Dog collar

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A dog collar is a piece of material put around the neck of a dog. A collar may be used for restraint, identification, fashion, or protection. Identification tags and medical information are often placed on dog collars.[1] Collars are often used in conjunction with a leash for restraining a dog. Collars can be traumatic to the trachea if the dog pulls against the restraint of the leash, causing severe pressure to the neck. Use of a harness instead of a collar may be beneficial for dogs prone to tracheitis or those with a collapsed trachea. Conversely, dog breeds with slender necks or smaller heads may easily slip out of collars that are too loose. This can be avoided by using a martingale dog collar which tightens to distribute pressure around the neck when training the dog not to pull.[2] Any style of dog collar must be properly fitted to ensure safety and collars should not be worn when the dog is unattended.[3]

Basic collars[edit]

Leather buckle collar with traditional buckle.

Collars are made with a variety of materials, most commonly leather or nylon webbing. Less common materials can include polyester, hemp, metal, or "oilcloth" (vinyl woven with cotton). Collars can be decorated in a variety of ways with a variety of materials. The basic collars for everyday wear are:

  • Buckle collars, also called flat collars,[4] with a buckle similar to a belt buckle, or a quick-release buckle, either of which holds the collar loosely around the dog's neck. Identification is commonly attached to such a collar; it also comes with a loop to which a leash can be fastened. This is the most standard collar for dogs. A flat collar should fit comfortably tight on the dog's neck. It should not be so tight as to choke the dog nor so loose that they can slip out of it. Generally, you should be able to fit two fingers underneath the collar.[5]
Nylon quick-release buckle collar with identification and medical tags.
  • Break-away collars look similar to buckle collars, but have a safety mechanism installed that allows the dog to break free of the collar if excessive force is applied. These collars are useful in situations where a non-quick release collar could get snagged and strangle the dog.[6]
  • Safety stretch collars contain an elastic panel in the sturdy nylon collar, which allows escape from potential strangulation dangers such as branches, fences, gates and other dogs. Unlike breakaways, a stretch collar acts like a traditional collar when clipped with a leash.

Special-purpose collars and attachments[edit]

Kangal dog with wolf collar protecting sheep
  • Stud collars, also called wolf collars, protection collars, or spiked collars depending on the attachments, are collars fitted with metal studs, dulled points, or sharp points that traditionally prevented another animal from biting the dog's neck. Commonly, spikes are hand-set and tightly riveted for extra security. This type of collar dates back to ancient Greece, when dogs protecting livestock were given nail-studded collars to protect them from wolves or other predators. In modern societies, stud collars are more commonly considered a fashion accessory.
  • Reflective collars, usually made with nylon webbing, incorporate reflective tape that ensures that the dog will be seen at night by approaching vehicles.
  • A lighted collar (or collar light, dog light) is a collar that emits light in order to make a dog more visible in the dark to their owners and more importantly, nearby motorists. It is not designed to help a dog see at night, as it is well documented that dogs have very good vision in low light conditions. Most lighted collars utilize one or more light emitting diodes for the light source and can be of virtually any color, although red and blue are most common. Power is provided by one or more batteries, most common types being AAA and lithium coin cells to minimize the added weight to the collar.
  • A flotation collar (or buoyant collar) is a buoyancy aid designed for dogs. Although it is not designed to be used as a life preserver or life jacket, it can provide additional buoyant support for the head of a dog when in the water. It is often used in canine hydrotherapy services to assist in the rehabilitation of injured dogs. The collar may be constructed of closed cell foam material that is inherently buoyant or be of a type that is inflated with air.

Medical collars[edit]

  • Flea collars are impregnated with chemicals that repel fleas.[7] They are usually a supplementary collar, worn in addition to the conventional buckle collar.
  • Elizabethan collars, shaped like a truncated cone, can be fitted on a dog to prevent it from scratching a wound on its head or neck or licking a wound or infection on its body.[8]

Fashion collars[edit]

Dog collars are also used to convey the owner's style and have been used as a status symbol. The oldest known fashionable dog collars come from ancient Egypt, dating back to before the earliest of the Pharaohs.[9] Today's fashionable dog collars come in a wide variety of designs, patterns and materials and may include accessories, such as bow ties and flowers.

