Whiskers,do you cut them?
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  1. #21
    Pai
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    So Peppy doesn't like the idea of cutting whiskers, so they claim everyone who does is practically an animal abuser.
    People have shaved dogs' faces for decades, and dogs do not suffer any debilitation effects from it. That's just a fact, and you know it, because if it weren't so, there would be PROOF (studies, etc) that it was harmful. And there isn't. Period.

    You have a personal opinion; accept that without getting mad that other people don't agree with it and trying to portray them as being horrible people. Acting like removing a dog's whiskers is like chopping off a limb or something is just ridiculous.

    You may as well bash breeds that have been created to have far more coat than is 'natural', or dogs with strangely shaped bodies or heads. Without constant human tinkering and support, 90% of all dogs would drop dead in the wild for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not they have whiskers. So if your entire position is based on 'natural = good and unnatural = bad', you'd have to have a problem with most dogs existing in the first place. They don't HAVE to be able to survive in the wild, that's the entire point of a DOMESTICATED animal.

    "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." ~Roger Caras

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    'Animal abuser' ....'horrible person' not my words and far too strong for cutting off whiskers.

    .... dogs do not suffer any debilitation effects from it
    And how do you know this? Read the post above. You are in denial.

    They don't HAVE to be able to survive in the wild, that's the entire point of a DOMESTICATED animal.
    So what is your point? That you can do anything to them that you want, as long as they can still survive in your bungalow?

    You want to talk about facts? The facts here are simple:
    i) the whiskers do provide functionality for the dog, their survival does not depend on them but they are used.
    ii) the whiskers are being cut off for purely cosmetic reasons.

    So at least be honest. Say 'I know the dog is better off with his whiskers, but I cut them off so that he looks better in his pictures; that is what is more important to me'.

    I'm fine with that, its your dog, you're not killing him, but be honest about it.

    Still, I wouldn't let my daughter do it. I want her to respect the dog for what he is.

  4. #23
    Senior Member Dakota Spirit's Avatar
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by peppy264 View Post
    So someone should be able to do whatever they want to a dog until somebody else proves it is harmful, rather than having to prove something is not harmful BEFORE doing it to a dog?
    No. But if you are going to question something in the manner that you are (ie. past the curiosity stage and onto the "You know you're doing wrong" stage) then YOU need to have proof to back yourself up. Something other then "How do you know such and such". Because honestly, all that makes me want to do is counter with a question of how you know what you claim to know. Part of debating, arguing, or otherwise making a case is having factual information to not only debunk whatever the other side is claiming but also back up your own statements. Otherwise you're just one person flying in with baseless comments...which is usually something that gets ignored or in this case, generally brushed off.

    There really isn't any hard core proof in either direction though. I doubt there are any "Does cutting a dogs whiskers off hurt it?" studies. However, there is plenty of anecdotal information and experience to suggest that the animals really aren't affected one way or the other. Given that, it brings up the question - Do you have any experience with an animal that was 'debilitated' because his/her whiskers were clipped?

    Edit: Also, I really don't get why people are so wrapped up in the cosmetic issue. As long as it isn't hurting the dog then why does it matter if someone does it for looks? Half the things we do with dogs are for looks - haircuts, the way we breed them, the features we breed for, how we feed and exericise them (for health yes, but also to get that eye pleasing body type) and so on. I just find it interesting how strongly people feel on these issues, 'speaking up for the dog', when the dog isn't being harmed in any way at all.
    Last edited by Dakota Spirit; 06-16-2009 at 07:44 PM.



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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dakota Spirit View Post
    I doubt there are any "Does cutting a dogs whiskers off hurt it?" studies.
    Agreed.

    However, there is plenty of anecdotal information and experience to suggest that the animals really aren't affected one way or the other.
    You're assuming people would notice if the dog was affected. It could be more subtle than that. We are not dogs. We can barely understand in what ways they perceive the world. I think you are assuming a lot there.

    Given that, it brings up the question - Do you have any experience with an animal that was 'debilitated' because his/her whiskers were clipped?
    Well Wolfiee describes what whiskers are used for. When they are removed they can no longer be used for that. Thats a debilitation. How significant it is, neither I nor you can really tell. I agree its not life threatening or even close. But I don't think you have any evidence that it is totally insignificant either. And, as I said, I think the onus is on the person doing the cutting to establish they are not doing any harm. If unsure, the dog should be left alone.

