Whether you are a greyhound owner or not, you may have always wondered why do greyhounds wear muzzles.
Being a former marine, I have worked with various dog breeds throughout my military career — German Shepherds, Labradors, Belgian Malinois, you name it. Being a devout dog person since before the military thing happened, I have delved deep into a dog’s psychology.
Every breed of canines has something unique, but dogs, in general, are brilliant and agile creatures. They are sporty, responsive, and possess an innate eye for detail. On top of that, dogs are incredibly loving and considerate creatures. Sometimes, your dog is the first one to detect whether or not you are sad and need solace.
It’s ironic that having spent my whole life with pooches, I never indeed came across a greyhound until quite recently. It was three months ago that it all started. It was my birthday, and my wife was pretty confused with my birthday present. She knew I had a thing for dogs and dog sport. To my delight, she got me a retired racing greyhound that I fell in love with immediately.
In the days that followed, I took this dog for a walk around the neighborhood. For a while, I removed the leash and allowed my dog to play freely. Close to where my dog was, a few kids were playing.
Seeing my dog unleashed, an elderly individual jumped into the scene to protect the kids, as if he had seen a ghost. I was confused until he started yelling at me for leaving a Greyhound without a muzzle.
It reminded me of a Greyhound race in the summer of 1984, where the competing dogs had muzzles fastened around their snouts. But why do greyhounds wear muzzles? Let’s find out.
Things to Consider Before Adopting a Greyhound
One of the biggest misconceptions about greyhounds is that compared to other breeds, they are more aggressive, which is not valid.
Greyhounds are just like any different dog breed. The slight difference in their behavior is due to the training they receive, and the time they spend competing on the racing track. Raised differently, a greyhound appears more Alpha to other breeds, but this does not mean that they have to sport a muzzle all the time.
Greyhounds learn to live in packs since they are very young. They are highly sociable creatures, for they spend a lot of time with a large number of dogs. Furthermore, greyhounds have a lot of respect for authority. This is why they tend to behave a lot more in the presence of someone they know can exercise control.
In a pack of greyhounds, the most influential member ensures the safety and survival of the entire pack and establishes itself to be the supreme. As a pet, your greyhound will look up to you as the supreme authority. This is one of the reasons why your greyhound would follow where you go, and seek your guidance at every step.
If it smells a lack of leadership on your part, the greyhound will try to take up the role itself, and that is something that would be problematic for you.
Keeping a greyhound as a pet can only be problematic if you fail to understand their nature, as well as their behaviors. The worst thing you can do for a greyhound is to reinforce their behavior when they feel shy or insecure.
A significant contributor behind their sporty nature and their desire to hunt is the fact that they are descendants of the southern wolf. As hunting dogs, they cooperate perfectly with other dogs and even come up with excellent strategies to ambush the hunt.
Regardless of how obedient and trained they are, they sometimes exhibit their free-spirited daredevil nature, even in the most controlled settings. Besides having sharp eyesight, they are equally good when it comes to hearing and smell.
Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are not vicious beasts. However, they have a love for chasing after moving objects. Furthermore, they are natural sprinters that can run as fast as 45 miles an hour.
It surprising, but the post-racing career attitude in greyhounds varied from one dog to the other. Some dogs continue to love running at high speeds, while some of them have gotten tired of being forced to run, and give it up altogether.
Despite being sturdy sport dogs, greyhounds love human beings and are highly sociable around people they are comfortable with. They spend the initial years of their lives training intensely with humans.
Some of their trainers also bring their children to the field. You might find it strange, but greyhounds are occasionally shy and sensitive. On top of that, they are reasonably gentle creatures.
Considering the kind of work they do, they are rarely exposed to other dog breeds. So, don’t be surprised if your greyhound acts a little angry, shy, or nervous around other dogs. Greyhounds are not very comfortable with cats, and express their displeasure with an outburst of great anger.
