The Ultimate Dog Collar Guide [2021]

Red Gold Series Dog Collar and Gold Dog Chain

Gone are the days when you would just buy the first dog collar you found. A dog collar may seem like a simple purchase – but if you’re obsessed with your dog as much as we are, you know that’s not the case. They’re an essential part of your dog’s wardrobe and that takes some serious thought.

Your dog will probably wear their collar 24/7. So you’ll no doubt want it not only look good but to also be functional, comfortable and durable.

Collars play more of a role in a dog’s behaviour than us dog owners tend to think. Certain studies have found a correlation between the excitability and aggression in a dog to how they interact with their owners. Dogs who pull and behave unpredictably experience the most reprimand, especially when their lead or collars are difficult to use when trying to control them, the owners might have a more demanding attitude towards their dogs – but understandably so. With the correctly fitted collar, controlling the dog becomes an easier task which therefore allows for the relationship between the owner and the dog also becomes less strained and more rewarding.

Dogs are more popular now that ever before and so is accessorising them. With the e-commerce boom, we’ve seen a huge influx in products available for our much loved companions.
Before dog ownership, collars never really seemed that complicated did they? But that first shopping expedition for the perfect collar suddenly started becoming quite confusing.

In this article we aim to help you make an informed decision on the best collar to suit both you and your dogs needs.

Table of contents

  1. It’s a legal requirement
  2. When should you buy your dog a collar
  3. How to measure your dogs neck
  4. Can a dog collar be too loose?
  5. Dog Collars for Puppies
  6. Dog Collars for Miniature Breed Dogs
  7. Dog Collars for Small Breed Dogs
  8. Dog Collars for Medium Breed Dogs
  9. Dog Collars for Large Breed Dogs
  10. Types of Dog Collar Explained
    Tactical Collars
    Polyester Collars
    Chain Collars
    Leather Collars
    BioThane Collars
    Prong Collars
    Halter Collars
    Martingale Collars
    Choke Chains
    Shock Collars
  11. Summary

Firstly, It’s a Legal Requirement

Not many people are aware of this but it is a legal requirement for dogs to wear a collar in public. By law, when a dog is in a public place, it must wear a collar and an identity tag. This is for the dogs and everyone else’s safety. Controlling a dog without a collar is a very difficult and sometimes dangerous task. Anyway, it’s time to move into why you’re here…

When should you buy your dog a collar?

You should buy a dog collar for your dog or puppy straight away. Puppies and dogs that aren’t used to wearing collars will need some time to adjust and get used to their new accessory.
The dog collar is quite an important item to have in your arsenal as it is literally the enabler of many things that you would want to do with your dogs. From protecting your dog to allowing others to locate it, these benefits can be a lifesaver at times too.


How to measure your dogs neck

What neck size is your dog? We need to establish this first so we can accurately find the best collar. You wouldn’t shop for clothes without knowing your size would you?! Below we’ve outlined some useful steps on how to measure your dogs neck depending on what you have to hand.

Using a fabric tape measure

It’s import to get the correct measurement of your dog’s neck size before ordering a new collar. The best and most accurate way is to use a fabric tape measure. This allows you to accurately measure the circumference of your dogs neck.

Always ensure that the size you purchase is larger than your dog’s neck, but smaller than their overall head size. This will prevent the collar from slipping off.

Measuring your dogs neck size using a cable or string

This can be easily done by grabbing nearby cable or piece of string and measuring either the centre or the smaller area of your dogs neck up behind the ears. If you measure the thicker area by the shoulders the collar may not adjust smaller and it will slip over your dogs head. Please ensure to leave enough space so it’s not too tight (two fingers between the collar and neck should suffice). After you have done this then just use a tape measure to measure the cable or string and get your dogs neck size.

Measure around the centre of the neck

How to measure using their current collar

If you already have a collar that fits perfectly but you don’t know the size. Here’s a very quick guide on how to find that measurement. Do not measure end to end.  This is a very common mistake that will lead to you measuring too large.

Measure from the arrow indicated below on the ‘male’ end of the buckle (This is where the end of the female side of the connector meets the male side) to the female end of the collar as displayed in the second image or to the hole you’re currently using.

Male connector
Female connector

Can a dog collar be too loose?

