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There’s nothing quite like letting your dog change their “outfit” throughout the year. Perhaps not literally. After all, not every canine enjoys donning clothing. Little things, though, that shift depending on what’s going on with the seasons or upcoming holidays. Touches such as dog collars. Most pups tolerate wearing a collar without a problem. And you can find them in every color or pattern imaginable. But dog collars serve important safety functions, too. And you want to make sure you’re getting the best of both worlds.
What’s the primary function behind a dog collar? Protection. That attractive band holds important identification that becomes crucial in an emergency. Dog collars are where you attach ID tags and other relevant information. As Lady and the Tramp so eloquently stated, those tags are your dog’s, “Get out of jail free card.”
No one wants their dog to get lost, but if the worst happens, tags provide crucial information:
- Their name
- Your name
- Contact information
- Current rabies tag
- License (if required where you live)
- Insurance information (optional)
With all of that at their fingertips, a Good Samaritan can reunite you and your pup.
It puts that simple dog collar in a new perspective, doesn’t it?
Our Greyhound has an ID tag, her rabies tag, her license, the tag from the insurance company, AND an extra tag with contact information from the rescue we adopted her from. In a pinch, if no one can reach us, someone could call them for help. We wanted the biggest safety net possible. (Yes, they all jingle, but it’s worth it)
What About Walks?
Some people also use their dog’s collar to clip the leash to and go for walks. It isn’t wrong, but most veterinarians don’t recommend it. Harnesses are the preferred walking gear. And there are health reasons behind that:
- Pressure: If the collar catches on something or isn’t fitted properly, your dog may end up choking.
- Irritation: Most dogs wear their collars 24/7 (which makes sense as their ID tags are there). However, depending on the material of the collar, this can lead to skin issues.
- Injury: Dog collars are EASY to pull against. But all that pulling leads to trauma in the neck. This is especially a concern for breeds prone to collapsing trachea, such as Pugs and tiny breeds.
And if you have a sighthound, the average dog collar won’t work. These breeds have thicker necks than their heads. So the collar slides right off. This is why you often see these pups in something called a martingale. This style of collar features an extra loop that tightens, allowing for a better fit.
Choosing a Dog Collar
When you start looking for dog collars, the possibilities are endless. You can find ANY color in any design or pattern you can imagine. Have a sports team you love? There’s a collar for that. Want to celebrate a holiday or occasion? Not a problem. However, to keep your dog comfortable – and make sure the collar lasts for more than a photo session – you want to keep some features in mind.
- Size: If the collar slides off OR chokes your pup, it’s a no-go. Adjustable collars help, but you want to make sure you start with the correct size. Use a measuring tape to check your dog’s neck where it meets the shoulder (the widest part).
- Type: Do you want a standard dog collar or something more unique? Are you interested in training purposes? Every collar’s different, and you need the proper type.
- Material: Dog collars usually stay on. You want your dog to avoid skin irritation or (worse) infection. Look for hypoallergenic materials such as leather, nylon, or neoprene.
- Durability: No one wants to buy a new collar every other week. You want buckles that won’t break the first day and materials you can clean.
Fitting a Dog Collar
You want to make sure your dog’s comfortable in their collar. This goes double when you plan to leave that band in place at all times. Padded collars go a long way, but the proper fit is still best. Choosing the proper size in the first place will get you on the right foot. But you’ll likely need to make adjustments.
You want a snug fit that isn’t TOO tight. You should always be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. This allows your dog the proper level of comfort.
If you pick a natural material (i.e., leather), the collar WILL stretch over time. This is normal. However, it means you’ll need to adjust the fit. Check the collar periodically to prevent an accidental escape.
The Best Dog Collars
Typically, you don’t want to keep your dog in their harness full-time. And while cute, dog clothing doesn’t have attachment points for ID tags. Dog collars are the perfect compromise. They provide that crucial identity while not bothering the average pup. And you still get a chance to express your canine companion’s individual personality. It’s a win for everyone.
The Best Leather Dog Collars
There’s something rustic – and classic – about leather. It looks timeless while holding up in the durability category. And leather dog collars make popular choices for any pup. They don’t irritate the skin the way some materials might, and they’re hypoallergenic. You WILL need to monitor that fit over time, but at least you know the collar will endure weather and play. Just make sure you choose an option with soft edges or padding to prevent chafing – especially if you have a dog with short hair.
