7 Dog Breeds With Black Muzzles

7 breeds with black muzzles
Photo by Karen Freer on Flickr

Did you know that Bullmastifs were first imported to the United States by the oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller to guard his country estate?

Dogs with black muzzles are some of the best dogs to adopt, which is why celebrities love keeping them.

Some other famous people who keep, or have kept, black muzzled dogs include Marlon Brando, Tom Hanks, Sylvester Stallone, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bob Dylan.

Perhaps the most famous black muzzled dog is Rin Tin Tin, a rescue dog from World War 1 who went on to star in 26 movies. We’ll be covering Rin Tin Tin, and German Shepherds, in a bit more detail, but let’s first look at some of the common questions people have about black muzzled dogs.

What you will learn in this article:

Why do some dogs have a black muzzles?

Black muzzle, also referred to as a melanistic mask, is an inherited trait that occurs in several dog breeds (but not all of them). Without doing a deep dive, dogs of some breeds with a red, brindle, yellow, fawn, or tan coat can inherit the melanistic mask; their natural coat colour, combined with the inherited gene, causes this mask. Some breeds always have this gene so dogs from these breeds always sport the black muzzle. 

Which breeds can have the melanistic mask?

Breeds that can have, or always have, a black muzzle include but are not limited to Afghan, Akita, Bullmastiff, Boxer, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Greyhound, Keeshond, Leonberger, Mastiff, Pekingese, Pug, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sloughi, Tibetan Spaniel, and Whippet.

Are dogs with black muzzles aggressive?

It’s a common misconception that dogs with black muzzles are more aggressive. It is simply not true! Research has identified that large black dogs, including those with just a black muzzle, are portrayed as more aggressive on television and film, which is likely where the misconception stems from. 

To answer simply, black muzzles don’t affect dogs’ behaviour or temperament in any way and all the breeds we’ve mentioned below are some of the best breeds you can adopt.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some dog breeds with black muzzles.

7 dog breeds with black muzzles

1. Black Mouth Cur

black mouth cur
Photo by Christine Burger on Flickr

Arguably the best known breed with black muzzle (since even the breed name contains the mention of it).

Black mouth curs always have the melanistic mask and are very famous for it. Their mask covers the area around their mouth, including the nose, and goes all the way up to their eyes.

This breed is known to be courageous, fearless, strong, and energetic. They’re extremely versatile, since they can guard the home (and the family), herd livestock, and hunt game.

In fact, they’re one of the most favorite hunting dogs. Like most other hunting dogs, they’re known to be highly intelligent, energetic, and require vigorous exercise daily.

As such, they’re not recommended for novice dog owners or people who can’t keep up with their demanding routine.

Despite being extremely physical, they’re great with kids and family. When they sense a threat to their family, they do everything they can to stop the threat and not rest until the threat is neutralized. It’s important to note, however, that children should be supervised with them. These dogs are extremely strong and can sometimes get rough during playtime without realizing it.

Interesting trivia

Black Mouth Curs are extremely protective of kids, to the point that they can even try to aggressively stop parents from disciplining their children! So this is the perfect breed to have if you’re looking to safeguard your kids in your absence… or if you’re trying to learn good parenting habits.

2. Bullmastiff

As the name implies, the Bullmastiff is the cross of Bulldog and Mastiff breeds. They were initially bred in England to guard against poachers.

Dogs of this breed always have the melanistic mask. Their black muzzle is almost identical to that of their Mastiff cousins and covers their chin, mouth, nose, and eyes.

Like the Black Mouth Curs, Bullmastiffs are very protective of the family and extremely caring towards the children. They’re one of the best dogs you can get to protect your family.

They’re extremely playful and make for one of the most fun breeds at home, for both the kids and the adults. They should still be supervised when they’re with kids because they’re one of the larger breeds and can accidentally knock over or step on the kids.

Despite their size and being extremely playful, they’re not high energy dogs. So they’re perfect for dog parents who lead busy lifestyles and cannot make times for daily marathons with their dogs.

Interesting trivia

Bullmastiffs, although very loving and sweet towards family members, tend to be remarkably territorial.

Unlike other dog breeds, if they ever feel threatened by someone breaching their territory—say someone jumping your fence—they will skip the barking, position themselves silently, and take the intruder down.

This is the reason Brindle Bullmastiffs are popular, they blend in with the darkness of night.

3. Pug

pugs have black muzzles
Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

Pugs are known as the “clowns of the canine world”. Their mischievous nature goes perfectly with their miniature size.

This is another breed that always has the melanistic mask.

Pugs are one of the most famous breeds. Probably because they can trace their origins to ancient royalty.

They were once the companions of Chinese emperors, from where they were brought to Holland and adopted by the House of Orange and the House of Stuart.

Queen Victoria too, during 19th century, developed a fondness for them, which she passed on to her descendants.

As mentioned earlier, they’re extremely playful and fun to have around. Their small size makes them a perfect playful companion for children as well. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re looking for a guard dog, though. 

