Choosing the right dog collar is a very important decision to make for pet parents.
Although using a dog harness is generally better for walks, collars have their own advantages.
For one, a collar is less intrusive for your dog, meaning they don’t notice it as much as they would a full-on harness. Secondly, a collar can be worn at all times, while a dog harness has to be removed after a walk.
Another advantage of a dog collar is that they generally fit puppies better, and can be used from a very young age.
When you walk into a your local pet store with a mission to find the perfect collar, the choices could get overwhelming.
From different collar materials to functionality, here are some things you might want to keep in mind to help you choose the right collar for your dog.
Different Types of Dog Collars
Generally, there are two types of dog collars: specialized and regular.
Specialized collars exist to address a variety of problems. Often referred to as training collars, these will include the choke chain, prong, or shock collars for supposedly difficult dogs.
There are also bark-control collars. Those cause something unpleasant (i.e., spray, shock, or emit sounds) when the wearer barks.
These types of dog collars are best left to a certified professional dog trainer as they can cause your pup discomfort or even cause them harm if used incorrectly.
Choke Chain Collars
A typical choke collar. (Petful.com)
Choke collars are made of metal links that loop into a ring where the leash attaches.
With a tug of the leash, the chain tightens slightly around the dog's neck. This is supposed to help correct bad behavior.
Whereas normal collars would sit at the base of a dog's neck, choke collars are made to sit towards the top of the neck, just underneath a dog’s head.
The danger with these types of collars is that there is nothing stopping the noose from overtightening and causing your dog discomfort or injury.
If you insist on using one, make sure you consult with a professional trainer. Learn how to find the perfect fit and how to use it as safely as possible.
A typical choke collar. (Australian Dog Collar.com)
Similar to a choke chain, prong collars (also known as pinch collars) tighten when there's pulling on the control loop.
Unlike choke chains that simply tighten around a dog’s neck, prong collars have prongs or “fangs” that protrude into the dog's skin.
The blunt prongs are supposed to mimic the sensation of a mother dog biting a pup's neck when it misbehaves, thus alerting the dog that he's doing something wrong.
Generally, this type of collar is used to make it easier to handle difficult or aggressive dogs. Depending on the pressure, this could cause discomfort or even pain.
A typical shock collar. (Dogsnet))
Sold as training devices, these collars deliver electric current to the dog's neck. A trainer administers that current using a handheld remote control.
The intensity of the current can be adjusted by the trainer, according to what is needed.
The current can be mild to shocking, depending on the setting. The idea behind this reasoning is to teach dogs to associate bad behavior with discomfort.
Bark Control Collars
A typical bark control collar. (Sportdog.com)
Similar to the shock collar, these collars deliver an unpleasant sensation when triggered.
This could be in the form of a spray, electrical shock, or ultrasonic sound, typically to stop a dog barking. But instead of a remote control, these collars are set off by a sensor that determines when the dog is barking.
The problem is, none of these collars truly address the root cause of their bad behavior. Instead, the Humane Society recommends positive training methods for issues like getting your dog to stop barking.
For your beloved pet, it's best to stick with regular choices like the flat collar, tactical collar or the Martingale. These should be enough to use a regular dog leash on and hang visible identification tags.
The most common dog collar is the flat collar because they're easy to put on and take off.
It is a simple strap that is usually secured using a belt buckle or a plastic snap closure. They typically have a metal ring for identification, and Another metal ring is for attaching the dog leash.
Most dog owners opt for this collar, as they’re readily available and adjustable, conforming to your dog’s neck size.
Tactical collars are made of superior materials, like neoprene, and military-grade nylon and are triple-stitched.
They are slightly wider in design than a standard flat collar, which displaces the weight evenly when your dog pulls on it. Tactical collars are some of the best dog collars for bigger breeds that like to pull their owners along when excited.
They have a stainless steel D-ring, perfect for a leash attachment and feature a comfortable control handle that allows the dog owner to stay in control of any situation.
These waterproof dog collars are a great option if your dog's skin is sensitive and prone to rash as they’re made of animal-friendly materials.
Martingale Collars are as easy to put on as the flat collar, but they’re is one feature that makes them a bit different from the standard collar.
They’re specially designed with a separate loop that constricts to a pre-determined point when tension is applied to the collar. The collar disperses pressure evenly around the dog's neck and is thus safe to use as a training collar.
Martingale-style collars are perfect to use on certain breeds of dogs that have a head narrower than their necks, such as whippets and greyhounds that tend to back out of most standard dog collars.
Collars Are Made With Different Materials
Like dog clothes, dog collars come in a wide variety of materials.
The most common material used today is nylon, but there are also dog collars made of neoprene, leather, faux leather, and metal chains.
Your decision would depend on a few different factors, such as pricing, function, and comfort. Some collars are made of super durable materials, that come at a cost.
Nylon collars come in a variety of colors and patterns and are generally cheaper than a standard leather collar.
These leather collars are generally just one color - black or brown. Although they’re pretty plain, they seem to last a very long time.
Choosing the buckle material is also important. Plastic snap-on buckles are easier to put on. But, they could break in extreme temperatures.
Belt-style buckles are generally more durable. However, they take a bit more effort to put on and take off.
The best dog collars are made of materials that offer comfort to the dog, have enough durability to last a lifetime are functional (have a dedicated D-ring to attach your dog's leash and identity tag) and are affordable to the dog owner.
Finding The Right Size Dog Collar
The easiest way to find the right size is to measure around the base of your dog's neck.
You can pull the measuring tape until it's snug, and then add 2 inches for the final length. Or, you can keep it two finger-widths loose.
A tight collar can be uncomfortable and make it difficult to breathe and eat. On the other hand, a loose one can get caught in something or let your pup escape.
Make sure the size is perfect. Also, if you have a puppy, get one that has enough space to adjust up to their adult size.
Puppies grow fast - make sure you regularly monitor their collar size. You should be able to slip two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck. If you aren’t able to, adjust your puppy’s collar to sit comfortably without slipping off their slender necks.
Collar Styles and Designs
Although the design doesn't affect its safety and functionality, it's part of the fun in having a dog.
Selecting cool dog collar patterns and colors is like dressing up your pup. There's always plenty to choose from based on your dog's personality and your fashion sense.
Of course, it's always fun to walk a dapper dog and have our pups looking their best at all times. But, don't forget to get the function, material, and sizing right, too!