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How To Choose The Best Collar For Your Dog

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A collar is one of the first supplies you’ll buy for a dog. Not only do collars provide style, but they can also keep dogs safe by holding their information in case they get lost. Even though every dog parent has some type of collar for their pup, not all collars are created equal. Some collars are better for certain situations, breeds, and lifestyles. So, it’s up to you to choose which collar type is best for your dog. In some cases, your dog may benefit from having more than one type of collar that they switch between.

Types of Dog Collars

1. Flat Collars

These are the classic or standard collars for dogs. They’re usually made of nylon with an easy-on, easy-off snap known as a quick-release buckle. It’s the perfect everyday collar for dogs of all sizes. The clip closure makes it great for playful pups because if anything goes wrong during a play session, you can easily remove the collar for your pup’s safety.

Here are some great flat collars:

Springer Dog Collar
  • Waterproof exterior
  • Made of soft, lightweight PolyFlex
  • Includes a safe-release clip
  • Comes in several sizes and colors

This Springer product is perfect for all types of dogs. It’s available in four sizes and four colors, allowing you to choose an option that fits your dog’s style and preferences. It has a safe-release buckle for easy use and a sturdy D-ring to hold your dog’s identification tags. Plus, it’s made with a waterproof material so it’s easy to keep clean. Whether you need an everyday collar or one for outdoor adventures, this collar can do the trick.

GoTags Personalized Dog Collars
  • Personalize it with your number and your dog’s name
  • Choose from several colors, text colors, and sizes
  • Made of premium-grade nylon
  • Includes an easy-to-use clip

GoTags collars are unique because they allow you to personalize them. You can get your dog’s name and your number embroidered right into the collar so you don’t have to worry about loud ID tags. You can further customize it by choosing the size, collar color, and text color. Each collar is made with premium-grade nylon and has an easy-to-use clip for taking it on and off effortlessly.

2. Buckle Collars

Buckle collars are a traditional style similar to flat collars. However, their closure type is different because it closes like a belt instead of just snapping closed. These collars are often more durable because they won’t easily come off, making your dog’s ID tags likely to stay with them if they get lost. However, this could pose safety risks for dogs since the collar isn’t easy to remove in an emergency. Thus, this collar is only ideal if worn under supervision.

Here’s one of the best buckle collars:

CollarDirect Padded Leather Collar
  • Made of durable, handmade leather
  • Has strong brass buckle
  • Buckle has six holes for adjustments
  • Comes in several colors and sizes

This leather collar is both stylish and secure. It has quality hardware to prevent it from slipping off your dog’s neck. Plus, with six holes for the buckle to adjust to, you can change the length of the collar as needed. This collar has a brown exterior, but you can choose between six vibrant interior colors. It also comes in four sizes that vary in thickness.

3. Tactical Dog Collars

The term “tactical” is typically used to describe extremely durable collars. They often have double stitching and heavy-duty buckles. They’re meant to withstand wear and tear even for adventurous pets, such as those who regularly exercise outdoors. If you have an active, large breed dog, you may want to find a tactical collar to ensure the product’s longevity.

Here’s one of the best tactical dog collars:

Spark Paws Tactical Dog Collars
  • Made of triple-stitched premium nylon
  • Includes handle for easy control
  • Quick-release buckle makes it easy to use
  • Comes in a variety of sizes and color patterns

Spark Paws sells a variety of tactical dog collars, many of which come with vibrant color patterns. The collars are made with triple-stitched premium nylon to ensure they last. Yet, even though they’re so strong, they’re still padded to provide comfort to your furry friend. Each collar also includes a handle so you can easily control your dog in emergencies and work on proper training. Its quick-release buckle makes it easy to take the collar on and off without it coming undone while your dog is active.

4. Breakaway Collars

Breakaway collars put safety as the top priority. They’re designed to pop off your dog if the collar gets stuck on something, preventing the collar from choking your dog. These collars are best for when your dog is unsupervised or when they’re playing with other dogs. That way, if a dog grabs onto their collar or if their collar gets caught on something when you’re not home, they won’t get strangled in the process. However, these collars may not be ideal for everyday situations since you wouldn’t want them popping off during a walk or another situation where your dog could easily get lost. Yet, some have special features so you can use them as a normal collar when needed.

Here’s one of the best dog breakaway collars:

PetSafe KeepSafe Breakaway Dog Collar
  • Has normal clip and breakaway clip
  • Comes off in emergencies if too much pressure is applied
  • Walk your dog by clipping to both D-rings
  • Available in several colors and sizes

The PetSafe KeepSafe collar can prevent your dog from choking in emergencies. It has a normal clip for taking it on and off, but it also has a breakaway clip that will open if the collar is pulled on too hard. It’s the ideal collar for leaving on your dog when they’re unsupervised because it will break off if it gets stuck on something. However, you can still use it for walks by clipping the leash to the two D-rings surrounding the breakaway clip. When purchasing it, you can choose between three colors, three lengths, and two widths.

