8 Dog Breeds with Big Jowls

Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards are just some dogs with big jowls. But why do they have wrinkly faces?

Jan 4, 2024byThalia Oosthuizen
dog breeds with big jowls

There are so many loveable dog breeds, all with their own unique features. Have you ever looked at breeds like a Bloodhound or Pug and wondered why it looks like their cheeks are sagging? Those are jowls.

Not only do big jowls add great personality and character, but they also serve some purpose. Let’s break down what jowls are, some breeds with big jowls, why some breeds have larger ones, and how to maintain your jowl-sporting dog.

What are Jowls?

Saint Bernard Dog on Snow Covered Ground
Image Credit: Pexels

Droopy jowls are pieces of sagging skin and lips falling below the chin. In humans, it’s something that comes with old age when skin becomes looser. With dogs, many breeds are just born with them.

As well as the excess skin, jowls also entail a layer of fat and connective tissue. Did you know that all dog breeds actually have jowls? A few breeds just have more prominent saggy ones.

Why Do Dogs Have Big Jowls?

Shar Pei Dog Sitting in Garden
Image credit: Pexels

There are several reasons why dog breeds often have more prominent jowls. The reasons vary from breed to breed, so let’s sum it up for you.

Retains Moisture and Limits Drooling

Jowls are most helpful for retaining moisture by keeping saliva in the mouth, which prevents drool from dropping onto their food and your furniture. No one wants that!

Makes It Easier to Eat

The loose skin in jowls gives your dog better flexibility and range of motion in their jaw, making it easier for them to properly chew food before swallowing.

Tracking Trails and Scents

Big jowls can also give dogs a heightened sense of smell, as they’re able to trap smells closer to their nose. The loose skin provides more air circulation, letting them capture smells more accurately.

With tracking trails, the low-hanging jowls bring some of their senses closer to the ground. This means they can more accurately track scent trails and distinguish smells.

Basset Hound Dog on Green Grass Field
Image Credit: Pexels

Protects Them in Fights

Did you know jowls can be really helpful if your dog ever accidentally finds itself in a fight with another animal? It can be difficult for other animals to grab your dog’s face as the jowls move around so much. Better yet, the excess layers of fat and tissue prevent damage to delicate internal structures.

Keeps Water Out

Here’s another interesting reason why big jowls are found in rescue dogs like Saint Bernards. Often, rescue dogs must swim. The big jowls provide a barrier to prevent water from entering sensitive areas like the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Dog Breeds with Big Jowls

Mastiff Dog on a Concrete Floor Near the Body of Water
Image Credit: Pexels

Some of the world’s most popular dogs have big jowls! The dogs on this list range from gentle giants to pocket-sized pals. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Bloodhounds

Bloodhounds are one of the most common breeds that comes to mind when you think of dogs with jowls. Bloodhounds are among the most famous dog breeds, iconized by McGruff the Crime Dog.

2. Mastiffs

Mastiffs are a large breed of working dogs and are set apart by their heavy-boned structure, representing courage and strength. They are a mighty breed, often weighing more than a grown man. Can you believe it?

3. Bulldogs

Bulldogs are defined by their low-set and muscular stature, as well as that iconic sour facial expression. This unmistakable breed can weigh up to 50 pounds, but they’re always up for a snuggle.

Tired Newfoundland Lying on Sidewalk
Image Credit: Pexels

4. Newfoundlands

Yet another breed of working dog, here’s the Newfoundland – a huge and fluffy breed known for their intelligence, strength, and loyalty. Don’t be fooled by their staunch appearance; they make great additions to family with kids.

5. Basset Hounds

Basset Hounds are known for their low-swinging structure, massive ears, and huge jowls. As one of the breeds with the biggest jowls, their loose skin comes in handy for minimizing excess drool.

6. Pugs

Pugs are tiny yet incredible dogs and are often a trendy pick for pet owners. Their wrinkly faces are accompanied by loose jowls, giving them that expressive look we all love.

7. Saint Bernards

Here, we’ve got another larger breed with a jowl, the heroes themselves, the Saint Bernards. Originally bred as rescue dogs in the Western Alps, this breed sports a large jowl.

8. Shar-Pei

Last of our jowl-bearing breeds, we’ve got the Shar-Pei. This breed is intelligent, loyal, and loveable to its owner but a little standoffish towards standards due to their original breeding purpose.

Do I Need to Maintain My Dog’s Jowls?

Fawn Pug Sitting on Concrete Floor Panting
Image Credit: Pexels

To put it simply, yes.

Dog breeds with jowls need a little maintenance on their droopy skin to keep them happy and healthy. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. There are a few ways to maintain a dog’s jowl, from cleaning to upkeep.

How to Clean a Dog’s Jowls

Saint Bernard Dog Lying and Panting in Shelter
Image Credit: Pexels

As noted, a dog’s jowls are made up of loose skin folds in their mouths. So, it’s easy for food, saliva, and debris to build up. We don’t want our canine companions getting infections, so let’s teach you about cleaning.

Note: some dogs may not like their mouths being handled, so start gently and slowly let them get used to it. Clean once a day to once a week, depending on how big your dog’s jowls are.

Step 1: Get a Cleaner

Pick up a canine dental-facial rinse from your local vet or pet store.

Step 2: Dampen Cloth

Dampen a clean cloth with the facial rinse and water, then wrap the cloth around your finger.

Step 3: Wipe Folds

Slowly and gently open your dog’s jowl folds and wipe in between the skin folds.

Step 4: Dry Folds

Swap out for a dry and clean cloth and repeat the wiping process to dry the mouth.

For extra support, pick up diaper rash cream or petroleum jelly and wipe in and around the jowls with a cotton swab.

Big-Jowled Dogs Make Great Pets

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Whether you’ve already got a pup with a jowl or you’re looking to get one, it’s great to know why they have jowls and what we can do to keep them maintained. These breeds are so loveable, and jowls are just a wonderful addition.

Thalia Oosthuizen
byThalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading