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Dogs use their mouths for a lot more than just eating, drinking, or making vocal noises as humans do. They use it to lick, play with other dogs, or pick things up, though some breeds can be mouthier than others.
The history of each breed can shed quite a bit of light on which breeds are the mouthiest and why.
Breeds used in hunting or herding, like the Golden Retriever, Labrador, Poodle, Weimaraner, Beagle, Vizsla, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, and German Shepherd, are known for the use of their mouths. However, other breeds bred for work, like the Chow Chow, Portuguese Water Dog, and Bernese Mountain Dog are also known to be mouthy.
Let’s look at the mouthiest breed used for hunting, herding, and other work, as well as why they may have developed such a mouthy reputation!
Mouthy Hunting Dog Breeds
Dogs have been next to humankind for thousands of years. The first domesticated dogs were likely used to help with hunting, and they have been hunting next to us ever since! Many breeds have been bred for hunting all over the world, and they have all been bred for different purposes.
Some of these breeds have been bred for jobs that include using their mouths, which has left a long history of mouthiness in the breed! The first six breeds on our list are hunting breeds for this reason.
1. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers may be best known for their sunny disposition and gentle nature, but they have an additional talent that’s often overlooked—mouthy communication! While most breeds have some level of mouthiness, golden retrievers have been selectively bred to a higher degree due to their development as hunting dogs.
Originally bred to find and retrieve waterfowl from lakes, strong control over the mouth was essential so that their prize wasn’t damaged during retrieval. Golden Retrievers are an eager-to-please and loyal breed, so they quickly became popular as companions as well.
This close relationship with humans means they needed to learn how to effectively communicate with humans. Considered one of the Fab Four breeds to use for service dog work, Golden Retrievers use their mouths to pick things up, open doors and drawers, or alert their owners.
Pet goldens are known to grab their owner’s hands with their mouths to try to lead them around their home. Thankfully, they are also known for having a “soft mouth,” meaning they don’t bite down hard.
They have so much control of the jaws and mouth that they can even gently hold an egg without cracking it, as seen in the video above!
2. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador was originally used to aid in retrieving waterfowl on hunting trips and as such needed a soft enough mouth so as not to damage the birds too much. Over their many generations of selective breeding, Labradors have developed a strong control of their mouths, using them for communication and performing tasks for their owners.
Labradors are well-known for being some of the most mouthy breeds, and while that trait may be cute in a puppy, it’s important to remember that it can quickly get out of control in a large adult. Bite inhibition should be taught early, and all mouthing on humans during play should be discouraged while the dog is learning!
According to the AKC, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular breed in the USA since 1991, with their family-friendly temperaments and versatility. Their spunky personalities are also a huge selling point, and can be expressed through the use of their mouths as seen in the video above!
Poodles are often associated with high society and pampering, but this breed actually has hard-working roots. Originating from Germany as hunting dogs and water retrievers, Poodles have a close relationship with humans.
Considered one of the Fab Four breeds used for service dog work, Poodles are highly intelligent but are known to be independent as well. They use their mouths to task for their handlers, like pulling open doors or alerting to medical needs, but also to communicate with their beloved owners.
The traditional Continental cut in Poodles is well known and is often viewed as fashionable, but it actually serves a purpose for these water dogs!
The cut dates back as far as the 1880s and includes poms around their ankles, at the end of their tails, poms on their back hips, and a large mane covering most of their chest and neck. This unique coif helps keep their joints and organs warm in the water during swims in cold water.
Poodles are well known for their smoothed shaved face as well, which helps them be hydrodynamic in the water, but also keep their dense curly fur away from their useful mouths, which they use for anything they may need!
As you can see in the video, Katie the service poodle uses her mouth and intelligence to help her owner at the mall!
The Weimaraner was originally bred in Germany as a hunting companion, used by the nobles of Weimer during the 19th century to hunt large game such as deer and bear.
Originally called Weimer Pointers, the characteristics needed for success in hunting were strongly bred for; tracking capabilities, speed, courage, and durability were all traits that were highly sought after.
It is believed that the distinctive grey color of the Weimaraner may have been an accident that became cemented into the breed through breeding for these desired traits. Though Weimeraners are generally used as companions today, they still hold many of these hunting traits.
The Weimaraner often uses its mouth in communication with their owners. They may pick something up for their owner or use their mouth to incite play or try to rouse their owners for a walk, like in the video above!
Beagles are known as mouthy and vocal hounds, originating in England in the 1400s. English noblemen had smaller hounds and larger hounds they used for hunting, and the Beagle was descended from the best of the best of these small hounds.
Beagles are considered foot hounds due to their relatively small size, which makes them easily followed on foot, unlike larger dogs that required horses to keep up. This is why they gained popularity very quickly in the US starting in 1885.
They are known to use their mouth not only to communicate but also to help hunt down prey and use their unique baying noise to signal for their handlers. No matter how you look at it, the beagle is a very vocal and mischievous breed that loves to use their mouths, as you can from cute little Oliver below displaying all his favorite sounds!
The Vizsla, a breed of Hungarian hunting dog, is known as an energetic, loyal, and devoted breed. The word “Vizsla” itself means pointer in Hungarian, referring to its original purpose – pointing out birds and other animals for hunting since the eighth century.
This breed was greatly respected by the upper-class centuries ago who used the Vizsla as a companion of warlords and barons due to its fearlessness, speed, and strength. For centuries, only the landowning aristocracy was allowed to own a Vizsla, believing that the restrictions kept the bloodlines pure.
