Get ready to dive into the world of mouthy dog breeds! These breeds are known for their expressive and sometimes mouthy nature. From gentle mouthing to enthusiastic playfulness, they have a unique way of interacting with the world around them.
In this article, we share 15 of the most mouthy dog breeds. We unravel the unique traits, history and genes that contribute to their mouthiness, and share effective ways to manage and channel their exuberant energy.
So, buckle up and join us on this exciting journey into the fascinating world of mouthy dogs!
This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.
What Is Dog Mouthing?
Some canine breeds have a more natural inclination to use their mouths in various situations and when communicating their feelings.
The term “dog mouthing” describes this characteristic, and refers to when a dog puts their mouth and teeth around a person’s limbs or hands without applying any pressure.
Mouthy puppy behavior is common in many breeds and teaching bite inhibition is an important part of puppy socialization.
But mouthing is also displayed by some adult dogs who tend to exhibit the behavior when they are excited, playing or feeling frustrated.
The amount of mouthiness can vary in intensity among different dog breeds.
Retrievers, gun dogs and herding dogs are known for being mouthy because they were bred to carry things in their mouths.
While it is important to note that not all individuals within a breed may display mouthy behavior, certain breeds have a higher likelihood of exhibiting these tendencies due to their genetic predisposition and historical breeding purpose.
While these breeds sometimes also have a strong urge to nip, chew, or bite objects, mouthing is a different dog behavior to biting, nipping and chewing.
Common Characteristics Of Mouthy Dog Breeds
Some typical characteristics of mouthy dogs include:
- Strong prey drive – mouthy dogs often have an instinctual desire to chase prey.
- Tendency to nip or bite – they have a tendency to explore with their mouths sometimes results in excitable nipping or biting behaviors.
- Vocalization habits – mouthy dog breeds tend to be more vocal when expressing their emotions and needs.
- High energy levels – mouthy dogs are known for their high energy levels and need regular physical and mental exercise.
- Intelligence and curiosity – mouthy dog breeds are quick and curious learners and tend to use their mouths as a way of interacting with and investigating objects and people.
- Playfulness and enthusiasm – a common characteristic of mouthy dogs is a high degree of playfulness and enthusiasm which sometimes results in mouthiness.
Popular Mouthy Dog Breeds
Now we know what mouthiness is and the characteristics of mouthy dogs, let’s take a look at 15 of the most lovable and popular mouthy dog breeds.
1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever, one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide, is known for its friendly temperament, intelligence, and, in many cases, mouthiness.
Bred as working dogs in Newfoundland, Canada, Labradors were used by fishermen to gently retrieve fish from the water.
As a result, Labradors have a strong instinctual desire to carry and hold objects in their mouths, which stems from this breeding as retrieving dogs.
Owners of Labradors should understand and manage their mouthiness through training techniques such as bite inhibition training and providing appropriate chew toys. It’s important to redirect their chewing and mouthing tendencies towards acceptable items and reinforce positive behaviors.
2. Hungarian Vizsla
Originating in Hungary, the Hungarian Vizsla dog breed has a rich history as a hunting dog, specifically bred for pointing and retrieving game. Their genetic heritage and purpose goes a long way to explain the Vizsla’s mouthiness.
As a hunting breed, Vizslas have a strong inclination to use their mouths, particularly when puppies, and have a natural desire to hold, carry, and deliver objects. This translates into their mouthy dog behavior.
Moreover, Vizslas have high energy levels and need for mental stimulation. Without good daily exercise and mental challenges, they may be more mouthy in order to release pent-up energy.
Vizsla Owners should provide outlets for their natural instincts, through structured play, puzzle toys, and regular training sessions. This can help redirect their mouthiness towards more appropriate activities and prevent it from becoming excessive.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a breed renowned for its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility.
Originally bred in Germany as herding dogs, German Shepherds needed to use their mouths in their original role of guiding and protecting livestock. They would gently nip and control the movements of the animals they herded.
As a result, German Shepherds tend to exhibit mouthiness as a means of communication, exploration, and instinctual behavior.
Much like the Vizsla, German Shepherds also have a strong drive for engagement and mental stimulation. With their impressive intellect and remarkable work ethic, they require regular exercise and challenging tasks to satisfy their need for mental and physical stimulation.
