Is your flat-faced pooch a messy eater? Or, maybe your short-snouted friend has difficulty eating every last piece of kibble.
Your dog isn’t the problem. It’s his bowl!
For our flat-faced pups, eating from a traditional dog bowl can be the equivalent of competing in a marathon – it isn’t easy.
That’s where a flat-faced dog bowl comes in. These bowls are designed specifically for your squished-faced friend. Cleaner mealtimes and easy breathing are just two of the benefits a flat-faced dog bowl can offer.
At DogLab, we spent 80+ hours testing and reviewing over 12 different bowls to find the most durable, highest-quality and suitable flat-faced dog bowls available.
All to answer one simple question…
Which flat-faced dog bowl is best for your dog?
Want the answer? Read on!
- Rounding up the flat-faced dog bowls
- How did we test the flat-faced dog bowls?
- Our testing observations
- Meet our team of flat-faced testers
What is a flat-faced dog and why do they need a special bowl?
A flat-faced dog refers to any breed that has a pushed in snout – like they ran full speed into a wall and had their face squashed.
The correct term for flat-faced dogs is actually brachycephalic. It describes any dog that has a bottom jaw longer than their upper jaw – making the muzzle appear flattened or squashed inward.
I find the word brachycephalic as difficult to pronounce as I do to type it. So for the purpose of this review, I simply refer to them as flat-faced dogs.
Some breeds are obviously flat-faced. Pugs are cute and all, but there is no escaping that they look like they have been hit in the face with a frying pan.
Others, like a Boxer, could be considered semi-flat.
Cute as they may be, flat-faced dogs generally have reduced airways (their nostrils and windpipe). This can lead to problems breathing, which may be why your pooch just sits there, huffing and wheezing.
This poses a particular problem during mealtime. You see… With a traditional dog bowl, your flat-faced dog has to smoosh his face inside. The walls of the bowl press hard up against the nose, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.
As a result, your flat-faced dog eats faster, inhaling air through the mouth as he goes. As we discovered when we ranked the best slow-feed dog bowls, this is something you don’t want.
Inhaling air while eating can lead to dogs suffering from choking, bloat, vomiting or even excessive farting.
You may even find that your pup chomps down on a large mouthful of kibble, then spits it out next to the bowl. Don’t get angry because he made a mess – he is doing this because it is easier to eat from the ground than suffocating in a bowl.
Another problem is that flat-faced dogs have a tendency to smoosh their face into their meal. While this is less of an issue with kibble, wet and raw foods can end up smeared all over the folds on your pup’s face.
In addition to this, traditional bowls are designed with a longer snout in mind. A dog with a longer snout can easily pick up pieces of kibble that rest where the side and bottom of the dog bowl meet.
Flat-faced faced dogs eat with their entire face in a scooping motion, arching their heads forward and upward as they eat. Such are the joys of having an underbite.
When a bowl is full of kibble, flat-faced dogs can make do with a traditional dog bowl by eating from the center. Don’t be surprised if they make a mess, though. As the food nears the end, however, eating becomes more of a struggle…
You see, the short snout on flat-faced dogs can make it difficult to get to every last piece of kibble, often making a huge mess in the process.
French Bulldogs, in particular, are notorious for chasing kibble all around the bottom of their bowls.
If your pup leaves pieces of his meal behind, at the edges, or is taking a frustratingly long time to finish dinner, then your bowl is to blame.
That’s where a flat-faced dog bowl comes in.
These bowls are designed to make mealtimes easier for your short-snouted pooch. How does it accomplish this? Well, a flat-faced bowl generally has the following features:
Wide opening – so that your pup doesn’t have to squash his face inside the bowl.
Tilted shape – so that your pup doesn’t have to smear his meal all over his face.
Slanted rear – so that your pup’s nose won’t be pressed up against the side of the bowl, allowing him to breathe through his nose while he eats.
Nothing fancy, right? You would be amazed at just how these simple additions make mealtime more enjoyable for your pup.