Yes it can! A dog collar generally only has three purposes:

  1. Keeping your dogs tag connected
  2. Connect a lead for a walk
  3. Gaining control of your dog in a dangerous situation

Although over time dog collars have become more than just a function piece of dog wear, the basics still remain. It’s important to ensure your dogs collar is the correct fit so your dog doesn’t slip free during a walk or while playing etc. But how tight should a dog collar be?

A normal dog collar should be snug but not too tight, there is a rule called “the two finger rule”. In this rule you take your index and middle fingers and slide them in between your dog’s collar and neck, if your fingers slide in easily but feel snug the collar is the perfect fit. If your fingers can’t get in the collar is too tight, and if your fingers are free to move about once inserted the collar is too loose and will need to be a little tighter.


Dog Collars for Puppies

So you’ve taken the plunge, you’ve bought the cutest little ball of love! – A new puppy is one of life’s greatest joys. That said, they require a lot of work, too. You have to buy dog bowls, beds, leashes, toys, food, medicine — and, of course, dog collars. You obviously need something to attach their lead to once they’re ready to start exploring the world. But what should you look for? What are the best collars for puppies?

The three biggest things to consider are Comfort, Durability, and Size.

Comfort

You want your puppies collar to be comfortable so your pup doesn’t hate wearing it. Puppies don’t naturally love collars, it’s a new and strange thing for them to have around their neck. It takes some getting used to. To help with this, look for fabrics like soft Nylon or Polyester which are comfortable and soft for your puppy. This will allow them to become accustomed to wearing a collar.

Durability

Puppies and dogs in general tend to have a habit of damaging things with minimal effort!  Durability-wise, you want to ensure the collar you choose is constructed with high-quality materials and well-sewn stitching to make sure it survives past the first few walks and chews!

Size

Puppies grow so fast! Most of them finishing their growing in approximately 12 months so you can imagine just how quickly they can out grow their collars. You’ll want to make sure the collar you choose is not only the correct size for them now, but also ensure it’s easily adjustable so it continues to fit them through some of their first growing stages.


Dog Collars for Miniature Breed Dogs

Choosing a collar for miniature dog breeds is especially difficult as they can be sensitive to the right choice. A traditional collar and lead could actually injure small dogs when they go for a walk. A young more energetic or anxious dog can very easily get carried away and yank on the collar which could cause harm to themselves.

Choosing the correct collar for a miniature breed requires researching the correct material, size, collar width, and other factors that can help protect the structure of a small-bodied dog. In most instances you may find that for walking purposes a harness may be a safer option (we’ll write an article on that soon). A good harness can keep certain high pressures from straining parts of the dog’s neck and torso so that the dog can be controlled without causing damage.

Miniature breeds have relatively delicate features that should be taken into consideration when looking for a collar that will best suit their needs. Collars should be substantial enough to provide support and guidance while walking, but these should also have some softness and flexibility to maximise your dogs comfort. After just a little research, dog owners will find that padded nylon collars work the best for smaller dog breeds. These offer great support but also also incredibly soft and forgiving.


Dog Collars for Small Breed Dogs

Gold Dog Chain Frenchie Brindle

Small dog breed such as French Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers have taken the world by storm recently, with their quirky larger than life personalities packing inside a cute little package! What’s not to love?

Small dogs that are not a brachycephalic breed (Squashed faced) can have a wide variety of collars without a worry. The main thing to focus on is what’s going to be comfortable and offer the correct amount of support for your dog. Collars that range from 2.5cm – 4cm will probably be most suitable for small dogs. It’s the perfect balance between style and support. Anything wider than 4cm will most likely hinder their nature neck movements. Think of it like wearing a neck brace!

For brachycephalic breeds such as French Bulldogs that can experience difficulties breathing we must approach with caution. Using collars on these breed is not recommended if the puppy hasn’t been taught to walk on the lead obediently. Harnesses are a much better choice since they provide better support to a dog’s body while keeping your dogs neck and spine in a proper position and prevent any restriction on their windpipe.


Dog Collars for Medium Breed Dogs

Blue Staffy Yellow Tactical Collar

Medium dog breeds such as Staffies, Pocket American Bullies, Bulldogs and Beagles. These dogs are not the biggest in the world but they certainly have enough power to make out walks interesting – especially if they suddenly decide they want to play or chase something!