Without adequate outlets for their energy and mental engagement, German Shepherds may resort to mouthy behaviors as a way to alleviate boredom or release pent-up energy.
The Weimaraner is a distinctive and athletic breed originally from Germany.
Weimaraners were initially bred as hunting dogs for noble families. Their purpose was to track, retrieve, and hold game, which required them to use their mouths extensively.
This inherent trait has been passed down through generations, contributing to their mouthiness today.
Weimaraners also have a strong prey drive and a natural inclination to carry and manipulate objects. So their mouthiness is really an expression of their instinctual hunting behaviors.
Additionally, like the Vizsla, Weimaraners have high energy levels. Without enough exercise they may engage in mouthy behaviors to seek attention and release anxiety.
However with proper understanding and guidance, Weimaraners can make devoted companions while still retaining their characteristic mouthiness in an appropriate manner.
5. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds, known for its friendly nature and loyalty to its owners.
Bred in Scotland as gun dogs, Golden Retrievers were trained to retrieve waterfowl and game. They trace their mouthiness back to their purpose of gently carrying and delivering prey without causing damage.
But Golden Retrievers have a natural desire to hold objects in their mouths, which extends beyond their hunting heritage. Their mouthiness can be seen as a form of exploration, play, and communication.
Providing appropriate chew toys, engaging in regular exercise, and incorporating mental stimulation activities such as puzzle toys or obedience training can help redirect their mouthiness.
6. Irish Setter
The Irish Setter, a graceful and energetic gun dog breed, earns renown as a sweet and gentle mannered family dog.
Irish Setters originated in Ireland and were bred for bird hunting. Thus their mouthiness can be attributed to their job of locating, flushing, and retrieving game birds.
As a result this breed has a natural inclination to use their mouths to carry and hold objects gently, which was essential in their hunting duties.
Like all gundogs, Irish Setters also have a strong prey drive and an inherent desire to interact with their environment. Their mouthiness can manifest as a way to explore and engage with objects, people, and other animals.
Additionally, Irish Setters exhibit an exuberant and playful nature, which contributes to their inclination to use their mouths during interactions and playtime.
Like all other dogs in this list, these mouthy habits simply need to be redirected into acceptable activities rather than trained out.
7. Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a lively and intelligent breed originally from Portugal.
These dogs were primarily bred as working companions for fishermen, assisting in activities such as retrieving nets, herding fish, and delivering messages between boats.
Like the Labrador, their mouthiness is traced back to this purpose of gently carrying and delivering objects in their mouths.
Understanding the breed’s history and genetics can help owners effectively manage their Portuguese Water Dog’s mouthiness.
Providing chew toys, ensuring they get regular exercise and mental challenge, and implementing positive reinforcement training techniques can help redirect their mouthiness onto acceptable objects and behaviors.
8. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Blue Heeler or Queensland Heeler, is a hardworking and versatile breed that can exhibit mouthy behaviors.
Originating in Australia, these dogs assist in herding and driving cattle across vast ranches. Their mouthiness is attributed to their role in controlling unruly livestock.
Australian Cattle Dogs are known for their strong herding instincts and their tendency to nip or bite at the heels of cattle to move them in the desired direction.
Due to their history as working dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs have retained their natural inclination to use their mouths to communicate and direct movement. This trait can also extend to their interactions with humans and other animals.
While their mouthiness is rooted in their genetic heritage, it is crucial for owners to provide proper training and socialization to ensure that this behavior is channelled appropriately and not exhibited as aggression.
9. Border Collie
The Border Collie, widely regarded as one of the most intelligent dog breeds, often displays mouthy behaviors that can be traced back to their rich history as herding dogs.
Originating in the border region between Scotland and England, Border Collies were selectively bred for their exceptional herding skills and ability to work closely with livestock.
Their mouthiness can be attributed to their role in gathering and moving sheep. Much like the Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collies have an instinct to use their mouths to nip at the heels of sheep, guiding them with precision.
However, it is important for owners to understand that this behavior can manifest in other situations as well. Without proper training and guidance, Border Collies may exhibit mouthiness during play, interaction, or when seeking attention.
Channeling their natural instincts through structured training, appropriate play activities, and providing mental stimulation can help manage their mouthy tendencies.
10. Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd, despite its name, has its roots in the United States.
