Should a Retired Greyhound be Muzzled?

The greyhound is a polarizing dog breed in the pet community. A large percentage of the greyhounds that you see have been retired from racetracks. Greyhounds between the ages of four and six end up in Greyhound rescue organizations because they didn’t make the cut for the racing circuit. Older greyhounds, on the other hand, are retired after they have been in the racing circuit for years.

It is not uncommon to notice a muzzled greyhound being walked by its owner on the street or in a park. It then becomes an assumption that the dog is either aggressive or particularly unfriendly. This is not always the case, and this school of thought has led to a misguided negative notion about greyhounds. 

Why are racing greyhounds muzzled?

Greyhounds are sweet, placid, loving creatures that love to snuggle with their owners for hours. They always avoid confrontation and prefer to stand or lean on their owners when faced with a hostile situation. As a family pet, a muzzle is hardly necessary for your greyhound.  

While greyhounds may look uncomfortable in a muzzle, the accessory doesn’t hurt them unless it isn’t correctly fitted. The hound can still breath, pant, and drink normally when wearing a muzzle. There are several reasons why greyhounds are muzzled when racing:

  • Overstimulation

When racing, greyhounds get very aroused and stimulated. Their bodies are flooded with adrenaline when they are this excited. During such moments, a greyhound may sometimes bite the hound racing beside them. This is known as redirected biting and occurs in all dog breeds. Dogs just don’t seem to know what to do with all this sudden excitement and result in such antics. 

  • Determine a winner

This is a fascinating, if not a surprising reason. It is a common occurrence to have a photo finish in dog races. If most dogs in the race have pointy noses, it is harder to determine who won clearly. Putting muzzles on racing dogs provides an easier means to determine the winner.

Why do Pet Owners muzzle their greyhounds?

Muzzles do not work well as a training tool, and they shouldn’t be used as a form of punishment. In some instances, you may need a muzzle and the following as some of the reasons why pet owners opt to muzzle their greyhounds:

1. Enforced laws

Some states and countries have enforced laws that require greyhounds to be muzzled when in a public setting. These laws were reinforced by the assumption that greyhounds can be dangerous around smaller dogs and kids. Some places in Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria have put in place programs that can exempt a greyhound from wearing a muzzle.

A greyhound is eligible for the exemption once they successfully complete a GAP Green Collar Assessment. The assessment observes a hound’s ability to socialize well with other dogs, especially small dogs, and their temperament. The owner can then apply for a muzzle exemption, and only after it is issued can they walk their greyhound in public without a muzzle. 

2. High prey drive

Greyhounds are categorized as part of the sighthound family. Unlike the scent hounds, they use their eyes to hunt instead of their noses. They have a strong instinct to chase their prey over vast distances. Due to their great speed, they can brilliantly achieve this feat in a matter of minutes. 

Most owners use muzzles as a precautionary measure to avoid unnecessary accidents. When a greyhound hasn’t been well socialized, they are likely to still have a great impulse to chase smaller dogs or pets across parks or the street. However, it should be noted that greyhounds aren’t aggressive dogs. Their urge to chase after smaller animals is based on intuition rather than aggression. Since the final execution of the pursuit is using their mouths and not their paws, a muzzle can help safeguard a greyhound and its owner from an unfortunate outcome.

3. Emergencies

Injured dogs tend to lash out as a way of defending themselves from anyone who gets too close. In the event of an emergency, muzzling your greyhound may make treating their wounds or injuries easier. This is also applicable when another dog hurts or attacks your greyhound. Their first instinct will be to bite anyone who is close.

4. Vet visits

Vet visits can be traumatic for dogs, especially if they tend to be anxious. A new environment and being around many new pets and people may be a triggering situation that may cause your greyhound to lash out. This is especially true if they have never been to a vet’s office before or they do not like these visits. Muzzling in this instance would be precautionary to avoid any accidents. Even gentle dogs do not hesitate to bite when they are scared. Some vet offices require large breeds such as greyhounds to be muzzled when they have appointments.

5. Grooming appointments

Grooming has wonderful benefits for your greyhound, but that doesn’t mean they will enjoy it. Your greyhound may not enjoy getting their coat rubbed or nails trimmed. In such grooming instances, muzzling is advised. Muzzling will ensure your groomer feels safe and comfortable while carrying out their tasks and keep your hound from doing a regrettable thing. Like vet offices, some grooming salons require specific breeds to be muzzled.

6. Prevent consumption of harmful substances

Pet owners sometimes use a muzzle to prevent their greyhounds from picking up and consuming harmful items on walks or the park. They also prevent your dog from consuming feces, a condition known as coprophagia.

To muzzle or not to muzzle a Greyhound?