Any time you can combine identification information with a dog collar, you’re good. And Custom Catch adds in the bonus of six different colors – something you don’t usually see in leather options. They’ll engrave whatever text you want in different fonts, with the bonus of a bone, heart, or paw print (at no extra charge). They have four sizes to choose from, ranging from 8.5-22 inches.
Downsides? The closure is an ordinary belt buckle style. This makes it difficult to adjust. You’ll want to double-check those neck measurements. Also, if you have a giant breed dog? They’re not going to fit. And since the dog collar’s customized, you can’t return it if you decide it won’t work.
Sometimes leather collars can scrape a dog’s neck. Perri’s fixes that with a generous cushion of lambskin padding. Handcrafted by Amish in Pennsylvania, you’ll find five sizes ranging from 8-24 inches. And colors? Try FORTY-TWO different options! (Odds are ONE will appeal to you) The rivets and buckle come in brass or stainless steel, holding up to the elements and your dog’s usual activities without a problem. These dog collars look sleek, but they don’t command a hefty price.
The downsides? You get another belt buckle, so watch your measurements. And the D-ring is tight against that buckle which can make walks tricky if you choose to use the collar for that purpose. You’ll also need to keep the “handcrafted” part in mind. Sometimes sizing runs smaller or larger than expected. And this leather needs proper care. Otherwise, it cracks.
SoftTouch starts with leather and lines the inside with sheepskin. The result? A sleek dog collar that looks and feels luxurious. They tuck a dog tag ring right under the buckle, making sure your pup’s ID is a top priority. The sleek bands come in four sizes that range from 16-28 inches. And you have six two-tone color options to choose from. They don’t use ANY chemicals for tanning the leather, either. And best of all? You get a lifetime guarantee!
So what are the downsides? Yeah, the buckle. They caution you to leave a half-inch of “wiggle room” in your measurements, too. And while it’s nice that the D-ring’s NOT next to the buckle, it comes loose easily. Not a problem if you don’t plan to use the dog collar for walking, but keep it in mind. Also, this collar won’t work for smaller breeds.
The Best Nylon Dog Collars
Nylon dog collars are some of the most popular on the market. They offer the most colors and patterns, and they LAST. You can throw them in the washing machine when they collect dirt (or start to smell). They hold up against scratching doggie paws and rolls in the dirt. And they typically offer the most adjustability. When you want a dog collar that’ll stick with your dog through thick and thin, this is the material to look for.
If you have an active dog, Black Rhino has the dog collar for you. The outer nylon webbing dries fast while resisting the build-up of odors. And inside, there’s a comfortable layer of neoprene to cushion your dog’s neck. You also get reflective stitching to help your dog’s visibility during the early or late hours. The collars come in four sizes that range from 11-27 inches. And you have nine bright colors to pick from.
Downsides? As far as dog collars go, this is one of the more expensive options. There is a buckle closure, so you’ll need to get your measurements correct. Also, the D-ring sits behind the buckle. Not a huge issue unless you need to use the collar for walking.
Want the best adjustability out of your dog collar? Think Blueberry Pet. The high-density nylon webbing lasts through everyday activities. And each of the four sizes adjusts with the plastic slider. Whether you have a puppy or an adult, you can get the perfect fit in no time. And colors? You have TWENTY-ONE to choose from – and that’s in the SOLID option. Blueberry offers patterns, seasonal choices, and even customization. You’re sure to find something perfect.
The downsides? The D-ring’s chrome-coated metal, but the buckle’s plastic. Eventually, it’s going to break. And the nylon does start to fray over time, especially if your pup chews or scratches at it. However, this is an affordable dog collar, so it’s not difficult to replace.
Broken buckles are the bane of every dog collar. CollarDirect solves that problem. You can choose plastic OR metal buckles, and both come with handy slide locks. This keeps the collar firmly in place. The soft nylon webbing comes in three different color patterns that are sure to stand out in a crowd. And every one adjusts, no matter which of the five sizes you choose. If things get messy, you can easily toss the collar in the wash.
So what are the downsides? As nice as the lock IS, when you want to get the collar OFF, it’s a pain in the butt. Also, this is thin nylon. It may wear out faster than other dog collars.