    Also, I really don't get why people are so wrapped up in the cosmetic issue. As long as it isn't hurting the dog then why does it matter if someone does it for looks? Half the things we do with dogs are for looks - haircuts, the way we breed them, the features we breed for, how we feed and exericise them (for health yes, but also to get that eye pleasing body type) and so on. I just find it interesting how strongly people feel on these issues, 'speaking up for the dog', when the dog isn't being harmed in any way at all.
    Good cosmetics is OK but not if pursued to the detriment of the dog. Haircuts are harmless. Exercise is good for them. As far as breeding them for a certain look, well I think that is despicable if pursued to the detriment of the dogs health or functionality. Far worse than cutting whiskers.
    Last edited by peppy264; 06-16-2009 at 07:54 PM.

  6. #25
    Senior Member Dakota Spirit's Avatar
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by peppy264 View Post
    You're assuming people would notice if the dog was affected. It could be more subtle than that. We are not dogs. We can barely understand in what ways they perceive the world. I think you are assuming a lot there.
    Actually, I'm assuming that people know their pets. That they know their behavior and understand what is and isn't normal for them. And yes, I'm assuming they would know if something was wrong. In the case of the people on this board and most in the Show business - such an assumption generally holds true.

    I'm also not playing the 'what if' game. I think its more or less ridicules to take such a simple practice that has gone on for what has to be generations now and though there is no proof to suggest it's harmful hold the stance that the 'harm' might just be something small that we can't see. To me, that doesn't make sense. Not when there's no proof to suggest such a thing. I'm not saying everyone should accept whisker cutting - I just think it's silly to pick apart something on a guess, on the belief that everyone has simply never noticed the damage their causing.

    To each their own though. I don't have a problem if you cut or don't cut.
    Last edited by Dakota Spirit; 06-16-2009 at 08:20 PM.



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    Senior Member rosemaryninja's Avatar
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    The whiskers, or more properly, vibrissae, are important sensory mechanisms that the dog uses in several ways. Each individual whisker connects to a specific brain region, so that the dog can actually perceive movements of each whisker. About 40% of the part of the dog's brain that handles tactile information is devoted to the face, and a big piece of that to the region where the whiskers are located. Any time that much brain tissue is devoted to one thing, it's a sure sign that it's an important sensory mechanism.

    They help the dog detect when something is near his face, and may help them detect whether a surface is rough or smooth, as well as the shapes of objects. They help dogs navigate in dim light. As the dog moves, the air currents stirred up by his movements bounce off walls and other objects, and the vibrissae are capable of detecting these and helping the dog avoid walls or other objects. Each hair is capable of being moved by small muscles, and a dog will actively move these back and forth across objects, as well as move his head to get information about the things near his face. Watch how your dog behaves when he brings his head near an object, of when you lightly touch one of his whiskers.

    Stanley Coren writes about this in more detail in his book "How Dogs Think". He also described an experiment in which a blind Sheltie (?) had his whiskers cut...the Sheltie was much less able to navigate his surroundings and kept bumping into various things.
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    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Wally's are well "hidden" into his facial hair and I have no plans on getting him shaved.

    I don't think I'd ever cut them off though. I've read that dogs do use them and, for me, that's enough for me to feel they should keep them, regardless of whether or not I "like" the way they look.

    Quote Originally Posted by rosemaryninja View Post
    They help the dog detect when something is near his face, and may help them detect whether a surface is rough or smooth, as well as the shapes of objects. They help dogs navigate in dim light. As the dog moves, the air currents stirred up by his movements bounce off walls and other objects, and the vibrissae are capable of detecting these and helping the dog avoid walls or other objects. Each hair is capable of being moved by small muscles, and a dog will actively move these back and forth across objects, as well as move his head to get information about the things near his face. Watch how your dog behaves when he brings his head near an object, of when you lightly touch one of his whiskers.
    Yeah, I've noticed Wally almost rub his head against things, or when he sniffs he sometimes "sniffs to the side" where the side of his face is going over the object while he's sniffing. I've seen him hesitate to go through spaces probably because of this (he thinks they are too close).
    Last edited by KBLover; 06-16-2009 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    I don't see how anybody can read Rosemaryninja's post and still defend cutting off whiskers. If you love your dog why would you do that?

