Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best dog muzzles

A history of aggression may be the most obvious reason to use a muzzle on a dog, but it certainly isn't the only one. A dog muzzle can prevent nipping or biting during stressful situations, and in some states certain breeds are required to wear a muzzle when out in public.

Whatever the case, selecting the appropriate dog muzzle and using it correctly is vital to your dog’s comfort and safety. If you're struggling to find the right dog muzzle, we can help.

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A dog muzzle should not be used as a form of punishment or to “fix” behavioral problems like barking or chewing. A professional dog trainer can teach you the correct way to address these issues.

When to use a dog muzzle

Many dog owners feel conflicted about using a dog muzzle. It’s helpful to identify when and if your situation calls for one.

  • Medical emergencies: Even docile dogs can become unpredictable when injured or in pain. Putting a muzzle on your dog in these situations may be necessary.

  • Vet visits: It's not unusual for dogs to become anxious when visiting the vet, and some may even bite due to fear or pain. Training your dog to wear a muzzle can make trips to the vet more relaxed for everyone, including Fido.

  • Grooming safety: While most dogs who are groomed regularly from an early age don't have any issues with a good wash, brush, and clip, sometimes a bit of extra care is needed. Some dogs may dislike having certain areas touched, while others may not tolerate being groomed by strangers.

  • Breed-specific legislation: A number of states have restrictions and bans on breeds that are deemed dangerous. If you live in a restricted area and your dog happens to fall into this category, he'll need to wear a muzzle each time he leaves the house.

  • Aggression: Aggressive behavior often stems from fear, distrust, or insecurity, and you'll need to apply proper training techniques to combat these issues. However, a muzzle can help keep both your dog and others safe during training sessions away from home.

Types of dog muzzles

Dog muzzles are available in many different styles. Most fall into one of these categories.

Agitation/police-style muzzles

These heavy-duty dog muzzles are typically made of leather, and many have a reinforced steel nose piece. Designed for dogs undergoing police, military, or protection training in which aggression is encouraged, agitation muzzles are considered to be the safest for both handlers and dogs.

However, they can cost a pretty penny, and the specialized construction generally isn't necessary for the average dog.

"Never leave a muzzled dog unattended. If the muzzle gets caught on something, your dog could be seriously injured."

Basket muzzles

These muzzles have an open grid construction that allows dogs to pant, eat, and drink. Basket muzzles are made from a variety of materials.

  • Metal/wire basket muzzles are best for large breeds or aggressive dogs who may break other materials. However,  unyielding metal muzzles may cause injuries if your dog gets into a scuffle with another canine. Metal muzzles are also more reactive to extreme weather conditions, and can easily become burning hot or freezing cold, depending on the climate.

  • Rubber is a great alternative to metal if you're concerned about your dog hurting herself or others. Strong, safe, and reliable, rubber muzzles aren't affected by weather and are also less likely to cause harm to the dog.

  • Leather can offer a good balance of style and functionality. Most leather basket muzzles are secure and durable. One of the biggest disadvantages is that leather muzzles generally have smaller gaps, meaning it’s harder for the dog to breathe or pant. Leather also requires some level of maintenance, so keep this in mind if you're considering purchasing one of these muzzles.

  • Plastic works well for occasional use or for dogs who aren't overly aggressive. Plastic tends to be inexpensive, but these muzzles aren't as robust as metal, rubber, or leather and can be easy for determined dogs to break.

"A muzzle that extends too far beyond your dog’s nose could obstruct his line of sight."

Occlusion/soft muzzles

Soft muzzles have a glove-like nylon/mesh construction that's lightweight yet secure. Since most have a tight fit, which severely limits panting, they're best for short periods of wear.

Consider an occlusion muzzle for purposes such as clipping nails or trips to the groomer/vet.

Short-snout muzzles

Regular muzzles aren't suitable for breeds with very short or flat snouts. Short-snout muzzles are designed to cover the face and are constructed of see-through mesh to optimize vision and breathability. Most also have an opening for eating and drinking.

As dogs with flat snouts tend to have special respiratory needs, it's important that the muzzle doesn’t restrict airflow or fit too tightly.


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Very fearful or aggressive dogs need proper training, not simply muzzling.

Match muzzle to dog

Every dog is unique. Even if a muzzle claims to fit certain breeds, you should always measure your dog’s snout first for the best fit.

Basket muzzles

When measuring for a basket muzzle, remember to add approximately one inch to the circumference to ensure that your dog is able to pant.

  • Measure snout length: Place the end of the tape measure half an inch below your dog’s eyes at the center of the nose. Measure from this point to the tip of the nose.

  • Measure snout circumference: Position the tape measure half an inch below your dog’s eyes in the center of the nose. Measure all the way around the snout to get the circumference.