First and foremost, if you have adopted a greyhound, that is a wonderful move because they all need homes. Secondly, it is advisable to use a muzzle as you establish a good relationship with your greyhound before opting to remove it when in public.

A greyhound should only be muzzled when their owner is unsure or nervous of their greyhound’s behavior. Over time as you learn your grey’s behavior and tendencies and gain confidence in their interaction with other dogs and certain situations, you may decide to remove the muzzle.

Tips for using a muzzle with a greyhound properly

  • Find out whether your greyhound has worn a muzzle before. If they are an adopted retired greyhound, they may already be experienced with wearing a muzzle, and if they were adopted as a puppy, they probably have no experience wearing a muzzle. 
  • Use positive reinforcement when training your greyhound to wear a muzzle. It is important for your greyhound to view the muzzle as something positive than negative. Using treats is a great way to instill this accessory.
  • It is a good idea to let your greyhound discover the muzzle on their own. You can do this by placing treats in the muzzle and once they have eaten them, practice keeping your dog’s nose inside it for short periods without actually putting it on.
  • Once your greyhound gets accustomed to the muzzle, take them somewhere they enjoy. This will help your hound associate the muzzle with positive emotions and memories. 
  • Make sure you are using the right muzzle for your greyhound. The muzzle should be comfortable, fitting, and safe for your dog. Ill-fitting muzzles not only hurt your dog, but they also don’t carry out the purpose for which they were intended.
  • Be patient. If your greyhound has never worn a muzzle, they won’t take to it immediately. It may take time for them to be comfortable wearing one. 

Types of Greyhound Muzzles

Whether you are in the middle of an emergency, a vet, or on a grooming appointment, it is essential to know the type of muzzle you should use. There are two main types of muzzles.

Cage type: Cage-type muzzles come in two materials, plastic and wire basket. Owners often shy away from the plastic basket muzzle because it looks a bit barbaric. However, it is the most humane choice. Unlike a soft muzzle, the cage-like design allows your dog to pant, eat treats, and drink.

The plastic material of the muzzle enables owners to mold it into a comfortable shape to fit their greyhound’s snout. The wire basket muzzle, on the other hand, has the same design as the plastic one but has no allowance to crack or melt. It also cannot be molded to suit your hound’s snout, therefore, it is important to buy one that properly fits your dog.

Soft muzzle: A soft muzzle is designed to fit over your greyhound’s mouth directly. Unlike the basket design, it looks less fearsome but doesn’t allow your greyhound to open their mouth. Due to this, it is only advisable to use over short periods rather than long periods. They are mostly made of leather or nylon fabric.

The Best Muzzles for your Greyhound When Safety Is a Priority

BronzeDog Greyhound Muzzle

The BronzeDog muzzle is specifically designed for large breed dogs. It has a basket wire design that allows your greyhound to eat treats, drink water, and pant while keeping them from eating things off the ground. The muzzle is durable and can withstand extreme temperatures due to its open ventilation. It also has four leather straps to help you adjust it to the right fit.

Four Paws Quick Fit Dog Muzzle

This muzzle is a steal because not many muzzles are as comfortable and affordable as this one. Whenever your greyhound is behaving anxiously, slipping on this muzzle takes a few moments. It has seven different fittings, so it is easy to pick one that suits your hound. The muzzle is durable and machine washable. It is also designed to allow your hound to drink water and pant comfortably. 

CollarDirect Leather Dog Muzzle

The handmade leather dog muzzle is specifically made for large breeds. In order to ensure the muzzle fits properly, measure the circumference and length of your dog’s snout. It has two adjustable straps to ensure your hound is comfortable in the accessory. The muzzle comes in a variety of colors.

Baskerville Ultra Muzzle

The Baskerville Ultra muzzle is renowned for its superb durability and comfort. This humane muzzle is designed to ensure the safety and comfort of your greyhound. It enables your hound to drink, eat treats, and pant while wearing it. The muzzle also has unique features such as a collar attachment loop and an overhead security strap to keep it in place. 

PetSafe Muzzle

Perfect for curbing unwanted behavior at a moment’s notice, the PetSafe muzzle is a simple slip muzzle. It is made of breathable mesh and a strap that can be easily adjusted over the snout. The muzzle is adjustable and padded to ensure your hound is comfortable when wearing it. 

RSPCA strongly supports the removal of the compulsory muzzling requirement of pet greyhounds in public spaces. Some jurisdictions have already adopted this removal or a modified version of it. Consult with your local jurisdiction for information relating to greyhounds around your area. 

Greyhounds are gentle, sweet dogs, and the use of muzzles on your pet when in public should wholly depend on your confidence in their reaction to certain circumstances and the laws within your area of residence. 

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