Why do greyhounds wear muzzles?

Jun 29, 2020

Have you ever been out and noticed a dog wearing a muzzle and assumed that it must be because the dog isn’t friendly or must be aggressive? Don’t worry you aren’t the only one to have this thought, but it is often a misunderstood accessory that can lead to negative breed connotations.

Take the gentle greyhound for example; greyhounds are required by law to wear a muzzle in SA by the Dog and Cat Management Board unless they have been given a muzzle exemption. This is a law that doesn’t apply nationally with New South Wales and Victoria among states to not have this law for pet greyhounds. But that doesn’t mean that SA greyhounds are aggressive compared to this breed in other states. Greyhounds are used to wearing muzzles, while they may look a bit uncomfortable to us they do not hurt the greyhound when fitted properly, the dog is able to pant, breathe and drink normally.
In SA greyhounds are permitted to not wear a muzzle in public once they have received a muzzle exemption from the Dog and Cat Management Board. In order to gain this exemption, the greyhound must first successfully complete the GAP Green Collar Assessment. In this assessment we assess a greyhound’s temperament and ability to socialise well with other dogs, particularly small dogs. 
It is also the same assessment that GAP uses in order to assess whether a greyhound is ready to move on from its foster home to adoption. Meaning that all of our greyhounds once adopted are eligible for their owners to apply for a muzzle exemption. The greyhound must continue to wear a muzzle in public until this is granted, as only the permanent owner of the greyhound is able to apply for a muzzle exemption. This is why all greyhounds in foster care are required by law to wear a muzzle's in public.
Many owners choose for their dog to wear a muzzle because it gives them peace of mind when taking their dog into a new setting, even if they haven’t displayed aggression in the past. Even if your greyhound has a muzzle exemption card, the muzzle is there as a tool for you to use in new situations for the dog (just like people, dogs aren’t necessarily friends with every other dog they come across). Muzzles are not necessarily worn because of the dogs behaviour but because of the unpredictability of other dogs’ behaviour? I.e. bringing a greyhound into a situation where other dogs are off lead (whether permitted or not), they may not be under the control of their owner and may not be displaying very good manners (rushing up to the greyhound, barking in their face, getting under the greyhound), the muzzle and lead give a bit more control over the situation for the greyhound owner/foster carer.
Other reasons owners may use muzzles includes: 
  • for the safety of the dog wearing it, like in greyhound racing
  • because they haven’t had much socialisation
  • they are being trained
  • they get stressed in new environments
  • experience anxiety 
  • have an injury which is causing them to be reactive
Once the exemption has been granted owners are required to carry the identification card they are presented with when they are in public with their un-muzzled greyhound. Another signifier of greyhounds who have been granted this exemption is the green collar that GAP hands out to greyhounds who successfully complete this assessment.  GAP provide green collar assessments to greyhound owners even if their greyhound isn’t a member of the GAP program. 
Next time you see a dog wearing a muzzle, keep in mind there may be a multitude of reasons why they are wearing it.
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