When it comes to self-defense, greyhounds are smart at protecting themselves. They can either duck an attack by flight or staying unmoved. Because of their sporty nature, they love to travel and are comfortable with riding in cars. A greyhound would never bite you on purpose.
However, they express their affection by lightly grasping your hand. They have inherited this behavior from their ancestor, the wolf. When happy or affectionate, a greyhound would rub its body against yours, just like a cat would. They might even lick your hand.
Unlike a Siberian Husky or an Alaskan Malamute, a greyhound is not comfortable with cold environments. Their inability to cope with low temperatures is a direct outcome of the fat layer they lack under their skin.
If it’s raining or snowing, leaving your greyhound outdoor isn’t such a good idea. If you want to protect them from catching a cold and falling sick, make sure you cover them up with a warm woolen cloth.
A greyhound is not a natural barker, but will surely bark when trying to tell you if they need something. Greyhounds are not mistreated or mishandled, but they are not necessarily pampered as well.
Why Do They Put Muzzles on Greyhounds?
Now let us get into the meat of the matter as to why do greyhounds wear muzzles.
As discussed above, greyhounds are highly competent and sporty. If you have ever been to a greyhound racing event, you must have seen them chasing a lure with muzzles tied around their mouths.
When reaching the finishing line, every greyhound tries its best to get hold of the bait. To snatch away the bait from the winning dog, they sometimes try to bite their way through. In the rush of blood, biting can prove dangerous.
Muzzles are fastened around their snouts of dogs to keep the dogs from wounding each other.In some cases, state laws require greyhound owners to make their dogs wear muzzles in public settings. These laws are merely based on the assumption that greyhounds can be dangerous to children and smaller dogs.
However, if you are a greyhound owner, it is better to abide by the law, for prevention is better than care. After all, it’s an animal we are talking about. However, greyhound owners know that a muzzle is not a sign of aggression or fury on the part of the dog.
So, the next time you come across a greyhound donning a muzzle, try not to judge. There might be a sweetheart behind the mask, who would be just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them. But, as a total stranger, if you come across a greyhound wearing a muzzle, make sure to ask the owner if their four-legged buddy is open to meeting new people.
When to Use a Muzzle on a Greyhound?
Up till now, we have discussed why greyhounds wear muzzles. If you are new to the topic, you would be amazed at the types of muzzles that are available in the pet section of your supermarket.
As for now, let’s talk about when it is an excellent time to make a greyhound wear a muzzle. Here are some of the situations in which putting a muzzle on your dog is the best idea. Let’s break it down.
If you are at the vet to get your dog some shots, your dog might not like it. Their nervousness might turn into restlessness and in some cases, aggression. Their vile behavior might hinder the injection from being correctly administered. Therefore, to keep any unpleasant incident from occurring, it is better to make your dog wear a muzzle.
Your dog might be the friendliest being around, but that does not guarantee if it will be comfortable around children. If feeling threatened, your dog might bite someone, and the bite could be fatal if the dog isn’t properly vaccinated. Only by putting a muzzle around their mouth, you can minimize the chances of your dog giving someone a deadly bite.
Your dog might be comfortable around you, your family members, and your friends. However, they might act a little strange in unfamiliar environments and situations. The best thing you can do is to train them to wear a muzzle whenever in a different environment.
Your dog might be shy and might need some time to warm up before meeting new people. Therefore, it is better to give your dog some time and space to grow fully accustomed to original settings. A muzzle is a sign that your dog is having a hard time getting along with strangers. Most people take to consider a dog muzzle, a symbol of danger, and prefer to stay clear of a dog that wears one.
Dogs tend to get cranky and aggressive when they are wounded or injured. Their aggressiveness gets in the way of the necessary medical support, which is urgently required. A muzzle tied around their mouth makes them feel under control and helps them calm down.
