Why Do German Shepherds Have Black Dots on the Cheeks?

Adrienne Farricelli

You might be intrigued by those black dots found on the cheeks of German shepherds, what are they exactly?

Those black dots on your German shepherd's cheeks may give your dog some personality, but have you ever wondered what they're all about? Some German shepherd fans give these black dots some adorable meanings, calling them beauty marks, dog dimples or even "kiss marks. " Not all German shepherds sport them though, but that doesn't make these dogs less special.

Black Dots on German Shepherd's Cheeks

Turns out, those black dots on a German shepherd's cheeks are pretty normal. They are found on both sides of the cheek and if you look carefully, you will notice how they are home to some sturdy whiskers. Whiskers simply consist of thicker, longer hairs that have a hair follicle that's heavily innervated by sensory nerves, meant for spatial sensing.

The hairs function almost like an antenna, when something in the environment rubs up against them, they vibrate and stimulate nerves in the hair follicles, explains veterinarian Dr. Mary Fuller. These special nerves then transmit information to the brain providing dogs with feedback about their surrounding environment.

Depending on where a dog's whiskers are located, they have different names. For instance, whiskers that appear on the dog's top lip where a mustache would appear are known as mystacial whiskers, whiskers growing on the top of the eyes are referred to as supraorbital, a sprout of whiskers under a dog's chin are known as the inter-ramal tuft, and finally, whiskers found on both sides of the dog's cheek are known as "genal whiskers."

It is not unusual for some whiskers to sprout from a little spot of dark, pigmented skin and the genal whiskers seen in German shepherds are the best representatives of this! However, it's important to point out that all dogs have the whiskers, it's only that the black pigmentation makes the area more noticeable in certain breeds than others.