German Shepherds are smart and protective. They make excellent police officers because their loyalty runs deep, and like most dogs, they just want to do their job. However, they have one feature that seems to confuse people. The little moles or beauty marks on their face are often mistaken for something simple when secretly, these small spots are part of the key to their success. I dug up all the facts about the misunderstood moles, and there’s a lot more going on there than some dark colored fur.
Why do German shepherds have moles? Those lovely small spots on a German Shepherds’ face are not moles at all. Instead, they are the home to vibrissae, a special type of whiskers that help the dog learn about his or her surroundings by transmitting sensory images to the dog’s brain. Regular moles look very different.
Vibrissae Only Look Like Moles on Your German Shepherd
Those sweet little beauty marks or ‘moles’ that appear as dark patches of fur on the sides of your German Shepherd’s face have nothing to do with the sort of moles humans, and yes, dogs get. Instead, they’re part of your pooches shared genetic inheritance. The dark fur spots aren’t universal, but they’re prevalent for GSDs. (German Shepherd Dogs)
The little whiskers that stick out of these ‘moles’ are actually part of a complex set of sensory organs. The hairs sense things from the environment around your dog. It’s like having an extra set of eyes or a nose that smells in a different spectrum.
Vibrissae transmit sensory data directly into your dog’s brain. It helps paint a picture of their world. In turn, that picture helps them understand and translate their surroundings. Rather than being aesthetic, the vibrissae are functional, though I think they’re darn cute too.
Using senses other than the five we are taught about in school is common for animals. Moreover, people have more than five senses, as well. Don’t feel too bad if this is all news to you. Sense identification isn’t precisely the sort of thing they teach in primary school even now that we know better. Plus, your dog has senses we don’t like the information they get from those vibrissae. Mistaking the vibrissae patches for moles is reasonably common.
Not all German Shepherds have dark spots where their vibrissae come out. If you’re worried it may just be dirt, you can try a gentle wash. I suggest picking up some Buddy Wash from Amazon. The aloe vera leaves their coat so soft, and if the spots don’t wash off with a light scrub, they’re probably meant to be there. You can check prices and availability by clicking here.
Moles & Not-Moles on German Shepherds
While the marks on a German Shepherd’s face aren’t real moles, dogs do get moles. Unlike those dark circles of fur with vibrissae, a mole is typically a small piece of raised up skin. They’re usually hairless even though they can have a hair or two sticking out.
Try not to worry too much about skin problems. Yes, ask your vet to check them out, but stressing yourself and possibly your pet out isn’t going to make anything better. We love our dogs like they’re part of the family, and it’s easy to go overboard.
Your dog is sensitive to your moods. If you’re sad, they will know, just like they get happy when you’re excited and worried when you worry. Your GSD may not understand why you feel that way, but they realize that something is going on, and they want to participate and help.
Here are some things, other than vibrissae patches that look like cheek moles, you may find on your dog.
- Flea bites can cause little lumps on your pup’s sensitive skin.
- Ticks could resemble a mole on casual inspection, but they need to be removed ASAP.
- Moles and skin tags are fleshy protrusions. Ask your vet if you see these.
- Sensitive skin rashes can happen to dogs.
I’ll go into a lot more detail about these things below. For now, if you’re genuinely concerned about your GSD’s health, it’s best to make the vet appointment and then try to let it go. Stressing out a sick dog isn’t going to help them get better any faster, and freaking out a healthy dog isn’t going to help them stay that way.
Bumps & Skin Tags: These Are Not Moles on Your German Shepherd
German Shepherds, like their human owners, can get skin tags or other bumps on the skin other than moles. These can appear almost anywhere on the body. Some are harmless, while others are a bad sign.
- Flea Bites- Little pink, itchy spots could be a sign of fleas. Fortunately, treating the common flea is easy enough. A good anti-flea collar and some special shampoo will usually do the trick without a vet visit. It’s best to practice preventative treatment in the case of fleas.
- Ticks- All dog owners should familiarize themselves with ticks. If you’ve been out walking in nature, or if you live somewhere they’re common like California or Maine, you should do a daily tick check. Remove them by grabbing the head with tweezers and pulling them off. Then make sure you crush them completely and clean up the mess. Alternately, if you have a fire pit, you can toss them in the blaze to get rid of them.
