why do german shepherds have moles

Why Do German Shepherds Have Moles?

I’ve had a few German Shepherds now, and all of them have had these moles right around their cheeks. Now I know I’m not the only one, but I’ve always been curious as to what those were, and why German Shepherds had them.

So, I looked it up.

Why Do German Shepherds Have Moles?

why do german shepherds have moles on their faces
Image by birgl from Pixabay

Turns out, the black spot on a German Shepherd’s face isn’t actually a mole. Instead, it’s a circular patch of hair which house whiskers called vibrissae, an important part of a German Shepherd’s sensory system.

What Are Vibrissae And Why Are They Important?

Vibrissae are long thick hairs or whiskers typically found around a German Shepherd’s mouth, lower jaw, and above the eyebrows. Underneath these hairs are highly sensitive nerves which transmit sensory images to the German Shepherd’s brain.

The vibrissae can pick up a variety of information from the size, shape, speed of nearby objects, and vibrations in the air to help provide a German Shepherd a better picture of its surroundings.

Can Vibrissae Be Removed?

Despite the importance of these whiskers, some owners may decide to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Which begs the question, what happens then?

Well, evidence suggests that tampering or removing these whiskers may cause confusion and decrease spatial awareness. It negatively affects a German Shepherd’s ability to navigate its surroundings which then leads to a higher risk of accidents, stress, and general uncomfortability.

So while they can technically be removed. The real question is, should they be? Probably not.

Moles And Other Black Spots On A German Shepherds Body

Just because the most prominent black spot on a German Shepherd’s face is vibrissa, doesn’t mean every black marking is. In fact, black markings or dots located somewhere other than your German Shepherd’s face, will most likely not be vibrissae but one of the following:

Moles

Moles are typically small pieces of raised skin caused by skin cells growing abnormally close towards each other. They’re usually hairless but may sometimes have a small amount of hair sticking out. They’re also typically benign, but they can lead to the development of tumors which may put a German Shepherd at risk of cancer.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are benign growths on the surface of the skin. They’re usually as tiny as moles and grow around areas where skin rubs against skin. 

Tick Bites

Ticks embedded into your German Shepherd’s skin may sometimes look like moles or skin tags. These ticks can cause a variety of diseases such as skin irritation, anemia, lameness, and Lyme disease. And so it’s important that you inspect these spots properly and remove any ticks as you see them.

Skin Cancer

Finally, German Shepherds are prone to a type of cancer called hemangiosarcoma. This cancer is usually characterized by tumors growing on the spleen, heart, or liver, but they may also appear on the skin as small red or bluish-black lumps.

How Do You Determine If These Markings Or Spots Are Safe?

Aside from tick bites, there’s no easy way to determine whether these markings or spots on your German Shepherd’s skin are benign or not. Each one you discover will need to get checked by a veterinarian.

So really, the important part here is actually detecting these skin issues. So do your best to examine your German Shepherd’s skin while brushing or run your fingers through your dog’s body periodically to check for lumps.

Final Thoughts

To recap, if we’re referring to the “mole: on a German Shepherd’s cheek, then that isn’t actually a mole but a black patch of hair that’s home to a collection of nerves and vibrissae.

However if we’re talking about actual moles, then German Shepherds have them due to the abnormal growth of skin cells which lead to small pieces of raised skin.

Keep in kind though, that not all black spots on your German Shepherd’s body are vibrissae or moles, and some of them may indicate worrisome issues. So keep an eye out for them and keep contact with your veterinarian.

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