All dogs have whiskers or vibrissa, which are “feelers” for your dogs. So, Beagles also have whiskers.
These coarse, wiry hairs are two times thicker and longer than the regular hair of your dog.
They are also one of the first hairs to develop.
Whiskers deliver sensory messages to the dog’s brain. They also help them have a better understanding of their surroundings.
Owners are confused about whether to cut the whiskers or not. If you want to know more about it, look no further.
Yes, they do! How to spot them?
A lot of owners may think whiskers are only on the muzzle. But whiskers are present on the Beagle’s chin, upper lips, eyebrows and cheeks.
We don’t want to get too scientific, but whiskers come in different types:
Mystacial whiskers: these are the shortest ones on the upper lip or the muzzle of the dog.
Interramal whiskers: they are under their chin.
Genal whiskers: on their cheeks.
Supraorbital whiskers: are around the top, near the eyebrows.
Are whiskers important in Beagles?
Humans associate the sense of touch with their fingers. Whiskers play a similar role to dogs.
They perform as receptors for important information regarding the size, speed and shape of nearby objects.
It helps dogs sense coming dangers by feeling the vibrations in the air currents.
They act as antennas for dogs.
Act as their “eyes” but using touch.
Let’s look at their importance in more detail.
Identification and detection
The nerves and blood vessels embed deeply under the skin of the whiskers. These nerves transmit information to the sensory cells.
When a movement occurs nearby, dogs can pick up vibrations in the air. This activates the nerves and helps them evaluate the shape, size, and speed of the object.
Dogs don’t have enhanced eyesight. So, they rely on their whiskers to identify objects and movements around them.
This can be extremely helpful for older dogs or dogs with vision impairment.
Beagles are hounds, so they were bred to be hunting dogs. Therefore, they have a powerful sense of smell. Their farsightedness makes it challenging to see closer objects. But whiskers help detect those close objects.
While your dog is sniffing in the bushes, the whiskers’ ability help avoid branches and pointy things. They keep your dog’s face safe. Being sensitive to the vibrations, they help determine the presence of harmful objects.
See in the dark
Dogs nearsightedness becomes weaker even at night. Whiskers help in navigation and act as radar sensors during darkness.
The neurons send information about the surroundings to the brain. It helps them become aware of the environment at night, so they can navigate in the dark.
Indicates mood and health
If your dog feels threatened, they will automatically flare the whiskers. They become pointy if the dog is in an unfamiliar surrounding or situation.
When they are happy and comfortable, the whiskers will be relaxed. They will fold towards the chin to indicate that they are content.
However, if your Beagle is unwell, the whiskers will have a split or drop.
So, whiskers help determine your dog’s mood and help us understand their body language.
Is it okay to trim the whiskers?
To trim or not to trim, that is the question.
While it is okay to trim your dog’s whiskers, the general advice is not to. The procedure to cut the dog’s whiskers is standard for cosmetics purposes (dog shows). It will not be painful for the dog as the hairs do not have any pain receptors.
If you are the frustrated owner of a furry dog, you can cut your dog’s whiskers. It will help prevent the accumulation of dirt.
Beagles not only have short hair but are also easy to groom. You can certainly cut their whiskers because it is a parent-pet preference. Although cutting the whiskers for any purpose except appearance or infection is not necessary.
If you accidentally cut the whiskers, don’t worry. Usually, they grow back, but only if the cut is at the skin’s surface.
You only need to be concerned when they don’t for a long time.
Downsides of cutting their whiskers
Whiskers are connected deeply. Moreover, they help dogs in many ways. Several problems may occur if you cut them. It affects all the essential aspects we mentioned before:
Your dog might feel a little confused, lost, or disoriented. This is because the whiskers are connected to the nerves that provide them with sensory input. Now, your dog will have one less tool to help them.
They may fail to notice the objects around them as it will affect their detection abilities.
They will bump into things or nearby items.
Their ability to track movements and objects will reduce. It will eventually affect their ability to judge (whether it’s prey or a harmful object).
As the whiskers help them during the night, they might no longer help them see in darkness.
They may not be as quick to respond to movements.
Last but not least, it will reduce their confidence.
How to trim the Whiskers when they get too long
We do not recommend cutting their whiskers due to the disadvantages we listed above. But if you decide to do so, it is better to consult your vet first. Also, have a conversation with your groomer about your preferences.
You can use clippers or scissors but remember: it is done best by professionals.
Warning: Do Not pull, pluck or twist the whiskers. Since they are attached to nerves and blood vessels at the root, it will cause a lot of pain to your dog and even lead to bleeding.
These thin hairs may not seem as much, but they have a vital role to play. Before considering cutting their whiskers, make sure you have a basic understanding of them.
It is okay to trim their whiskers. Keep in mind the possible outcomes ranging from disorientation, poor navigation, and loss of a supportive mechanism.
These “tactile hairs” are sensitive. So, be sensitive towards them. All your thoughts and queries are welcome in the comments. Share this article if you found it informative.
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.