Owning a dog makes life a good measure happier—and messier. Constant fur to vacuum, muddy paws to manage, and full-body fur shakes after rainy walks. But the slimiest canine mess is the dreaded dog drool puddle. Your dog puts your devotion to the test when you sit on a drool-soaked couch cushion, or slide across the hardwood floor on a patch of slobber. The good news is, even if your best friend is a copious drooler, it’s possible to keep the mess to a minimum. Here’s a primer on all things dog drool, how to protect your home from unwelcome goo, and which dog breeds drool the most—and least.
What You Need to Know About Dog Drool
Dogs drool because, just like people, they have saliva—as a result, drool happens. Dog saliva is full of good things, like the enzyme amylase, which initiates digestion, and antibacterial, protein, and mineral compounds that promote dental health. Also like people, dogs may drool more as an involuntary response to stimuli and conditions. For example, most dogs drool on very hot days because it helps keep them cool. Many dogs will also drool around meal times or when they see their people eating, as they anticipate their dog food or delicious table scraps. Your dog may continue to drool after eating because digestion (which begins with chewing and salivating) is still in progress.
What Causes a Dog to Drool?
- Thirst or serious dehydration
- Cooling down
- Dental pain
- Teething in puppies
- Irritation or foreign body in throat or mouth
- Mouth shape, especially on dogs with pendulous upper lips
The symptoms of carsickness and car anxiety look similar: panting, lip licking, whining, vomiting…and drooling. If your dog drools a lot in the car, he may be excited to join you on the adventure (recalling with anticipation the doggy-sized burgers they serve at your favorite takeout window), he may be anxious about the ride (remembering that last visit to the vet with fearfulness), or his stomach may be genuinely upset.
A dog may drool around other dogs or puppies due to anxiety, as a fear response, or in excitement. He might want to play, or his drooling may signal he’s looking for an escape route—you can narrow down the true meaning of his drool by studying your dog’s body language. Is he offering play bows, bouncing excitedly, or giving a low tail wag? He’s probably hoping someone brought some biscuits and toys to share with the entire playgroup. On the other paw, if his tail is tucked, his hackles are raised, he’s lip-smacking or whale-eyed, or seems uncomfortable, he needs some space and time to assess the situation.
Young puppies may drool while teething, which usually begins at about eight weeks. If your puppy is drooling in his sleep, it’s a pretty good sign that he’s teething. But by eight months of age, he should have his full set of adult teeth.
Older dogs, however, may drool for other dental reasons. If your senior dog has begun drooling when he didn’t much in the past, his gums or teeth may be sore or damaged or his sinuses may be irritated. Your vet may want to run a senior blood panel and a few additional tests to rule out serious medical concerns.
Excessive drooling, discolored saliva, or drooling accompanied by lethargy, obvious discomfort, or a decreased appetite requires a vet visit, whatever your dog’s age.
Sourcing the slobber boils down to this: Dogs drool, and it’s not always easy to tell what’s causing it. But you can watch for other signs to narrow down the cause.
If Your Dog Just Started Drooling More Than Usual
The sudden onset of drooling in your dog could indicate a health issue. Excessive, uncharacteristic drooling is a symptom of heatstroke and requires immediate medical attention. Drooling can also be a sign of dental issues, such as periodontal disease, neurological problems, and separation anxiety or other anxiety issues.
If you’ve recently applied a spot-on flea treatment and your dog starts drooling and foaming suddenly, don’t panic: It’s possible he licked some of the treatment off of his fur. The carrier solution that keeps the medication in place has a bitter flavor, may make his tongue and mouth tingle, and can cause drooling or nausea. The drooling will subside. Offering up flavorful treats or broth can help get rid of the flavor, but don’t be surprised if he’d rather run his drooly mouth along the carpet or furniture—he’s trying to get rid of the flavor. A caveat: If you feel the drooling is severe, if it does not stop after a few minutes, or it’s accompanied by body movement or other symptoms that appear seizure-like, contact the veterinarian right away.
Your dog may drool more than usual if he sustains a tongue, mouth, or dental injury. If slobber seems to increase and you can check safely, try to get a peek inside his mouth to see. If you can’t look, contact the vet for advice.
Indigestion—heartburn or nausea—can cause bouts of drooling. Take note of any new foods or treats, as one of them may be the culprit.
