Muzzle (anatomy)

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A Cocker Spaniel's extended snout
Panther's skull showing enlarged nose aperture and extended jaw and row of carnivore teeth

A muzzle, also known as a snout, is a protruding part of an animal's face that includes the nasal cavity, nose, jaw, and mouth, in the same relative region where the human's counterparts are located.

Purpose and function[edit]

The primary reason a muzzle is extended for this is the extension of the nasal cavity, which provides for an extremely acute sense of smell. A tangential benefit is the extension of the jaw, allowing for more teeth (and more specialized teeth) in a single species.

Most mammals have vibrissae, or sinus hairs (named for the blood filled sinus surrounding the follicle, which provides their sensitivity), colloquially known as whiskers, on various locations on the face and body; the end of the muzzle is the primary location for them, where they are called mystacial vibrissae. Their primary function is mediating tactile sense, used to navigate and to identify objects,[1] but they can also have social uses, as in rats.[2] Loss of the whiskers can disorient an animal,[1][2] and plucking them can cause discomfort.[3]

Canines have the longest proportional muzzle, followed by felines and mustelids.[citation needed] Equines' "muzzles" are technically very short, although the entirety of their extended skulls are considered to be part of the muzzle.

Muzzles and furry[edit]

A common problem in furgonomics is how to deal with the issues of having a muzzle; for example, how a character's anthropomorphic muzzle may alter facial expressions or speech in relation to similar Human traits (i.e. Humanoid mouth motor functions such as whisling, lips' muscle expressions, such as puckering, frowning, etc), or how the muzzle's larger cranial (extended) bone mass may work in relation to normal Human gear or vestments (helmets, masks, etc,...).

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Why Do Dogs Have Whiskers?" - article in Psychology Today. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The world through a rat's whiskers" - Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  3. "How Dog and Cat Whiskers Work" - VetStreet. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
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