What is a Walrus Moustache?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
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Walrus mustaches are a particular type of moustache that is characterized by whiskers that are thick and bushy in nature. This style of moustache derives its colorful name from the fact that the whiskers usually are allowed to droop over the mouth, giving an appearance to the human face that is very similar to that of a walrus. At various times in history, the walrus moustache has been extremely popular with men of all economic stations.

There is some variation on the exact design of the walrus moustache. In some instances, the facial hair not only drops over the mouth, but also is allowed to extend downward at each corner of the mouth. The line of hair may connect to sideburns that are of the same texture of thickness as the moustache proper. When this is the case, the walrus moustache is sometimes referred to as a handlebar moustache.

With or without sideburns, the walrus moustache was immensely popular among men in the latter part of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century. Gentlemen ranging from scientists to philosophers to politicians often favored the rugged look that the style created. At the same time, the walrus moustache was considered to be highly practical, in that it was relatively easy to maintain. Some proponents went as far as to consider the walrus moustache as a practical health mechanism, as it could serve as a shield against dirt particles entering the mouth.


The walrus moustache faded in popularity by the 1920’s, but enjoyed a temporary resurgence during the youth counterculture revolution of the 1960’s. Today, the walrus moustache is considered more of a quirky look than one of refinement, and is worn by very few men engaged in such work as public service or other high profile positions.

Among the more prominent historical figures to employ the walrus moustache are United States president Chester A. Arthur, and the German philosopher Fredric Nietzche. Arthur tended to favor the walrus moustache design that focused on covering the mouth, but did not include prominent sideburns. By contrast, Nietzche often sported a prominent walrus and handlebar combination that has come to be utilized in popular culture as the stereotype for the look of a deep thinker.


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