In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need dog muzzles. They’re no fun for dogs, and they’re no fun for their owners either. However, like it or not, there are certain situations where muzzles are an absolute necessity.

Because of the potential for discomfort and distress, it’s very important that any responsible dog owner who is considering muzzling their dog does their research. Not all muzzles are alike, there are different products that suit different dogs (and different issues) in different ways.

By making the right choice on the back of an informed decision you can ensure that your dog and the people around it stay safe while being as happy as possible.

With that in mind, today we are going discuss everything there is to know about dog muzzles. We’re going to look at why you should use one, the different kinds of muzzle, and we’re going to review 5 recommended products.

Let’s get started.

When and Why would you Use a Dog Muzzle

The first thing to consider when thinking about a Muzzle is to decide if your dog really needs one (and if a muzzle is going to solve the underlying issues).

Using a Dog Muzzle for Constant Aggression

If your dog is routinely displaying aggressive behavior and biting people, then a muzzle is not the solution to your problems. Aggressive behavior is often something that can be removed via training, and it should be your first port of call.

However, in the meantime (or if the behavior cannot be removed) a muzzle is really your only option. While they are not pleasant for the animal, there is no doubting that they are effective ways to protect against people getting bitten.

If you know that your dog will be likely to bite someone if left un-muzzled in a situation, it is best to avoid that situation entirely if possible.

Being in a situation like that will stress the dog out considerably, and will simply entrench the behaviors that cause the aggression. This will make the long-term solution of training out the aggressive behavior much more difficult.

Using A Dog Muzzle For Trips To The Vet

Constant aggression towards other dogs or humans is something that should be addressed immediately with a trainer. But if it only happens when your dog is being injected, pinched, clipped, or examined, then it may be more appropriate to use a muzzle in these circumstances.

When a dog bites in these situations it’s either because they experience a little pain, or because they’re scared of a strange person poking around their body. It’s almost understandable to a certain extent, and it’s hard to train this behavior away (but it’s always best to try).

Many people decide to muzzle their dogs temporarily for 30 minutes or so while they are being examined to make sure everyone stays safe during the procedure.

It’s a perfectly acceptable and effective solution.

Using a Dog Muzzle for Barking Or Chewing

Two of the most controversial reasons people muzzle their dogs are barking and chewing furniture.

Many people believe that these are not acceptable reasons to put dogs through the considerable amount of discomfort that a muzzle brings (as no one is in physical danger).

There’s no denying that a muzzle will certainly stop your dog barking and chewing furniture. But it’s cruel to put your dog through such an experience so you can get a better night’s sleep or to save the sofa from destruction.

We do not recommend muzzles for barking or chewing.

If this is why you came to this article, we strongly advise you to explore ways of training the behavior away instead.

Using A Dog Muzzle For Legal Reasons

It’s sad to realize that certain dog breeds in the US are required to wear muzzles by law. These breeds (called “dangerous breeds”) are obligated to wear a muzzle whenever they are not on private property.

There’s not much you can do about this, even if your dog is the most loving animal on the planet (like most of these so-called “dangerous breeds” actually are). It’s horrible to muzzle a dog that doesn’t need it, we honestly feel terrible for owners who need to do this. But it’s not worth the risk of getting caught, so a muzzle is your only option.

Note: If your dog does happen to bite someone off of private property without a muzzle, you’re going to get in serious trouble.

Different Types of Dog Muzzles

Once you have established that your dog needs to be muzzled, then the next thing to do is to decide which kind of muzzle you should go for. This choice will directly affect how safe your dog is, and how comfortable they are.

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Note: This section is to be seen as a general overview, there are some small exceptions to what you’re about to read (but we’d be here all day if we mentioned them all).

Soft Dog Muzzle

Despite their name, a soft dog muzzle is actually one of the most uncomfortable kinds of muzzle on the market. They’re made from soft materials like nylon, but they’re usually quite tight fitting. This tight fitment means that your dog will struggle to be able to pant while wearing it.

As panting is the way dogs remove heat (they can’t sweat) this can cause overheating problems and associated health issues.

