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Döring, Dorothea; Bartels, Angela and Erhard, Michael H. (2020): Bedeutung der Tasthaare beim Haushund und Problematik des Abschneidens aus Sicht des Tierschutzes. In: Tieraerztliche Praxis Ausgabe Kleintiere Heimtiere, Vol. 48, No. 3: pp. 186-193

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The vibrissae are part of a tactile sensory organ in the facial area of the domestic dog. Each of the stiff, long tactile hairs belongs to its own, sensitively innervated, specialized hair follicle. Its structure is very similar to a cat's whiskers. The authors found no scientific evidence of this organ being underdeveloped or regressed in the domestic dog. The importance of tactile hairs has not yet been scientifically proven for the domestic dog, however, it is evident that dogs react sensitively to the touch of their vibrissae and that these hairs fulfill protective functions including the protection of the eyes. Further functions are discussed in the literature. Anatomically and physiologically it is proven that tactile hairs are part of a sensory organ and clearly differ from the body fur. Without them, the sensory organ is not functional. Trimming the vibrissae is therefore not at all a cosmetic measure in the context of grooming but constitutes a temporary amputation. By disabling a sensory organ, the animal suffers from temporary physical damage representing considerable harm. Thus, cutting the tactile hairs of the domestic dog for esthetic reasons is prohibited according to German, Austrian, and Swiss Animal Welfare Act.

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