A dog in a muzzle has a negative connotation. People often mistake dog muzzles for signs of a canine with aggressive tendencies. This image couldn’t be further from the truth. More often than not, owners use dog muzzles to keep their beloved furry family members safe in the outside world. If you have a dog that experiences high levels of stress or picks up EVERYTHING they see on the ground, we have all the information you’ll need on whether a muzzle might be the right choice for you.
Hollywood puts dog muzzles on the fiercest, most ferocious canines you can imagine. Unfortunately, this stereotype permeates society, causing people to cross to the other side of the street when they see a dog sporting a muzzle. They don’t realize the muzzle is often there for the DOG’S safety, not theirs.
Most owners that attach dog muzzles for daily walks use them for specific reasons:
- Fraidy-Cat: No one wants to deny their dog regular exercise, but some dogs are afraid of their own shadow. A bite can be a fear reaction. It may sound strange to you, but dog muzzles offer a level of comfort to the dog.
- Garbage Gut: Some dogs find anything edible. They can’t resist trying to sample whatever they come across. Rather than trying to wrestle every stick and bit of trash out of their dog’s mouth, owners use muzzles to prevent the garbage from getting past the teeth in the first place.
- Social Caterpillar: Rescues, in particular, don’t have a solid history with strangers your dog might. Dog muzzles provide a safety net while learning to adjust to meeting new people, environments, and other animals.
- Uber-Puppy: Some dogs go into overdrive around others, becoming super-excited. The nipping is playful, but their owners are working to curb the habit.
When Muzzling WON’T Work
Dog muzzles help guide a lot of practical training. However, there are limits to what the device can achieve.
Some people think muzzling their dog will cure an excessive barking habit. If a muzzle is fitted correctly, though, your dog won’t have ANY problem continuing their daily serenade. Instead, you’ll have to rely on other methods to stop your dog from barking.
Another misconception is that dog muzzles prevent destructive chewing. After all, people use them to stop that unwanted habit of picking up trash on hikes. There’s just one problem:
Muzzles are for SHORT-TERM use.
You CAN’T leave dog muzzles on an entire day. It’s too dangerous. No one likes seeing their dog gnaw the leg of their coffee table, but muzzling isn’t the answer. Instead, such behavior signifies boredom, and you need to address the underlying problem.
If your dog’s never worn a muzzle before, you’ll need to take a little time to introduce one to them. Wrestling a muzzle into place will only terrify them. Of course, you don’t want that. After all, you’re doing this to help them.
A slow desensitization process works best:
- Let your dog sniff the muzzle. Offer treats as you do. This establishes the muzzle as something POSITIVE.
- Touch their nose to the muzzle. Immediately reward with a treat and praise.
- Hold a treat out in front of their muzzle, so they have to extend their face through the muzzle to reach it. Lots of praise and an extra treat when they do it.
- Slide the muzzle over their snout (don’t buckle it) and quickly give them a treat. Then take it off.
- Buckle the muzzle in place and give them a treat. Then remove it.
You’ll need to repeat each step several times over a couple of days until your dog’s comfortable. Once they tolerate the dog muzzle, though, you’re good to go. They won’t view it as something frightening.
Types of Dog Muzzles
The type of dog muzzle you choose depends on your breed of dog, the situation, and your comfort level. Your vet office or groomer may make a specific recommendation depending on how your dog behaves during visits.
Remember, dog muzzles AREN’T tools for punishment. Instead, you’re helping keep your dog and the people around them as safe as possible.
There are three main types of dog muzzles:
- Basket Muzzle: As you might guess, basket muzzles resemble a basket that fits around your dog’s snout. They allow your dog to pant and drink, which makes them the SAFEST option. (Even if people consider them the most horrifying in appearance)
- Sleeve Muzzle: Sleeve dog muzzles form a tight fit around the snout, clamping your dog’s mouth shut. They prevent panting and drinking, so they are only for SHORT uses. Groomers and vet offices use these muzzles the most frequently and ONLY for the time they’re needed.
- Short-Snout Muzzle: Brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs, lack the prominent snouts needed for basket and sleeve dog muzzles. As such, short-snout muzzles fill in the gap. Yes, they look like face masks, but they don’t obstruct your flat-faced dog’s ability to pant or see, which is crucial.
Choosing a Dog Muzzle
Choosing your type of dog muzzle is just the first step. You need to keep a few other things in mind when you start looking for the best option for your dog:
- Size: Fit in dog muzzles is crucial. Too loose, and your dog will paw it off. Too tight, and your dog will end up miserable. Measure the length of their snout, the circumference of their snout, AND the circumference of their neck.
- Comfort: You won’t let your dog wear the muzzle for excessive periods, but it shouldn’t rub their neck or head raw. Look for quality materials and cushioned straps.
- Breathability: If a dog can’t pant, they can’t regulate their body temperature. Dogs can develop heatstroke from wearing dog muzzles.
- Sturdy Construction: Your dog’s going to take swipes at the muzzle with their paws. (It’s inevitable) You want a muzzle that can handle the abuse without falling apart.
Best Dog Muzzles
Remember, using dog muzzles isn’t a sign of defeat or conceding that you have a “bad dog.” We have a dog muzzle for our Greyhound. She wore it the first week we brought her home while adjusting to the cats in the house. True, we knew she was “cat-friendly,” but sighthounds have a high prey drive. It was a safety precaution when we didn’t have eyes on her. Once she and the cats settled on their pecking order, the muzzle came off.
