You might have noticed some dogs have longer mouths than others.
The extra skin is known as dog jowls and it serves a bigger purpose besides making your basset hound look cute.
Dog jowls are the folds of skin that gather around the mouth, cheeks, and throat of a dog. These folds help a dog keep the mouth clean, protect the jaws, and even improve scent detection. But dogs with big jowls are also vulnerable to infection if they do not keep proper oral hygiene.
Why do dogs have jowls?
You probably have asked yourself this as you massaged your Boxer’s adorable face.
Well, you are about to find out why some dogs have big jowls while others don’t.
So, what are dog jowls?
They are described as the loose skin covering the lower area of your dog’s mouth.
These folds of skin cover the cheeks, throat, and to some extent the neck.
All dogs have jowls. But dogs with big jowls often fall in the category of hunting dogs.
What are jowls for?
Jowls protect a dog’s mouth from injuries.
When a dog is swimming, jowl muscles help him keep his head above water.
Also, jowls come in handy during fights to protect the lower jaws.
Some dogs with big jowls need them from hunting.
The jowls provide a wider surface area for dogs to pick up scent.
The scent then travels to the upper part of their mouth where the smell receptors are.
This technique helps hunting dogs like the basset hound flush out prey in the most unlikely of places.
Which dog breeds have big jowls?
Common dogs with big jowls are those with a history of hunting or tracking animals.
Some of these working dogs were also used to track intruders such as poachers.
Popular dogs with big jowls include;
- Saint Bernard
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Basset Hound
- Bull terrier
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- Labrador retriever
- Spinone Italiano
Do dogs with big jowls have health problems?
Though jowls have a physiological advantage to a dog, they can also be detrimental to a dog’s health.
Jowls are a common breeding ground for germs.
The bigger the jowls the more vulnerable the dog is to developing infections.
Besides developing an infection, jowls can also cause excessive drooling in a dog.
Again, all dogs drool, but dogs with big jowls suffer from what vet doctors term as hypersalivation.
Saint Bernard is one of the big jowl dog breeds that leave a sloppy mess everywhere.
Other dog breeds that salivate a lot include;
- Neopolitan Mastiff
- Sussex spaniel
But this does not mean that drooling only affects dogs with big jowls.
Drooling can also be a sign that your dog is sick.
Drooling can be caused by;
- Pet anxiety
- Mouth disease
- Gut problems
If your dog is drooling and has a high fever or is in pain, rush them to the vet immediately. It could be a sign of pet poisoning.
Diseases that affect dog jowls
If a jowled dog does not keep proper hygiene, the mouth becomes a breeding ground for germs.
With time, inflammation can develop around the mouth which escalates to disease.
Common mouth diseases in dogs with big jowls include;
- Oral papillomavirus
- Inflamed jowl
- Dog lip fold dermatitis
This is a mouth disease that commonly affects dogs that are two years and below.
It is caused by the papillomavirus which causes tiny benign tumors in the folds of the jowls.
Oral papillomavirus is contagious and can be passed through direct contact from dog to dog.
Symptoms of oral papillomavirus manifest as tiny pinkish tumors clustered around the jowls, gums, throat, and tongue.
If left untreated, the tumors become painful and cause bad breath in dogs.
Some dogs are asymptomatic to this infection which can make the disease hard to detect.
Inflamed jowls become red and swollen.
They are also painful to touch especially if they have an abscess.
Dental diseases like periodontal disease can cause inflamed joints.
There are pet allergies that can cause inflammation of the gums and jowls as well.
Lip Fold dermatitis
Dogs with big jowls are also vulnerable to lip fold dermatitis.
This is a condition that affects the mouth and in some dogs the vulva and tail as well.
The affected area appears swollen and reddened.
The skin in that area feels dump as well.
If the infection escalates, a bad odor may develop in the skin folds.
The only way to treat lip fold dermatitis is to clean the infection daily at home.
How to treat and prevent dog jowl infection at home
Take your dog to the vet to have their jowl checked.
If the vet detects an infection, they will prescribe medication that will kill the germs and clear the symptoms.
Common medications include oral antibiotics and topical creams to clear skin infections.
To keep your dog safe from dog jowl infection, always clean their mouth when grooming them.
You only need two things to clean your dog’s mouth folds;
- A clean cloth
- Pet dental spray
Dip the cloth in warm water then gently wipe in between the skin folds.
Go at it gently so you remove any dirt or germs that may have gathered.
You also want to be gentle not to startle your dog.
Generally, dogs don’t like their mouths getting touched.
When you are done cleaning the mouth, spray some pet dental spray around jowls.
This disinfects the skin folds and kills any germs available.
While at it, get in the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth as well.
It goes a long way in preventing infection.
VIDEO: Keeping Dog jowls Clean
Every dog needs its jowls for protection and to help with interpreting scent.
But dirt jowls can get infected and cause your dog a lot of pain.
Treat any sign of infection and ensure your dog maintains oral hygiene always.
Frequently Asked Questions
Crusty lips are quite common in all dog breeds. Mild crusty lips clear with time. However, skin diseases can cause chronic crusty lips in dogs. Especially dogs with low immunity.
Sodium mixed with water is a natural antiseptic for humans. But too much salt can be toxic to do a dog whether applied topically or ingested. Only use warm water to clean dog jowls and after apply pet dental spray.
Though over-the-counter mouthwash is not poisonous to dogs, the high alcohol can irritate the dog’s mouth. Stick to pet approval dental sprays to keep your dog’s mouth fresh.
If your dog has smelly jowls, it is a sign of skin infection. Saliva collects in the skin folds providing a breeding ground for germs. Lip fold dermatitis is one of the causes of smelly jowls in dogs.