A vet's guide to choosing the right dog collar for different breeds

how to choose the best dog collar for your pup dog collar guide
How to choose the best dog collar for your petJustin Paget - Getty Images

There's a lot of advice out there when it comes to what's best for our pets. To make things a little more simple, we've put together an expert-led guide on how to select the best dog collar for your pup, with comfort and safety a priority.

When it comes to choosing your dog a new collar, there's plenty to take into consideration, from breed to fur length and whether they wear a harness or not. It's also important to regularly check the fit of their collar, as well as keep an eye on wear and tear.

All dogs need a collar, and the Dogs Trust recommend the "use of flat, fixed collars, which do not tighten or constrict around your dog’s neck."

With that in mind, keep reading to discover exactly what you need to know when buying a new dog collar...

Does my dog need to wear a collar?

Whilst it's up to you what your dog wears at home, there are rules to follow when you're in public places. "Legally, all dogs must wear a collar and ID tag when out in public, therefore you want to ensure your dog has a comfortable, yet secure collar," explains PDSA veterinary nurse, Shauna Walsh.

It doesn't matter if you usually opt for a harness rather than a collar when out and about. “Your dog should still wear a collar with an ID tag when on walks, even if the lead is attached to a harness," advises a spokesperson for Dogs Trust.

Do different dog breeds need different collars?

Dog breeds are varied and distinct, with a whole host of body types, builds and neck lengths. It's important to take this into consideration when buying a new collar, not only for safety but also to keep your dog as comfortable as possible.

"Different breeds may require different types of collars," says Shauna. "For example, for breeds where the head is narrower than the neck, a martingale collar may be the most suitable. These are often used on Whippets, Greyhounds, Salukis and other sighthound breeds."

If you're unsure what style of collar works best for your dog, make sure to seek advice from your vet.

What size collar does my dog need?

Shauna explains: "Some collars may be marketed for certain breeds, however selecting a collar based only on breed is not enough because every dog is different. One of the best ways to determine the size of the collar needed is by simply measuring your dog’s neck.

"You will also need to take their fur length into account, and how often they are groomed. For dogs whose coat length varies depending on grooms, an adjustable collar which can accommodate the correct size when groomed may be the best option."

If your pet's weight fluctuates, or you have a growing puppy, make sure to regularly check that their collar still fits comfortably.

How tight should a dog collar be?

There's a simple trick to getting the tightness of your dog's collar just right – and all you need is one hand.

The Dogs Trust says the fit is perfect if you can: "Comfortably slip four fingers lying flat against the neck inside the collar, or two fingers stacked."

They also advise: "Be sure to regularly check the material and fastening device so you can spot any wear and tear and get this replaced when it’s no longer fit for purpose."

Is it better to use a harness or a collar on walks?

Whilst collars are fine to use on a walk, a correctly fitted harness reduces the risk of neck injury and maximizes your dog's comfort. However, it's important not to rush your pup when it comes to getting them used to wearing one. "You should make sure your dog is introduced gradually to a harness to ensure they are relaxed and comfortable," says a spokesperson for Dogs Trust.

Shauna advises starting harness training young, if possible: "If you have a puppy, you can utilise time at home before they can venture out to get them familiar and comfortable with a collar and a harness.

"Older dogs may already have a preference. Some rescue dogs may have only ever been walked on a harness, so you may wish to continue with this to keep them comfortable with what they are used to."

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