    You shouldn't mess with mother nature unless there is a good reason for it and you have a high degree of confidence you are not doing harm. Its irrelevant whether it has been done for 100 years or not.

    All of you tail dockers, ear croppers, whisker choppers, testicle loppers take note.

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    Senior Member rosemaryninja's Avatar
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Having posted the above, I would just like to point out that I have two spayed dogs.
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by rosemaryninja View Post
    Having posted the above, I would just like to point out that I have two spayed dogs.
    But you didn't spay them to make them look better. You presumably had other better reasons. I'm not anti spay/neuter or anything else where there is a benefit to the dog.

  12. #31
    Senior Member Dakota Spirit's Avatar
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    I just wanted to clarify that when I mentioned the whole "it's been done for generations" thing it wasn't in an effort to say that old practices are always correct or have more merritt, but rather I would find it hard to believe that in all that time no one noticed any significant damage being done to dogs through whisker clipping. It's not all that important I just didn't want anyone thinking I automatically accept 'old school' dog stuff as ok. There is plenty of that I don't agree with



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    Pai
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by rosemaryninja View Post

    Stanley Coren writes about this in more detail in his book "How Dogs Think". He also described an experiment in which a blind Sheltie (?) had his whiskers cut...the Sheltie was much less able to navigate his surroundings and kept bumping into various things.
    Of course, a dog that had already lost it's primary way of judging depth and location (the eyes) would use every other sensory organ it could.
    Most dogs aren't blind, however.

    Conversely, wouldn't you have to admit then, that a dog without whiskers similarly be able to learn to compensate without them? As many people have said, pretty much every healthy dog that has had it done seems to be able to live just fine without them. You don't see dogs (who aren't blind) without whiskers bumping into things all the time and suffering because of it. It should be MAJORLY obvious in a dog's behavior that they're lacking them, but it's not.

    I don't think anyone here needs to be convinced that whiskers have a purpose. The argument is whether it's 'cruel' or 'harmful' to shave them off. Since I've never seen dogs suffering (how about all those Agility champs that are shaved-face breeds? No spatial-judgement problems there!), I'd have to strongly disagree with labeling it 'inhumane'.

    It's a matter of personal preference. Nobody is torturing their dog or ruining their quality of life by doing it. In a worst case scenario, you could just wait and they'd grow back just fine. =P

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pai View Post
    Conversely, wouldn't you have to admit then, that a dog without whiskers similarly be able to learn to compensate without them?
    Learn to get by without them? Yes. Fully compensate without them? Physically impossible, just read the description.

    As many people have said, pretty much every healthy dog that has had it done seems to be able to live just fine without them.
    'Seems to' but we can't actually ask them can we? Nobody is saying loosing the whiskers is equivalent to loosing a leg but how can you possible read rosemaryninja's description and not acknowledge that, hey, maybe Fido actually makes good use of those whiskers in ways I cannot perceive?

    It's a matter of personal preference
    .
    It would be if the dog was making the choice.

    Nobody is torturing their dog or ruining their quality of life by doing it.
    No but they are diminishing their quality of life to some unknown degree by doing it.

    In a worst case scenario, you could just wait and they'd grow back just fine.
    Agreed! Take one last set of pictures and let your dogs grow their whiskers back for good. Rejoice !

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Oh no, bad me. Bad owner, shame on me...

    I love a clean headed dog, and I will continue to remove whiskers when I think necessary, and frankly, it's not anyone else's business what I do with my dogs. That I paid for, that I foot all the bills for. :-)

    My dogs are so suffering. Like my HIT winning competition dog, who was also my therapy dog. Gee, not having whiskers sure made his PEFERCT SCORE run more difficult for him. And it so hindered his ability to work around kids.

    I can think of worse things than whisker trimming to screech about.

    I find the parents that pierce thier baby's ears much more annoying than a whisker cutting dog person.

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    There’s no need to be so sarcastic. When did I ever say that de-whiskered dogs were incapable of spatial judgement? They’re not disabled. The point of my post was that whiskers ARE important. They serve a purpose. Doesn’t that mean something? I mean, if they were utterly useless then I could imagine people snipping them for cosmetic reasons. But just because a dog can compensate for the loss of a part of its anatomy doesn’t mean that part of its anatomy isn’t important.
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    Pai
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Reproductive organs, whiskers, dewclaws, ears, and tails are all have a use and importance. They are also all removed by people in many circumstances. A dogs snout is also important. Yet we've bred some dogs to not even have one. The same with a dog's legs. Yet we've bred dogs with dwarfed limbs.

