While frequenting dog parks or scrolling through social media, you’ve probably noticed the trendy gold dog chains frequently used as French bulldog collars or pit bull collars. If you’re the DIY type, you might have even considered making one for your own pup.
Before you dive into this new craft project, it helps to understand the different types of gold chains for dogs, which are the easiest to make, and which are the best ones to have.
Different Types of Gold Chain Collars
Dog gold chains come in different types, each with its own purpose. Here are the most common types used for dogs, so you can understand which you really want to have:
1) Plastic Gold Dog Chain
A plastic copy of the Cuban link.
Plastic gold dog chains can be a suitable large dog necklace if all you need it for is a one-off costume. They’re cheap and good enough for some snaps, but aren’t made to last for more than a couple of uses.
2) Choker Chain Dog Collar
A gold version of the typical dog choker chain.
The choker chain dog collar is mainly used for training. With the popularity of the gold chain, some manufacturers have upgraded the design by offering gold-colored choker chains.
3) Martingale Gold Chain Collar
A chain link Martingale dog collar.
The Martingale is generally considered as a safer and more humane version of the choker chain. It can be made completely out of links or a combination of metal links and fabric. Either way, these are considered functional collars rather than fashionable ones.
4) Cuban Link Dog Chain
The Spark Paws Cuban Link Dog Gold Chain Collar.
The Cuban link dog chain became incredibly popular as a dog necklace. As the trend continued, designers were able to develop a version that perfectly balances form (beautiful design and craftsmanship) and function (strength and durability). So, if you find a well made one, you can actually use it as a dog collar and you and your best bud can stroll along and strut your stuff without having to worry about it snapping off.
How Cuban Link Chains for Dogs are Made
Jeweler Bobby White making a gold Cuban chain from scratch.
Although the Cuban dog collar is the style that’s all the rage, it doesn’t make for a good DIY project because making them requires specialized equipment and machinery. Plus, it involves a certain level of skill and craftsmanship to achieve the same polished look as you can get from legitimate manufacturers, not to mention a good enough quality to be safely used as a dog collar.
Nevertheless, if you’re curious or would actually like to give it a go, here are the steps involved in making a Cuban link dog chain:
Step 1: Making Links
- Take some stainless steel wire of at least 1/8-inch thickness.
- Using a blowtorch, anneal the wire just enough to coil it tightly around a metal cylinder.
- Use a jeweler’s saw to slice through the coil and separate it into individual links.
Step 2: Creating the Chain
- Attach each link to the other to make a chain.
- Fit the resulting chain around your dog’s neck. If it’s too short, you’ll need to make more links to add to your chain.
- When your chain is long enough, use a soldering iron to solder each link shut. Take your time as you do this and see to it that every link is flush and secured. The strength of your dog collar is heavily dependent on how well you do this step. Plus, make sure you don’t solder separate links together or it won’t have the same slinky movement of a genuine Cuban chain.
- Use a metal file to clean up the soldered areas.
Step 3: Creating the Iconic Cuban Facets
- Once all surfaces are smooth, use a vice grip to hold the chain on one end and then twist the other end so that all the links are aligned. It will take some strength, but it’s essential for you to keep twisting it until it becomes flat. If the metal is already too hard for this to work, you can anneal it carefully and make it more pliable.
- Place the flattened chain on a wooden surface and screw each end down.
- File the surface of the chain to make the facets that the Cuban links are best known for. Take care to do this evenly throughout the chain and on both sides.
- After filing, use a sander to ensure a smooth surface.
Step 4: Attaching a Locking Clasp
- Solder a pre-made box clasp on each end or make one yourself using stainless steel sheets. Test the hold to make sure that it won’t snap off while in use.
- Check the fit again to make sure that it fits correctly and make adjustments as necessary.
Step 5: Gold Plating
- When you’ve finalized the chain, it’s time to plate it gold.
- Wash the dog chain thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
- Find a suitable rack that will allow you to dip it in the several solutions required for gold plating.
- The exact gold plating process depends on the electroplating machine you have. Generally it starts with alkaline electro-cleaning to get rid of any remaining dirt, oil, and impurities.
- Rinse it with fresh water before soaking it in the activator, or the solution that prepares metals for gold plating.
- After another fresh water rinse, rinse it in distilled water before placing it in the electroplating solution.
- Run the machine long enough to get at least half a micron of coating.
- Once done, rinse the now gold dog chain in distilled water and dry it with a soft cloth.
- If needed, polish it gently with jewelry cloth. Do not use a polisher, as it will only strip off the gold plating.
A dog chain collar is no longer the crude training aid it once was. Now, the upgraded design has made it a fashionable piece of dog jewelry that’s in vogue among the most stylish pet owners. Knowing the steps behind the creation of a good quality Cuban link dog chain gives you a better appreciation of it as a designer piece of dog jewelry. It definitely takes the skill of an artisan to get this right. But once you have the perfectly crafted piece for your dog, it should last a lifetime.