Whether you have a 150 pound Saint Bernard or a five pound Chihuahua, your dog needs a collar for identification and restraint. Let’s talk about the steps for choosing the perfect dog collar.
There is a wide variety of styles, types, and prices of collars available for your dog.
Here’s what I will discuss in this article:
Collars: The Basics
You know you need a collar for your dog, but there’s a lot to consider.
What kind of collar? For what kind of dog? For what kind of activity?
Do you need a collar for a puppy or an adult dog?
These are all good questions, but first some collar basics.
A collar needs to do two things: carry identification and provide a way to restrain your dog when you need to.
A collar needs a ring or another way to attach identification, such as tags or a label, to the collar.
The collar should be made of a sturdy material that can withstand rough treatment, if need be. The fastener should also be strong, but easy to use. You don’t want to be fiddling with an awkward buckle when you need to react in a hurry. Nor do you want a buckle or other type of fastener to come apart at just the wrong time.
How do you know what size collar you need? Of course, you measure your dog’s neck. Here’s how to do that: place a measuring tape around the neck about half way between the back of the dog’s head and shoulders. Then add 2 inches to the length to assure there’s enough extra collar for buckling.
Also, a basic rule for fitting the collar to your dog is you need to be able to slide two fingers under the collar up against the dog’s neck when it is properly buckled. This insures a proper fit, not too tight but not so loose that the fastened collar will slip over the dog’s head.
After these basics are met, you can have fun with all the types, styles, and colors available for your dog.
Your Dog’s Breed, Size, and Age
Your dog’s breed can make a difference in your search for the right collar.
The delicate breeds like the Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, Saluki, and Whippet need a wide, soft collar that won’t damage their skin or put undue pressure on their long, slender necks. Wide collars made of lined leather or nylon fabric are appropriate for these breeds.
Large working breeds like the German Shepherd or Malinois need a rugged collar that will hold up to heavy use. In particular, these breeds are dogs who work in police departments or in the military. They need a collar that can survive being wet, worn through heavy underbrush, and roughed up on a daily basis. Nylon collars are best for these working breeds, since the nylon can handle the abuse and dry out quickly after getting wet.
Hunting dogs also need collars that can handle being soaked by water and roughed up by the underbrush the dog has to go through during the day’s hunt.
The big breeds need collars that can accommodate their neck size and strength. Leather or nylon collars are available in the larger sizes your dog needs.
The toy breeds don’t need large, hefty collars, and this is where you can have some fun.
A Chihuahua or Yorkie can wear a collar that provides a place for identification but is lightweight and appropriate for their size. And you can go for the bling: rhinestones, studs, and bow-bedecked collars are just what your toy breed needs.
Your Dog’s Level of Activity
Is your dog a rough-and-tumble terrier or a basset couch-potato?
Are you and your dog active on a daily basis or weekend warriors?
This can make a difference in how sturdy of collar you need for your dog.
The small but mighty Jack Russell Terrier needs a collar that can stand up to their high level of activity and playfulness. Rhinestones and bows aren’t going to make it, but the sturdy and lightweight nylon collars are a good match.
As for the couch-potatoes, you don’t need a heavy-duty collar for the dog that excels in napping and going for leisurely walks around the block.
Any of the soft nylon collars will be suitable for the low-activity breeds like basset hounds or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Innovative and High-tech Collars
There are a number of innovative new collars available for dog owners that are a step up from the classic, belt-style collars.
Martingale collars are an interesting alternative to the classic belt-style collar.
This style has a martingale, a loop that relaxes the collar around the neck when the dog is not pulling or lunging, that’s a built-in incentive for the dog to not pull and choke at the end of the leash. It is a good alternative to the working collar, also known as a choke chain collar that can pinch skin or pull out fur.
Some versions of this collar feature a chain loop for the martingale part of the collar.
Or you can choose the version with a fabric strap for the martingale part of the collar. There are collars with both the main collar and the martingale part made of nylon.
This type of collar also prevents the dog from backing out of the collar and escaping, and it gives you the added restraint feature without having to resort to a choke chain collar.
LED Dog Collars
Whether you just like to go for a stroll in the evening or are an early morning jogger who likes to take your dog with you, you need a way to make your dog more visible.
Until recently, the best way to do this was with a reflective collar.
But now you can get an LED collar. These collars actually light up! While collars with reflective tape or stripes are a good idea for your dog’s visibility in low light, the LED collars have their own light source.
The LED collar increases your dog’s visibility so she will be seen by cars, cyclists, and pedestrians.
A nice added feature to the LED collars is that they are re-chargeable! There are no bulky batteries to fiddle with and replace. The LED collars recharge with a cable that connects to a USB port on your home computer.
These brightly-lit collars come in a variety of colors; you can even get hot pink in extra-small for your Yorkie or Poodle.
Collars for Puppies
It’s very important to start your puppy wearing a collar as soon as possible. It’s okay to use a collar for a small breed of dog for your puppy. Or, if you prefer, there are collars made specifically for puppies.
A break-away collar has a fastener that pops apart if the collar gets caught on something like furniture or plants in the backyard.
You can also use a break-away collar made for cats and kittens (don’t tell your puppy!) to protect your puppy. The bell that is often included with the collar will let you know where your puppy is so you don’t step on him.
Dog Training Collars (Behavioral Problems)
I’m sure your dog is the best and he’s always well-behaved and calm. Except when he’s not.
But sometimes our dogs can have a problem like incessant barking or jumping on people.
This is where an electronic training collar can help. You can activate the electronic training collar remotely with a handheld device. These collars have a receiver equipped with the functions of shock, vibrate, and beep tone that can help you train your dog or stop his bad behaviors.
These training collars are not meant to punish the dog. Rather they’re designed to get the dog’s attention and reinforce basic dog obedience training.
And Now for Some Fun
Everyone needs a little sparkle in their life, and your dog is no exception!
You can find collars in all sizes and styles for your fashionable canine.
This is not limited to the toy breeds either, such as Yorkies or Chihuahuas. You can get a flashy collar for your French Bulldog or Staffordshire Terrier, too.
Stylish collars are even available for large-size dogs, so your Labrador Retriever, Bull Mastiff, or Rottweiler can dress in style.
If you are not into rhinestones, you can still find a colorful collar for your dog.
Both the basic collar style and martingale collars are available in solid colors and patterns.
And don’t forget the holidays!
Don’t leave your dog out of the fun. You can find collars decorated for Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and, of course, Christmas!
Seasonal patterns are available too, such as autumn leaves, snowflakes, spring flowers, and tasty summer watermelon for your fashionable canine.