Dog Gear Review traditionally tests hiking and canicross gear, so you might wonder how muzzles came in the picture. It started with Mia being attacked a few times by off-leash dogs, therefore, developing a fear-based dog reactivity. While we joined training groups, visited group and individual classes, met with behaviorists, it also became clear that muzzle training is probably a good idea since there are too many off-leash dogs around us.
I thought finding the right harness is hard, but finding the right muzzle is even harder. After trying a few different types and brands, we realized that we should start writing about our experiences with muzzles as well because so many people struggle with this.
Many people think muzzles are cruel without knowing much about it. Muzzles can be great tools while training the dog if it is properly fitted, and the owner took the time to introduce the muzzle to the dog slowly. If both of these are true, dogs don't feel restricted in the muzzle. They can drink, pant, sniff, and they get used to it faster than you would think.
We hope that raising awareness with the poster below can make other people understand and accept muzzled dogs. There can be many reasons to muzzle a dog, and different reasons require different types of muzzles.
(The muzzle on the poster is from Mayerzon that we will review soon.)
Reviewing muzzles is hard because every dog and every situation requires a slightly different solution. Something can be a pro for one dog and con for the other one. Even when we are talking about sizing, there are different opinions on how much room the dog should have in the muzzle. The only thing that everyone agrees on is that the dog should be able to pant to cool down while wearing it. However, what pant room means can generate great arguments. If you have a dog with a high-bite risk or are looking for an agitation muzzle, you are okay with a muzzle that provides enough room for a half-pant. We use muzzles for full-day hikes or canicross, in which case it is essential to have enough room for a full-pant in the muzzle.
The other tricky thing with sizing is that although there are great Facebook groups to help with fitting, different photos could make the muzzle look much bigger or smaller. If you look through the images in this review, it's hard to believe they show the same muzzle, so be careful to judge the size based on a few photos. ;)
The Barkless Silicone Muzzle comes in six sizes, which supposed to fit dogs from a Maltese to a Great Dane. Since this is a big scale, there are significant jumps between the sizes so many times one muzzle is too small, but the bigger one is too big for a dog.
Based on their sizing chart, we got a size 4 for Mia, which fits well more or less. It could be a little smaller, but size 3 would be way too small, so we compromised with this one. The big nose opening gives some flexibility with sizing because there isn't another strap at the end that would rub the dog's nose if the snout is a little shorter than the muzzle - like in case of Mia.
The design of this muzzle is similar to the Baskerville Ultra that we reviewed earlier. Both of them leave a big gap under the chin for longer nosed dogs, which makes them look bulkier on long-nosed dogs.
Overhead straps are important for additional security to prevent the muzzle from accidentally falling off. If the dog is appropriately conditioned wearing a muzzle, they shouldn't try getting it off, but it could still happen if they get into a fight or play rough with other dogs. Generally, this is a more significant risk for short-nosed dogs because they would have an easier time getting the muzzle off while a longer snout would “get stuck” in the muzzle if it is properly adjusted and is the right fit.
Another thing to consider is if your dog is a determined biter. In this case, you want to have an overhead strap even for a longer snout to say on the safe side - although plastic basket muzzles are not the best for high bite-risk dogs.
The Barkless muzzle comes with an overhead strap that attaches to the neck strap with a simple loop and a slider to adjust the lengths.
We ended up removing the overhead strap because it always slid to one side and was across an eye that Mia hated with these wide straps. Since the overhead strap only loops through the neck strap, it slides around a lot unless the dog has a deep stop and broad head (which Mia doesn't). Unfortunately, this strap cannot be unbuckled to remove and put it back if needed because the part which goes through the muzzle is sewed together.
The Barkless muzzle has a great fast release buckle, which makes it easy to use. The straps also have reflective parts (the white sewing all around the straps), which is highly visible in the dark. The wide straps are excellent for keeping the muzzle in place, but they also get dirty and soak in the mud/water on a rainy day.
While we did love the big nose opening for Mia's sensitive nose, it could be a little smaller on the front to be sure a dog with a narrow snout wouldn't be able to nip through it.
The most interesting thing about this muzzle is the material itself. The soft silicone is excellent because it's lightweight and is easy on the snout of the dog. Mia hasn't had any trouble with chafing while wearing this muzzle even on full-day hikes, and I can imagine it would be easier to use this muzzle for training purposes than a hard plastic one. On the other hand, if the dog is a determined biter or scavenger, this soft muzzle wouldn't be enough to hold them back.
As you see it in the photo below, it's so flexible that you can fold it in half. This means that the dog can push its nose to the end of the muzzle and still bite or eat something through the wholes.
We used this muzzle a lot because Mia was comfortable to wear it. She isn't a bite-risk anymore, so the softness of the material wasn't an issue for us, but it isn't recommended if your dog is determined to bite or eat something. We loved the wide and reflective straps that are even padded for additional comfort.
• Bite-proof factor: basket muzzles are generally not the best if a dog is high bite-risk, but the soft silicone material makes this even less suitable for determined dogs. It is enough to prevent a nip but nothing more.
• Prevent the dog from eating things from the ground: It makes it harder, but it's still possible for the dog to pick up things.
• Safety collar loop: it does have a loop at the bottom that you can use to attach it to a collar.
• Overhead security strap: it does have one, but it only attaches to the neck strap with a loop, and you have to find a way to secure it by yourself if you want it to stay in the middle.
You can buy the muzzle on Amazon with Prime, but you can also find it in many other offline and online stores. On Amazon, they offer a 7-days No-Reason-Return/Exchange and a 1-year warranty as well!
The collar on some of the photos was from BolDog - You can check out our previous review on them on this link.