During testing, we interviewed dozens of dog owners and their smushed-faced friends. From tiny Pugs and Pekingese to hulking Boxers and Bullmastiffs, those who had tried a flat-faced dog bowl said that after seeing the benefits, there was no going back.
Based on our review, we agree. If you own one of the following…
- Boston Terrier
- Brussels Griffon
- Cane Corso
- English Toy Spaniel
- French Bulldog
- Japanese Chin
- Shar Pei
- Shih Tzu
- Tibetan Spaniel
… Or similar, then consider buying a flat-faced dog bowl.
But if your dog has a longer snout, then there isn’t much gained from using a flat-faced dog bowl.
Our testing process
At DogLab, we take reviewing darn seriously. We never recommend a product we wouldn’t give to our own precious pooches. That’s why we have thoroughly reviewed every flat-faced dog bowl featured in this guide.
By the end of the process, we spent a combined 80+ hours researching, testing and reviewing the most popular (and even some unpopular) flat-faced dog bowls on the market.
No dogs were overfed or starved during our testing process. In fact, each of our pups loved assisting us as we reviewed the bowls. And who could blame them? This is anyone’s dream job!
Want to learn more about our testing process? Read on!
Rounding up the flat-faced dog bowls
It all started with choosing which flat-faced dog bowls to test.
As we soon learned, there are not many bowls designed specifically with flat-faced dogs in mind. Ordinarily, we first narrow down our selection. But with so few flat-faced dog bowls on the market, we decided to review them all!
But that’s not all we tested…
To date, we have tested hundreds of different dog bowls, in various styles and shapes. During testing, we noticed something interesting…
Some bowls offered flat-faced dogs a considerably better eating experience than others. Even though they were not advertised as being flat-faced-friendly, they featured low sides, curved bases and a wide opening – perfect for shorter snouts.
So, we rounded up these bowls too just to see how well they performed against the bowls designed specifically for smushed faces.
All up, we put 9 different brands to the test.
- Bone Dry
- Enhanced Pet
- Love N Creatures
- Our Pets
- Outward Hound
- Super Design
With our list complete, it was time to go shopping. Each flat-faced dog bowl featured in our review was purchased from Amazon.com. Yep, at DogLab, we buy every product at the same price you would pay.
Once our flat-faced dog bowls were delivered, it was time to test them!
Haven’t seen our other dog bowl reviews yet? Check em’ out here.
How did we test the flat-faced dog bowls?
At DogLab, we only recommend products that we would give to our own pups. That’s why every dog bowl featured in this review was painstakingly tested by our team of doggy testers so that you can buy with confidence.
To find the number one flat-faced dog bowl we tested for the following:
Durability – How did the bowl hold up to rough dogs?
Movability – How easy was it to flip the bowl or push it around during feeding?
Suitability – Was the bowl easy-to-use for different breeds and sizes of dogs?
Ease of cleaning – How easy was each bowl to clean?
Improvement – Was their noticeable improvement in feeding when compared to a traditional dog bowl?
Each of these factors contributed to which bowls we recommend. Our top picks excel in all of these areas.
Our testing observations
While testing the qualities listed above, we made some observations that are worth mentioning.
Flat-faced bowls are for flat-faces only
Okay, so you wouldn’t go out and buy a flat-faced dog bowl for a long-snouted dog, right? But if you have one on hand, then you may decide to use it.
Out of curiosity, I tested our top pick with Harper, my Border Collie – German Shepherd mix. With her long snout, she definitely isn’t the target market for this bowl.
Ordinarily, Harper is a delicate and refined eater. But when she ate from a flat-faced dog bowl, she couldn’t help but make a mess. And not just a small mess. Her meal went everywhere.
The low, shallow bowl didn’t pair well with her eating style. I was surprised at just how much of a mess was actually made!
As if the name wasn’t a clue, flat-faced dog bowls should be used with flat faces only. If you have a couple of dogs, and not all are flat-faced, buy each their own bowl.
Flat-faced bowls are for kibble only
Sorry wet and raw feeders. Flat-faced dog bowls are not going to help your pooch. Every single bowl we reviewed failed the wet food test.
