Dog collars are a very popular option among pet parent. Although using a dog harness is generally better for walks, collars have their own advantages. Among them is that they're easier to put on and that they're better for visible identification.
When you walk into a pet store with a mission to find the perfect collar, the choices could get overwhelming. To help you out, here are the most important things you should consider:
Different Types of Dog Collars
A yellow Labrador Retriever wearing type types of collars. (Source)
Generally, there are two types of dog collars: the specialized collars and the regular collars.
Specialized collars exist to address a variety of problems. Among them are 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.
Choke Chain Collars
A typical choke collar. (Source)
A collar made of metal links that loop into the ring where the leash attaches. That way, a pull from the leash causes the chain to tighten. It's supposed to sit towards the top of your dog’s neck to choke them slightly when they’re behaving poorly.
These have been known to cause some injury to dogs. 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 prong collar. (Source)
Similar to a choke chain, prong collars tighten when there's pulling on the control loop. The difference is that prong collars have prongs or “fangs” that protrude into the dogs loose skin.
Generally, this 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. (Source)
Sold as training devices, these deliver electric current to the dog's neck. A trainer administers that current using a remote control.
The current can be mild to shocking, depending on the setting. The idea is to teach dogs to associate bad behavior with discomfort.
Bark Control Collars
A typical bark control collar. (Source)
Similar to the shock collar, these deliver something unpleasant when triggered. That could be a spray, electrical shock, or ultrasonic sound. But instead of a remote control, these 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 or the Martingale. These should be enough to use a regular dog leash on and hang visible identification.
A black dog wearing a flat collar while playing fetch. (Source)
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. Another metal ring is for attaching the dog leash.
A greyhound wearing a Martingale collar. (Source)
Martingale Collars are as easy to put on as the flat collar, but it's difficult for dogs to slip off them. That's because a separate loop makes it tighten around the neck when the wearer tries to back out.
Unlike a choke collar, this won't tighten enough to strangle them or injure their trachea.
Collars Are Made With Different Materials
Two French bulldogs wearing different dog collars. (halahmoon - CC BY-ND 2.0)
Like dog clothes, collars come in a wide variety of materials. The most common is nylon, but there are also dog collars made of neoprene, leather, faux leather, and chain.
The choice would depend on what you think would be most comfortable for your pup. The cost would also be a huge consideration. Prices between these materials vary greatly.
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 closures are generally more durable. However, they take a bit more effort to put on and take off.
Finding The Right Size Dog Collar
A Golden Retriever puppy with an adjustable dog collar. (Source)
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.
Collar Styles and Designs
A huge selection of dog collar designs. (Bennilover - CC BY-ND 2.0)
Although the design doesn't affect its safety and functionality, it's a huge part of the fun in having a dog.
Selecting cool 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!