Why do we name our muzzles?
We name each of our sizes, instead of numbering them for two reasons!
1) We are continuously releasing new sizes, so what is size 1 now, might be size 3 next year if we were to release two sizes smaller. Naming them helps to avoid confusion and the need to renumber or rename sizes later!
2) We don't want to name our sizes by breed, because breed alone does not tell us if a muzzle will fit. There is too much variability within breeds for this to be an accurate sizing method.
3) We are dog lovers first and foremost, and have worked and loved many dogs throughout our time working in rescue. Many of which have required a muzzle for one reason for another, and we want to tell their stories and help share the wide variety of reasons dogs might need to wear muzzles and show that these dogs were just as loved as any other unmuzzled dog. Naming our sizes also helps us to share our own stories with you and give you a glimpse of the personal experiences we have had that lead us to where we are. In the hope that you might be able to relate to us if you also have the same shared experiences! Something that we feel is so important when working with challenging dogs, or living through challenging experiences.
Sizes are listed below in order of release, not in order of size.
Tolly was our first ever size that we designed and launched, because Tolly was to me (Clara) a very important part of The Muzzle Movement story.
I adopted Tolly at 7 years old from Dogs Trust Loughborough, after he had lived in a home where he was exposed to domestic abuse. We very quickly learnt that he was fearful of unfamiliar people and dogs, and would use aggressive behaviour in an attempt to create distance.
This meant that in order to keep him and others safe, he needed a muzzle! But I couldn't find anything that I loved, nothing that fit him comfortably. So.. I designed one! Just for him initially, but I quickly released other people had the same problem and were interested in what I was doing!
And so, Tolly was the dog that started this wild journey! Unfortunately Tolly never got to wear the muzzle I designed just for him, because he was euthanised the day after our Kickstarter launched due to an inoperable spinal tumour that caused him to no longer have use of his hind legs, you can read more about our story together in our 'About the movement' page.
Tolly features in all of our branding, and forever changed the course of my life! Let alone the impact he has made on all of the muzzled dogs that proudly wear his size all over the world.
I (Clara) adopted Neli from Carla Lane animals in Need, where she had landed after coming to the UK from Bulgaria when she was just 6 months old. And Neli taught me a lot about loving the dog in front of you, that ultimately prepared me 4 years later to love and accept Tolly for everything he was.
As a dog trainer at the time, I adopted Neli with the intention of enjoying a life full of agility and other dog related classes and events. I started to realise that Neli was very uncomfortable with unfamiliar dogs and that despite my best efforts, the agility environment was not something that she enjoyed.
And if I'm completely honest I was disappointed at the time, I felt frustrated and upset because it wasn't how I had pictured our life to be, in fact our life was so restrictive as a result, because Neli would bark, growl and snap at other unfamiliar dogs. And so I feel such a lot of compassion for people who are living with dogs they didn't know they were getting, and I empathise with those that are feeling upset or frustrated.
But like they always say! 'You get the dog you need, not the dog you want' and that couldn't be more true in my case. Neli taught me so much about just enjoying the life your dog loves, because of her I have explored places we never would have otherwise, in search of quiet secluded walking spots. We started scent work together, we invested time in tricks training and even grew to love training together at a distance from other dogs.
Neli is perfect, and I feel regretful that I ever felt anything different! But I feel her story is so important and helps to highlight that its okay to feel remorse for the dog you don't have, but if you listen to what you dog needs, you might just find that they have an even better life planned for you both!
I worked with Sunny for many years within rescue, when he arrived he was 18 months old and the abuse he had lived through during this early period of his life had a lasting impact on his ability to trust people, and resulted in the belief that people would only respect his boundaries if he used overt displays of aggression.
Sunny taught me so much about consent, about rebuilding trust, about using space to reinforce low level signs of discomfort and about building a truly safe space that allows an animal to have big feelings without being at risk of a bite.
Sunny had bitten on multiple occasions and would jump to growling and snapping when under pressure. We at the rescue had to be extremely careful about placing him back in a home due to the risk that he presented to strangers. It was a long time before we felt comfortable with the idea, and even longer before the right home came along.
Sunny's story shows that there are amazing people out there, that are willing to not only accept dogs with a bite history, but love them deeply and continue to advocate for them so that they can feel safe and secure.
Sunny never got to try the muzzle I named after him, because he gets to live out the rest of his life with acres of land, loved by his forever family.
This size was a tribute to two people who have been a huge part of The Muzzle Movement journey, Rex's guardians are responsible for making all of our 3D printed prototypes which as you can imagine, is vital.
Without Rex's humans, we wouldn't be able to try and test all of our new sizes, we wouldn't be able to show you sizes before they were released and we wouldn't be able to identify modifications that need to be made before releasing the sizes for pre order.
Rex would sometimes wear a muzzle to aid introductions to new people and this sometimes made him feel uncomfortable. But unfortunately, Rex passed away before we were able to raise the funds to make this size a reality, so on behalf of Rex's people, we named this size after him to show our appreciation for everything they have done for us this far.
We hope that seeing Rex's muzzle on dogs all over the world brings them some comfort, as it does for me with Size Tolly.
Obviously, the first muzzle in our 'Bully' range (wide head, short snout) had to pay tribute to a very special pup!
I worked with Harry for a long time during my time in rescue, Harry spent most of his life in kennels prior to coming into the rescue I worked at, he was taken to a boarding kennels and never picked up. The boarding kennels did they best they could but eventually realised Harry needed more support and contacted a rescue for help.
Harry struggled immensely with veterinary handling, and at times general casual handling if it was in an area where he was anticipating pain. Harry had a number of ongoing medical conditions such as skin and ear infections, but he was unable to be handled safely and therefore unable to receive adequate medical care.
