All you need to know about what makes a well fit muzzle!
Dogs rely on being able to pant in order to regulate their body temperature, if a dogs pant is restricted it can result in them overheating.
Additionally, panting can be associated with stress or sometimes even medical conditions. Therefore when a dog in unable to pant appropriately we are missing important body language that might better help us to understand what our dogs are experiencing.
Restrictive muzzles can result in increased stress and negative associations with muzzles in the future, so its important we consider pant room first!
Not all dogs need to be able to fully pant in all contexts such as if worn supervised at home, a short car journey, very short walk or trip to the vets. However if a dog is exercising or in a high stress situation small muzzles can be dangerous.
This is your dogs biggest pant. Usually after exercising, playing or in hot weather. It is important that we facilitate a full pant when dogs are:
- Running, hiking or exercising
- Play time or high energy
- In high stress situations
- In hot weather
- If wearing for long periods
A full pant is always recommended for dogs with breathing difficulties.
The muzzle might look to big when the dogs mouth is closed, but that is normal! But too big it is likely to be uncomfortable and restrict movement.
This is your dogs regular or daily pant, usually on a casual walk or when experiencing mild stress. A muzzle that facilitates a partial pant could be used:
- When wearing for short periods such as from the house to car or for toilet breaks
- Restraining in the vets, nail trims or groomers
- In the home, if low stress and closely monitored.
It is important to remember that being able to fully pant is still preferable, particularly in high stress situations. Below the dog is partially panting, but has the ability to fully pant if required.
Muzzles that don't allow dogs to pant are also called occlusion muzzles and should only be used when;
- Advised to by your vet, such as recovering from jaw surgery
- For no more than 5 minuets when nail trimming or grooming
- In an emergency when there are no other suitable alternatives
If a dog us unable to open their mouth, they are also unable to drink, eat and pant. No muzzled dog should be left unattended, but dogs wearing occlusion muzzles should be closely monitored.
Although length is a more relaxed measurement and most dogs can cope with muzzles that are slightly to long, if muzzles are significantly longer we risk impairing their vision. Dogs can see their own noses, so if a muzzle extends much further than the tip of their nose it can change their field of view!
Additionally, dogs know how long their nose is, by adding extra length we increase the risk of our dogs knocking their muzzle into something, this can be extremely aversive to some.
Finally dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than a human! And the ability to engage with their environment is an integral part of a good quality of life. Long muzzles prevent dogs from sniffing intensely, of course they can still smell, but its not as natural and they may push their muzzle in order to sniff more intensely which is likely to cause rubbing, eye irritation and may even be aversive for some individuals.
Ideally you want the muzzle .25"-5" away from the nose and 0.5" away from the eyes. Although each dog is an individual!
Width can also be quite a relaxed measure when sizing a muzzle, too narrow is likely to be uncomfortable but a little bit wide is usually not a problem and may be needed to get a enough length or pant room. You can always secure with an additional head strap, chin strap or muzzle stop, but a muzzle that is much too wide could move around on a dogs face causing rubs and discomfort. It could also push up into their eyes or bump around on their face as they are moving.
It is very unlikely that without investing in a custom sized muzzle, that all measurements will be perfect! Slightly to long or to wide is better than too short or narrow!
For more information on how to measure for a muzzle check out our 'Measuring guide'.