The great things about medium sized dog breeds is that they are a very common size so you’ll often find they have the widest choice of collars available.

Choosing a collar for a medium sized dog comes down to the basics (which keeps it really simple). It’s first worth considering what collar would suit your dogs needs. So if they are a big puller or you’re always trying to catch them over the park, then a more function collar such as a tactical collar with a handle could be useful.

If you think your dog is pretty well behaved and could benefit from something a little fancier you could opt for a Cuban chain. They come in a variety of finishes to suit every dog.

If you’re undecided then we actually have a range of collars called the Gold Series which pair the functionality of a tactical collar with a touch of luxury by using gold heavy duty buckles and gold accents.


Dog Collars for Large Breed Dogs

Larger dogs will always need a more secure and safe collar to ensure they’re comfortable and controlled. There are several areas that we will cover here which will help you make the correct decision on a collar.

So firstly we need to discuss durability, you need to ensure the collar you choose is built to last and will withstand any pulling from your dog.

We would highly recommend a collar that is make from a durable material such as Nylon and ideally with a metal buckle or fixing. Although metal buckles are hard to find, they are worth it as plastic buckles can easily break or become damaged over time from a powerful dog.

To give you a good idea of a collar that would be suitable for a large dog please see our range of tactical collars. These collars are ideal for all large breed and powerful dogs.

Secondly, you need to consider the impact on your dogs windpipe if they are big pullers. A wide collar will spread the load across a larger part of their neck which will reduce the impact on their windpipe. This is incredibly important for large dogs as there is a tremendous amount of force that is exerted on their necks when lunging for a cat for trying to play with another dog. A common width for large collars tends to be 2″ / 5cm. This offers a great balance of style and practicality.


Types of Dog Collar Explained

Tactical Dog Collars

Red Gold Series Dog Collar

A tactical collar is a term used to describe a variety of dog collars that predominately focus around being a practical solution for dog handling and working dogs. They often feature uprated components such as heavy duty buckles and more durable materials.

It becomes even more important to choose the correct hardware when you have a strong dog breed or a dog that loves to pull. That’s why many owners are now looking to higher quality products. Dog collar failure is not something you want to experience at a busy road or when your loved one spots a cat! A strong dog can snap a weak dog collar made with cheap hardware and leave you standing with an empty lead.

What is the difference between a tactical dog collar and regular collar?

Tactical Collars – These are predominantly wider and are mainly made from dense nylon which is known for its incredible strength and durability. The collar will often feature a handle alongside a heavy duty metal buckle or a double roller buckle.

Regular Collars – Normally thinner and made from polyester and are secured with a plastic clip. These collars are mainly made to a budget and are not designed for bigger and more powerful dogs.

Whether your current dog collar has failed you or you would like to remove the risk of a possible dog collar failure, tactical collars are always an excellent choice for maximum durability and safety.

Pros

  • Strong and durable
  • Extra control with a handle

Cons

  • Not a mainstream style yet
  • Can be too bulky for small breeds

Click Here to read a more indepth article on Tactical Collars


Polyester Dog Collars

Polyester dog collars are a great entry level product which are affordable and for the most part, enough for the basic dog owner. These care the types of collars you’ll find in main high street pet shops. These collars certainly have a place in the market, but let’s be honest, you’re not a basic dog owner! That’s why you’re here!
Polyester collars come in a wide variety of colours, sizes and patterns. They often feature regular plastic clips as this allows the price point to be as competitive as possible.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Wide variety of designs and sizes

Cons

  • Can break easily

Chain Dog Collars

Frenchie Silver Dog Chain Collar

Cuban link style dog chains have become a very popular style of dog chain in recent years. They come in three main sizes, 25mm, 32mm and 43mm (XL). These chains are predominantly for fashion purposes which serve as an excellent accessory for a fashion conscious dog.

25mm

The 25mm is the smallest dog chain collar we currently offer (although we do have a range of dog necklaces which are a great fashion accessory for all dogs great and small.)
25mm chain collar is ideal for dogs such as Frenchies and Pugs. The 25mm sizes range from 10″/25.4cm – 22″/55.9cm with an average weight of 400g.