5. Martingale Collars

Martingale collars are perfect for training and safety. These collars have two loops, allowing them to tighten slightly if your dog pulls. However, they won’t tighten as much as a choke collar, so you can ensure that your dog will be comfortable with one of these collars on. These collars were designed for dogs with small heads because these products prevent the collars from sliding off the dog’s neck. So, they can be used to prevent dogs from escaping while leashed. Plus, many trainers use them as a way to more easily redirect dogs that get distracted or pull during walks.

Here are some great martingale collars:

PetSafe Martingale Collar with Quick Snap Buckle
  • Slightly tightens without choking your dog
  • Made of soft nylon
  • Recommended by vets and trainers
  • Available in several colors and sizes

This collar is made of a soft nylon material to gently tighten when your dog pulls. It has a quick-snap clip on one side so you can easily take it on and off when needed. Many vets and trainers recommend it as a safe alternative to a choke collar. Thus, it can be an effective training tool, especially for leash walking. You can choose between five colors and five sizes, but you should look closely at the size chart before making a purchase.

Max and Neo Stainless Steel Chain Martingale Collar
  • Made of nylon and stainless steel chain
  • Perfect for humane training
  • Includes locking buckle for safety
  • Comes in several sizes and colors

The Max and Neo martingale collar is made of nylon and then uses a stainless steel chain as the loop. So, the chain may make a sound when tightened, which can be used as a training cue. It has a locking buckle to prevent accidental release while still being easy to put on and take off. There’s also a small loop where you can attach your dog’s ID tags. With five sizes and seven colors, you’ll be able to choose one that suits your dog perfectly.

6. Harnesses

Some dog parents prefer harnesses over collars. It’s common to use both: a collar for holding ID tags and a harness for walking. However, you can put your dog’s tags on the harness to eliminate the need for a collar. Just remember that there are lots of harnesses out there, so you’ll need to find one that’s the right size for your dog, is made of a comfortable material, doesn’t easily slip off, and doesn’t choke your dog when they pull. While a harness can reduce the pressure on your dog’s throat, you should still work on training your dog on proper leash manners.

Here are some great harnesses

Rover Gear Better Walk No-Pull Dog Harness
  • Padded fabric harness
  • Attach leash to front or back
  • Labels on harness make it easy to put on
  • Available in several sizes and colors

For a more comfortable walking experience, the Rover Gear Better Walk Harness can reduce pulling. You can attach the leash to the back like a normal harness or you can attach it to the front to turn your dog toward you if they pull too much. Both spots can also be used to hold your dog’s identification tags. Plus, it’s easy to put on your dog because certain parts are labeled, such as “back” and “belly.” This harness comes in seven sizes and seven colors, offering you a variety of options to choose from.

Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness
  • Attach a leash to the front or back
  • Includes reflective stitching and a padded interior
  • Easy to use with two fast-release buckles
  • Available in a variety of colors and sizes

The Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness is one of the harnesses with the most reviews on Amazon, which is likely due to its durability, safety, and style. You can choose to clip your dog’s leash onto the front or back of the harness, and clipping to the front gives it a no-pull design to help with training. The durable fabric has reflective stitching for added safety, and the interior is soft and breathable for comfort. Available in five sizes and 14 colors, this harness can be beneficial for dogs of all breeds.

7. Halter / Head Collars

These gentle but effective contraptions loop around the dog’s snout to apply gentle pressure when they try to pull on walks. However, because of the placement, it doesn’t take much tension for dogs to correct themselves. Thus, like martingales, these collars are another safe alternative to choke collars. Head collars are a great option for pup parents who have strong pullers, especially if they’ve tried everything else. The tricky thing about a halter is that it may be tough for some dogs to get used to, so spend some time training your dog and associating the halter with treats or other positive reinforcements.

Here’s one of the best head collars:

PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar
  • Safe and humane way to prevent pulling
  • Designed by veterinary behaviorist
  • Includes quick-snap strap and padding
  • Available in a variety of colors and sizes

The PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar is a safe and humane way to prevent your dog from pulling during walks. It was designed by a veterinary behaviorist, so you can feel confident using it. Even though it rests across your dog’s nose, it still allows them to eat, drink, and play fetch without any issues. It has a quick-snap strap for easy use and the interior is padded for your pup’s comfort. It’s available in eight colors and five sizes, so there’s plenty of variety.

8. Smart / GPS Collars

Smart collars are unique because they have features to keep your dog safe, such as GPS tracking and health monitoring. Most of these collars can be linked to an app so while your dog is wearing the collar, you’ll be able to see their location and activity log at all times. Unfortunately, these collars are typically bulkier than regular collars, but they can be a great way to prevent dogs from getting lost. If your dog is an escape artist or if you just want to be extra cautious, you may want to consider investing in one of these high-end collars.

