Dog Muzzles: Why, When, And How to Use Them

dog muzzle

Even the most well-behaved pups can sometimes act out aggresively. In these situations, a dog muzzle can be a useful tool for preventing bites and ensuring safety for both humans and animals.

Still, many dog owners have questions about muzzles. Like: when should they be used, how do you properly fit one on your dog, and do they really work? We’ll answer all of these questions below. But let’s start by looking at a few of the reasons why you might want to muzzle your dog in the first place … some of which might surprise you. 

Why Muzzle Your Dog?

Asking why your dog would need a muzzle might seem like an obvious question. But aside from the risk of biting, there are some other considerations to keep in mind.  Let’s start with the most obvious reason though.

Prevent Biting

Dog muzzles are used to prevent biting. For aggressive dogs or dogs with a history of biting, a muzzle can be an effective tool for safety. Even if your dog doesn’t have a biting history, muzzles can also provide peace of mind for yourself and others … especially if you know your dog tends to lunge or bark aggressively at others.  

RELATED: 3 Effective ways to stop a puppy from biting …

Vet Or Groomer Visits

Some dogs may also feel threatened in specific situations, like certain grooming or veterinary procedures. Most dogs can be trained to tolerate bathing, nail clipping, and other grooming procedures. But if your dog is seeing a new vet or groomer that he doesn’t trust yet, muzzles can be a helpful way to ensure everyone’s safety. 

Breed-Specific Legislation

Breed-specific legislation in certain states and provinces may require some breeds to be leashed and/or muzzled if they’re not on private property. This typically applies to so-called “aggressive breeds” like pit bulls or Rottweilers. 

When You Shouldn’t Muzzle Your Dog

Muzzles are useful for preventing bites and keeping everyone safe. However, they’re only meant to be used for short periods of time when your dog is being supervised … and when there’s a genuine risk of bites or aggressive behavior. 

Muzzles shouldn’t be used to punish dogs or teach them a lesson. They also shouldn’t be relied on for other behavioral problems, like chewing, barking, or eating non-food items. While a muzzle can temporarily stop these things, it’s much better to work with your dog and train him to fix the root cause of the problem. 

RELATED: Click here to learn more about your dogs behaviour and how to correct it ….

Which Type Of Muzzle To Use

There are two main types of muzzles to prevent biting: basket muzzles and soft muzzles. Let’s take a look at each to find the best and most comfortable muzzle for your dog.

Basket Muzzle

As the name implies, basket muzzles look like a basket that wraps around a dog’s mouth and nose. These baskets can be made of leather, plastic, rubber, or wire. Basket muzzles look scary but for most dogs, basket muzzles are the more comfortable choice because they don’t force a dog’s mouth shut. Your dog can keep his mouth open … it’s just behind bars, to help prevent bites. Dogs can even pant, drink, or eat while wearing some basket muzzles. This makes them ideal if your dog has to wear a muzzle for a longer period of time. 

However, basket muzzles also carry the most social stigma. They can be scary looking or inhumane looking to people not familiar with their benefits.  

Soft Muzzle

Soft muzzles wrap around your dog’s mouth to hold it closed. This is less comfortable for most dogs, and can even be dangerous because the design prevents your dog from panting. Panting is your dog’s most effective way to cool himself off … so if you do use a soft muzzle, it should only be for short periods of time, and never during hot weather. Your dog also won’t be able to eat or drink while wearing a soft muzzle, which carries additional risk and inconvenience. For all these reasons, the basket muzzle is usually the better, more comfortable choice for your dog.  

How To Measure A Dog For A Muzzle

Muzzles can either be bought off the shelf, or custom-made to your dog’s measurements. Here are all the measurements you’ll need to measure your dog for a muzzle:

  1. Find The Eye Base

The eye base is the middle point between your dog’s tear ducts. Right between his eyes. This isn’t a measurement to take… it’s just a point to note, because it will help you take the other measurements. 

  1. Measure The Snout Length

To measure the snout length, measure the distance from one inch below the eye base to the tip of the nose, along the bridge of the snout.

  1. Measure The Snout Circumference

To measure the snout circumference, start from one inch below the eye base, with your dog’s mouth closed.  Wrap the tape measure snuggly around the snout.

  1. Measure The Snout Height

To measure the snout height, start one inch below the eye base, with mouth closed. Measure the vertical distance from the snout top to snout bottom. 

Note: DO NOT measure at an angle or curve the tape measure and DO NOT put an object into your dog’s mouth.

How Long Can A Dog Wear A Muzzle?

Again, muzzles are meant to be temporary and worn for short periods of time. But how long can a dog wear a muzzle? 

It’s best to only muzzle your dog for 10-15 minutes at most … especially if you’re using a soft muzzle, which carries the risk of overheating. Note that certain dog breeds with shorter snouts can overheat more quickly, so they should be muzzled for less time if possible. 

Do Dog Muzzles Work?

If your dog has a bite history or is prone to aggressive behavior, a muzzle can provide an additional layer of safety and comfort for everybody. However, even with muzzles there is some degree of risk. It’s possible somebody’s finger could slip through the muzzle and be nipped, for example. That’s why even though muzzles have their place … the best approach is still to work on changing your dog’s behavior over time.

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