Training collars[edit]

Several types of collars are used for the purposes of training dogs, though sometimes a collar is not used at all (such as in the case of dog agility training, where a collar could get caught on equipment and strangle the dog). Each training collar has its own set of advantages and disadvantages (briefly outlined below) which trainers might consider before using a select one. Training collars are typically used for training only and not left on the dog's neck all the time, as some collars can be harmful or dangerous if left on a dog unsupervised.

Flat collars[edit]

Some dogs are trained on leash using a buckle or quick-release collar.

Martingale collar[edit]

Martingale Collar with Chain Loop; martingale collars also come with a fabric loop instead of chain as well as optional buckles on both styles.

Martingale collars are recommended for sighthounds because their heads are smaller than their necks and they can often slip out of standard collars. They can, however, be used for any breed of dog. Their no-slip feature has made them a safety standard at many kennels and animal shelters.[citation needed] A martingale collar has 2 loops; the smaller loop is the "control loop" that tightens the larger loop when pulled to prevent dogs from slipping out of the collar. A correctly adjusted martingale does not constrict the dog's neck when pulled taut. Others use them fitted snugly to be able to use them in a similar manner to a choke chain but without the unlimited constriction of a choke chain. The structure allows the collar to be loose and comfortable, but tightens if the dog attempts to back out of it.

Head halters[edit]

The halter-style collar controls the dog's head but does not restrict its ability to pant, drink, or grasp objects.

Head halters, also called head collars, are similar in design to a halter for a horse. They are sold under several brand names. Brands include Comfort Trainer, Canny Collar, Halti, Gentle Leader, and Snoot Loop amongst several others. Brand names are also used when referring to these collars most commonly Halti or Gentle Leader. This device fastens around the back of the neck and over the top of the muzzle, giving more control over a dog's direction and the intensity of pulling on a leash than most collars that fit strictly around the neck. Pressure on this type of collar pulls the dog's nose and consequently their head towards the handler. These type of collars can aid in stopping a strong dog from pulling an owner in an unsafe direction. They are also recommended for dogs that pull as the pressure will no longer be directly on their wind pipe.[10]

The theory behind the utility of head halters is that if you have control of the head, you have control of the body. The head collar generally consists of two loops, one behind the ears and the other over the nose. This tool generally makes it more difficult for the dog to pull on its leash. This is a management tool only, it does not train the dog not to pull.


Supporters of the head halter say that it enables the handler to control the dog's head, and makes the dog unable to pull using its full strength. They claim it is especially useful with reactive dogs, where control of the dog's head can be a safety issue.[11]

Those who do not recommend use of the head halter say that some dogs find it unnatural and uncomfortable.[12] If the collar is too tight, it may dig too deeply into the skin or the strap around the muzzle may push into the dog's eyes.[citation needed] Cervical injury is a possible result from improper use of the head halter; if a dog is jerked suddenly by the leash attached to the head halter, the dog's nose is pulled sharply to the side, which might result in neck injury. If the nose strap is fitted too tightly, the hair on the muzzle can also be rubbed off, or the dog might paw and scratch at its face, causing injuries ranging from mere bare skin to severe abrasions.

Some head halters such as the Canny Collar attach behind the neck and tighten around the nose when the dog pulls to deter the dog from pulling. Manufacturers claim they are safer than halters that attach below the muzzle because they do not pull the dog's head to one side, avoiding stress on the neck area. Some rear-fastening head halters can have the noseband removed during use, therefore providing an element of training the dog to eventually walk on a regular collar and lead.

