Have you ever wondered about the hanging flaps of skin and fur on your dog’s lower jaw? Referred to as jowls or flews, these distinctive features are most pronounced in certain breeds. While jowls may simply look like adorable wrinkles, they serve important purposes for dogs. Read on to learn about the function of dog jowls and how to keep them healthy.
What Are Dog Jowls?
Jowls are the folds of skin and fur that hang from the sides of a dog’s lower jaw. Also called chops or flews, jowls are essentially the doggy version of cheeks on their muzzle. Prominent in breeds like Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, and Neapolitan Mastiffs, jowls come in different sizes and shapes.
The Purpose of Jowls
While endearing, jowls are not just for looks – they serve key functions:
- Collect and carry scent particles to the nose. Crucial for scent hound tracking and air scenting.
- Trap scent compounds for breeds like Bloodhounds to smell traces on the ground.
- Store and retain water when drinking or carrying game. Help retrievers efficiently collect water.
- Protect the jawline and throat by shielding from abrasions. Useful for hunting dogs traversing thick brush.
- Enhance breed characteristics and identification. Distinctive trait in several breeds.
Jowls clearly provide important evolutionary benefits that persist even in domesticated dogs today.
Caring for Dog Jowls
Those adorable jowls need a little TLC:
- Gently wipe folds clean daily using a damp cloth to prevent odor, infection, and irritation. Lift flews to clean beneath.
- Check for debris caught in wrinkles and remove it after meals or play.
- Dry jowls thoroughly after cleaning, swimming or drinking to avoid moisture buildup.
- Brush frequently to control shedding and distribute skin oils.
- Use an Elizabethan collar if licking or chewing at jowls develops into a habit.
- Monitor for signs of skin infection like redness, discharge or odor and seek veterinary care if they develop.
With proper maintenance, you can keep those charming jowls healthy and happy!
Dog Breeds with Notable Jowls
Jowls are most pronounced in these breeds:
- Bloodhound – famously loose jowls trap scent compounds for tracking
- Neapolitan Mastiff – their droopy flews contribute to their intimidating appearance
- Mastiff – sizeable jowls suit their substantial heads
- Saint Bernard – soft, hanging jowls prone to drooling
- Basset Hound – long, dragged-down jowls help gather ground scents
- Newfoundland – substantial, hairy jowls prone to holding water after drinking
Other loose-skinned breeds like Bulldogs may have some jowl development as well. They account for the adorable folded faces we love!
While all dogs have some degree of jowl, certain breeds sport especially prominent, pendulous flews. Whatever their size, give those cute jowls some TLC to keep your dog happy and healthy!