- Skin Problems- Mysterious skin problems should never be ignored. If you don’t know what something is, talk to a professional. From infections and splinters to severe issues, you shouldn’t guess where your GSD’s health is concerned.
- Skin Tags- Small protrusions of skin, about the size of a pinhead that look like tiny moles are as common for dogs as they are on humans. These skin tags are nothing to be concerned about. When in doubt, ask your vet about them at your next visit.
When To Worry About Moles on Your German Shepherd
German Shepherds, like other dogs, are playful and tend to get the occasional lump or bump. However, you should always keep an eye on spots, whether they’re moles or not. If your dog is constantly chewing or scratching at a specific area, then have your vet take a look. It might be a sign of an infection.
Other issues to keep your eyes out for include bleeding and pus. Moreover, if your dog has any spots of fur or skin that change shape, size, or color rapidly, then it could be a sign of problems. Discuss these types of change with your vet immediately. Younger pups can go through healthy changes that mimic worrisome signs, but older dogs rarely change their spots.
Whenever you get a new pet, you should keep track of their health very carefully. Instead of stressing over the problems, keep your best buddy comfortable. Pick them up a Villa Bagel Dog Bed by Majestic Pet Products to sleep on and talk to your vet. You can get one for your favorite pooch by clicking here.
Removing Moles & Problem Growths From Your German Shepherd
The ‘moles’ on your German Shepherd’s face aren’t a problem. In fact, you should leave them alone since they’re a vital sensory organ. Never shave or try to remove vibrissae patches.
Messing with your dog’s ability to sense their surroundings can frighten or damage your dog. Personality changes, like anger or excessive meekness, may occur. You don’t want to harm your pooch accidentally, so it’s always best to leave vibrissae alone.
Alternatively, if your German Shepherd has a skin growth that is a problem, your vet can help you diagnose and treat the issue. They can identify the problem and rule out things you don’t have the equipment for at home.
You should never try to self-diagnose or treat growths on your dog. For example, ticks can cause Lyme disease. Sadly, even if you remove the tick, you may not be able to identify Lyme disease, and early treatment can help your dog live a long life.
Treatments For Problem Moles & Skin Issues on German Shepherds
Face ‘moles’ are unlikely to cause your German Shepherd any trouble. However, other bumps and real moles can become infected or signify problems. There are several ways to remove troublesome spots. Your veterinarian has professional training and specialized equipment to help your GSD. Problem spots
Cauterization: This means burning a mole or other skin issue off. While that may sound painful and scary to you, it’s quick and sanitary. The Vet will shave the fur off your pet, so they don’t do any unnecessary damage to the area. Topical numbing agents or injections like novocaine can help them do this painlessly.
Cryosurgery: Freezing may not sound any better than burning to some worried German Shepherd owners. Regardless, cryosurgery uses extreme cold to remove a problem from the skin. It is also clean and safe. The bonus to using cold is that it doesn’t make a burning smell, though it effectively and safely does the same job.
Surgery: Traditional surgery is a more involved process. It may be necessary to sedate your GSD and use scalpels and stitches if the problem is more than merely a surface issue. Unlike the other two removal methods, this allows a vet to reach the issues that are below the surface.
Only your vet can determine how to best remove a worrisome, infected, or dangerous spot from your pup. Realistically, skin issues are a case of ‘don’t try this at home’ that should be taken very seriously. Removing a tick from the surface when you catch it early is very different from digging out an infected spot, or performing surgery for cancer.
Hopefully, understanding the difference between vibrissae and genuine moles helps you keep your German Shepherd healthy and happy. Make sure you keep track of any health concerns and talk to your vet about them.
As far as the vibrissae themselves, you don’t need to do anything. They’re part of your dog’s senses, just like their nose and ears. Usually, they’ll do their job without any interference from you. Plus, since we don’t often pet so close to a dogs’ mouth, there’s really no reason to mess with them at all. It’s okay if you give their face a gentle brush now and then, or help wash off their head at bath time, but otherwise, don’t mess with the vibrissae.
Dogs, especially loyal and smart ones like the GSD can be a considerable part of your life. Simply being a dog owner can help you live longer, so return the favor with love and lots of TLC.