Preventing or Reducing Dog Drool
Once you’ve ruled out a medical condition for the drooling, accept that you can’t prevent it. Instead, shift your focus to protecting your house from the drool. If your dog drools in abundance and has couch or bed privileges, dog furniture protectors are your best bet. They’re soft, inviting, and washable, and provide an extra layer of protection between your dog’s mouth and your favorite chair. If your dog enjoys napping in multiple locations, a protective throw is a good option because you can move it around. If he has a preferred chair or corner of the couch, you could go with a furniture protector designed specifically for a chair or couch.
If your dog is slobbery, another invaluable tool is the ‘drool towel.’ Keep dedicated, absorbent drool towels handy in every room and in the car. Make it a habit to give a quick swipe under his jowls with the towel and your best friend won’t leave a trail of drool in his wake wherever he roams or rests his head.
Removing Dog Drool From Furniture, Floors, and Your Car
Slobbery, sticky, stubborn dried drool stains—if you have a dog, you’ve no doubt put a little elbow grease into removing drool spots from your floors, furniture, and vehicle interior. The easiest way to prevent the dried-on mess is to clean slobbery spots right away—but because life happens and drool dries, sometimes we’re stuck with post-drool scrubbing.
Prevention is the best way to avoid dog drool spots on your furniture. When your best friend leaves his drool pools on a blanket or furniture protector, you can simply toss it into the wash. But if your dog makes his mark before you get the furniture protector in place, here’s what to do:
- If you notice the drool before it’s dried, dab the area thoroughly with a damp paper towel and then clean with a mild dish detergent or dog- and furniture-safe cleaning product.
- If the drool is dry, move directly to dabbing the area with a mild, dog- and furniture-safe detergent or cleaning product. Repeat if some drool remains after the first cleaning.
- If your leather furniture shows the tell-tale signs of drool, use a leather cleaner to buff away drool and stains, and to condition the leather.
Cleaning dried-on drool from the floor is a different story: Mixing equal parts vinegar and hot water and a few drops of dish soap creates a cleaning solution that breaks through the crusty, dried-on drool on hardwood surfaces, walls, and solid furniture. The acid from the vinegar helps penetrate the worst of it, and elbow grease gets you to the finish line. Always spot-test surfaces before dousing them with vinegar: Stripped paint or finish is probably more noticeable than the drool itself.
Enzymatic cleaners can help suck stains and odor from carpets and upholstered surfaces. But if stains and crusted-on drool refuse to budge, you may need to break out the carpet cleaner and pet-specific cleaning solution.
Car rides are exciting, so you’re likely to find drool on the windows, doors, and seats. A window cleaning solution—homemade, or store-bought—cuts through the nose prints (et cetera) on your windows, while the doors and seats can be cleaned using the same method as you use on your furniture at home. A car seat cover promises a much quicker, simpler cleaning routine: Remove, machine wash, dry.
Reducing Meal-Related Dog Drool
Mealtimes can get messy—the splashing water, the dog food enjoyed with gusto, and the extra drooling. To help contain the mess, set up a dedicated meal area for your dog. Place your dog’s water and food bowls on a Water Trapper® mat. This will absorb any water that slops over the side of his bowl, and any extra drool he produces while eating.
It helps to establish a consistent time for meals so your dog’s meal-related drooling kicks in only twice per day. And avoid giving your dog table scraps if at all possible. If he develops a taste for table food and you give in even once, he’ll linger tableside staring hopefully at you and drooling at every meal.
Expect Copious Slobber From These Breeds That Drool the Most
Some dog breeds are known to drool often and copiously, particularly jowly breeds with large, hanging flews (upper lips) and dewlaps—extra skin beneath their lower jaw. Saliva collects within their flews and dewlaps and, when they eventually shake their heads, any unlucky bystanders get gooped. If you’re put off by drool, do your dog breed research and triple-check that your favorites aren’t famed for slinging saliva like these known droolers:
This outsized breed has a sweet nature that is tough to resist. But excessive dog drool is part of the Newfoundland package, so you must bypass this breed if you can’t stomach slobber. Newfies have jowls that hold saliva until it overflows or they send it flying with one head shake. If you live with a Newfie, chances are you’ve learned to keep a drool towel handy so you can swipe his chin frequently. This strategy can significantly reduce messes around the house and on your clothes. Get familiar with your Newfoundland’s average drool production. The breed is at elevated risk of heat-related illnesses and, because excessive drooling is a symptom, knowing what’s normal for your Newfie can help you spot trouble.