Not all soft muzzles are like this, some have been engineered to allow a certain level of panting (and even drinking). If you’re going for a soft muzzle, make sure you get one of the good ones.

Mesh Dog Muzzle

Mesh dog muzzles are very similar to the soft muzzles that we discussed above. They’re usually fitted a little looser than soft muzzles (but only just). The main difference between a soft muzzle and a mesh muzzle is that in a mesh muzzle the sides are covered in breathable mesh (hence the name).

Mesh muzzles have the same issues as soft muzzles. They may perhaps be a little more comfortable for the dog (and look better to humans) but many of them still don’t allow for panting.

Again, however, there some exceptions to this rule and it’s possible to find mesh muzzles that allow a limited amount of panting and drinking that many people consider to be acceptable.

Basket Dog Muzzle

These muzzles look like they are the cruelest and most uncomfortable options on the market. They’re large baskets made from a hard material (usually a plastic or rubber) that cover the entirety of your dog’s mouth.

However, despite their appearance, they are actually considered to be the gentlest and safest kind of muzzle for a dog.

The reason for this is that they are not usually a snug fit around the mouth. This means that your dog can open their mouth, get their tongue out to pant and cool down, and they can often drink water through them too.

The American Kennel Club recommends basket Muzzles above all other kinds of muzzle. They’re the kindest, safest, most comfortable option.

Plastic Dog Muzzle

“Plastic dog muzzles” can often be what people use to describe the basket muzzle we mentioned above. However, not all plastic dog muzzles are basket muzzles.

Some plastic muzzles cover the whole mouth (reasonably close to the dog) and have air holes drilled into them. Depending on the brand (and the size of the holes) this can often mean that your dog will have difficulty panting and cooling down.

If you’re committed to this design of muzzle for some reason, try and find one that leaves as much space as possible for panting (with as many air holes as possible).

Note: A basket muzzle is generally seen as preferable to this kind of plastic muzzle in all circumstances.

Dog Muzzle Harness

Dog muzzle harnesses (aka head halters) are not muzzles in the traditional sense of the word. They’re a training device that is used to unlearn aggressive biting behaviors. They prevent biting by forcing the head down when the dog begins to bite.

They’re great for training, but they’re less reliable as a muzzle compared to the other options on the market.

If your dog is aggressive enough to need a muzzle (or is scared at the vet), then head halters are not going to be reliable enough to ensure total safety.

Dog Muzzle Reviews – 5 Best Dog Muzzles

Now we know if your dog should be muzzled, and we know what kinds of muzzle are better than others. It’s now time for us to review a few products that are worthy of your consideration.

We will usually recommend a basket muzzle in most circumstances as they are the safest and most comfortable for the dog. However, we know that despite our preference, many people will still want nylon/soft/plastic muzzles. As such we’ve included a variety of products below.

Baskerville Ultra Dog Muzzle

Best Overall Dog Muzzle

Baskerville Ultra Dog Muzzle

In our opinion, this is the best muzzle on the market that ticks all the right boxes without breaking the bank. It hits the sweet spot between comfort, safety, and affordability in a way that we’ve seen no other product do. It’s a traditional basket muzzle that’s made from a flexible soft rubber material. It provides ample room for your dog to pant and drink, and it’s even big enough for them to receive a treat or two too!

This is the kind of muzzle that we recommend for regular usage, it’s going to provide your dog with the most comfortable experience possible. However, it’s also a great choice if you only need to restrict their biting during vets visits.

One of the most impressive things about this muzzle is that it can actually be slightly molded to your dog’s jaw for an unbeatable level of comfort. Simply warm it in hot water, shape it to your dogs face, and then run it in cold water to solidify the shape.

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Pros And Cons

  • Pro – Basket muzzle
  • Pro – Comfortable for your dog
  • Pro – Can be molded for perfect fitment
  • Pro – Your dog can drink and pant
  • Pro – Soft material
  • Con – None

Four Paws Quick Fit Dog Muzzle

Best Value Dog Muzzle

Four Paws Quick Fit Dog Muzzle

We realize that many people reading this will be on an extremely tight budget yet still need to muzzle their dog for safety reasons. For people in this situation, we recommend this nylon muzzle from Four Paws.