The use of their mouth goes hand in hand with their hunting history. Being one of the oldest dog breeds known to aid early hunters, they have a long history of communicating with humans. Using their mouths is an easy way to get their owner’s attention, so many still do it to this day like in the vid above!
Mouthy Herding Dog Breeds
Herding dogs, such as Shepherds, Collies, and Australian Cattle Dogs, are known for their intelligence and trainability. These breeds were bred for the purpose of herding livestock and have learned over time that using their mouth is a quicker way to move around livestock than barking.
Because of this, the next three breeds on our mouthiest dogs list are herding breeds!
7. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are a smart and curious breed, originally bred for herding. They were trained to nip at the heels of livestock to make them move in the desired direction.
Although most German Shepherds today are companions, this history means that they may come naturally mouthy during play, especially as puppies. Another common trait is their desire to sometimes “herd” people when walking about the house.
German Shepherds are used quite a bit as working dogs, in jobs such as law enforcement, search and rescue, and the military. They are also used a lot in service dog work and personal protection. All of these jobs require them to use their mouths, especially protection and law enforcement, which requires great control of their prey drive, mouths, and bite inhibition!
In the video above, you can see a great example of a trainer working with an extra mouthy German Shepherd.
8. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog, sometimes called a Red or Blue Heeler, is a versatile and hardy breed, favored by ranchers for herding cattle. The rise of this breed goes hand in hand with the rise of the Australian beef industry.
The Australian Cattle Dog first originated in Queensland, Australia in the 1840s, and its foundation stock was a mix of the dingo, Collie, Black and Tan Kelpie, and Dalmatian. In fact, it was crossing the original merle dogs with the dalmatian that gave the Australian Cattle Dog its unique speckling pattern.
These smart dogs are known to herd by nipping at the cattle’s heels, which has unfortunately made some of them predisposed to using their mouth even if they are strictly companions with no firsthand herding experience.
While nipping may not cause actual harm in most cases on humans or other animals, it should still be kept in check as it can develop into an even more serious issue if let go unchecked.
In the video, you can see the hard work and fearlessness that Australian Cattle Dogs bring to cattle driving.
9. Australian Shepherd
Despite their name, Australian Shepherds originated in the American West, namely California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho. Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s brought their hardy Churras sheep to help feed their colonies, as well as herding dogs to help control them.
In the mid-1800s, the California gold rush brought many more people to the West, meaning they need more sheep to feed them, which in turn created a need for more dogs to herd them. These dogs came from Midwestern and Eastern farmers, most of which were Collies or English Shepherds.
Their name comes from these “English” Shepherds because most of the came from Australia, which was a colony of England at the time. This mashup of the strong herding breeds gave the Australian Shepherd a strong herding background and instincts.
Herding involves using their whole body to drive the flocks, especially their mouths. Whether it’s barking, playful mouthing, or nipping, Australian Shepherds are experts with their mouths!
The video shows a 5-month-old Australian Shepherd learning how to herd sheep for the first time! Though he mostly uses his body, you can see that he is not hesitant to use his mouth when needed.
Other Mouthy Breeds
Though herding breeds and hunting breeds are known for their use of their mouths, there are other breeds that have been bred with the ability to use their mouths.
The last three breeds on our list are from different AKC groups, but share a common trait with the use of their mouth!
10. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an incredible breed native to the Swiss Alps. Bred as farm dogs and companion animals, Bernese Mountain Dogs were an invaluable help with driving cattle, farmyard guardianship, and some cart-pulling.
Today, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America is proudly sponsoring contests that celebrate their amazing talents, such as drafting and carting events.
Though these tasks don’t directly involve the dogs using their mouths, their close companionship with their owners has taught them how to communicate effectively with their owners. This often includes using their mouths, which many of the breed today still do.
Though these dogs are large and powerful, they are also very good at controlling their bite to be gentle, as you can see in the adorable video above!
11. Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog, native to the Algarve region of Portugal, has been used for generations as a working dog. Bred to herd fish into fisherman’s nets and retrieve broken nets or gear that had become snagged, these dogs are capable of diving deep underwater.
Traditionally held in high regard in pre-Christian Europe, penalties would be given to anyone who harmed one of these animals. Interestingly, the first written description was from 1297 and it tells a story of a Portuguese Water Dog, in its signature lion cut, saving a sailor from drowning.
Since swimming involves so much of their body and paws to stay afloat, Portuguese Water Dogs are experts at using their mouths to communicate or perform tasks.
Their impressive mouth capabilities are outmatched only by their awesome swimming, both of which are portrayed in this video!
12. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is an ancient Chinese breed that dates back to the Han dynasty between 206 BC and 220 AD. Initially, this breed had multiple uses for the Chinese people. They were used to guard properties, haul objects, and even help hunt.
Likely because of their regal looks, a common myth surrounding the Chow Chow is that the Imperial family restricted ownership to themselves and the ruling aristocracy. Though they were well-loved by Chinese royalty, like Emperor Ling of the T’ang dynasty who had over 25,000 breeding Chow Chow pairs, there is no evidence that this is true.
Thanks to their long history, Chow Chows have developed exceptional intelligence. As one of the oldest breeds of dogs, they learned quickly to use their mouths to communicate with their owners over the thousands of years spent with humans.
Above is the cutest video of Chow Chows playing with each other, but it is also a great example of the various uses of their mouths!
Even though most dogs use their mouths at some point or another for a purpose other than eating, drinking, or barking, there are breeds whose history led to their modern ancestors being known for their mouthiness.
As you can see, herding and hunting dogs are common mouthy breeds, but there are other working breeds that developed the behavior from a variety of backgrounds!