As discussed above, at greyhound racing events, the competing dogs exhibit extreme competitiveness and aggression. It is better to have a muzzle tied around your dog’s snout To minimize the possibility of any fatal incident.
Lastly, a muzzle is put on a dog’s mouth during training sessions, where they are being trained to get along with something tied around their mouths. Such exercises enable a dog to accept wearing a muzzle, without much resistance.
By now, you must have realized that a muzzle is a tool that adds to a dog’s safety, as well as the safety of those around it. A muzzle by no means is a weapon of punishment, and wearing one does not mean that a dog is potentially harmful to the people and animals in its surroundings.
When Not to Use a Muzzle on a Greyhound?
We have already discussed that a dog muzzle is used for the correction of behavioral problems. For example, if your dog is a loud barker, or chews a lot, putting a muzzle around their mouth to prevent their behavior, would be the most inhumane thing to do.
Using a muzzle as a form of punishment is one of the many reasons why people think of them as a sign of danger. Let’s discuss the two primary reasons why a muzzle should not be used as a correction of behavioral issues in dogs.
- Firstly, a dog muzzle should only be used for a short period. Make sure not to leave a muzzle fastened around a dog’s snout for an extended period. They prevent a dog from panting, which is what they do for cooling off. Also, leaving a muzzle tied to your dog’s mouth for a long time will keep them from eating and drinking. A hungry or thirsty dog will surely convey its displeasure through excessive barking or even aggression. Refrain from leaving a dog muzzled, until a vet or a professional dog trainer asks you to do so.
- Secondly, behavioral issues in dogs are not treated by suppressing the behavior. Instead, try to identify the reasons which have lead to such actions. For example, if your dog chews excessively, it is a telltale sign your dog is bored. As a responsible dog person, try to cheer your dog up. Take them out for walks, play with them, and make them feel loved and cared for.
Now that you know why greyhounds wear muzzles, let us discuss how to train a greyhound to wear a muzzle.
How to Train Your Greyhound to Wear a Muzzle?
Now that we have talked about when is the right time to make your dog wear a muzzle, let’s talk about the ways you can train your dog to accept something restraining its mouth.
In the beginning, your dog won’t be up to the idea of something shutting its mouth down, but with time, things will get better.
With time, your dog will realize that muzzles are only used for a short period, and they are painless. Here are some tips that will help you on the way.
Allow your dog to sniff the muzzle first. While you do, do not try fastening it until the dog is entirely accustomed to it. This is the tricky part, so that it might take some time.
In the following training sessions, try to make your dog touch the muzzle with its nose. Every time it does, treat him. The muzzle should be associated with pleasant things like dog-food or even treats.
Place the treat behind the muzzle and make him reach through. While doing so, hold the muzzle against your dog’s face. With your other hand, hold a treat right behind the muzzle. Continue doing so until your dog no longer hesitates. In case you have a basket muzzle, you’ll have to feed the dog through the straps.
Moving on, place the muzzle on your dog’s mouth, but don’t snap it. Soon after, reward your dog with a treat. Right after you put the muzzle on, take it off.
If your dog no longer finds the muzzle unfamiliar, put it on, trap it, and take it back off. Every time you do this, do not forget to treat your dog.
Now, strap the muzzle onto your dog’s mouth for an extended period. In subsequent training sessions, add the number of minutes the muzzle remains on your dog’s mouth. Make sure you firmly grab the dog by the collar while the muzzle is on and always reward them with a treat, once the training session is over.
Concluding Thoughts on Why Do Greyhounds Wear Muzzles
By now, you must have gotten the answer to the question, why do greyhounds wear muzzles. Greyhounds come from the family of wolves, which makes them behave differently from other dog breeds. They are robust, fast, and possess an innate passion for competing.
In competitive sports, their will to succeed can sometimes be dangerous to other racing dogs. This is where a muzzle can minimize the chances of an unpleasant incident. And to clear your confusion, a muzzle is a safety tool, not a weapon of torture or punishment.