We gave soft muzzles a little bit of a hard time earlier in this article, but we did mention that there are some products on the market that improve upon the standard design. This is one of those products.

It’s available in 7 different sizes (they all cost the same), and it securely stays attached to your dog as it’s tough for them to take off themselves. The most important feature of this muzzle is that that the material has got a very tiny bit of stretch in it, which means your dog can open their jaw slightly (but not enough to bite).

It’s going to require a little bit of effort on their part (and it’s not as comfortable as a basket muzzle), but if you’re on a budget – this product is your best bet.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro –  Very inexpensive
  • Pro – Some panting and drinking capability
  • Pro – Secure fit
  • Pro – Hard for dog to remove
  • Pro – Available in different sizes
  • Con – It’s not a basket muzzle

Guardian Gear Fabric Mesh Dog Muzzle

Best Mesh Dog Muzzle

Guardian Gear Fabric Mesh Dog Muzzle

As you may have guessed by now, we’re big advocates for basket muzzles. However, if you’ve got your heart set on a mesh product, you could do much worse than opting for this product from Guardian Gear. It’s a mesh muzzle that fits reasonably snugly to the mouth but does leave a little room for your dog to move their jaw slightly. The material is soft, durable, and is quite honestly reasonably comfortable.

The main thing that this muzzle has got going for it is the removable snap strap on the front. When removed this little strap opens up the front of the muzzle that allows your dog to pant and drink with ease. It’s one of the best mesh muzzles on the market in our opinion, and it is more than worthy of your consideration.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – Comfortable material
  • Pro – Removable snap strap
  • Pro – Reasonably priced
  • Pro – Durable
  • Con – It’s not a basket muzzle

Niteangel Quick Fit Nylon Dog Muzzle

Best Muzzle for Large Dogs

Niteangel Quick Fit Nylon Dog Muzzle

To be totally honest the best muzzle on the market right now for large dogs is the one we picked as our overall pick above. But in the interests of diversity, here’s a soft muzzle alternative that you may want to consider. It’s a basic strap based muzzle that’s made from exceptionally strong and durable nylon. It’s a well-made product that’ll fit your dog well (providing you pick the right size) and it’s unlikely to slip.

The thing we like about this muzzle compared to many other soft muzzles on the market is the simplicity of it. It uses a single strap located reasonably far back on the dog’s jaw to prevent biting (which is much less stressful for the dog to wear). The comprehensive fitment guide pays special attention to instructing owners on how to adjust the strap properly. This allows them to ensure that their dog can drink and pant with ease.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – Soft yet durable material
  • Pro – Secure and stable
  • Pro – Single strap design
  • Pro – Allows some drinking and panting
  • Pro – Great value
  • Con – It’s not a basket muzzle

Quick Fit Dog Muzzle with Adjustable Straps

Best Muzzle for Small Dogs

Quick Fit Dog Muzzle with Adjustable StrapsThe final muzzle on our list is a great nylon alternative to the basket muzzle we recommended as our overall pick. It’s one of the best nylon products on the market for small dogs and it provides stable safety with the minimum possible discomfort for your pooch. It’s extremely easy to fit and once it’s on, it stays on – regardless of how much they might try and take it off.

Like all the basket muzzle alternatives we have recommended today, this product allows for some breathing and panting when properly fitted. It’s much better than most other soft muzzles for this, and we doubt that your four-legged friend will find it uncomfortable.

Pros And Cons

  • Pro – Very cheap
  • Pro – Secure fitment
  • Pro – Super soft material
  • Pro – Durable and long lasting
  • Pro – Reasonably comfortable for your dog
  • Con – It’s not a basket muzzle

Conclusion

So there you have it, all you ever needed to know about the world of dog muzzles.

It’s never an easy decision to muzzle your dog, but now that you’re a muzzle expert, we’re sure that you’re going to make your pooch as comfortable as they can possibly be.

We highly recommend basket muzzles above the other varieties, but quite honestly the alternatives we have mentioned above are all viable options. Regardless of the product you choose from the 5 above, we’re sure you’ll be happy with your decision.

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