If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had your fair share of time on the Internet and have most likely come across cute photos of dogs with fake eyelashes or fake eyebrows stuck on their faces, giving them an expression that is more emotional.
But have you ever really wondered if dogs have eyelashes or eyebrows? Do their eyes need the sort of protection that eyelashes and eyebrows provide us humans with? And if they do, would it be okay for you, the dog owner, to groom these specific hairs? Let’s find out.
Do Dogs Have Eyelashes?
Yes, dogs do have eyelashes which serve as protection for a dog’s eyes.
Just like with humans, eyelashes help protect dogs’ eyes from external objects and debris, especially if they normally play outside and closely interact with bushes or follow their curiosity and decide to furiously dig something up from the ground.
They also need their eyelashes to filter the bright sunshine and guard their eyes from their own hair or fur, which can grow long and reach into their eyes in the absence of any form of protection.
Unlike us humans though, dogs’ eyelashes grow only from their upper eyelids, except if the dog develops a condition called “distichiasis”, which will be touched on briefly later on.
Can You Cut a Dog’s Eyelashes?
In general, you definitely can cut a dog’s eyelashes as part of the grooming process, but if the eyelashes do not bother your dog, it would seem best to just leave them alone while ensuring they don’t get tangled with their fur.
Most dogs have short eyelashes, but certain longhaired dog breeds normally grow long eyelashes to protect their eyes from dust or debris that may get caught in their long fur and could enter their eyes.
It usually depends on the owner on whether to trim the eyelashes or not, and it’s usually the longhaired dog breeds that may get an eyelash trim once in a while.
However, other dog owners would ask the groomer to just trim the fur around the eyes and leave the dog’s eyelashes long.
This is more a matter of the dog owner’s preference, but the bottom line is that eyelashes serve an important function of protecting your dog’s eyes, try to just leave them alone, or trim them only for the purpose of improving the dog’s level of comfort.
Also, regularly check their eyes to make sure that they are looking healthy and are free from any debris.
Do Dog Eyelashes Grow Back?
Let’s say you drop off your dog at the groomer’s, and when you return to pick up your furry friend, you’re shocked to find out that your dog’s eyelashes were trimmed against your strict instructions for them to be left just as they were.
Take a deep breath and calm down.
Just like the rest of the hairs on their bodies, dogs’ eyelashes do grow back. If they get trimmed or cut off too short, don’t worry. They will grow back in about five to six weeks, and your dog’s eyelashes will return to their length before they were cut.
What Breed of Dog Has Long Eyelashes?
As we learned earlier, most dogs have short eyelashes. But since their eyelashes serve an actual function, their length also depends on the length of their fur, particularly to protect from the long fur surrounding their eyes.
Canine breeds that are genetically predisposed to long lashes are those with long hair, such as:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Lhasa Apsos
- Shih Tzus
As well as any others with the same type of long coats.
Fun fact: the Guinness World Record holder for longest eyelashes as of 2014 is an Australian Labradoodle in Tokyo, Japan named Ranmaru, whose eyelash measured 17 centimeters (6.69 inches) at the time.
Before Ranmaru, it was a Lhasa Apso and, earlier than that, a cocker spaniel that held the said world record.
Do Dogs Have Eyebrows?
Technically, dogs do not have eyebrows, but they have muscles around their eyes covered in fur or markings that resemble human eyebrows but don’t serve the same purpose as human’s eyebrows.
For canine “eyebrows”, let’s talk first about those muscles underneath all the fur and wiry hairs above their eyes, as the science and history behind this certain anatomical feature is quite interesting.
Dogs have developed a facial muscle above their eyes that allows them to communicate better with us humans, as a result of our efforts to domesticate them for centuries.
You know those “puppy dog eyes” that have fooled you many times before into giving your dog the last bite of your sandwich, made you adopt that dog with the expressive face at the shelter, or have kept you from scolding them too much even after they’ve chewed on your favorite pair of shoes.
According to the scientists involved in the study, the dogs’ ability to raise their inner eyebrows was possibly a “result of selection based on humans’ preferences”, as we’re more likely to care more for a dog whose facial expression resembles that of a baby or a human’s sad face.
As for the long, wiry hairs on the dog’s eyebrow areas, these are also called whiskers, and they are like an extension of their eyelashes that also help protect the eyes by serving as antennas that signal whether their surroundings are safe.
Which Dog Breeds Have Eyebrows?
All dogs possess the muscle above their eyes that give them the ability to make the “puppy dog eyes” look, but not all of them have the markings that give a distinct look of eyebrows.
Some breeds that do have markings above their eyes include the following:
- Labrador Retriever
- Gordon Setter
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- German Shepherd
Why Do Dogs Have Eyebrow Markings?
It is not fully explained why some dog breeds have eyebrow markings, but it may also have something to do with the relationship of humans with these certain breeds.
It may also serve a specific purpose in their communication with other animals or dogs, as canines extensively use their eyes and eye regions to recognize and respond to what another dog may be trying to express, from staring at another dog to threaten them or avoiding eye contact to decrease tension or convey a relaxed or non-threatening approach.
One study mentioned that the eyebrow markings of dogs like Dobermans or Rottweilers help make their communicative eye signals more easily understood by other dogs they’re interacting with.
Is It Okay to Trim Dog Eyebrows?
Grooming a dog’s face will definitely involve trimming the hairs around the eyes to allow them to see more clearly, and that will surely include cutting their “eyebrows”.
For dog breeds with thick coats, it is very common that they regularly get their eye regions trimmed to give them better vision as mentioned above and also to give them a cleaner look, especially if they are the kind to be entered into dog shows or if the dog owner simply wants a “puppy cut” for a fuss-free overall appearance for the dog.
The whiskers, however, like the eyelashes, are better left alone. Dogs have whiskers all over their face, and the ones above the eyes, in particular, serve an important purpose, as we learned earlier.
It would be better to leave them untrimmed because they serve as warning signals that can alert the dog when something is about to come in contact with his face that may cause injury.
They may be trimmed a bit if necessary (e.g. the dog often gets debris stuck in the whiskers that might get into the eyes). But these hairs are usually not burdensome at all and it could do more harm than good if they’re cut.
Do Dogs Have Eyelids?
Since we’ve talked about canine eyelashes and eyebrows, let’s also head on briefly to the topic of dogs’ eyelids.
Dogs definitely have eyelids, and this probably comes as no surprise to you if you’ve watched your dog doze off and close its eyes many times (check out this related article on why dogs twitch in their sleep).
What’s amazing is that dogs have a third eyelid, which you surely haven’t seen yet because it is hidden.
This eyelid, called the nictitating membrane, closes across the dog’s entire eye. It serves as the cleaner of the cornea of mucus and other forms of debris, protects the cornea from injury, helps the dog fight eye infections, and produces one-third of the dog’s tears.
Dogs are fascinating creatures, and now that we’ve learned all this new information about the different parts of their eye region, we should know how to take better care of them and ensure the optimum health of one of their most important body parts.
If you suspect that anything may be bothering your dog’s eyes, seek professional veterinary healthcare immediately.