Whiskers or vibrissae, are far coarser than regular hair.  Their roots are deeper than normal hair and are much more sensitive to the touch due to their follicles being filled with nerves.

Way back when I began my life with dogs; it was in the show ring with Dobermans.  Before a show the dogs had their facial hair trimmed off and any other hair around the ears or elsewhere that looked out of place.  I never thought about it, it is what we did.  Many dog have their faces shaved or cleaned up for show or regular day to day; but should they?   

At a recent vet visit with my wonderful new Veterinarian we discussed Elsa's tail.  That conversation led to one about whiskers or vibrissae.  He elaborated as I listened.  Explaining their importance to me about how and why they should be left.  As a Standard Poodle Mom I had never given it too much thought; although over the years there had been a few times when I pondered about them.  

Whiskers are there for a reason; much like many other things that humans tend to whack off just because.  So cutting them off just to enter a show ring is sort of silly.  After all isn't it dogs that are being judged?  Dogs have whiskers.  

Now I am juggling a clean face versus whiskers.  They are extremely important; and after sitting and pondering I want Elsa to have them.  But a poodles coat grows continually and must be trimmed a bit now and again.  For hygienic reasons I like a clean face; although I don't have to have it shaved completely but it does tend to get a bit rank if left too long for too long.  So there in lies the issue, how to keep the face shortish but leave the whiskers?  

For many dog breeds there is no issue, they can just be left there.  But for the furry faced breeds it is a difficult juggling act if you are concerned with leaving their much needed whiskers.  I am just working in this dilemma now so I'll let you know if I figure out a good compromise.  

Even with fuller hair the whiskers stick out further; enabling them to do their work even on the hairiest of dogs.  As Elsa's face grows, her whiskers grow faster keeping out beyond the normal coat.  They are very cute I have to admit.  She has one wild rogue whisker on the left side that sort of has a mind of it's own but all the rest are as they should be. 

Below are a couple of good read articles on the subject of whiskers.  Enjoy.   

Live Science article

Psychology today