Why do dogs have jowls

Do dog jowls have a purpose?

All dogs have jowls. However, some breeds have big loose jowls. Dog breeds that have large jowls also have something else in common. They drool. But are large dog jowls just for looks. Or do they have a practical function?

In fact, they do have a practical use depending upon what they were bred for.

In breeds that were bred for fighting they offer protection. If another dog locks onto the face they prevent then doing damage to the jaw and face. They also give the dog that has been gripped the wiggle room to turn and grab a hold themselves.

In scenting breeds such as many of the hounds they have a different function. The large, loose jowls sweep the ground and pick up important scents and carry them to the nose.

In breeds such as the New Foundland and Saint Bernard, they have a function to aid in swimming. These breeds are water dogs. They love to swim and are good at it. For them, the jowls create a pocket of air between them and the water. This allows them to breathe efficiently while swimming.

Dog breeds with Jowls

These breeds are famous for their large jowls and drooling. If you are extremely house proud or don’t like dog slobber one of these breeds is not for you.

Mastiffs

The Mastiff is made up of a number of different breeds. This includes the English Mastiff, Bull Mastiff,mastiff jowls Neopolitian Mastiff and the Dogue De Bordeaux. They have something in common apart from their large size. The vast amount of drool they produce. Originally bred for fighting, their jowls offer protection for the face.

Hound dogs

The hound dog group includes breeds such as the Blood Hound and The Bassett Hound. These are ground scenting and nose dogs. They have large jowls to assist with lifting the scent from the ground to the nose.

New Foundland

The Newfy as they are often called was breed as a rescue and water dog. The purpose of their large jowls is to trap air to assist with breathing while in the water.

Saint Bernard

saint bernard jowlsThe Saint Bernard is another great water dog. The large jowls also assist them with breathing while swimming. They also drool a lot when he’s sniffing the ground, when they are excited or stressed, after drinking and eating, and when you’re eating something he’d like to have and when they are hot.

The Boxer

The Boxer also have above average sized jowls. This again is as an aid in fighting. No wonder they are called Boxers.

Great Dane

The Great Dane’s large jowls are more the result of breeding than for a particular use. The breed originated from breeding the Grey Hound with Mastiffs. They inherited their large jowls from their Mastiff forefathers.

Bulldogs

Bulldogs where originally breed as bull baiting dogs. The jowls would have provided protection to the jaw and face.

bulldog jowls

Medical causes of drooling

Sometimes if your dog with large jowls is drooling and slobbering everywhere, it may have a medical or health risk reason. Many dogs will drool when they are nervous. If however, even if you have a non-drooling breed and they are drooling which that doesn’t seem normal for them, it could have a medical or health issue reason.

If the weather is hot and they are panting and drooling it can be a sign of overheating or even heatstroke. You should get them into the shade or air conditioning immediately, as well as offer her a cool drink of water. For more information read “How to keep a dog cool in hot weather“.

Other medical reasons a dog may be drooling include dental problems, like periodontal disease and tooth abscesses. It could also be a sign of a neurological condition, in which the nerves in the face don’t work, or a blockage in the esophagus caused by something like a bone. Another possible reason could be mouth irritation caused by chewing something toxic or chewing electrical cables causing electrical burns to the mouth.

If you have any doubts when it comes to drooling that is unusual for your dog, consult your vet as soon as possible.

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