Harry also could be very fearful of unfamiliar people, which meant that he needed careful introductions utilising a muzzle - looking back now I wish for nothing more than Harry to have had one of our muzzles available to him then.
I was tasked with helping Harry form new associations with handling, and for the first time in his life provide him with the space to say 'no thank you' without using aggressive behaviour. We made huge strides together, he was muzzle trained, able to give consent for ear and skin medication and his relationship with the vets was improving.
Unfortunately, before Harry was ever safe enough to go home, his cruciates went. Harry was a very large boy and in significant pain, paired with his discomfort in the vet suite and increased risk to anyone handling him, it meant that he wasn't a suitable candidate for surgery.
It was a heartbreaking time for everyone involved, he was much loved and had worked so hard, but fallen at this last hurdle. Unfortunately Harry was euthanised on medical grounds due to quality of life concerns.
I feel his story is so important for a few reasons
1) The ability to be able to say no to physical contact isn't a luxury, Harry spent along time believing that the only way people would listen is if he used overt displays of aggressive behaviour, if his pleas for space were heard earlier, Harry might have been a suitable candidate for surgery when the time came
and 2) Euthanasia is sometimes the kindest thing we can do for a dog that we love. There is no shame in doing what's in your dogs best interest, Harry could have suffered for a long time. But we loved him enough not to ask him to.
Taz is a very sentimental size, and I thought long and hard before choosing this name because I knew if I did I would inevitably talk about her importance to me, which sometimes is a story I'm not ready to tell!
Taz is my 'family dog' - she was so special to each of us, but had an extremely close relationship with my parents. When me and my siblings moved away from home Taz kept my parents on their toes. She was quite a cheeky monkey, even at 12 years old she never lost her ability to cause so much chaos you couldn't help but laugh!
But my Dad found Taz's antics particularly hilarious. They would spend hours together chasing balls into the sea, and we all used to joke that Taz was in fact my dads favourite daughter! At the age of 25, I lost my Dad to cancer. Through the confusion and heartache Taz was the one thing that made me and my family feel connected to my dad.
Taz was rushed to the vets and passed away on my dads birthday the following year, it was our first of his birthdays without him and to say it was traumatic is an understatement.
But something that brings me peace is knowing that they are together again and I imagine them walking together along the coast. Peaceful and calm. Its going to be both heart warming and heart breaking to see the Taz size, but I hope to see her size make it to the seaside someday and I hope you share those videos with me when it does.
I hope that Taz's story helps you get to know me a little better, my dad ran his own business and I have to say, I am my fathers daughter! So everything I have been able to achieve, is because he showed me it was all possible.
Mitzy is a new addition to our muzzle line up, and there was no-one I wanted to name this size after more. Mitzy was a large rottie cross I worked alongside during my time in rescue, she had some ongoing medical conditions there were likely contributing towards her behaviour around dogs and unfamiliar people. Which was often to bark lunge and sometimes snap or growl.
Mitzy wore a muzzle whenever she was meeting someone new or if she was likely to see other dogs. She was an older lady and was by far one of our favourite dogs to work alongside throughout the covid pandemic! Everyone that loved Mitzy (and there was a lot of us!) worried that because she was an older girl, and we were unable to rehome her due to the covid lockdown (because he needed to meet people many times before she was safe to go home with them - which we weren't allowed to do at the time), that she might spend the reminder of her life living with us in kennels..
Mitzy had a few things stacked against her, that made her less desirable for adoption. So as soon as the first lockdown lifted I got to work finding her a suitable foster home, it took us a little while but finally, before the second lockdown Mitzy found her way (after many slow introductions!) into her foster carers heart and snoozed happily on his sofa for the happiest three weeks she had in a very long time!
Mitzy was euthanised on medical grounds shortly after, but not before she had a special sleepover with all of her favourite people in rescue.
I wanted to share her story because her foster carer gave Mitzy the gift of spending the last few weeks of her life comfortable in a loving home, and all of the people that loved her so dearly comfort knowing she didn't spend the last few weeks of her life in kennels.
I want this size to highlight just how important it is for people to consider fostering dogs, particularly if you have a home environment and circumstances that would allow you to foster a more challenging dog. Mitzy's story is so special because someone was kind enough to give her a chance, despite the additional effort it took them to get to know her, and the commitment to regular medication.
There are some truly amazing people out there, giving up their free time to help dogs just like Mitzy - and we cant say thank you enough if you are one of them!
If you follow us on instagram, I am sure you already know who Atlas is! I adopted Atlas at 12 weeks old from Dogs Trust, almost one year after losing Tolly, and to say he is a handful is quite the understatement!
Atlas is a large bully breed cross, and unfortunately likely to be swept up in the UKs XL Bully type ban despite not being an XL Bully at all. Which means Atlas is likely to have to wear a muzzle at all times when out in public. Fortunately Atlas has been modelling muzzles and teaching people how to muzzle train since his very first week in our home!
Atlas's story highlights the importance of muzzle training, even when you don't think that you will ever need one - we chose to make sure Atlas was comfortable in a muzzle because in an emergency we wanted to know that if we ever needed a muzzle he knew what to do and it wasn't another additional stressor for him.
It turns out, we have inadvertently been preparing him for a lifetime of muzzles, and we couldn't be more grateful that we started training when he was a puppy - because it means muzzles are just a normal part of his every day life already and not something scary to be worried about, but just like any other part of his walking gear, he gets excited to see his muzzle because great things happen when its on.
There really is no age too young to introduce a muzzle! At the end of the day even if you never need one, Muzzle training is just a fun game for you and your dog to do together that helps to build confidence, learn more about your dogs preferences and training style and helps grow your relationship. We are pleased Atlas can help highlight this, even if we are so sad about the impact that his appearance will have on the rest of his life.