Interesting trivia

Pugs are one of the oldest dog breeds, able to trace their origins to 400BC and even before. They can boast about hanging out with royal families of China, as well as Europe. Being royalty, they’re extremely charming and lovable.

4. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is arguably the most versatile dog and one of the most popular breeds in the United States.

Like the previous breeds discussed on this list, German Shepherds are also black muzzled.

German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dogs, which, combined with their trainability, makes them extremely versatile.

They can excel at almost every task, including (but not limited to) being support dogs, herding, assistance work, search and rescue, police and military roles, and… even acting.

If you want a dog for multiple roles, look no further, German Shepherd is it.

While they’re relatively high energy and are not the most novice friendly dogs, they’re extremely loyal, intelligent, and trainable.

So if you’re willing to put in the effort, these dogs will make it worth it and more. 

Interesting trivia

Remember Rin Tin Tin? He was the first canine movie-star.

Lee Duncan, an American serviceman in World War 1, found Rin Tin Tin in a destroyed kennel when he was a pup.

Lee brought Rin Tin Tin home to California and later starred him in the movies. If you want to know more about him, we recommend checking this book out!

5. Keeshond

keeshonds have blackmuzzles
Photo by Llima Orosa on Flickr

Keeshond (pronounced KAYZ-hawnd) is known for its exotic-looking, multi-layered coat. They always have the black muzzle, and their face kind of looks like a fox’s.

While they were initially used in Holland to guard barges (which is why they’re also known as the “Dutch Barge Dog”), today they’re almost exclusively companion dogs.

Their melanistic mask gives an illusion of “spectacles” around their eyes, an endearing quality that makes them very famous and beloved.

They’re intelligent, highly trainable, and obedient. They make for one of the easiest dog breeds to train. That being said, they’re relatively low energy but are not complete couch-potatoes so they need daily light exercise.

They’re generally happy dogs and will also strive to make you happy if you just spend some quality time with them daily.

Interesting trivia

Keeshonds make excellent therapy dogs and nursing home visitors because of their loving and affectionate nature. They love to interact with people, cuddle, and be lap dogs (even though it’s impossible because of their size).

6. Leonberger

Leonburgers have black muzzles
Photo by Adam Singer on Flickr

Leonbergers were bred in an attempt to create a dog that looks like a lion. Like lions, they’re known to be aristocratic and graceful. In these dogs, the melanistic mask usually covers their whole face, as well as part of their neck. 

Out of all the dogs in this list, Leonbergers are perhaps the most trainable dog breed. Which is good because it’s very essential to train them well while they’re growing up.

Fully grown Leonbergers are stronger than, and can outweigh, most dog owners.

They’re known to be rather stubborn if they’re not trained properly as pups, so if you want to lead your dog and not the other way around, invest some time in training them while they’re growing up.

Leonbergers need daily exercise, but not an excessive amount, just 20 minutes of exercise a day will be enough to keep them happy and healthy. They also need a lot of socialization with people so the more time you spend with them, the more they’ll love you!

Interesting trivia

During World War 1, this breed nearly went extinct. There were only 25 Leonbergers remaining in the World, with only 5 of them being breeding quality. We’re thankful that these didn’t go extinct! The world is better off with them.

7. Pekingese

Pekingese is the second dog breed on this list that can trace its origins all the way back to Chinese royalty (the other one being Pugs). The Chinese royal family members used to keep them in their sleeves and use them as mini guard dogs.

Pekingese are the only dogs we’re covering today which don’t always have a black mask. So if you were reading thus far to know which dog breeds to avoid, you won’t have to avoid this one!

Perhaps their most distinctive trait is their diva walk. Their walking style is so famous that they’re sometimes sought after just because of it. Naturally, because of their diva personality, looks, and walking style they do very well in dog shows. If you want a dog to win prizes for you, maybe this is the one.

Interesting trivia

Pekingese, named after the ancient Peking City (now Beijing), were bred to resemble Foo Dogs—the Chinese guardian lions. Back in the day, only the royalty were allowed to own a Pekingese dog, and the penalty of owning one for commoners was punishment by death. Luckily, that penalty no longer applies so you can own one today and feel like Chinese royalty of the old!

Closing thoughts

From dog celebrities to Chinese royalties, we covered 7 of the most popular dog breeds today. Our main focus was on dogs with black masks (also known as melanistic mask). To recap, here are some of the interesting tidbits we covered:

1. If you want an extremely intelligent and jack-of-all-trades dog, then look no further than German Shepherds. From law enforcement to the army to disability support to drug detection to rescue missions and more, these dogs have done it all.

2. Want a mischievous clown that can keep you and your kids entertained all the time? Adopt a Pug!

3. Pugs and Pekingese breeds can also trace their origins all the way back to Chinese royalty. Pugs have even been famously associated with Dutch and British royalty!

4. We also covered the misconception that dogs with black muzzles are more aggressive. It’s nothing more than a myth. None of the breeds we’ve covered here are aggressive. In fact, they’re some of the best dog breeds out there.

That’s it for today. We hope you found this article fun and informative. If there’s a certain topic you’d like us to cover, please let us know! Until next time.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!