The biggest problem is that none of these bowls are weighted. While they didn’t move around when our pups could easily access their kibble, it was an entirely different story when using canned food.
Wet food transformed our pups from Bulldogs into bulldozers. They smooshed their faces against the bowl and pushed it all around the room. Placing the bowl against a wall cut down on the movement but not the mess.
The reason? Flat-faced dog bowls rely on easy access as a way to stop both mess and movement. No flat-faced bowl was weighted. Even with a no-skid rubber base, our pups had little difficulty sliding the bowls around when they were in a head-butting contest with their meal.
If you are looking for a weighted bowl, ceramic is really your only choice.
Goofy dogs can outsmart flat-faced dog bowls
This point is only really true of slanted dog bowls, those where the rear is higher than the front – like the picture above.
Bowls with this design only work if your dog approaches it from the front. Most dogs do this instinctively. After all, eating from the back of the bowl isn’t comfortable because the edge of the bowl digs into the pup’s neck. When this happened, our dogs figured out something was wrong and repositioned themselves to the front of the bowl.
All except one.
Whatever direction our Pug started eating from, she remained there until she finished her meal. When she ate from the back, she huffed and wheezed the entire way through her meal. Even worse, kibble flew all over the place as she pushed it over the low front lip of the bowl.
If your pup is more excited about eating than comfort, then I have a solution for you. Press the back of the bowl hard against the wall. This way, our Pug could only approach from the front. Problem solved!
Meet our team of flat-faced testers
At DogLab, reviews are important. I don’t know about you, but my dog is the most precious thing in my life. As a result, we put products to the test.
That’s why our testing team thoroughly evaluates each product we recommend – with paws-on use.
We assembled a team of flat-faced testers to interact with, observe and rate how well each bowl performed.
Where possible, we source testers from Fetch A Friend Rescue, a rescue organization that takes in dogs from local shelters that would otherwise be put down, giving them a second chance to find a forever home. If you live in Upstate New York and are looking for a four-legged family friend, check them out!
Let me introduce the testers…
Breed: Valley Bulldog
Olivia is two flat-faced dogs in one – a Bulldog – Boxer mix. While you may not be able to tell, this is her happy face. Cursed with a Bulldog’s permanently grumpy expression, she shows her happiness by wiggling back and forth. While Olivia loves the outdoors, her enthusiasm only extends for half of a walk to the local dog park. When it’s time to go, she just lays there until someone caves in and carries her home – not an easy task given her size. Her aggressive eating style really put the flat-faced dog bowls to the test.
Jasmine is an adorable, chubby Pug that has perfected the art of begging. She can hear a bag of Doritos opening from half a mile away. Before you have the first tortilla chip to your mouth, she magically appears at your feet, staring at you with her goofy grin. Jasmine is a messy eater and ordinarily uses a traditional dog bowl. She benchmarked whether or not using a flat-faced dog bowl improved feeding.
Breed: Shih Tzu
Barney is currently the oldest of our flat-faced testers. At 10 years old, he considers himself a guard dog and refuses to wander more than 6 feet from his owner and growls intimidatingly at strangers. However, once introduced, he will happily accept all the belly rubs you can give. His cute underbite got quite a work out as he tested the various flat-faced dog bowls.
Breed: American Bulldog mix
Due to the need for flat-faced testers, Champ is the only rescue dog featured in this guide. Champ had a sad start to his life. He spent his first two years chained up in a yard, exposed to harsh weather. He is a loveable ball of muscle that prefers to communicate through cute grunting noises rather than barks. Champ plays rough and was perfect for observing the durability of our flat-faced bowls – he managed to break one during our tests!
Good news! Champ has been adopted.
The best flat-faced dog bowls
Sometimes, we review a product category where there aren’t many choices. Other times, the majority of the products we review perform poorly.
In the case of dog bowls for flat-faced dogs, it was both.
With such slim pickings, we can only confidently recommend two flat-faced dog bowls. One is a clear winner for most dogs, and the other is a travel-friendly option.
