Some dog breeds, like the Old English Sheepdog, Briard, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier are known to have hair that grows long and covers their eyes. Though it may not be something you really think about, a good question to ask is, “can these dogs really see with all that hair over their eyes?”
Unfortunately, antiquated breed standards “require” these breeds to have hair over their eyes in order to fit the desired look and preserve tradition. But all dogs deserve full use of the eyes they were gifted. Here are several reasons why you should trim or pull the hair back from your dog’s eyes.
Reason #1: Dogs can see better--it’s that simple. If you had to choose between seeing clearly versus blurred or obstructed vision, you’d always choose the former. So why wouldn’t you also choose that for your dog?
Reason #2: They can interact better with other dogs. Dogs tune into body language cues as a major form of communication, so being able to see the full picture is crucial for good communication between dogs.
Reason #3: Keeping fur out of the eyes helps maintain healthy eyes. When hairs occasionally touch the eyeballs, it can cause discomfort, chronic conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers and other eye problems.
Reason #4: It’s safer. Dogs that can’t fully see may feel very vulnerable, causing them to be easily startled and misinterpret a situation. Behavioral effects can include skittishness, defensive behaviors, and unpredictability.
Unless you have a dog show on the horizon, we implore you to “lift the curtains” and let your dog see the world by trimming the hair that covers his eyes. And even if your dog is a show dog, you can use a hair clip or hair tie to give him a stylish topknot until it’s his turn to enter the ring.
Those who hold tightly to tradition may cling to certain beliefs about hair over a dog’s eyes. Allow us to debunk those myths.
Myth #1: Fur over the dog’s eyes helps to protect them.
Some believe that hair over the eyes can provide some protection against the sun, with reasoning that a dog’s eyes may blink and tear up when the hair is lifted. This is a natural physiological response to the sudden introduction of bright light, as anyone’s eyes would respond when removing sunglasses. And as previously mentioned, hairs regularly touching the eyes can actually cause damage.
Myth #2: Dogs don’t need to fully see because they can rely on their other senses.
Though it’s true that dogs have a keen sense of smell, they have eyes for a reason: to see! Blind dogs rely on their other senses because they have to, but dogs whose eyes work well deserve to use them. Dogs do best when they are able to use all of their senses in combination.
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