If you’ve been thinking about getting a new dog then you’re not alone – Kennel Club figures show that the number of people looking for puppies has surged to record levels in recent years.
But with 221 different breeds of pedigree dog to choose from, there’s plenty of thinking to do before you select your family’s latest four-legged addition – whether you want a large dog, family-friendly dog, or crossbreed.
There’s even academic guidance to seek out, with Psychologist Stanley Coren’s book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’ ranking breeds by instincts, obedience, and the ability to adapt.
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Some dogs are also more likely to bite than others – although the vast majority of dogs of all breeds are highly unlikely to do any damage unless seriously provoked.
But there are breeds that have been specifically bred to have ‘soft mouths’, also known as bite inhibition, originally so they could retrieve birds shot by hunters without damaging the fallen prey.
When these dogs get something in their mouth they naturally don’t grip tightly or bite hard – unless they need to for emergencies.
Away from hunting parties, these dogs tend to be more gentle when playing with humans or fellow canines – even when they seem to be quite rough they don’t leave any scratches or marks.
Here are 10 breeds of dog that have soft mouths.
1. Labrador Retriever
The king of the soft mouthed dogs, the Labrador Retriever has long been the top choice for hunters and holds the title of the world's most popular dog. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
2. Golden Retriever
What is true of the Labrador is also usually true of the Golden Retriever - and that includes having a soft mouth. Golden Retrievers can happily chew away at their owner's hands without leaving a mark. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
3. American Water Spaniel
One of the rarest breeds of spaniel, the American Water Spaniel shares it's more common cousins' soft mouth. They were originally bred in the American state of Wisconsin - where they remain the state dog - and also have a curly double coat to keep them warm while retrieving prey from ice-cold winter waters. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
4. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
The smallest of the retrievers, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is just as soft of mouth as its larger cousins - also sharing their gregarious and gentle nature. Photo: Canva/Getty Images