers
Generally, you should never trim or remove your dog’s whiskers. If they aren’t posing any problems to your dog’s daily life, leave them alone.
Trimming or removing whiskers can have serious effects on a dog’s functionality. By doing so, you can disorient a dog.
As we know, the supraorbital whiskers are processing centers for the safety of the eyes, and with them altered, it can confuse your dog’s sense of what’s safe. Even the slightest alteration can affect a dog’s reasoning.
Whiskers do have the possibility of falling out naturally–and it’s okay–like hair whiskers can regrow! If you find your dog’s whiskers on the floor randomly, that means your dog is in the process of growing new ones.
In most cases, dogs take care of the whiskers themselves, so if you leave them alone, generally, whiskers will be fine. On the off chance you notice anything wrong concerning your dog’s whiskers, consult with a professional.
Trimming or plucking them yourself is not a reliable way to deal with what may be happening–a vet or groomer should be able to direct you in what needs to happen.
If your dog has recently been to the groomer and can’t open its eyes, check out this article.
Proper care and maintenance of a dog’s whiskers
As mentioned, dogs generally don’t need much help in the whisker maintenance department, especially if you keep a clean environment. If you notice them a bit itchier or irritated, feel free to clean them.
It’s important to keep your pooch’s whiskers clean so they can use them effectively as sensory tools. You can do this by brushing them daily with a soft-bristle brush or a damp cloth.
Whiskers above a dog’s eyes are essential to their overall health and well-being. They can help prevent bacteria from entering the dog’s body through their eyes.
If you notice your dog has an eye infection or other issue that could be caused by debris getting into his eyes, it is important to take him to the vet right away. There’s not much you can do at home to resolve any larger complications.
Supraorbital whiskers intact are essential
If your dog has lost its supraorbital whiskers, it may have difficulty with daily tasks, so it’s important to cater to the regrowth process as soon as possible. Consult with a professional to see what’s best for your pup.
Any infection near the whiskers needs to be addressed immediately to ensure your dog remains healthy. Supraorbital whiskers are essential to your dog’s vision processing center and must be taken care of properly.
Key points on supraorbital whiskers
Supraorbital whiskers are the hairs that grow above a dog’s eyes. Located above each eye, they play an important role in your dog’s daily life.
They help them avoid objects while moving, sense the safety of an environment, and express to the outside world how a dog feels.
These whiskers need to be groomed regularly. By cleaning them with a damp clean cloth or softly brushing them with a soft-bristled brush, you’ll help keep them clean and healthy.
The significance of supraorbital whiskers to remember
These whiskers are essential for dogs by providing a sense of touch and balance. It’s the way your dog communicates with others and expresses how they feel.
Supraorbital whiskers, among the rest of the whiskers on a dog’s body, are a diverse and essential part of a dog’s processing system.
All of them play a key role in the safety of a dog’s daily life, but supraorbital, specifically, is so important in a dog’s vision to function properly.
Without the whiskers above the eyes, your dog can get confused in their daily routines and leading to complications specific to your dog’s life and situation.
Further reading on supraorbital whiskers
There are a few options to check out to learn more about a dog’s whiskers. First is consulting your pet’s professionals–vet office, groomer, or even your local pet store.
More often than not, professionals in the industry lead you to great literature or resources on a specific topic. In the same regard, your local library may have an array of books about dogs, including information about their whiskers.
Other media sources, including documentaries, podcasts, and other trusted animal sites you frequent, can provide more knowledge on dog whiskers. Here’s a reliable and interesting place to start: I am Your Dog’s Supraorbital Whiskers.