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 not from Baskerville)
The Baskerville muzzles are probably the best-known muzzle brand in the US; therefore we wanted to start with reviewing this one. They are made by the Company of Animals and are sold in many online and traditional stores.
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 to determine if the muzzle looks good on your dog, 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 (besides the one photo of the smaller size), so be careful to judge the size based on a few photos.
The Baskerville Ultra comes in six sizes, which supposed to fit dogs from a Maltese to a Bull Mastiff. Since this is a big scale, there are significant jumps between the sizes, so many owners find themselves in a situation where one muzzle is too small, but the bigger one is too big on their dog.
Based on their sizing chart, first, I got a size 3 for Mia. This was way before the time we started Dog Gear Review, so I only have a terrible quality phone photo of that muzzle, but you can see that the muzzle is touching the front of her nose if I adjust the neck-straps appropriately. I only put this on her once since it was clear this would rub her nose after the first walk.
We sized up and ordered a size 4. The truth is that sometimes it isn't about the sizing of the product but the style. The size 4 muzzle looks huge on Mia because the part around the mouth is wide, and it is getting smaller on the front. If she opens her mouth, there is still room under her chin that is never utilized.
The pant room and the lengths are fine, but the muzzle still looks too big - especially since the two straps around her face are too long and are not adjustable, therefore the muzzle slides down when she drinks or sniffs.
The photos below show Mia with an open and closed mouth in size 4.
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, as we mentioned above, plastic basket muzzles are not the best for high bite-risk dogs.
The Baskerville Ultra muzzle comes with an overhead strap that attaches to the pre-holed neck strap with a carabiner. This is an excellent solution because the holes provide some stability to the overhead strap, but it's also hard to fit the carabiner into those holes. If you have to tighten the neck-strap a lot, you would have to remove the carabiner every time you want to put the muzzle on the dog and fix the carabiner after that, which is not the most comfortable solution.
Having the pre-holes is a much better design than the other ones we tried, but it still didn't work for us. It pulled the muzzle up into Mia's eyes when she was sniffing, and if I loosened it to prevent that, the strap was across her eye all the time. This was mainly because you are not necessarily able to clip the carabiner of the head strap to the middle of the neck strap, so it is already sliding to one side. I spent a few walks with adjusting it and trying different lengths, but Mia just hated it, and I didn't see any advantages with Mia's longer snout. She was happily wearing the muzzle after I removed the overhead strap.
As far as I know, Baskerville Ultra is the only muzzle that can be officially re-molded for a better fit. This is especially useful for dogs with a broader nose. You can just put it in warm water for two minutes and reshape it while it is warm. Once it looks good, dip it in cold water to set the shape. Remember that you might have to repeat this process in a few months if the rubber pulls back to its original form.
If you want to clean the muzzle, you can place it on the top rack of the dishwasher, but keep in mind that the shape can also alter in a heat cycle, so don't forget to doublecheck it when it's done and reshape it again if needed.
We have mixed experiences while testing this Baskerville muzzle.
First of all, the muzzle would be much more comfortable to affix with a quick-release buckle. Currently, it takes time to find the right whole and fix the muzzle - especially if you have to find those holes while the dog is jumping around before heading out for a walk. We also run into the problem that the strap slid out and loosened on hikes - although I have no clue how that happened, we run into it multiple times. We heard that they are planning to change this and use a buckle that would significantly improve the user experience and safety.
The other common issue is that this muzzle is made from hard plastic, which can rub the top of the snout. This was the only muzzle so far that we tested, and it caused chafing on Mia's snout by the end of the hike.
To make it easier on the snout, people use vet wrap, adhesive foam, electrical tape, or glue moleskin/sheepskin to the inside of the muzzle where it rubs the nose.
• Bite-proof factor: basket muzzles are generally not the best if a dog is high bite-risk because someone's hand or a dog's hair could still get in through the muzzle. On the other hand, this muzzle is made from harder plastic, so it probably would be enough to prevent a nip.
• Prevent the dog from eating things from the ground: It makes it harder, but the big opening on the front does make it still possible for the dog to pick up stuff.
• 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, and it is attached to the neck strap by a carabiner, which gives some stability to the strap.
You can buy the muzzle on Amazon but also in many online and offline stores.
The collar on some of the photos was from Bloomdog - You can check out our previous review on them on this link.
Company of Animals has videos showing how to introduce the muzzle to the dog and how to fit the Baskerville Muzzle. If you want to learn more about muzzles, you can join amazing groups on Facebook, like Muzzle Up, Pup! or The Muzzle Up Project.