Walk into almost any pet store (brick-and-mortar or virtual) and you’ll find an enormous array of dog collars. From spikes to sequins to sports teams, you can find nearly anything to reflect your personality, your dog’s personality, the season of the year, holidays, plus favorite foods, hobbies, TV shows, toys … you get the idea.
When outfitting your dog with a new collar, you’ll need to make sure you’ve picked the right size. A collar that’s too tight makes it hard for your dog to breathe and swallow; a collar that’s too loose can get caught on something and cause serious injuries or allow your dog to slip out of it too easily.
Obviously, if you have a Pomeranian, you wouldn’t get a collar sized for a Newfoundland, but what should you look for when making sure a collar fits?
For a traditional collar, you want the collar to fit high on your dog’s neck and be snug, but loose enough that it won’t chafe your dog’s neck. The general rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s collar and neck. You can get a more accurate measurement by wrapping a flexible tape measure around your dog’s neck and then adding an inch or two.
When measuring for traditional collars, pay attention to width as well as length. A collar that’s too wide may be uncomfortable; a collar that’s too narrow may be ineffective for controlling your dog on walks — especially if you have a bigger dog or a dog that likes to pull.
Puppies should wear traditional collars and you should check the fit of your puppy’s collar frequently. They grow fast and collars can quickly become too tight.
Martingales, which are often recommended for narrow-headed sighthounds, such Greyhounds or Whippets, or dogs who easily slip out of their collars, should be measured in the same way as traditional collars.
A halter-type dog collar (Gentle Leader is a popular brand) are usually sized based on your dog’s weight and then you adjust the halter around your dog’s head so that it sits very high on the neck and is snug, without rubbing.
If you have a strong-willed and hard-to-train dog, your trainer may have suggested that you use a chain-slip dog collar or a pronged collar when you are working with your dog. These should only be used during training sessions or under the supervision of a trained dog professional, and never on dogs with delicate tracheas such as Yorkshire Terriers. To fit a chain-slip collar, measure your dog’s neck and add 2.5 to 3 inches. For a pronged collar, measure around your dog’s neck, just below the ears, and add 1 to 2 inches.
Note: For your dog’s safety, all dogs enrolled at PetU must use a traditional quick release collar (sides of clasp pinch to release, not a buckle) unless otherwise determine by your veterinarian or the PetU staff. If you have any questions about the fit of your dog’s collar, please ask!