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Why You Should Trim Your Dog’s Bangs

Hint: they can’t see.

by Karen B. London, PhD
Updated February 17, 2022
Hungary shepherd dog with hair covering its eyes
annatronova / Adobe Stock

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Whether or not bangs are “in” for dogs right now, many breeds have hair that grows over their eyes. Some “breed standards” even specify that dogs should have a face obscured by fur (the Old English Sheepdog’s breed description reads that they should have a “full skull of fur”). Sure, their shaggy locks are enviable and lopping them off feels, just, wrong. But here’s the problem: they can’t see!

Common dog breeds with luscious facial hair include the Afghan Hound, Bearded Collie, English Sheep Dog, Havanese, Komondor, Lhasa Apso, Poodle, Puli, and Skye Terrier. But, just like us, these dogs cannot see through their thick bangs. Yes, they can use their nose and ears, but their other senses can’t ever fully compensate for the lack of vision because so much information is only available through visual perception. Here are a few reasons why you should consider trimming their fur.

1. They can’t see anything

Dogs can see much better when fur is not covering their eyes, which, you can imagine, allows them to navigate the world without confusion (and collisions). So much dog communication is visual, so that becomes an issue if their vision is not as clear as possible.

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2. It can be stressful

For fearful dogs especially, the world is less scary and miscommunications less common when you are not taken by surprise — which is more likely to happen when you can’t see someone or something coming.

3. Can cause eye irritation

Another problem with having fur hang over the eyes is the risk that the fur can get into the eyes, which is very uncomfortable.

4. Even worse, potential eye damage

Fur can scratch their eyes or cause an infection if left unclean, which is downright painful and can cause serious damage. Also, who doesn’t want to see puppy dog eyes?

If you’ve trimmed your own bangs during quarantine and choose to go the DIY route, just make sure you use the right grooming tools and be cautious. If you don’t feel confident, seek the help of a professional. Or, try a topknot!

karen london

Karen B. London, PhD

Karen B. London, Ph.D., is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression, and has also trained other animals including cats, birds, snakes, and insects. She writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life.