    Either doing all those things are cruel and damaging to a dog's quality of life, or else you have to admit it's not all black and white with the 'natural state' being humane and anything 'unnatural' being inhumane. The modern dog as a species is nowhere near 'natural', they're a man-made animal.

    The real question should be, 'Does this procedure damage the quality of life of a dog and/or cause it suffer?'. The answer to that is that there is no proof that trimming whiskers does any of that. Therefore, accusing people of harming their dogs by trimming whiskers is completely unfounded, which is what Peppy is trying to claim.
    Last edited by Pai; 06-16-2009 at 10:51 PM.

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Quote Originally Posted by txcollies View Post
    ... it's not anyone else's business what I do with my dogs. That I paid for, that I foot all the bills for. :-)
    A sentiment also common amongst people who chain their dogs outside all day, beat them, etc etc ....

    Gee, not having whiskers sure made his PEFERCT SCORE run more difficult for him.
    Scores and pretty pictures are what pleases you, not him.

    I can think of worse things than whisker trimming to screech about.
    Yes, but thats a poor way of justifying anything.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pai View Post
    Reproductive organs, whiskers, dewclaws, ears, and tails are all have a use and importance. They are also all removed by people in many circumstances. A dogs snout is also important. Yet we've bred some dogs to not even have one. The same with a dog's legs. Yet we've bred dogs with dwarfed limbs.

    Either doing all those things are cruel and damaging to a dog's quality of life, or else you have to admit it's not all black and white with the 'natural state' being humane and anything 'unnatural' being inhumane. The modern dog as a species is nowhere near 'natural', they're a man-made animal.
    You're point is well taken, and there is no doubt an interesting debate of whether or not certain things in breeding (past or present) are ethical or humane. Nonetheless, you are making the same mistake as TXcollies above: the fact that some people may do even worse things does not excuse or justify a dog owner for cutting off whiskers for no reason.


    The real question should be, 'Does this procedure damage the quality of life of a dog and/or cause it suffer?'. The answer to that is that there is no proof that trimming whiskers does any of that. Therefore, accusing people of harming their dogs by trimming whiskers is completely unfounded, which is what Peppy is trying to claim.
    Unless you are arguing that rosemaryninja's post (describing the function of the whiskers) above is untrue, (which you have not done), then you cannot deny that the dog is somewhat impaired when the whiskers are cut off. The fact that the dog OWNER doesn't notice the impairment does not mean that the DOG does not notice it. In fact, experience tells us that we usually only notice only major impairments (e.g. diminishing sight, smell, etc) in our dogs, not minor ones.


    I know you all love your dogs, and it is hard to accept that you are harming them in some way (maybe very minor, maybe significant) when you cut off your whiskers, but that's the reality. Being in denial does not change the facts.

  19. #38
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    I gotta admit, that when Peppy is party of any thread he/she always makes it interesting with his/her contrary comments to the title of the thread. I think of all the DF's who have responded to this thread there are maybe 3 who are against cutting whiskers.

    I'm not saying I agree with Peppy because I've never really thought about it. Butch and Roxxy have very short whiskers and short hair, so I have no need to cut them, but when I had Lucy groomed I seem to remember hers being trimmed. Doesn't make any difference to me one way or the other.

    Oh, and all of my animals have been neutered.



  20. #39
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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Testical Loppers!!!

    Yay Peppy! Someone more extreme than I! I have never even thought of all this, honestly, being that I am a groomer and I cut hairy faces all day. I have never heard of any ill effects from doing it, but like Pep said, how the heck would I know, being that I'm not a dog?

    I do know that I flipped my lid when my husband thought it would be cute and funny to trim my cat's whiskers off.

    I like your style, Peppy, just don't get yourself banned or this forum will get real boring again.

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    Re: Whiskers,do you cut them?

    Scores and pretty pictures are what pleases you, not him.

    This dog lived to work in the ring, and since you didn't know him I guess it's hard for you to say he liked or didn't like. :P

    I look at it this way, whiskers are a preference. Some people take them off, some people dong. Some breeds you take them off for the ring, some you don't. It's really no big deal.

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