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Monday, March 16, 2015

Is It Okay To Cut A Dog's Whiskers?

I haven't had questions from readers in a while, and now I have several of them to answer.  Here's one from Crystal.

I am a fairly new subscriber to your blog.  I have a 4 month old Yorki Poo.  I was wondering if it is ok to cut her whiskers when grooming her face.  I've read different opinions online some saying to never cut the whiskers as they are needed and the dog's behavior can change if they are cut.
I'd love your opinion.

I answered a similar question about cat whiskers several years ago.  The same principle applies here.  A dog's whiskers aren't quite as important as a cat's whiskers, especially in captivity.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with trimming the whiskers along with the rest of the facial hair.  In fact, there's no way to trim the hair close without cutting the whiskers as well.  Grooming the facial hair happens routinely at grooming salons, and I have clients come in all of the time with small, fuzzy dogs who have had this part of the coat shortened, including the whiskers.  In 18 years of practice and 31 years in the profession, I have never seen a dog have any sort of problems after cutting whiskers.  Does it change the way they sense and feel things around their face?  Sure.  Because of the functionality of the structures it has to.  But this doesn't seem to cause any change in behavior or how they react to their environment.  Through selective breeding we have already significantly changed the structure and behavior of dogs from their wild ancestors.  We're not going to alter that significantly with a haircut. If it was my dog I wouldn't have any worries about doing this.


  1. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. Thank you so much for sharing your helpful tips.

  2. thank you for dispelling the great myths out there on the internet on this subject. For Dog's that are in house breeds I have a english Bulldog Boston terrier Mix and the whiskers get into her Cute Brown eye's.

  3. I'm a groomer, and trying to find any informative articles on whiskers has been a problem (most seem like opinions, without any sources). None so far have mentioned dog breeds besides "breed standards", when having to shave whiskers. Now I can see leaving the whiskers on a hunting breed, or a terrier, but you can't honestly say the same for a bichon shih tzu, a morkie, some doodles? Maybe if we didn't breed dogs to require grooming, whiskers would never be an issue. I think on some dogs I've groomed, and with their overgrown (sometimes severely matted or infected) faces, and it would be ridiculous to expect any groomer to pick out every whisker to save it. I doubt they are serving any function in those cases anyway.

    I bring this up because I've heard from a client (coming to me from another groomer) that "the last groomer cut her whiskers" (on a yorkie-maltese), and she "couldn't believe she did that", like the previous groomer grievously injured her dog. It's not bad intentions if a groomer does something you don't like. Granted sometimes it's ignorance (those groomers do exist), but I'd say a large majority of us do the best we can with what we get.

    Anyway, good to find a reliable source, that I can quote to future clients on this topic.

    Thanks!! :)

    1. Thank you Jenni! I have a Morkie and can't figure out how to trim around his mouth without cutting his whiskers... I'm relieved to hear from a groomer that it's not just me.
      That hair around their mouths has to be kept trimmed because it drags in their food & water and becomes a safe haven for bacteria.

    2. Hi Jenni, I cut my dogs whiskers by mistake! I feel so bad about it, he is going nuts for the last 2 weeks. He keeps burying his head in his bed & under cushions & is exhausted from what ever he is experiencing. I tried rubbing & massaging his face & the poor thing is not getting any relief.
      He is half a maltese & shitzu.
      I will never again cut his whiskers he seems to be tortured won't leave his bed.
      so sad.

  4. Thanks for your comment. I didn't see how YoY could bein and not cut the whiskers. I have been grooming my little terrier mix and cutting her whiskers but wasn't sure it was the right thing to do. Feel better now.

  5. I'm so thankful I found your blog! It relieves my heart to know it's ok to trim my Brussels Griffon whiskers. They are incredibly long and there's no way to trim the hair around her face without trimming the whiskers. Such a relief to know it's ok

  6. I have a golden doodle, 1.5 years old, has been behaving differently since getting a thorough haircut (including whiskers). Walking a little erratically, preferring to be alone, goes and lies down alone in the laundry room (where he never went before), restless and takes longer to settle in one spot. Very worrisome. Best suggestion I can think of it's the first time he lost his whiskers.
    I guess every dog is different. I hope they grow back quickly because I'm worried about this behavior change.


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