To muzzle or not to muzzle... that is the Question?
Although not required by UK law, some greyhound owners choose to muzzle their dog(s) while out walking and playing off the lead. This choice should be based on careful consideration with an awareness of the possible actions of this particular breed. Do Retired Greyhounds need to be Muzzled? I hope to help answer this question below.
The Greyhound is part of the sighthound family. These dogs use their eyes to hunt rather than their noses, like their Scent hound cousins. They are known widely for having a high prey drive; the strong instinct to chase down their prey over vast distances. They do this magnificently at great speeds and why they are in the Formula 1 league of the dog world.
My own grey has quite often given flight on seeing a leaf blowing in the wind but a small creature would also invoke the same drive to pursue and with this in mind a muzzle could be a good idea.
For many centuries, Greyhounds have been conditioned; their natural prey drive exploited for hunting, coursing and sport. Using greyhound muzzles is an advisory precaution and one an owner should take seriously to avoid unnecessary incidents if a greys impulse to chase when out at the local park kicks in. Greyhounds are not aggressive. Anyone even slightly familiar with a greyhound will know they are placid, sweet natured dogs. They avoid any forms of confrontation and would rather lean into or stand behind their owner if faced with a hostile situation.
Greyhound muzzles are not worn because a greyhound poses any threat to a human. However, owners do need to understand their urge to chase and "catch" is intuition and not aggression on their behalf. As the catch part of this pursuit is executed with the mouth rather than a fair less menacing pair of paws, using a muzzle can safeguard an owner and their greyhound from an innocent action having an unfortunate outcome.
Retired Racing Greyhounds
If you have adopted a retired racer, as I did; first of all - FAB-U-LOUS as they all need homes. Secondly and importantly, it is recommended to use a muzzle until a good relationship has been developed, and there is confidence within their recall. Greyhound muzzles should be used if owners are nervous or unsure of their greyhound's behaviour.
For me personally, it was over a year before I stopped using a muzzle when on my beautiful boy was on his lead, and around two years until I felt satisfied enough with his obedience to un-muzzle him entirely off the lead too. Even now, almost six years on, I consciously keep an eye out for small dogs, pugs in particular because of their curly rabbit like tails, when my grey is roaming freely.
More often than not I'll pop Tipps back on his lead if I feel that he is in that mood and so inclined to rebel against authority and let his instinctive drive take over. In time all owners will learn their greys tendencies and act accordingly, but no owner should be worried about using muzzles until they are sure.
Greyhound muzzles are intended with the above-mentioned character traits in mind. Greys rarely bark or bite, so their muzzles are non-restrictive and will allow your pet pooch to breathe easily, pant while exercising and drink liquids. They are specially designed to house their long noses and are often padded in all the right places to prevent rubbing or painful knocks.
Most are plastic or metal wire, making them lightweight and allowing your dog to run around freely without risk of injury.
Regular dog muzzles do not fit correctly. I found that many of the pet supplies stores I visited did not stock Greyhound muzzles. However, numerous online catalogues and sites sell muzzles for Greyhounds and their narrow, elongated cranial!
There are a plethora of colours and styles to choose from, and most are relatively inexpensive. There are luxury padded options for those dogs that are prone to balding easily or need an extra layer of warmth and comfort in colder climates. Some come with Neon straps or reflective stripes for night time walks. With so much choice and little expense, it’s a worthwhile addition to your greyhound accessories collection.
I have talked a lot about muzzles being used as a cautionary preventative against unfortunate accidents, but these little contraptions are great for many other reasons:
They can be utilised as a way to avoid further upsetting an injury by licking open old wounds or attacking post-surgery stitches and bandages.
- Muzzles can give added protection when out in large groups and play time becomes a little rambunctious. Their skin is easily penetrated, and small nips can lead to tears in the skin.
- Although not common in this breed, Greyhounds can bark. If kept with other dogs that bark, they will teach the usually quiet greyhound this new form of communication. Specially designed muzzles for restricting the ability to bark are easy to find.
- It might be wise to have a muzzle handy when visiting the vet. All dogs can become nervous around vets, especially if they have a history with them being the person with the scalpel or thermometer! Also when visiting the groomers for nail clippings - Greyhound nails are extremely robust and trimming them is not an easy task.
- They can be used as an aid to all sorts of training. Whether starting to socialise with others or perhaps working on aggression or food etiquette, muzzles are helpful.
- I personally benefit from using a muzzle to prevent my grey from eating all kinds of unsavoury objects when out on his walks. It sometimes feels like I am taking a truffling pig around the neighbourhood rather than my sleek, graceful grey! If on a restrictive diet, muzzles can mean a care free walk where scavenging is concerned.
From my experience, greyhound muzzles can be used for many reasons and should not be thought of as cruel or uncomfortable, rather a useful tool in the Greyhound kit.
My greyhound Tipps was perfectly happy with the muzzle on when we first adopted him. See him below with and without the muzzle, happily playing with his ball in both photos and sporting a few more greys.