Aversive collars[edit]

Aversive collars use levels of discomfort or an unpleasant sensation to encourage a dog to modify unwanted behaviors.[13] The use of aversive collars is controversial, with some humane and veterinary organizations recommending against them.[13][14][15]

Shock collars[edit]

Shock collars (also called e-collars, remote training collars, electric collars, zap collars, or hunting collars) are electronic training aids developed to deliver a low intensity electrical signal, vibration, tone, or light signal to the dog via the collar. They are used primarily as a means of remote communication and widely accepted as a primary tool for the training of deaf and working dogs. These consist of a radio receiver attached to the collar and a transmitter that the trainer holds. When triggered, the collar delivers an aversive. The specific aversives vary with different makes of collars. Some emit sounds, some vibrate, some release citronella or other aerosol sprays, some apply electrical stimulation. A few collars incorporate several of these. Of these, electrical stimulation is the most common and the most widely used. Early electrical collars provided only a single, high-level shock and were useful only to punish undesirable behavior.[16] Modern electrical collars are adjustable, allowing the trainer to match the stimulation level to the dog's sensitivity and temperament. They deliver a measured level of aversive stimulation that produces a wide range of sensation, from a mildly irritating tingle or tap sensation to severe discomfort or pain. Collars startle without risk of producing permanent physical injury when used correctly.[17] Shock collars are prohibited or restricted in some places.[18] Attaching a leash or lead to an electronic collar can pull the contacts too close to the dog's skin, causing lessened effectiveness of the collar and discomfort.

Humane bark collars[edit]

There are dog bark collars that use a combination of vibrations and sounds. In several studies bark collars have been shown to be very effective.[citation needed] Because there are so many underlying reasons for your dog to bark,[according to whom?] a collar may or may not work for your situation.[citation needed]

Prong collars[edit]

Prong collar; the looped chain limits how tightly the collar can pull in the same way that a Martingale functions.

Prong collars, also called a Herm Sprenger or pinch collar, are a series of metal links that fit together by connecting through blunt prongs that point inward toward the dog's neck. The design of the prong collar incorporates a chain loop connecting the ends of the prong series, such that it has a limited circumference (a martingale), unlike choke chains, which do not have a limit on how far they can constrict on a dog's neck. The leash attaches to this chain section. There are two options on the prong collar for leash attachment, the dead ring and the live ring. The live ring is used when a dog needs more correction as it gives more slack when the leash is popped. The dead ring is used most commonly when first training a dog to use a prong. The leash is attached to both rings and as such there is not as much slack as when attached to the live ring. This section commonly has a swivel at the point of attachment to lessen the twisting and possible tangling of the leash.

Like the choke chain, the prong collar is placed high on the dog's neck, just behind the ears, at a point where nerve endings are less padded(to cause more discomfort with less effort by the handler). This is perhaps one of the most misportrayed factors of "proper" prong collar use; the fit and placement of the prong collar are used to make the tool seem like something only used by more knowledgeable people. The collar is designed to prevent the dog from pulling by applying pressure on smaller contact points around the dog's neck as this causes discomfort. The limited traction of the martingale chain combined with the angle of the prongs prevents the prongs moving close enough to cause injury physically. Unlike flat, martingale, or slip choke collars the prong protects the trachea as a bonus to causing discomfort. It is used as a brief "corrective" tug which brings the dog's mind back to the handler by making them experience distress.[19]

The benefits are an overall reduction of time force is applied at the expense of a dog expecting bad things in everyday scenarios; enhances training/conditioning the dog to being handled with an ideal amount of slack on the dogs lead (no pulling or lunging because of the greater fear of being caused discomfort); improved command and control of your dog through the threat of positive punishment and negative reinforcement so you can care for your dog with the excuse to prevent possible tragedy(e.g. chasing squirrel into traffic).[20] There are also prong collars that include a "safe buckle", designed to unsnap and provide enough space for the dog to slip out of and do not accidentally restrict the airway.

Prong collars must never be turned inside out (with the prongs facing away from the dog's skin), as this may cause injury against the body and head. Further, one should never use to yank a dog back, choke, or hang/suspend a dog. They are used as "corrective" tools despite dogs having no concept of "good" and "bad". Footage of this collar being actively used typically shows a dog with common signs of discomfort(ears pointed back, lip licking, raised eyebrows and "stress lines" on the face)

At times, plastic tips are occasionally placed on the ends of the prongs to protect against catching the fur and pulling tufts, or in the case of low-quality collars with rough or chisel cut ends, irritating or perhaps puncturing the skin. Its important to examine the tips of the prongs to ensure they are rounded and smooth regardless if they have rubber tips so that they only cause discomfort and no visible injury.

