With so many options, what type of dog collar is best for your dog?
As dog owners, you will no doubt know that a dog collar is one of the most, if not THE most important tool you can have when bringing a dog into your life. But with so many choices available to us today, how do we know what type of dog collar is the best to choose for our canine friends? In this guide we’ll go through what we believe are the best dog collars available, when they should be used, and also some of the problems that can occur when using a collar incorrectly.
What to consider before buying a dog collar
Before choosing a collar design that you love, it’s vital that you consider a number of factors which will have an impact on the type of collar that is most suitable for your dog.
- Breed – A dog’s breed is a major consideration when choosing the best dog collar. For example, a flat faced, short necked Pug is going to need a much different collar to a long necked Greyhound. Some breeds, particularly smaller brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, Shih Tzus and Pekingese, can respond better to wearing a harness. That’s not to say they shouldn’t still wear a collar, as here in the UK it is a legal requirement for all dogs to carry identification tags when outside, so a lightweight collar is still advisable.
- Size – The size of your dog is obviously going to have an impact on your collar choice. The bigger the dog, the wider a collar you will probably need for a couple of reasons. A big dog is going to be a strong dog. If you choose a narrow collar and your dog is spooked while out walking, then they could pull suddenly, and a thin collar can act like a garrotte, strangling them. A wide dog collar will allow the pressure to be more evenly distributed around the neck if your dog pulls resulting in a much more comfortable experience for your dog.
- Coat – Something that you may not consider when buying a collar is your dog’s coat. Certain breeds are prone to matting, when their fur become tangled up and wraps around itself. Matts are most common in areas were friction happens, ie underneath a collar or harness straps. If unattended then matted hair will become uncomfortable for your dog, and can lead to skin irritation, and provides an excellent home for fleas and other bugs. The Cockapoo, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Collie and Poodle are a few breeds in which matts are very common without proper maintenance or the proper collar.
Which is the best dog collar for my dog?
So you’ve considered your dog’s breed, size and coat. Let’s get down to the fun part – which collar type is actually the best for my dog?
1. Flat Collars
When you think of a dog collar, this is probably what first comes to mind. A flat collar is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a flat piece of fabric, nylon or leather which wraps around your dog’s neck and sits flat against the neck. There are pros and cons to all types of material used, whether it be longevity, environmental impact or comfort, and these more often than not boil down to personal preference. It’s probably no surprise to you that here at Petiquette Collars we LOVE leather dog collars. That doesn’t make them better than fabric or nylon collars, but we find that leather is a beautifully soft material that lasts, and there’s just something timeless about a good quality leather dog collar. Flat leather dog collars are ideal for dogs with short coats. If fabric collars are more your bag though, then take a look at Ditsy Pet – they have some fun and funky collar designs in beautiful cotton fabric. They look great, and are available in lots of different widths to suit the size of your dog.
Flat dog collars, come in a couple of varieties:
- Buckle Collars – They may have a buckle at one end of the collar, while the other end of the collar has holes which feed through the buckle and fasten. When choosing a regular buckle collar, check to see if the collar has eyelets around the holes on the strap end. Without them, the collar can stretch or fray over time which will can lead to tears.
- Quick Release Collars – A quick release collar on the other hand has a buckle which has a male and female end, which clips into each other, and can be released with the push of a button. The clasp may be made of plastic, or metal. Again, as with everything, there are pros and cons to this style of collar. With plastic buckles, the inner catch can snap over time rendering the collar useless. Metal buckles can sometimes freeze in particularly cold weather, and on the flip side, can get quite hot in warm weather. We recommend aluminium and stainless steel buckles, as they provide superior strength and tend not to freeze. We’d still recommend removing the collar if your dog is at home or in the garden in hot weather though.
2. Rolled Dog Collars
We mentioned earlier that some dogs that are prone to developing matts under collars. That’s where rolled dog collars come into the picture. Some dog owners believe that a rolled leather dog collar can help prevent matting as the round leather doesn’t compress the dog’s coat as much as a flat collar, so if you’re struggling with matts around your dog’s neck, it may be worth trying.
Again, there are some important things to consider if choosing a rolled dog collar. Most rolled collars tend to be narrower than a flat collar, so if your dog pulls on the lead while wearing a rolled collar it can cause much more pressure to the trachea. This in turn can lead to a build up in pressure in the eyes, so if your dog has glaucoma, thin corneas or any eye condition in which pressure is an issue, then we wouldn’t recommend this style of collar for your dog.
As the owner of a Shih Tzu x Bichon Frise, I’m fairly familiar with hair matting. If you weren’t aware, Jimmy is the top dog at Petiquette Collars, and chief product tester. He’s got his own dog blog which you might enjoy if you want a bit of behind the scenes gossip. But I digress. As a long coated breed he develops matts. They’re typically around his ears where he scratches or I stroke him, under his front legs where his harness strap goes, and on the back of his neck where his collar sits. I’ve found the best way to tackle matts is with regular brushing using the correct brush for your dog. Jimmy has worn a flat crystal collar all eleven years of his life without any major issue. There’s been the odd small matt form under the collar, but this has been easily brushed out with a bit of care.
3. Sighthound Collars
Sighthounds aren’t so much an individual breed, but a collection of breeds underneath the umbrella of the name sighthound, or gazehound. Greyhounds, Lurchers, Whippets, Deerhounds, Salukis, Afghan Hounds, Borzoi, Sloughi, Wolfhounds and Italian Greyhounds are all types of sighthound. They’re a type of dog that as the name suggests have amazing vision. They were, and in some cases still are, used to hunt fast moving prey such as rabbits, hare and deer. They’re a beautiful, elegant looking type of dog, with long slender necks, and as such need a much wider collar than other breeds.
