Racing Greyhounds wear plastic basket muzzles in the turn out pen and on the track. They keep the racers, which have very thin skin, safe as they play and run since many Greyhounds have a tendency to nip in the excitement of the chase.
Those who adopt retired racers are generally encouraged to use muzzles, at least initially, and most find--often to their surprise--that the dogs really don't mind. These dogs have been wearing muzzles whenever they get to play or run so to them muzzles are a sign of good times.
To someone who has never owned a retired racing Greyhound, though, a muzzle may invoke images of aggression and restraint. And while there are muzzles for aggressive dogs, basket muzzles are very different. For one thing, it doesn’t restrict their mouth from opening and closing, and they can eat and drink while wearing a basket muzzle. (NOTE: a basket muzzle might inhibit a dog's ability to pant so always monitor your dog when it’s warm.)
As you may have already figured out, SHUG is a big fan of the plastic basket muzzle--and not just for Greyhounds. We think they are a “must have” in every Sighthound home. Those first couple of days when you're leaving your new dog loose in your home, a basket muzzle ensures you still have a completely intact couch--even if some idiot carpet salesman knocks on your door while you're at work. When transporting dogs too big to be crated, $10 muzzles can prevent $500 vet bills when an abrupt traffic stop causes a pileup in the back seat. A muzzle is a handy tool when making introductions between new dogs or a new dog and a cat. A muzzle can also--with the addition of the aptly named "poop guard" -- prevent the dreaded poop-scented kisses after a romp in the backyard.
Borzoi, Galgos, Salukis, and Afghan Hounds may not have the history with basket muzzles that Greyhounds do, but we’ve seen those breeds easily sporting the dashing accessory. While we occasionally have one who expresses his or her displeasure by smacking your backside with the muzzle, for the most part non-racers are as nonchalant about their headgear as retired racers.
Once you've decided to give it a try, how do you put on a muzzle? First, have it right-side up. Take a look at the picture to the right. Once you have the muzzle in the right position, pull the strap forward toward the basket and slip the basket over your dog's nose. Then you can bring the strap over their forehead and behind their ears. The strap has a buckle to adjust the size if it's too tight or too loose.
In a well-fitting muzzle, the tip of the dog’s nose doesn’t quite touch the inside end of the muzzle and the strap is easy to pull behind their ears but not so loose as to pop off with the swipe of a paw. (You can also add a collar strap to you muzzle for about a $1.) If your dog has particularly sensitive skin, you can add a piece of moleskin or fleece against the inside of the nose piece at the top of the basket to provide some padding.
Muzzles can also be quite the fashion accessory! They come in a variety of colors and while most of us are content to simply write our dog's name across the top with a sharpie, there are some (you know who you are!) who go all out with the stick-on gems and glitter.
It helps that muzzles are fairly inexpensive (under $10) and can be ordered online. Keep in mind that most greyhounds wear a medium (girls or small boys) or large (big boys); borzoi may need extra large for those awesome needle noses.
As you can see by the photos, the dogs don't mind their muzzles at all. If you're still not convinced, here is what can happen when playing without muzzles gets a little out of hand.
9 thoughts on “SHUG Says: Basket Muzzles for Everyone!”
I’m a huge fan of basket muzzles. They can make the difference between a dog keeping its home or losing it. If you eliminate the need to chew furniture while the owner is not at home, no damage is done and everybody wins. Small pets are safe when left alone with the larger dog, and fights over a toy are avoided. I highly recommend using the basket muzzle!
Not all greyhounds like wearing muzzles. Some have been forced to wear them while in their racing kennels to prevent them from compulsively chewing on the wires and frames of their cages. This is torture.
So is leaving your dog at home all day, muzzled.
The muzzle is used as a safety measure to prevent an uncrated dog from chewing something that could be harmful, or infuriate the owner to the point that it costs the dog its home…like eating the new leather sofa.
What my adoption group recommends is that a newly retired racer be crated until the housebreaking process is complete. This is followed by limited freedom in the house while wearing the muzzle. If placed in a home as an only dog, retired racers may suffer from separation anxiety. Dogs relieve anxiety by chewing, so you can get another dog, or use the basket muzzle.
Once the dog can be trusted not to chew, he may no longer need the muzzle. If multiple ghs are left alone during the work day, many of us prefer to muzzle all the dogs. It’s far better to muzzle than to come home to find a dead dog as a result of a fight over a toy. It happens!
I strongly support SHUG … muzzles for all!
I would like to get ( purchase ) a sparkle muzzle for Sasha. Please let me know if you have any left.
Why yes we do! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone loves it whenever people get together and share ideas.
Great blog, continue the good work!
Nice article, It was practical.
Do you still sell that type of muzzle? I’ve been looking everywhere for one for my new rescue girl. She suffers terribly from separation anxiety and has managed to break out of her crate when we’re at work. When she got out she chewed the wood corner of my coffee table and got sick. She has an old muzzle (the rescue group gave it to me when I got her), but it’s worn and loose on her. I’m hoping if we get her another one we won’t have to keep crating her since she obviously hates it. Thanks!
You can always order muzzles online. Try “googling” basket muzzle for options. We do not have any more of our “bejeweled” ones left.