Maybe you don’t want to worry about plastic pieces breaking. Country Brook Petz uses lightweight aluminum in their dog collars. The curved buckles are soft against your dog’s neck, but they lock tight. And every bit of the nylon is box-stitched to provide extra durability. They offer four different adjustable sizes that stretch from 11-26 inches. And you have TWENTY-SIX vibrant colors to choose from. They’re simple but elegant dog collars.
Downsides? The colors are amazing and stand out, but they’re NOT designed to hold against water. They’ll leach into your dog’s fur or out in the wash. The same goes for the finish on the metal. If the buckle gets too wet, it may start to erode the coating. This can make it difficult to open and close, OR it can lead to corrosion which may irritate your dog’s skin. Try to avoid watery conditions where possible.
Orvis is another dog collar that allows you to directly incorporate your pup’s ID information onto the band. They use non-fade nylon you can wash over and over again without a problem. Then they sonic-weld the seams to provide smooth edges (and help prevent fraying). The information you pick gets embroidered in clear letters in nine different color options. And that contrasts nicely with their ten collar color choices. They offer adjustable collars that come in five sizes, ranging between 10″ to 25″.
The downsides? If you don’t measure carefully, as you adjust the collar, you’re going to obscure the ID information. And even they warn you about limited space on the smaller sizes. It’s also a plastic buckle, so you’re prone to the usual breakage issues.
Strength is important in a dog collar, and Wolfgang Man & Beast pull-tests their collars to 800 pounds. (That doesn’t mean you should let your dog pull on it, but it’s nice to know) The welded seams keep the nylon from fraying, even when your dog scratches at it. Three adjustable sizes move from 8″-26″. And you get twelve colorful patterns to choose from. The collars are easy to clean with a little dish soap, too. And, best of all, you get a warranty to protect against manufacturing and material defects.
So what are the downsides? While pull-tested, the buckle’s still plastic. You’ll want to refrain from letting your dog chew on it.
The Best Unique Dog Collars
Sometimes you want something a little extra with your dog collar. No, not the ID tag (that’s a critical feature). Maybe it’s an LED light for when your dog hits the backyard for that final late-night visit. Or it could be a special feature you appreciate. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find a dog collar to suit your needs. You still want to make sure you’re keeping those key needs in mind, though. All the bells and whistles won’t matter if your dog’s uncomfortable.
Has your dog ever taken off for the darkest part of the yard? Illumiseen has the perfect solution. Their nylon adjustable collars come with LED fibers embedded! Then, with the click of a button, you can set the collar to three different modes: a steady light, rapidly flashing patterns, or a slow flash (or, you know, off). Even when it’s pitch-black outside, you’ll know exactly where your pup’s roving. Six different sizes range from 8.6″ up to 27.5″. And you can decide which neon light you want out of their six options.
Downsides? The LED requires a charge. It comes with a USB cord, and the collar lasts for five hours per charge. Kind of annoying when you want to leave a dog collar on all the time, though. And your dog gets an extra bulge against their neck where the battery resides. Also, it’s a plastic buckle. Try to take it easy.
Did you serve in the military? Did your DOG serve? OneTigris provides a unique dog collar that helps celebrate that honor. The heavy-duty nylon webbing comes in five camouflage-approved colors, with inner padding to keep your dog comfortable. It includes a Velcro patch for your dog’s name or their morale patch. And the double-buckle includes metal grommets. There are also two extra belt loops to keep any excess tucked in tight and out of the way. It’s the perfect option for any military pup.
The downsides? The D-ring isn’t contained as well as it could be. Not the worst, so long as you don’t use this dog collar for walking. The roller bar on the buckle can also slide around a lot, causing problems if you’re trying to get the collar in place. Go slow when you’re fastening things. And you only get two sizes geared for the big guys (it’s not meant as on offense – but little guys don’t usually serve).
“What Are You Wearing?”
Dog collars allow you to express your – or your dog’s! – personality. But, more than that, they form a nice net or protection. The collar is the anchor for their identity. You can attach all of the necessary tags a person may need to reunite the two of you in an emergency. Once you’ve performed that critical feat, then you can have fun picking colors or designs.
And who says you have to limit yourself to one? Our girl has FOUR already. Sure, we have to change her tags when we move from season to season, but a girl’s got to look good, right?