So whether you have a dog that tries to swallow every stick and rock on your hikes, or just a dog that panics when someone walks near them, take a deep breath. We have the dog muzzles to solve your concerns.
Best Basket Dog Muzzles
Basket dog muzzles are the safest options, especially for everyday activities. They don’t restrict your dog from panting, and the spaces in the basket design allow them to drink naturally. You can even pass small treats between the spaces! So long as they fit correctly, they’re also the most comfortable dog muzzles for canines to wear. You can use them on walks, trips to the groomer, or even as part of a training regime.
Barkless provides a handy collapsible dog muzzle, aiding you in portability. The silicone cage is soft and comfortable around your dog’s snout. All of the strap’s undersides feature padding, as well as a bonus of reflective tape to keep them visible in low-light conditions.
Downside? The straps don’t lock in place as well as hoped. You’ll have to tighten them periodically.
Baskerville makes a sturdy basket dog muzzle. The thermoplastic rubber cage holds up to pawing feet. However, it’s also flexible enough that you can warm it and shape it to suit your dog’s snout shape. Multiple straps allow you to customize the fit, and each comes with a neoprene cushion for extra comfort.
This is the muzzle our girl has. Greyhounds have LONG snouts, and it fit her beautifully.
The downsides? The spaces are a little wide, so if you have a determined eater, they might get objects through. And while there are various sizes, they don’t have one to suit tiny dogs or giant breeds.
Downtown Pet Supply uses durable rubber in the cage of their basket dog muzzle. The rubber resists scrabbling feet. Meanwhile, the nylon straps keep the muzzle in place on your dog’s head. The single buckle makes attachment and removal easy on you.
So what are the downsides? This isn’t the easiest muzzle to clean, so not the best option with heavy droolers. Also, the straps don’t have padding. Watch how much it rubs against your dog’s neck and snout.
Best Sleeve Dog Muzzles
Many people feel sleeve dog muzzles are more humane than the frightening appearance of a basket muzzle. After all, they’re made from soft nylon. However, that nylon forces your dog’s mouth shut. This prevents them from panting.
Sleeve dog muzzles have their place in emergencies. Dogs in severe pain may lash out to bite. Basket muzzles may not provide adequate protection to veterinary staff in those situations. In daily use, though, sleeve dog muzzles aren’t the safest. Dogs need to retain an ability to pant and drink, especially when they’re active.
If you have several dogs at home or a brand-new puppy, having the advantage of multiple sizes may come in handy. That’s where CooZero comes in. They offer seven different sizes in one package. The material is soft and easy to clean, with adjustable straps on each size.
Downsides? The sleeve itself isn’t adjustable. So while the neck strap may fit perfectly, the muzzle may be too tight or too loose. Some people also felt they weren’t very durable, coming apart under the onslaught of puppy paws.
If keeping your dog comfortable during the muzzling process tops your list, GoodBoy meets your needs. Not as confining as a traditional sleeve dog muzzle, they provide a ring of padded neoprene at the end of your dog’s snout. Your dog CAN pant (sort of), which eases some concern of heatstroke. The straps are adjustable, ensuring a proper fit, and they include a bonus collar just in case.
The downsides? The simple design makes it easier for dogs to slide it off, especially if they’re determined. Also, it isn’t foolproof – your dog CAN nip with their front teeth.
LePark provides another option if you’re concerned about the restrictive nature of a sleeve dog muzzle. The nylon loop encircles your dog’s snout, allowing the smallest of pants to escape the sides. (Not the best, but some is better than none) Adjustable straps let you fit the muzzle appropriately, and they include an under-chin loop for leash attachment. They have a variety of sizes, even allowing for the inclusion of giant breeds.
So what are the downsides? That nylon lacks padding, and it can rub your dog’s snout raw if you overuse it. Also, intelligent dogs can pull the muzzle off, especially when a leash isn’t attached. And, once again, those front teeth can nip without a problem.
Best Short-Snout Dog Muzzle
Brachycephalic breeds present a lot of challenges with their unusual skulls. You just can’t fit a basket muzzle around those broad faces. And a sleeve dog muzzle? Forget it. This is why short-snout dog muzzles came about. Your dog may look like Hannibal Lector, but they won’t lose the critical ability to pant. They can even drink from a bowl without a problem.
JYHY designed the perfect option for your squishy-faced dogs. The nylon and mesh “face mask” fits snuggly over your dog’s head. They can still pant, drink, and even eat without a problem – they just can’t nip. Four different sizes and adjustable straps promise the perfect fit. You even get a quick-release buckle to make placement and removal a breeze.
Downsides? Once again, the smartest dogs find ways to remove this dog muzzle, so keep an eye on your kiddo. And, unhappily, if your dog has particularly bulgy eyes, the mesh may cause some irritation.
Safe and Sound
Dog muzzles often give a negative impression. Many owners are working to change the stereotype, offering to explain why their dog wears a muzzle out on daily walks.
Safety is paramount for everyone. If you feel your dog needs that little extra accessory, consider looking into a dog muzzle. You’ll be surprised at how your tense, nervous hound turns into a prancing, happy puppy.