Like any collar the prong collar can fail if the dog has not been put into a state of learned helplessness.

Some dog training organisations will not allow members to use them, and they are prohibited by law in Victoria, Australia.[21]

Force collars[edit]

Force collars are leather with metal prongs or studs lining the inside; similar in effect to prong collars.

Choke chains[edit]

Choke chain, showing how the chain pulls through the loop at one end.

Choke chains (also called choke collars, slip chains, check collars, or training collars) are a length of chain with rings at either end such that the collar can be formed into a loop that slips over the dogs head and typically rests around the top of the dog's neck, just behind the ears.[citation needed] When the leash is attached to the "dead" ring, the collar does not constrict on the dog's neck. When the leash is attached to the "live" ring, the chain slips (adjusts) tighter when pulled and slips looser when tension is released. Training with this leash involves a quick jerk with an immediate release, called a "leash pop", "snap", or "correction". This is supposed to correct a dog's unwanted behavior, such as leaving the "heel" position. Pulling harder or longer on the choke chain presses on the dog's trachea and/or larynx and may restrict breathing.

Cesar Milan's "Illusion collar" is a choke collar wrapped in a buckle collar.[citation needed]

Fur saver collars[edit]

Fur saver collars are a kind of slip chain that contain fewer and longer individual links than a close link chain, also known as a long link fur saver collar. Fur saver collars can be used both for long and short-haired breeds limiting damage to the dog's fur. It can be used for training and daily use as well. The fur saver collar can be 'locked out' preventing it from constricting by attaching the leash connector to any link within the chain, this mitigates the unlimited traction effect associated with a slip chain.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clayden, Paul, ed. (2011-05-25). The Dog Law Handbook (2nd ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-414-04818-8.
  2. ^ Hodgson, Sarah (2006). Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training. Wiley Default. ISBN 0-471-74989-3.
  3. ^ "Choosing a Dog Collar". American Humane. Retrieved 2021-07-16.
  4. ^ Ogburn, Philip; Crouse, Stephanie; Martin, Frank; Houpt, Katherine (1 December 1998). "Comparison of behavioral and physiological responses of dogs wearing two different types of collars". Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 61 (2): 133–142. doi:10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00113-0.
  5. ^ "Dog Collars; Which type Is best for your dog?".
  6. ^ Monteiro, Melanie (2009). Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out. Beverly, Mass.: Quarry Books. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-59253-519-4.
  7. ^ Cronce, P. C.; Alden, H. S. (11 November 1968). "Flea-Collar Dermatitis". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 206 (7): 1563–1564. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150070101023. PMID 4234843.
  8. ^ Swaim, Steven F.; Renberg, Walter C.; Shike, Kathy M. (2010-12-15). Small Animal Bandaging, Casting, and Splinting Techniques. Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-8138-1962-4.
  9. ^ "A Brief History of the Dog Collar". World History Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2021-04-22. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  10. ^ "Dog: Head Halters and Harnesses" (PDF). Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Head Halter Training for Dogs". vca_corporate. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  12. ^ "The Problem With Head Halters". Suzanne Clothier/Carpe Canem Inc. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  13. ^ a b Humane Society. "Dog Collars: Aversive Collars". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  14. ^ American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. "AVSAB Position Statement - The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  15. ^ San Francisco SPCA (13 June 2014). "Trade in Your Pronged Dog Collar". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  16. ^ Lindsay, 2005, p. 583
  17. ^ Lindsay, 2005, p. 584
  18. ^ "Ogmore illegal shock collar dog owner gets £2,000 fine". BBC News. 2011-07-18.
  19. ^ "Prong Collar For Dogs Everything You Need to Know! |AwokenK9". 2019-10-14. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  20. ^ "How to Use a Prong Collar on Dogs". wikiHow. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  21. ^ "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 - REG 17". Victorian Consolidated Regulations. Australasian Legal Information Institute. 2008. Retrieved 2017-11-24.

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