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Choosing a Dog Collar

Source: PetWave, Updated on October 27, 2016
Collar Selection Guide:

Consider Your Options

There are many restraints available for dogs from your veterinarian or pet store. The equipment should be sturdy enough so that it will not break if the dog lunges suddenly. It should also be comfortable for the pet, and only apply sensation when pressure is applied. They should be fitted and sized appropriately. Avoid oversized collars that will slip off or that have long dangling ends, or tight narrow collars that apply continuous pressure around the neck.

Common materials used in the manufacture of these products include synthetics (like nylon), leather, metal chain, or vinyl. If the dog will wear the restraint around at all times, like a regular buckle collar, it should be easy to clean, soft and flexible, and break if snagged on a fence, branch or other prominence. Leather is still a first choice because it meets these criteria, but leather products tend to be a bit more expensive. Leather is less durable, but with proper care and cleaning a good quality collar and leash will last for years.

With puppies, pay regular attention to the fit because they grow so quickly. A couple of fingers should slip in between the collar and neck, but when pulled towards the head, it should not slip off over the ears.


Halters are an excellent product, and recommended over choke collars for dogs that are inclined to pull or run away. The halter apparatus fits snugly over the head and when pressure is applied, it tightens around the muzzle. Controlling the dog by muzzle pressure mimics their mother's control methods, and is highly effective and very humane. They should not be left on for extended periods of time, but are highly recommended for big strong energetic dogs at walk time.

Choke Collars

Choke collars are the type of collar that slides on a metal ring so that when pressure is applied on the leash, the collar tightens. Though this is helpful for a dog that pulls, they are a strangling risk if it is left on when the dog is unattended. They should be fitted so the collar does not pinch the skin during traction. Chain collars are more likely to pinch than nylon. Collars with metal extensions that press on the neck during leash pressure are the most severe collars, and are not generally recommended. Properly leash training the dog will usually circumvent the need for extra control. Obedience classes are a great place to refine the response of the dog to commands.


Harnesses that place pressure on the back and chest area rather than the neck are often used for working (sled) dogs, and for dogs that have neck problems. For those dogs that are well leash trained and not inclined to run off after squirrels or other dogs, these provide good control and protect the neck from pressure. Many people place these on toy dog breeds to prevent pressure on the windpipe that can lead to coughing.

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