The Salivation Army: Tips for Dealing with a Drooling Dog

"Get over your fear of slobber as quickly as possible!" warns one owner of a big drooler.


First there was Old Yeller foaming at the mouth with rabies. Then Cujo sliming car windows with curtains of drool. (Rabies again, by the way.) And if that weren’t enough, there’s the horror scene in Turner and Hooch where Turner puts on a shoe and finds it filled with a lake of our favorite Dogue de Bordeaux’s drool. OK, not rabies, but drool. Not cool! Because to some of us, those long tentacles are just as terrifying.

Drooling, slobbering, driveling, flobidising — salivating by any other name would feel just as sticky. Dogs with big heads and big lips can’t help it; they’re built to drool. Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs, Neapolitan Mastiffs, and even some setters as well as Boxers and Great Danes can all have overachieving salivary glands — at least, in comparison to the drainage factor.

I asked some owners of slurping salivators how they cope with the drool factor. The answer? “Get over your fear of slobber as quickly as possible!” Yes, along with that pesky fear of rabies. I’ll get right on it.

Another owner advised: “Carry a 10-foot pole and don’t let the Saint get anywhere near you.” The person cautioned this after saying that if you’re in your best clothing, the dog would just aim for you and “baptize your trousers with a large goober. If you attempt to evade this maneuver, they will just shake their head with enough force to send one flying into your new hairdo.” I guess there’s something to be said for having a walking mouse dispenser.

Yet another said to always be ready with a dish towel on your lap after they drink. How about a beach towel?

In talking to owners of these salivary sasquatches, I realized they considered their dogs’ drool boasting material. Yep, many of the big lippy breeds even have “fun” drool contests (yes they really call them that) at rescue events. How much does the judge get paid at the “longest slinger contest” offered at the annual Mastiff Picnic in Ohio? Not enough, in my opinion.

While handlers at these drool-offs encourage record-setting saliva stalactites, most handlers at regular shows carry drool rags. (microfiber is preferred.) You can see them stuffed not-so-discreetly in back pockets even at Westminster. Even those can become soaked and slimed to a soggy mess, however. Then what? Rubber gloves for disposal?

The drool rag is a must when meeting the public, as some folks are kind of squeamish about looking like they’ve been swallowed. For the dogs, a bib is not only fashion statement (of what, I’m not sure) but it keeps the chest and front legs dry and odor-free. Spritzing with a rinse-free shampoo can help if the area does get slimy, and if it dries, a medium-tooth comb can spiff it up.

The concept is much the same when having house guests.

“Tuck a small bath towel under the dog’s collar,” advises one owner. “That gives the person something to protect themselves with when greeting your dog.”

She also confides that having a dramatic drooler can cut down significantly on unannounced guests, who spend their first (and usually last) surprise visit marveling at the lava lamp-like formations stuck to the walls and furniture. And ceiling.

But what about clean-up?

“Get to it before it gets crusty!” I was told.


But there was more useful advice. Oft-mentioned products included Simple Clean, Scotch-Brite Easy Erasing Pad, and the champion Mr. Clean Magic Eraser — mentioned by virtually everyone as the salivation salvation.

For clothes, normal washing usually suffices, perhaps with some Oxy Magic added to particularly impressive stains. But mostly, owners just advise changing into your good clothes away from the dogs’ sling radius — you know, like at the end of the driveway.

Owners also advised wearing prints, stripes, anything with a design. (Ummm — what about a raincoat?)

When it comes to some breeds, it’s “love me, love my drool.” Some breeders and rescue groups purposefully don’t clean ahead of time, and they let their drooliest dogs greet prospective owners. They don’t want owners who “tolerate” drool; they want ones who embrace it!

Read more about dogs in history on Dogster:

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