The Clumber Spaniel
This rare sporting dog—the largest of the spaniel breeds—has a droopy appearance with pendant ears and folds on his cheeks. The Clumber Spaniel’s drooping upper and lower lips account for his inclination to drool abundantly. A handy towel will keep gooey messes in check, but some slobber is part of the Clumber Spaniel package—a negative he more than makes up for with his loving and mellow personality.
Though imposing in appearance, Mastiffs are big softies. They love to snuggle, but be warned—cuddles with your Mastiff may get goopy. Keep a throw blanket on the couch so you can protect your clothes when she lays her head on your lap (a favorite Mastiff spot). The breed can be stubborn, so include wiping your Mastiff’s chin with a drool towel in her early training to ensure she accepts it as part of the daily routine.
The St. Bernard
St. Bernards are contenders for “droopiest jowls” among canines. Their flews dangle below their lower lips, which also hang a little, creating an easy exit point for drool. Their pendulous jowls contribute to the wise, tolerant expression of this kindly breed, and make a large stash of drool towels a necessity. Like Newfoundlands, St. Bernards are prone to heat-related illnesses, making it essential to recognize normal drooling versus excessive drooling. This charming breed is a hug magnet, but a little slobber on your shoulder is well worth the warm and fuzzy embrace.
Another “droopiest jowls” contender, the Bloodhound has floppy flews and dewlaps to match her long, pendant ears. Bloodhounds collect saliva in their cheeks and as a result leave soggy drips in their wake wherever they roam. The breed makes an excellent, amiable companion for those who don’t mind a bit of extra cleanup.
If You’d Rather Dodge the Drool, Consider These Least-Slobbery Breeds
If you’re something of a neatnik, you’ll want a dog who doesn’t drool and dribble often. Dogs without dewlaps, and with short flews that don’t hang over the lower lip, are good breeds to start your search. The following breeds are not known for their excessive drooling, and some of them are meticulous self-groomers to boot. If dog drool is a big issue for you, another option is adopting a rescue dog. Tell shelter volunteers you’re looking for a dog who doesn’t drool much, and they can help guide you.
The Poodle (Standard, Mini, and Toy)
In addition to light-shedding coats that make them favorite breeds among dog owners with allergies, low-volume drooling is another positive for Poodles of every type. The neat, streamlined snouts of Standard, Mini, and Toy Poodles don’t collect much saliva to drip through the house. If you’re looking for a larger dog breed that doesn’t drool, the Standard Poodle is a good choice. The long, curly pendant ears of Poodles, however, are known to fall into their water bowl and drip after a drink.
The Corgi (Welsh and Cardigan)
Slobber isn’t a common sight on the wedge-shaped jawline of Pembroke Welsh Corgis or Cardigan Corgis. But don’t mistake them for an easy-care breed—Corgis shed abundantly, and they’re strong-willed and energetic dogs. They require consistent and ongoing training and socialization.
The Italian Greyhound
These sweet-tempered sighthounds are loving, playful, and neat companions. They don’t usually drool excessively, and their short, single coat doesn’t shed much. In cat-like fashion, Italian Greyhounds also spend a lot of time grooming themselves, which keeps ‘doggy’ odors in check. The one caveat about this usually considerate roomie: IGs are notoriously difficult to housetrain, so you’ll have messes to clean up until they get the hang of it.
Basenjis are tidy dogs with muzzles that don’t get too slobbery. They also groom themselves with care, and they’re known as the “Barkless Dog” because of a flat-shaped larynx that makes normal barking impossible. This breed doesn’t win the “easiest, cleanest, quietest dog” prize, however. Basenjis make a yodeling noise instead of barking, they’re challenging to train, and they’re notorious destructive chewers.
The Japanese Chin
The short (brachycephalic) snout of the Japanese Chin is a source of abundant snuffling and snoring—but not of excessive drooling. Good news for your furniture, because the aristocratic Chin tends to climb on couches and perch on the backs of chairs—the better to survey her domain. Like Italian Greyhounds, Chins are often described as ‘cat-like’ and are obliging enough to groom themselves fastidiously.A final bit of advice: all dogs come with some slobber—whether you choose a breed with a streamlined jaw or flews that hang down like curtains. Embrace your dog and embrace the cleanup. The mess is a small price to pay for the many joys of having a furry best friend at home.