Getting a dog muzzle is often one of the first steps towards safely living with, training, and rehabilitating an aggressive dog (check out our Aggressive Dogs E-book for more on that).
If you have a dog who is aggressive around kids, reactive on leash, or highly prey driven, you might want to look into a dog muzzle. A muzzle is a key component of most good management plans for aggressive dogs.
Picking out the best dog muzzle is challenging, though, if you have a dog with an odd head shape. It can be particularly difficult to find a good dog muzzle for dogs that:
- Are very small or very large, like chihuahuas or mastiffs.
- Have a lot of fur around their face, like chows.
- Have very flat faces, like pugs and French bulldogs.
- Have very long, skinny faces like greyhounds.
Getting the perfect-fitting muzzle will help keep your dog comfortable while you’re working on a training plan.
I’m a huge fan of using muzzles for any dog that struggles with barking, lunging, growling, or hiding in certain situations. The muzzle gives you peace of mind and allows training to proceed smoothly. Additionally, a muzzle can work as a warning to other people that this dog might not be a good one to let your kids run up to!
Three Features of a Good Dog Muzzle
There are several common features of a good muzzle for your aggressive dog. You and your dog will be happiest if you purchase a muzzle that:
- Allows your dog to pant, eat, drink, and bark easily. We don’t want to use a restrictive grooming muzzle for training aggressive dogs. These muzzles don’t let the dogs eat, which makes training almost impossible. Your dog is also at danger of overheating because he can’t pant to cool off.
- Fits extra-securely. Most good muzzles will attach have at least two points of attachment. My personal favorite muzzle attaches to the dog’s collar, to the back of the head, and to the neck. We don’t want it to be easy for your dog to paw it off.
- Can be customized. Even the best muzzle rarely fits a dog perfectly right out of the box. Many of the best dog muzzles out there are fully custom or can be molded to fit your dog (like a hiking boot is molded to your foot).
Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s examine some of my favorite dog muzzles on the market.
The Six Best Dog Muzzles for Tough-to-Fit Dogs
Keep in mind that the most perfect dog muzzle won’t work if it isn’t fitted properly. Each muzzle requires you to take different measurement of your dog to get the right fit. Be sure to read manufacturer specifications before entering your credit card number!
1. Best All-Around: Baskerville Ultra Muzzle
This is my hands-down favorite muzzle. It’s the one that my dog Barley wears when we’re hiking (so he doesn’t pick up and choke on sticks). You can customize it for your dog by boiling it and then fitting it to your dog’s face. This muzzle allows for plenty of panting, drinking, and training. I use squeeze cheese to reward Barley for wearing it – he loves it!
The Baskerville Muzzle (not the Ultra) runs a bit smaller, which can help with sizing.
2. Best for Flat-Faced Small Dogs: Canine Friendly Muzzle
Fitting a muzzle onto chihuahuas, French bulldogs, pugs, Pomeranians, Pekingese, Maltese, and other small breeds is really tricky. This muzzle is a bit more of a face mask, but it’s hands down the best option for really small, flat-faced dogs. Your dog cannot drink with the Canine Friendly Muzzle on, but you can reward with squeeze cheese and he can pant.
While this muzzle isn’t perfect, it’s still the best option you have if you’ve got a really flat-faced dog.
3. Most Customizable: Bumas Muzzle
The Bumas muzzle is fully custom and comes in a variety of colors. The company, based in German, aims to help educate people about muzzles and change the stigma regarding muzzles. Though ordering can take a while (you have to get a lot of measurements so that the muzzle is perfect), it’s worth it. These muzzles are also on the expensive side – but they’re worth it if you’ve got a dog that will need to wear a muzzle regularly.
4. Best for Small Dogs: Jafco Muzzle or Barkless Muzzle
The Jafco muzzle is softer and more flexible than many others on the list, making it extra comfy for long-term use. Many users really like the clear option, saying it’s the softest option. This muzzle also comes in extra-small sizes, as small as 2.25 inch long snouts. Most muzzles don’t come smaller than 2.5 inches – so this is a good option for ultra-small dogs.
If you want a muzzle that’s similar, but a bit easier to feed your dog through, check out the Barkless Muzzle. I love that this muzzle comes with a training/fitting guide and a free clicker! Its smallest size is 2.3 inches, just a touch longer than the Jafco muzzle.
Unfortunately, I don’t know of any muzzles good basket muzzles that will fit the smallest toy chihuahua.
5. Best for Long-Nosed Dogs: Bronzedog Greyhound Muzzle
Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, and even long-nosed border collies can be tricky to fit a muzzle onto. A muzzle that’s long enough is often too wide for their face, causing gaps that rub. Luckily, Greyhound racers often muzzle their dogs. And since these muzzles are made for racing dogs, they’re definitely easy for your dog to pant in. This muzzle is metal wire, but comes with a comfy leather strap to ride on the bridge of your dog’s nose.
6. Best for the Bull Terrier Schnozz: Jafco Muzzle
Yet again, that Jafco Muzzle is a winner. It is moldable enough to fit the potato heads of bull terriers and miniature bull terriers. Most users love that it’s soft and moldable. The clear plastic is softest, making it the most comfortable and easy-to-use option for bull terrier noses.
Remember: Dog Muzzles Don’t Replace Training
Keep in mind that dogs can still cause injury through a good muzzle. A dog muzzle is not a solution for training. If you need help with an aggressive dog, feel free to reach out and I’ll help you create a training plan.
Do you have a favorite muzzle for a tough-to-fit dog? Let me know, I’m always looking for more good dog muzzles!
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but currently lives on the Panamerican Highway. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, and as a private dog trainer. She is currently putting her knowledge to use as a freelance writer while she builds Journey Dog Training. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her dog Barley and her boyfriend Andrew.