Muzzles are items used to restrict a dog’s mouth. It is commonly used for dogs known to be aggressive but also has other uses. Some pet owners believe it is cruel to use a muzzle on a dog and even wonder if the dog can breathe.  Contrary to the unfair stereotypical reaction when a muzzle is seen on a dog, there are certain situations where a muzzle is needed and necessary, although there are times when it is not necessary. Using a muzzle when needed is not an inhumane act on the part of the owner, rather, it is part of being a responsible pet owner.

Types of Dog Muzzles in Use

  • Basket muzzle: The muzzle is basket-shaped and can be made from plastic, wire, or leather. Most dogs feel comfortable with basket muzzles because it allows them to open their mouth and pant.  
Basket Muzzle
  • Mesh muzzle: They are made from soft materials such as nylon or mesh and are designed to keep the mouth closed.  They are less comfortable and dogs are unable to pant with them.
mesh dog muzzle
  • Breed-Specific muzzles: Breeds like greyhounds have specialized muzzles fitting for their long and thin snout. 
  • Homemade muzzle: Used when other options are not available mostly during an emergency. Items that can be used are gauze roll, pantyhose or even your dog’s leash. 

When to Use Dog Muzzles

  1. When the dog has a history of aggressive behavior. 
  2. In painful/frightening situations.
  3. When the dog is a notorious scavenger. 
  4. High prey drive.

When not to use a muzzle

Muzzles should only be used when needed and not kept for long on the dog. Some people use a muzzle to stop barking, for punishment, or to stop destructive behaviour. This is not ideal and unsafe for your dog. Rather than use a muzzle to stop an undesirable act, positive reinforcement should be introduced. 

Furthermore, dogs dissipate heat by panting, if muzzled for a long time (especially the mesh muzzle), it could result in heatstroke. Hence, muzzles should only be used when necessary and at the point when needed.