Let’s start by looking at our top pick:
1. Best all-around flat-faced dog bowl
Our top pick outclassed the competition by a long shot. It was the only flat-faced bowl that could be used by dogs of all sizes.
Many users reported that this bowl made all the difference to their finicky eater. Once swapping over to the Enhanced Pet Bowl, their scrunchy-faced dog was licking the bowl clean – being comfortable while eating made all the difference. Owners of Frenchies held it in particularly high regard.
We agree. We especially loved the ridge at the back of the bowl. As your dog pushes food around his bowl, it slides down this ridge and back into his mouth.
Olivia, our Bulldog tester, is one of the messiest eaters you will ever meet. Each mealtime is followed by 5 minutes of cleaning the area around her bowl – kibble and crumbs scatter everywhere. Some days, she becomes so frustrated that she dumps the entire contents of her bowl all over the floor.
What a difference this bowl made. As Olivia enthusiastically gulped down her meal, there was almost no mess at all. In her excitement, a few pieces of kibble tipped over the lower edge of the bowl, but even so, I’d call that a success.
As I touched on earlier, flat-faced dogs come in all sizes. The Enhanced Pet Bowl was the only one designed for flat-faced dogs that came in a range of styles:
|Small||6 x 1¾ inches||1 cup|
|Medium||8½ x 2¾ inches||2 cups|
|Large||9½ x 3½ inches||3 cups|
Because of this, both our pint-sized Pug and hulking Bulldog could eat their meal from the same bowl, although admittedly they did each need a different size.
In fact, if you have a medium to large dog, such as a Bulldog or Bullmastiff, then you should stop reading here. This is the only flat-faced bowl that is appropriate for your dog.
Now, I should warn you that the effectiveness of this bowl relies on ordering the correct size. I was initially concerned that this error could result in losing money and being stuck with an unusable bowl.
Fortunately, Enhanced Pet’s customer service is great. We called up and claimed we had accidentally ordered the wrong size. Not a problem. All we had to do was send it in, and they would replace it with the correct size.
We tested the bowl on grass, hardwood and carpet. The rubber base gripped strong, and neither of our pups was able to push their bowl around while eating. As for flipping, even our clumsy Pug, leaning with all her weight on the bowl, couldn’t tip it.
The rubber rim has a drawback, however. Since it can’t be removed, you need to hand wash this bowl. I base this on the other stainless steel dog bowls we reviewed. Rubber bases soon stretch and wear when constantly cleaned by a dishwasher.
Now, I must add that some owners claim that this bowl slowed down their dogs during mealtime. But from our testing, I’m not convinced. Our dogs appeared to scarf their meal down just as quickly as before. Maybe even faster because they were more comfortable eating out of this bowl.
The only time this bowl outright failed was when our goofy Pug approached the bowl from the back. Food went everywhere. Fortunately, there was an easy fix. We pushed the rear of the bowl against a wall. This way she could only feed from the front.
Enhanced Pet also sells a stand separately, effectively turning this bowl into an elevated dog bowl for flat-faced dogs. In fact, if you want a raised dog bowl, this is basically your only option.
Don’t be put off by the price. If you want or need a flat-faced dog bowl, then this is as good as it gets. Durable and effective, it’s worth every cent.
2. Best travel-friendly flat-faced dog bowl
Truth be told, no company has set out to create a travel-friendly bowl for flat-faced dogs. As a result, there are few options to choose from. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Mountainsmith created a fantastic portable dog bowl for flat-faced dogs by accident.
We originally discovered the K-9 Backbowl when reviewing collapsible dog bowls. We were impressed with it then. Since that original review, Mountainsmith upgraded the bowl to make it even better – the current model is both sturdier and more resistant to staining and wear.
The design is deceptively simple. It’s a square piece of lined canvas fabric with snaps in each corner. In fact, when it’s unfolded, it looks like a large washcloth.
Simple, right? This is exactly what makes the K-9 Backbowl such a great travel companion. I could easily fold the bowl up and slide it inside my handbag – ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice. It’s simply not practical to carry around your dog’s day-to-day bowl in the same way.
