Greyhounds wear racing muzzles made of durable plastic during a race for two reasons. One is so that the judges can have a way to determine the outcome of races when a photo finish is called for. The other is so they are not able to bite and nip at other racers as they run side by side. Here is how to fit a racing muzzle on a greyhound.
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Determine the correct size muzzle for each racer. Greyhounds have different sized heads and snouts, meaning that one size muzzle does not fit all. Muzzles for racing come in small, medium, large and double large. The females usually will take no larger than a medium-sized racing muzzle while the boys rarely have a head small enough to warrant a size below medium.
Make sure you have the racing muzzle right-side up. This sounds silly, but you would be amazed at how many people will look at a racing muzzle and then try to put it on a greyhound upside down. The racing muzzle will have a white and stronger piece of plastic on the top side that runs all the way up to the front edge. It will also have a much larger area to accommodate the dog’s nose on the end.
Slip the racing muzzle onto the dog's head and place the strap behind the greyhound’s ears. This strap behind the ears keeps the muzzle in place when it is fit correctly. It works well except for when dogs are very intent on getting the muzzle off.
Adjust the strap using the small buckle to make the muzzle snug. You do not want the muzzle to be too tight, however. A greyhound runs with its mouth open and a muzzle that is too tight will keep them from being able to take in as much air as they can. Conversely, a muzzle too loose will fly off the dog’s head or come down around their neck. This will result in the dog getting ticketed by the judges if it happens repeatedly. If you can pull on the muzzle and it doesn’t come over the nose then it shouldn’t come off during a race. There should also be enough room at the end of the muzzle to see a gap between the dog’s nose and the muzzle’s nose piece.
Once you have the muzzle on the dog, try to fit two fingers between the bottom of the dog’s jaw and the bottom of the muzzle. With the muzzle resting in place you should just be able to get them in if the job has been done correctly. If you can’t then the muzzle is too tight and you will need a larger size. If you have room for more than two fingers then it will be too loose and bounce up and down too much on the racer as it runs, obstructing the view. Try a smaller one in that case.
Mark the dog’s name on the muzzle. In this way, you will know that muzzle fits that dog. If you have enough racing muzzles in your kennel, then each dog can have its own. You can then put tape around the buckle to ensure that it doesn’t open, keeping the muzzle always at the correct length. If dogs have to share muzzles, remember that they will sometimes need to be adjusted when going to a different runner.
Tips and warnings
- A greyhound's head swells up when it runs. The racing muzzle will seem much tighter as you take it off after the race than it was when you originally fit it.