32mm

The 32mm Chain is the most popular size which is ideal for dogs such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bullies, Dobermans and Rottweilers.
The 32mm sizes mainly range from 16″/40.6cm – 28″/71.1cm with an average weight of 850g

43mm (XL)

The 43mm (also know as the XL) is very much a statement piece. This size was introduced to give your dog that extra wow factor! These chains are absolutely huge and are certainty not for the faint hearted.
The 43mm XL Dog Chains are available for neck sizes of 18″/45.3cm to 30″/76.2cm with an average weight of 1200g – Yes 1.2kg! – Please bear in mind how heavy this is before adorning your dog with one.

Pros

  • Water Resistant
  • Unique look

Cons

  • Not ideal for every day use

Leather Dog Collars

Leather dog collars have been a huge part of dog ownership for many years. Historically leather was primarily the only material widely available for dog collars and they were always the premium offering in terms of dog wear – often adorned in studs and metal fixings.

While many people still love leather dog collars, times are changing which is seeing a natural decline in leather products. Dog owners are now looking for more ethical products and with a much wider selection of dog neck wear available, leather dog collars are not the only choice for a premium dog collar anymore.

Pros

  • Hard wearing
  • Premium look and feel
  • Often includes uprated buckles
  • Wide selection of colours and embellishments such as studs

Cons

  • Requires maintenance to keep in top condition
  • Unethical
  • Expensive

BioThane Dog Collars

BioThane is actually the brand name of coated webbing products made by BioThane Coated Webbing Corp. It’s basically a polyester webbing with a TPU or PVC coating that makes it more durable, waterproof, easy to clean and weldable.

While, technically, a collar is not “Biothane” unless it’s made using materials sold by this particular company.
There are several nylon-coated webbing products out there though that are either referred to as a “Biothane” or just “coated webbing” collars etc.

In comparison to Leather, BioThane is more durable, cleanable, stronger and easier to maintain. It is also readily available in different colours. This makes ti a great choice for any dog parent.

Pros

  • Large selection of colours
  • Can often feature uprated metal buckles and clips
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Not as practical as a tactical collar
  • There basic style may not stand out enough.

Prong Dog Collars

Firstly it is important to understand how prong collars work. ‘Prong’ or ‘Pinch’ collars are based on the principle of applying something painful or frightening to stop an undesirable behaviour – very simply, when a dog pulls on the lead, the prongs of the collar close around the neck which can cause pain or discomfort which reduces the chance of the dog pulling on the lead again. Research has shown that aversive training techniques, like prong collars, can cause pain and distress and can compromise dog welfare. Which is really undesirable if you want a happy dog!

Now while the use of a prong collar can help with a dog that behaves in an undesirable way when on a lead. It must be noted that unless the prong collar stops the dog from pulling and lurching the collar can be incredibly damaging to a dogs neck. In  ideal world, the collar would act as a deterrent for the dog and no longer pull. If this isn’t the case and you will need to ensure your dog has the correct obedience training either by yourself or a professional.

You are most likely reading this because your dog pulls on the lead, is lead reactive or you can’t control your dog on lead, right? – If you are struggling, please take the time to consult a professional who can help you and your dog build a trusting and fun relationship with walks. – If you do not have the money for a trainer you can find a whole range of videos on YouTube that will guide you through variety of issues you may be facing with your dog.

We strongly believe that you shouldn’t need to use a prong collar in the long term with the correct training.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Could be a quick fix to a big puller

Cons

  • Can harm your dog
  • Frowned upon in certain countries such as the UK
  • Won’t correct underlying behavioural issues

Halter Collar

This type of collar goes across the dog’s head and muzzle, allowing you to keep their nose off the ground. As such, this collar is suitable for obedience training, amongst others. Your dog should pay better attention to you with this kind of collar as you can manage the direction of their muzzle. However, it takes time for your dog to get accustomed to this collar, so patience, time, and treats are needed.

Not every dog is a candidate for a head halter, but the devices are valuable in certain training situations. Dogs with aggression issues are one example where head halters may be recommended. Owners with limited physical ability walking a difficult dog can also better control the dog with a halter than with other collars and harnesses. The halter minimises forward motion such as pulling while giving directional control. The dog walker can pull upwards gently which will close the dog’s mouth, which can be useful to control nipping and mouthing. When the halter is used in combination with suitable training like loose-lead walking, it can be an excellent transitional training collar to be used temporarily to teach a particular behaviour.