Here are some great smart collars:

SpotOn GPS Dog Fence
  • Create up to 20 virtual fences with this collar
  • Check your dog’s location using the app
  • Collar will emit a tone when your dog gets too close to the boundary
  • Available in three sizes
  • Get $50 off at SpotOn with code IHEARTDOGS

The SpotOn GPS Collar might be bulkier than a regular dog collar, but that’s because it has a lot of life-saving benefits for your furry friend. With this device, you can create up to 20 virtual fences so you can keep your dog contained at home or on the go. If your dog gets too close to the boundaries, the collar will emit a tone to let them know and you can check your dog’s location using the app. However, you’ll need to spend time training your dog where the boundaries are before you let them free in the space.

Tractive GPS Dog Tracker
  • Small, lightweight device attaches to dog’s collar
  • Use the app to see your dog’s location
  • Tracks your dog’s sleep and exercise
  • Long battery life

While not technically a collar, this device can attach to your dog’s collar to track their location and activity. This tracker is compact and lightweight, so it won’t bother your dog to wear it all day. Using the app, you can see your dog’s location at all times, helping you find them faster if they get lost. The app will also show your dog’s sleep and exercise behaviors to help you better monitor their health and wellness. Plus, with a long battery life, this tracker can go for over a week without needing to be charged.

9. Choke, Shock, or Prong Collars

Choke, shock, and prong collars are all types of collars that trainers typically advise against using. These collars focus on punishing your dog to correct them, which often leads to them fearing you instead of helping them learn and grow. Rather than choosing one of these collars, choose one of the other types of collars and work on positive reinforcement training with your dog.

How to Pick the Perfect Collar for Your Dog

Now that you know the popular types of collars, you may still have trouble deciding on the perfect one for your dog. Here are some features to keep in mind when shopping for collars.


Size is the most important factor because a collar that’s too small or too large will be uncomfortable and unsafe. When your dog is wearing their collar, you should be able to slide two fingers between them and the collar. Luckily, most collars are slightly adjustable so you can loosen them and tighten them as needed.

The best way to ensure the collar is the right fit is to measure your dog’s neck and then check the product’s size chart to figure out which one is ideal for your dog’s neck size.


Every collar type serves a different purpose. Do you just need an everyday collar? Go with a flat collar, buckle collar, or tactical collar. Need a collar for training? A martingale or head collar should do. Once you decide what you’re looking for in a new collar, it can help you narrow down your options significantly.


The collar you choose should be comfortable for your dog since they’ll likely be wearing it for long periods. Some popular collar materials include nylon, polyester, and leather. Materials that are breathable and padded are often a favorite for canine companions.

Some collar materials are waterproof or include reflective stitching. If those extra features matter to you, seek out a collar that has them.


Since collars are worn a lot, they’re bound to get dirty. For easy maintenance, some collars are machine-washable. However, others can only be wiped down with a damp cloth. Always check the product’s maintenance instructions to see how easy it will be to keep clean.


Appearance may not be important for all pet products, but collars are meant to be stylish. Find a collar that looks good on your dog. Luckily, most collars come in a variety of colors so you can decide which one will suit your dog best.


If you’re on a budget, you’ll need to consider the collar’s price. Does the cost of the collar match the quality? Most of the time, more expensive collars last longer, but you should look at customer reviews to make sure.

Dog wearing martingale collar

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Dogs Need to Wear Collars?

Yes, dogs should wear collars as they are essential for safety and identification. Collars hold ID tags which are crucial if a dog gets lost. Additionally, collars are used to attach leashes, which are necessary for safe walking and adhering to local leash laws (or you can use a harness instead).

Can Dogs Wear Collars All the Time?

It’s recommended to give your dog a break from their collar now and then to prevent irritated skin and matted fur. Many dog parents choose to take collars off at night to make their dogs more comfortable.

Can Dog Collars Go in the Washing Machine?

Most fabric dog collars can be safely washed in a washing machine, typically inside a garment bag or pillowcase. However, it’s important to check the care instructions for your specific collar, as materials like leather or collars with special embellishments may require hand washing or other specific care methods.

How Often Should I Replace My Dog’s Collar?

The frequency of replacing your dog’s collar depends on its condition and how quickly your dog outgrows it or wears it out. Generally, it’s advisable to replace the collar once it shows signs of wear such as fraying, fading, or faulty hardware, typically every few years.

Are Choke Chains Safe for Dogs?

No, choke chains aren’t safe for dogs. They focus on punishment-based training instead of positive reinforcement, so most trainers advise against them. Instead, consider using a martingale collar, which can tighten slightly without strangling your dog.

How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash?

To discourage your dog from pulling on the leash, consistent training and positive reinforcement techniques are key. Techniques such as stopping or changing direction when your dog pulls, rewarding calm and non-pulling behaviors with treats or praise, and using tools like martingale collars or head collars can be effective. Professional training guidance can also be beneficial for persistent issues.

Dog holding collar in mouth

Final Thoughts

Choosing a dog collar is an important part of pet ownership, and the type of collar you need greatly depends on your dog’s behavior and lifestyle. So, consider your dog’s needs to help you decide what collar is the perfect match for you. The ideal collar should offer your pup a balance of comfort, safety, and style.

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