The most commonly used sighthound collar is known as a fish tail collar. Don’t worry, your hound isn’t going to be walking around with half a trout around their neck though! The shape of the collar is wide at the front and then tapers down at either end to a narrower strap, and the resulting shape resembles a fish tail. The wide part of the collar sits around the front of your hound’s neck, evenly distributing the pressure and protecting the vertebrae in the neck. When correctly fitted, the narrower part of the collar with the buckle and strap should sit fairly snugly behind the ears when walking. This design can also help in reducing the risk of a dog backing out of the collar when spooked, but it’s not a guarantee. There are other types of collar which are more useful, especially in nervous, reactive dogs, but we’ll come to that later.
As with all breeds, you’ll need to consider the size of your hound when considering a flat hound collar as they’re available in different widths to suit different breeds. If you’ve a tiny Italian Greyhound, then you’ll want an Italian Greyhound collar. They have the same fishtail shape, but are a little narrower than other sighthound collars. For mid sized sighthounds such as the Whippet and Basenji, then Whippet collars are what you need. Finally, if you have a gentle giant like a Wolfhound, or a lazy Greyhound, then you’ll be looking at the widest type of collar, a two inch wide Greyhound collar.
Sighthound collars come in a huge variety of styles and colours, as well as the option of having a huge amount of embellishment which can look absolutely stunning due to the extra width when compared to a narrower flat collar.
4. Martingale Collars
We mentioned earlier collars which can be useful in nervous dogs. That can be when the martingale collar comes in. Martingale collars can be fabric, nylon or leather. If you imagine a flat piece of material with a d ring at either end. A second loop of material then feeds between the two d rings creating a collar, with a loop which can be attached to a lead. There can be some confusion with the martingale collar as they can also be called a half check collar. Normally a half check collar will use a chain instead of a fabric or leather loop, but the design is the same.
The martingale collar typically slides over the dog’s head, though there are some styles which have a buckle to allow adjustment. When the dog pulls on the collar, the loop of material pulls tight, which in turn causes the main part of the collar to pull closer together making the collar tighter. This can help reduce the risk of the dog backing out of the collar and can also be used as a tool to help with training.
It’s important to remember though, a martingale collar is a training tool and not a punishment. The collar should never be adjusted so that it is tighter than your dog’s neck. This can cause strangulation and damage to the throat.
Martingale collars or half check collars can be wide, making them perfect for sighthounds, or they can be narrower like a regular flat collar, so they can be used with most breeds of dog. When choosing the width of your martingale collar, it’s important to consider the length of your dog’s neck. Longer necks mean wider collars are needed to evenly distribute the pressure.
5. House collars / ID Tag Collars
Here in the UK it’s a legal requirement for your dog to wear an identification tag when in a public space. If your dog wears a collar all the time, then problem solved, you can just clip your ID tag to the collar. But your dog may walk on a harness, or as is often the case with sighthounds, only wear a collar when actually going for a walk.
House collars are the perfect solution for this little problem. A lightweight collar that can be worn when lounging around the house, a house collar tends not to cause any irritation to the neck, and has a small o ring which you can attach an ID tag. House collars can be worn a little more loosely than a regular collar, but do be careful not to have them too loose, as you don’t want your dog to be able to get their mouth around it or any limbs caught underneath. As with all collars, we would recommend they only be worn when supervised. Our leather house collars are designed for holding identification tags, and shouldn’t be used with a lead. If you’re unsure of what to engrave on ID tags then we’ve put together a handy blog post.
Narrower flat collars and rolled collars can also be used house collars if you prefer something with a little more substance.
6. Puppy Collars
When bringing a puppy into your home, collar training is one of the first things you should do with them so that they are used to having something around their necks. Remember though, your puppy is still developing, so their collar needs to reflect this. Choose a lightweight puppy collar that won’t be too bulky for them but will give them room to grow.
We’re often asked for a collar that will fit a puppy all the way through until adulthood. Unfortunately, that collar doesn’t exist, nor should it. The needs of a puppy are much more different than that of a fully grown, adult dog. Puppies grow at light speed, so a collar that fits perfectly when a few months old will soon be outgrown. If you choose a buckle collar with lots of holes for adjustment, you will probably find half a collar lying around your home, as a dangling strap in front of a puppy’s mouth is just asking to be chewed.
House collars can be useful for a puppy as they’re lightweight, but there are certain limitations. Due to the light nature of a house collar, they shouldn’t be used in conjunction with a lead, so are not the best dog collar for teaching your puppy how to walk to heel. Most importantly though, and something which is easy to overlook, puppy’s grow! As strange as it seems, we’ve come across a number of instances where people have put a house collar on their pup, then left it until the point that the puppy has grown so much that the collar is literally strangling them and scissors have had to be used to cut the collar off safely. This obviously puts an undue amount of stress on a growing pup, so always remember to check that the collar you are using is still the best size for your young dog.
So what is the best type of dog collar for your dog?
There are a few types of collar which we haven’t mentioned in this guide; prong collars, shock collars, anti-bark collars, to name but a few. There’s a simple reason for this. They’re cruel and shouldn’t be allowed. If anybody recommends one of these collars for your dogs, say “Thank you, no” and walk away. They’re often sold as training tools or ways to correct “bad behaviour”, but there are so many ways for humans and dogs to live together in harmony without resorting to cruelty.
Hopefully this guide has given a little insight into the types of collar available and which is the best collar for your dog. There isn’t really a simple answer to the question as it does depend on the individual needs of your dog. If you do have any questions about which collar would be best for your dog though, please do get in touch with us, we’re always happy to help.