People often assume muzzles are cruel and uncomfortable for dogs, and while an ill-fitting muzzle can indeed cause discomfort and stress, a properly fitting muzzle can be comfortable and not impair a dog's natural behaviours. ensuring a muzzle fits properly will prevent it feeling uncomfortable.

Some common problems include:

  • Too narrow causing pinching at the cheeks
  • Too short can cause rubbing on the nose
  • Too long can obstruct a dog's view or prevent the dog from sniffing properly without pushing the muzzle into their eyes
  • Not allowing room for panting which prevents the dog from regulating their temperature

These issues, by causing discomfort and stress, can create a negative association with the muzzle for your dog and hinder their training progress. Here are some of the measurements to consider:

Length - Measure from about a cm in front of the eyes to the longest point (this could be the end of the nose or the chin if the dog has an under bite).

Height - measure from about a cm in front of the eyes to the lowest point of the jowls. Add a minimum of 5cm for pant room (The larger to the dog the more will need to be added).

Circumference - Measure around the muzzle at its widest. Bear in mind that this doesn't include pant room.

Width - Where you think the width measurement will depend on which kind of muzzle you choose:

For a muzzle that rests on the nose, like a Baskerville, measure the widest point of the snout.

If the muzzle goes back to the cheek, measure the width across the widest point of either cheeks (not including fluff!).

Creating a positive association with the muzzle is more important than a correct fit, at least initially. You can start your training with a muzzle which is clearly too large for your dog to get them used to it and re-assess the size and fit of the muzzle once they are comfortable placing their snout into it.

Tips

Keep the tape measure flat - Taking the measurements with the tape measure curved can alter the value, to get a true measurement.

Keep it positive - Don't force your dog into positions or hold them tightly to keep them still. Be gentle and give them plenty of rewards and praise.

Film it - Set up your phone to record while you measure your dog, that way you won't have to remember the numbers; just shout them out as you read them then you can watch it back.

Check with brand for required measurements - Different muzzles fit in different ways so it is important to check the manufacturers guidance on measuring and sizing before purchasing a muzzle to ensure the best fit.

Go at your dog's pace - If your dog is uncomfortable with you touching and measuring their face, you may need multiple sessions to build confidence with this with the help of lots of treats!

For a step-by-step muzzle training guide, click here!