Have you ever gazed over at your canine companion’s whiskers wondering “what are those long toe ticklers really for?” Fun fact, those strange looking coarse hairs around your dog’s muzzle, chin and eyes are actually packed with nerves. These particular hairs are very different than the rest of the fur on your dog's body. They play an important role in sending sensory messages to your dog's brain, much like the way our sense of smell, touch, sight, sound and taste send feedback to our human brains.
A dog’s whiskers aid him or her in determining the shape, size and speed of nearby objects, helping your dog with overall spatial awareness. They are also able to feel vibrations and subtle changes in the air through the follicles at the base of the hairs. This can be especially helpful in sensing danger approaching, providing an extra keen awareness of the surrounding environment. This is part of why dogs seem to have excellent medical intuition.
It is important that we understand the role whiskers have in our dogs lives, since some people find it tempting to trim whiskers for cosmetic reasons, but please don't. It will cause severe confusion for our pups, like losing one of our own five senses would.