How to Choose a Muzzle for a Dog

Not every muzzled dog is an aggressive dog.

Not every muzzled dog is an aggressive dog.

Dogs may need to be muzzled for a variety of reasons. Some dogs must wear muzzles because the area in which they live demands they do so. Others may wear them as sports-related equipment. Some muzzles are used to prevent dogs from biting people, often for reasons unrelated to aggression.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure

Temporary Use

Determine if the muzzle will be used at a veterinarian’s office, at a groomer’s salon, for a sporting event or for an alternate purpose. If you will be using your dog’s muzzle in more than one location, you may wish to choose the style you will use most frequently.

Select a mesh muzzle if your dog needs only light restraint for accidental bite prevention or if you’re concerned he may bark a lot at the veterinarian’s office or groomer's salon. Veterinarians and groomers often choose to muzzle dogs with which they are unfamiliar, so providing your own will be appreciated. Mesh muzzles often have open fronts through which your dog can open his mouth to pant or drink water.

Choose a fabric muzzle or a lightweight plastic or leather muzzle for sporting use. Fabric muzzles are lightweight, making them suitable for use on small dogs to prevent accidental bites when competing in short races or other dog sports. However, because they hold a dog’s mouth closed, they do not permit him to pant or drink water, which may make these muzzles life-threatening if used on hot days or during periods of extreme exertion. If your dog will be competing in longer lure coursing races or will need to wear his muzzle for more than a few minutes at a time, you may wish to choose a lightweight plastic or leather basket-type muzzle for his comfort and safety.

Bite Prevention or Aggression

Determine the weight of muzzle required to perform its task. Small dogs may be controlled by mesh or cloth muzzles, even if they tend to bite or show signs of aggression. Leather muzzles may be too heavy for use with many small dogs.

Determine the frequency with which the muzzle will be used. If you will be using your dog’s muzzle daily, you will want to purchase a sturdy leather muzzle for your dog. If you will be using your dog’s muzzle only when traveling or for occasional walks in areas in which muzzles are required, then a plastic muzzle may be sufficient for your needs.

Choose a muzzle that will be safe for you to use. If your dog must be muzzled for bite prevention or aggression, you should not be at risk of being bitten when applying it. Choose a muzzle that will be easy to put on your dog while at the same time performing its job.

Sizing a Basket Muzzle

Find the bony ridge behind the soft place on top of your dog’s muzzle where her nose leather ends.

Find the midpoint between this ridge and the front of your dog’s eyes. Circle your dog’s muzzle with the tape measure. Add 2 inches to this measurement for toy, small and medium dogs and 3 inches to this measurement for large breeds.

Measure the neck at the point of the throat over the larynx and around behind the base of the ears. The tape should pass just behind the cartilage fold at the top of the ear leather on drop-eared dogs.

Measure the jaw length. Place your tape measure at the tip of your dog’s nose and extend it in a straight line to her throat.

Sizing an Open-Ended Muzzle

Find the bony ridge behind the soft place on top of your dog’s muzzle where her nose leather ends. Place the front of the tape measure at the front edge of that ridge.

Circle your dog’s muzzle with the tape measure and pull the loop closed. Make certain the tape rests against your dog’s muzzle without being tight.

Choose the muzzle size that holds your dog’s muzzle closed but is not so tight as to restrict her breathing.


  • If your dog must wear a muzzle to comply with the law in your area, then determine where the muzzle must be worn or for how long it must be worn. If the law is not explicit about what kind of muzzle must be worn, then you may have some leeway in choosing a muzzle that is comfortable for your dog that also complies with the law.
  • Plastic muzzles are fairly inexpensive, making them a good alternative for people who occasionally need to use a muzzle for their dog.


  • Muzzles made from a single piece of folded leather may not be effective in preventing bites. In addition, leather muzzles may also be uncomfortable and may be difficult to clean in comparison to other muzzles.

About the Author

Jo Chester holds a certificate in pet dog training from Triple Crown Academy for Dog Trainers. She has trained dogs for competition in conformation, Rally and traditional obedience and agility. Chester has two goats, chickens, rabbits, a collie and a pet rat, in addition to several much-loved Toy Fox Terriers.

Photo Credits

  • object on white tool muzzle for dog image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from