Bred to work on ranches and farms, Australian Shepherds possess a strong herding instinct and exceptional agility. Their mouthiness can be traced back to their historical role in moving and controlling livestock.
Originally developed to handle cattle and sheep, Australian Shepherds would use their mouths to nip at the heels of animals to guide them. This natural inclination to use their mouths has been retained in the breed today.
The breed’s mouthiness extends beyond herding duties and can manifest in various contexts. Australian Shepherds may engage in mouthing behaviors as a way to communicate, express their energy, or seek attention.
Alternative outlets for them to redirect this trait include obedience training, interactive play, and engaging puzzle toys.
The Dachshund, a lovable small and long-bodied hound, has a history that can shed light on its mouthy nature.
Originating in Germany, Dachshunds were originally bred as hunting dogs, specifically for tracking and hunting badgers. Their name, “Dachshund,” translates to “badger dog” in German.
The breed’s mouthiness stems from their historical purpose of going underground to flush out and engage with badgers. Dachshunds were trained to use their powerful jaws to hold and shake prey, requiring a certain level of tenacity and mouthiness.
Despite their evolution into beloved family pets, the Dachshund’s natural instinct to use its mouth remains ingrained. Their mouthiness may manifest in various forms, such as play biting, chewing, or vocalization.
As a result, proper training and socialization are essential to manage their mouthiness effectively.
12. Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is a small and elegant breed that originated in ancient Egypt and was later popularized in Italy.
Italian Greyhounds were treasured companions of royalty and nobility and their mouthiness traces back to their history as sight hounds, bred for chasing small game such as rabbits.
This instinct to pursue and capture prey involved the use of their mouths to grab and hold the quarry. Despite their diminutive size, Italian Greyhounds have retained their natural inclination to use their mouths.
Providing appropriate chew toys, engaging in structured play sessions, and consistent positive reinforcement training can help redirect their mouthy behaviors onto acceptable outlets while still appreciating their inherent mouthiness.
The Poodle are a highly intelligent and versatile breed originally bred in Germany and later popularized in France.
Poodles were primarily developed as water retrievers, thanks to their excellent swimming abilities and their mouthiness stems from this role in retrieving waterfowl during hunts.
Much like Golden Retrievers, Poodles were trained to use their mouths to gently retrieve birds from the water without causing any damage.
Furthermore, the Poodle breed possesses a strong natural drive to carry and hold objects in their mouths. This instinctual behavior is deeply ingrained in their genetics, making them prone to mouthiness even in non-hunting contexts.
Poodles have high energy levels, intelligence, and desire to interact with their environment. Without proper outlets for their mental and physical stimulation, they may engage in mouthy behaviors as a means of seeking attention, expressing their energy, or engaging in play.
However with consistent training and guidance you can channel their mouthiness in an acceptable manner.
14. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large and gentle breed with mouthy behaviors attributed to their historical background.
They originated in Switzerland where Bernese Mountain Dogs were traditionally used as working dogs on farms and in the Swiss Alps.
Their primary duties included herding cattle, pulling carts, and guarding properties. Their mouthiness most likely traces back to their role in herding and driving livestock.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a natural inclination to use their mouths in their working tasks. They would gently nip at the heels of cattle to guide them or carry items in their mouths while pulling carts.
This inherent instinct to use their mouths has been passed down through generations, contributing to their mouthy nature. And while their working duties have evolved in modern times, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s natural tendency to use their mouths remains.
It is important for owners to provide appropriate outlets for their mouthiness through chew toys, interactive play, and regular exercise. Consistent training and positive reinforcement techniques can guide their behavior, ensuring they become a harmonious and well-behaved companion.
15. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier originated in England and much like many breeds on this list were bred for hunting.
A small and energetic breed, the role of Jack Russell Terriers was to hunt for small game like foxes. Their primary role was to locate, flush out, and drive prey from their hiding places.
Jack Russell Terriers also have a strong prey drive and were bred to be fearless, determined, and tenacious hunters.
Their natural instinct to use their mouths in their hunting pursuits, including grabbing and shaking small game, has been ingrained in their genetic makeup over generations.
While their hunting role has evolved in modern times, the Jack Russell Terrier’s innate mouthiness remains. Play, obedience training and engaging toys can help redirect their mouthiness.
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