Soft muzzles

Soft muzzles usually only require a single measurement.

  • Measure snout tip circumference: Place the tape measure just behind the wet part of your dog’s nose. Measure all the way around the snout circumference.
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Did you know?
Measuring the snout for a proper fit is important so that the muzzle is secure and your dog is comfortable.

Factors to consider when choosing a dog muzzle

There are a number of factors that come into play when finding the most suitable muzzle for your dog. Let’s take a look.

Ease of use

Look for a muzzle that's easy to put on. Getting a muzzle on quickly and smoothly is absolutely essential when dealing with an aggressive dog. Even if there's no risk of being bitten, fumbling to fasten buckles can cause unnecessary stress for both of you. If possible, choose a model with clasps that easily clip on and off.


Plastic or nylon muzzles tend to be the least durable, but one of these should do the trick if you have a docile dog who’ll only be using the muzzle occasionally. If your dog is aggressive or particularly enthusiastic, choose a sturdy metal, rubber, or leather muzzle.

"A dog muzzle can help stop sidewalk scavenging."

Dog size

Smaller dogs seldom require the same level of restraint as larger breeds, and heavier materials may make small dogs uncomfortable. Even leather muzzles can be a bit too much for dainty toy breeds like Chihuahuas or Yorkies, and a lightweight muzzle made of nylon or mesh may be your best option. For large or aggressive dogs, opt for robust materials like rubber, leather, metal, or strong plastic.

Intended use

Not all muzzles are suitable for every purpose. If you need a muzzle for training, trips to the park, or walks, a breathable basket-style muzzle that allows your dog to pant and drink is a must. For limited use while clipping your dog’s nails, during grooming, or visiting the vet, a soft occlusion muzzle is suitable. Just remember that these shouldn't be left on for too long because they restrict panting.

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For your safety
Choose a muzzle material that corresponds with your dog’s size and level of aggression.

Introducing your dog to a muzzle

The following tips can help reduce stress and make it easier to put a muzzle on your dog for the first time.

  • Familiarize your dog with the muzzle. Start by placing the muzzle on the floor and allowing your dog to sniff and touch it.

  • Use treats to win your dog over. When your dog sniffs or touches the muzzle, offer plenty of praise and treats. This will create a positive association with the item. Once your dog seems comfortable with the muzzle, pick it up and hold a favorite treat inside with the other hand. Allow your dog to retrieve the treat and remove her head. Repeat multiple times.

  • Briefly put the muzzle on your dog without fastening it. If your dog seems happy to take a treat from the muzzle, she may be ready for the next step. When she puts her head into the muzzle, calmly pull the straps up and hold them behind her head. Hold the muzzle in place for just a few seconds before releasing, praising her all the while.

  • Fasten the muzzle on your dog. Once she's comfortable with you holding the muzzle on, fasten it behind her head. At this point, the aim is simply to secure the muzzle, not to make her wear it. As soon as you manage to fasten the muzzle, undo it and let her remove her head.

  • Take things slowly. Gradually increase the number of seconds that you leave the muzzle on your dog. Don't rush, and remember to offer plenty of praise and treats throughout the process.

Dog muzzle prices

Size, materials, and type determine the cost of a dog muzzle. Expect to pay from $5 to $200 and up for a muzzle.

  • Soft /occlusion muzzles

Depending on size and materials, these muzzles cost between $5 and $15.

  • Basket muzzles

Expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $15 for a budget plastic basket muzzle. Premium varieties made of leather or metal usually cost between $30 and $50. Rubber muzzles fall somewhere in the middle at $20 to $35.

  • Agitation muzzles

These are the most expensive, with prices ranging from $60 to $200 and more.

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Muzzles that allow your dog to enjoy a treat can be more pleasant for her to wear.


Q. Can I use a muzzle to keep my dog from barking?

A. Although some muzzles are marketed as being a solution for barking, using them as such is not recommended. Your dog's barking could stem from a number of issues, including separation anxiety, boredom, or a need for attention, and these problems should be appropriately addressed.

Q. How long can my dog wear his muzzle?

A. Muzzles really aren't an all-day/all-night solution for behavioral issues and shouldn't be left on too long. Generally, around 20 minutes is appropriate for basket muzzles. Because occlusion muzzles hold the mouth shut and don't allow panting or drinking, these should be worn for no more than 10 minutes at a time.

Q. Which muzzle should I use to keep my dog from eating off the sidewalk?

A. If your dog hoovers up anything and everything in his path, a basket muzzle with smaller gaps or a front panel is probably your best bet. While a regular basket muzzle will definitely slow him down, determined dogs may still manage to sneak in a less than savory sidewalk snack. When exercising your dog, it's important that the muzzle allows for panting. For this reason, it's best not to use an occlusion muzzle on your dog when walking or running.

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