I can assemble the bowl in seconds. The buttons quickly snap together, and then, much to my impatient pup’s joy, I can quickly fill it with food.
Both our flat-faced testers finished every last piece of kibble without difficulty.
The wide shape made it easy for even Olivia, our Bulldog tester, to fit her large head inside the bowl.
The low sides meant our dogs could still breathe when they dug into the corners. At the corners, our dogs could retrieve every last piece of kibble. Being made of fabric, the walls bend and flex as our pups scooped up the last few pieces of their meal.
The lining on the inside prevented kibble crumbs from sticking – I easily wiped the bowl out with a wet cloth. Speaking of the lining, it’s 100% waterproof. I even used the bowl with a small amount of water for my thirsty pooch.
On surfaces like grass or concrete, the bowl slid considerably less than indoors on my slippery linoleum flooring. It didn’t perform much better on carpet.
Being a travel bowl, this is to be expected. You’ll most likely be using it outdoors, either running errands, camping or on long walks. If you want an indoor option, then I suggest sticking with our top recommendation.
Once home, a gentle cycle through the washing machine will have it looking good as new. There aren’t many dog bowls you can clean with a washing machine!
If you and your flat-faced pup are always on the go, this travel-friendly bowl will soon become your best friend. Highly recommended!
The flat-faced dog bowls that didn’t make the cut
Not every flat-faced dog bowl was a winner, though. The following bowls fell short in one way or another when compared to our top picks.
That isn’t to say that these are bad products. In fact, in most cases, the runner-up bowls were let down by minor flaws, such as being too small. Based on our testing, the above recommendations get everything right. In comparison, there is little reason to choose a runner up.
Our Pets’ stainless steel Tilt-a-Bowl isn’t designed to be a flat-faced dog bowl, but for smaller dogs, it fits this purpose. The slanted opening is perfect for short, flat faces to reach their meal, and it’s available in three sizes. However, the sizing ran small with the largest barely suitable for any breed larger than a Beagle. While it might be suitable for a smaller brachycephalic breed, it wasn’t big enough for our Bulldog.
The all-plastic Love N Creatures Slanted Bowl was pretty great. But it was also plastic. The lightweight design made it easier to push around than the other rubber-lined stainless steel bowls. While the cost is cheaper, it’s also considerably less durable and scratches easier.
Okay, so the Bone Dry Hungry Thirsty isn’t a flat-faced dog bowl at all. We came across it while trying to find a ceramic option for our squishy-faced pups. There simply are not a lot of options. Unfortunately, despite the low, curved sides, it was just too small. Even our Pug struggled to squeeze her head inside. Our large Bulldog couldn’t eat without bumping her nose on the edge of the bowl.
The other ceramic tilted dog bowl we tested was a generic model by iBard, but you can find this generic slanted bowl under many different names. Of all the bowls we tested, this was the worst. To get the slant, you set the ceramic dish precariously on top of a small podium. It sits loose and falls with the tiniest of bumps. It might be suited to gentle feeders, like a cat, but it was unsuitable for any of our doggy testers.
With just a few tweaks on the manufacturer’s part, Super Design’s Mess Free Slanted Bowl could be a strong contender. It’s essentially an elevated bowl that sits at a 15˚ slant thanks to the melamine base. Unfortunately, when you place the metal bowl in the base, it spins. For flat-faced dogs that will no doubt bump the bowl, this made feeding difficult as the bowl spun in place. Another bowl that is better suited to cats. It’s a shame that there isn’t much choice for elevated flat-faced dog bowls.
Essentially a fancier version of the Mess Free Slanted Bowl above, the FelliP Oblik Pet Bowl has the same flaws. The only difference is that it looks considerably better designed. But that price… This is the most expensive slanted bowl we tested. Skip it.
Phew, if you have made it this far, congratulations! You now know which dog bowl is best for your flat-faced pooch.
A recap of our results…
The best flat-faced dog bowls we tested:
Which bowl do you use to feed your flat-faced pup? Let me know in the comments below!