Opponents of head halters note the possibility of damaging the neck of the dog. If allowed to run forward you could can snap their head back as they reach the end of the lead. There is also the possibility for misuse of the halter if jerking corrections are made. Head halters that fit too tightly could potentially also cause eye damage or rub fur off the muzzle. Some dogs can also become distressed or depressed from the halter, especially if gradual adjustment to the collar is not made. Lots of positive reinforcement is integral when introducing a halter.

Pros

  • Can correct difficult walkers
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Can cause irritation to your dogs muzzle
  • Improper use could injure your dog
  • Can take a long time for your dog to adjust to
  • Limited designs

The Right Fit

When the head halter is used properly, it can be a safe and effective tool. Dogs should be gradually accustomed to wearing the head halter by encouraging them to put their nose through the muzzle loop of their own free will. The fitting should be associated with treats and should only be done over a period of time as the dog remains relaxed. If the fitting is done right, the dog better tolerates wearing the head halter, because it’s associated with reward.


Martingale Collars

Martingale dog collars are also known as greyhound, whippet or humane choke collars. The martingale dog collar was created for Sighthounds because their necks are larger than their heads which would allow them to often slip out of buckle collars. These collars have gained popularity among owners of other breeds recently with some trainers now recommending them instead of choke chains or traditional collars.

A martingale collar uses two loops. The larger loop is slipped onto the dog’s neck and a lead is then clipped to the smaller loop. When the dog tries to pull, the tension on the lead pulls the small loop taut, which makes the large loop smaller and tighter on the neck, thus preventing escape. When correctly fitted, the collar will be comfortably loose whenever the dog is not pulling against the lead.

Pros

  • Great for dogs with small heads
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Limited designs
  • Could prove difficult if your dog stubbornly wants to walk in another direction

Choke Chain Dog Collars

Like the prong collar mentioned about, these exert pressure on the dog’s neck that increases as the dog pulls. The difference here is that, while a prong collar has an endpoint of pressure, a choke collar can continually tighten the more a dog pulls, which can lead to a potentially unsafe or even deadly situation if the dog becomes stuck or trapped. These collars should only be used for training and should not be used as an everyday type of collar.

The use of choke collars has been associated with whiplash, fainting, spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis, crushing of the trachea with partial or complete asphyxiation to name a few.

With consistent training, patience and positive reinforcement, your dog shouldn’t need a choke chain and walks can be a pleasant experience for both human and dog.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Can stop your dog pulling

Cons

  • Can damage your dogs windpipe
  • Cannot be used on small breed or brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs


Shock Dog Collars

Shock collars are often used to curb a variety of stubborn and unwanted behaviours, from excessive barking to food aggression, as well as to train pups to stay safely within a property line or to stick close by while off leash.
The shock administered by an approved shock collar is safe, so while it is certainly enough to get your dog’s attention and deter certain behaviours, it won’t do any lasting physical harm.


With most shock collars, there are several levels of enforcement, so you can set the level to reprimand the unwanted behaviour accordingly. For example, many shock collars will administer a beep or vibration as a warning before an actual shock is delivered to your dog. The beep also allows you to give a verbal command (“Stop” or “Leave”) with the warning beep or vibration to further disrupt the unwanted behaviour.

Once set to “shock” mode, there are usually varying levels of intensity delivered by a two-pronged device attached to a dog collar. If you’re using a shock collar as a barking deterrent, the collar responds to the vibration of your dog’s vocal cords. If you’re using the collar to deter behavioural issues like food aggression, jumping or leash aggression, a remote control allows you to administer the shock in conjunction with the unwanted behaviour.

Click Here to read a more indepth article on Shock Collars
 

Pros

  • Can correct some behavioural issues
  • Frowned upon in most countries

Cons

  • Can create a negative association with your dog
  • Not a quick fix

Summary

As you can see, there’s a lot to choosing the right dog collar. To put it simply, there’s not a one size fits all solution. Each dog and owner have different requirements both in practicality and design.

When making a decision on a collar it’s very important to take your dogs breed and behaviour into consideration. A calmer dog is always easier to shop for as essentially the collar has a lot less work to do compared to a very powerful or energetic dog.

If you still have some questions please feel free to contact us below: