Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) snout showing flehmen.
Snout of a male elephant seal.

The snout, or muzzle, is the protruding portion of an animal's face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw.



The term "muzzle", used as a noun, can be ambiguous. It can refer both to the protruding part of the face itself, and also to a type of apparatus placed over the protruding part to prevent the animal from biting or eating, often used before and after horse races or to control dogs. See animal muzzle for the latter meaning.

The wet, naked surface around the nostrils of the nose is known as the rhinarium (colloquially this is the "cold wet nose" of some animals). The rhinarium is often associated with a stronger sense of olfaction.[citation needed]

Snout of dogs

The muzzle begins at the stop, just below the eyes, and contains the dog's nose and mouth. In the domestic dog, most of the upper muzzle contains organs for detecting scents. The loose flaps of skin on the sides of the upper muzzle that hang to different lengths over the mouth are called flews. The snout is considered a weak point on most animals: because of its structure, an animal can be easily stunned,snapped or even knocked out by applying sufficient force.

It is innervated by one of the twelve pairs of cranial nerves. These nerves start in the brain and emerge through the skull to their target organs. Other destinations of these nerves are eyeballs, teeth and tongue.

The muzzle shape of a domestic dog ranges in shape depending upon the breed, from extremely long and thin (dolichocephalic), as in the Rough Collie, to nearly nonexistent because it is so flat (extreme brachycephalic), as in the Pug. Some breeds, such as many sled dogs and Spitz types, have muzzles that somewhat resemble the original wolf's in size and shape, and others in the less extreme range have shortened it somewhat (mesocephalic) as in many hounds.

Snout of other mammals

Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus). The extended proboscis is called the "trunk", and is used for a wide range of purposes including feeding, drinking, exploration, and social grooming.

Snouts are found on many other mammals in a variety of shapes. Some animals, including ursines and great cats, have box-like snouts, while others, like shrews, have pointed snouts. Pig snouts are flat and cylindrical.

Despite the opinion of some disreputable horse handlers, horses indeed have snouts. Sometimes a horse's snout can be referred to as it's "muzzle", although snout is the preferred terminology.

Snout of invertebrates

Some freshwater and marine (for example Eustrombus gigas) gastropods have snouts.[citation needed]


See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Snout — (snout), n. [OE. snoute, probably of Scand, or Low German origin; cf. LG. snute, D. snuit, G. schnauze, Sw. snut, snyte, Dan. snude, Icel. sn?ta to blow the nose; probably akin to E. snuff, v.t. Cf. {Snite}, {Snot}, {Snuff}.] 1. The long,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • snout|y — «SNOW tee», adjective, snout|i|er, snout|i|est. 1. resembling a snout or muzzle; having a pronounced or prominent snout: »The nose was ugly, long and big, Broad and snouty like a pig (Thomas Otway). 2 …   Useful english dictionary

  • snout — (n.) early 13c., trunk or projecting nose of an animal, from M.L.G. and M.Du. snute snout, from P.Gmc. *snut (Cf. Ger. Schnauze, Norw. snut, Dan. snude snout ), related to O.E. gesnot (see SNOT (Cf. snot)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • snout — snout; snout·ish; snout·less; …   English syllables

  • snout — [snout] n. [ME snoute, prob. < MDu snute, akin to Ger schnauze < IE base * snā , * sneu , to drip fluid, wetness > L natare, to swim, nutrire, to nurse] 1. a) the projecting nose and jaws, or muzzle, of an animal b) an anterior… …   English World dictionary

  • Snout — Snout, v. t. To furnish with a nozzle or point. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • snout — snau̇t n a long projecting nose (as of a swine) * * * (snout) the long, specialized upper lip and apex of the nose seen in pigs and certain other animals …   Medical dictionary

  • snout — [ snaut ] noun count 1. ) the long nose of a pig or a similar animal a ) the nose and mouth of a DOLPHIN or a similar animal 2. ) LITERARY something that looks like a snout, for example the front part of an airplane …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • snout|ed — «SNOW tihd», adjective. having a snout: »A group of snouted, slit eyed, sinister, and yet beautifully modelled Crusaders helmets... (New Yorker) …   Useful english dictionary

  • snout — [snaut] n [Date: 1200 1300; : Middle Dutch; Origin: and Middle Low German snut] 1.) the long nose of some kinds of animals, such as pigs 2.) BrE informal a criminal who gives information about other criminals to the police …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • snout — ► NOUN 1) the projecting nose and mouth of an animal. 2) the projecting front or end of something such as a pistol. 3) Brit. informal tobacco or a cigarette. 4) Brit. informal a police informer. DERIVATIVES snouted adjective. ORI …   English terms dictionary

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