If you had to choose one single piece of clothing to wear every minute of every day for the next few months, you’d make sure that you put a lot of thought into your selection.
For your dog, a collar is that piece of clothing.
Your furry companion may be wearing a collar most, if not all, of the time, and it’s important to choose the right dog collar. The right collar helps keep him comfortable and safe, but there are so many options available. This guide will help you choose the right one for your best friend.
Understanding the Materials Used for Dog Collars
Most dog collars are made of fabric, metal chain, or leather. It is important to know that each of these materials have their pros and cons.
Fabric Dog Collars
Fabric or canvas dog collars come in a wide variety of colors and patterns to match your dog’s coat – and your personality. They may be more economical than those made of chain or leather. They are available in a variety of fabrics and styles and with either a side release buckle or a standard buckle. Note that, depending on the fabric, they will be more likely to show stains and dirt that some other types of materials. Check the label for care instructions: a quick wash with your regular laundry should be all it takes to clean the collar right up.
If your dog keeps a shorter haircut, fabric dog collars can sometimes cause chafing or abrasion, especially if they like to pull on the leash. If you’re using a fabric dog collar, you’ll want to check it regularly for any signs of fraying or wear and replace it if you notice any fraying. You may also need to keep the fur around the neck brushed regularly to prevent matting.
Nylon Dog Collars
Nylon dog collars are similar to fabric collars. Nylon is typically a type of petroleum product with a silk-like feel. Heavy-duty nylon usually holds up well to wear and tear making a practical choice for a dog collar. Because they’re so flexible, they’re comfortable for most dogs, even the very young and the very old. Because moisture can get trapped in and under the collar causing skin trouble for your pet, it is important to remove the collar after swimming or other water activity. Once the collar and your pets fur is dry, put the collar back on and resume your normal, fun-loving, hard-working and -playing activities. Many nylon collars are highly adjustable, making them ideal for growing puppies. They are an all-around good collar and an economical choice, perfect for a variety of situations and circumstances.
Chain Dog Collars
Chain dog collars usually come in two forms: a choke collar and a prong collar. When they’re properly fitted and used by a skilled trainer with experience and patience, they can be a safe way to train a dog to walk politely on the leash. However, they do have their drawbacks.
Under most circumstances, you’ll want to remove any type of training collar (like a choke collar or prong collar) whenever your dog isn’t actively training. Choke collars and prong collars can sometimes become snagged on sticks or rocks when the dog is playing, presenting a safety hazard, so these collars should only be used under supervision.
Dogs with longer hair around the scruff of the neck may find choke collars made of solid chain unacceptable, as it’s not uncommon for the hair to become snagged in the chain. Choke collars with a body of nylon or leather may be a better option.
Leather Dog Collars
Leather dog collars have the advantage of being made of natural materials, and they last longer than fabric or nylon collars. They may be more expensive than cheaper fabric collars, and fun designs or colors may not always be available in your local pet store.
Dogs often like to chew on leather, so if the collar is too slack, some dogs will chew on leather collars. This can be remedied by properly fitting the collar on the dog.
When considering a leather dog collar, you have many different options, and it’s important to note that not all leather collars are made of the same quality of leather.
- Full Grain Leather comes from the outermost layer of the hide and still includes most of the outside of the hide. It is often very durable and thick, but, when new, it isn’t always as flexible as some other types of leather. It is important to know that, with use, it will soften and will remain extremely durable.
- Top Grain Leather has most of the material from Full Grain Leather, but the outermost layer of the hide is removed. This is still a very durable product, but it may be more flexible and less durable than Full Grain Leather.
- Bridle Leather is a heavy-duty hardened leather originally used to make harnesses and bridles for horses. It’s usually 4-6mm thick and has an exceptionally high tear resistance and elasticity.
- Bonded Leather is made when a manufacturer takes scraps of leather, creates a leather “dust”, mixes them with glues and presses to make a new piece of leather. It’s generally the lowest quality of leather and is not very durable.
- Genuine Leather is a marketing term. Any form of leather (even bonded leather) can be called “Genuine Leather”.
Ever Heard of Biothane?
Biothane isn’t leather, but it has a lot of the advantages of leather. Like leather, it’s comfortable for your dogs and won’t pull their fur, even if they have thick fur around the neck. Biothane is ideal for dogs that just can’t stay out of the water! Leather is naturally water-resistant, but biothane may be a better alternative for swimmers, especially if your dog has access to saltwater or loves the pool. Plus, they are super easy to clean: a little water – soap if needed.
Styles for your Dog Collar
Once you’ve decided on a material for your dog’s collar, your next decision will be the style. Some collars are best used as training collars, while other collars are ideal for daily wear.
Traditional training collars include the choke collar (or choke chain) and the prong collar. The Martingale collar, sometimes called a greyhound collar, is a variation on the same principle as the choke collar. All of these collars should be removed when not in use to prevent accidents, as they can snag on things and cause discomfort or injury to your dog.
The metal choke collar is a simple design, consisting of a chain with a ring on each end. With a leather choke collar, the chain is replaced by rolled leather with a flat leather buckle section, allowing for greater flexibility in sizing and additional comfort. While the metal choke collar may snag hair on long-haired dogs, the leather choke collar is designed to avoid any damage to a dog’s fur.
The lead connects to the ring that’s attached to the section going around the neck. If the dog pulls on the walk, it tightens the section of leather or chain that goes around the dog’s neck. In this way, the dog associates tugging at the leash with discomfort and learns not to pull or tug at their leash. While a choke collar can be used for training other tasks, lead training is one of its primary purposes.
A prong collar works similarly to the choke collar, except that the chain is connected to a collar with dull metal prongs protruding toward the dog’s neck. As the chain tightens, it causes the prongs to dig into the dog’s neck, which causes discomfort. Prong collars may snag fur on long-haired dogs.
A Martingale collar looks like a regular collar, except a section of the collar is replaced by a loop of chain. This chain can be attached by a ring to the dog’s lead. The principle is similar to that of the choke collar, except that the collar can’t be tightened any tighter than the chain loop allows for.
Martingale collars, especially wider versions that spread the pressure across are wider area, may be ideal for your Greyhound or whippet, as their narrow head makes it easy for them to slip out of their collars during a walk. As a Martingale collar tightens when they begin to pull at the leash, it becomes harder for them to slip and out of the collar and potentially run off.
Everyday Dog Collars
When it comes to daily use collars for your dog, you’ll want to make comfort a priority. What’s comfortable for a small dog with short hair may not be comfortable for a large dog with long hair, so it’s important to consider your dog’s unique needs.
- Flat Collars are what most people think of when they think of collars. They have a flat design which generally makes them easy to spot and see. They tend to be very durable and work well for many dogs, but long-haired dogs may find that their hair mats around a flat collar.
- Rolled Collars may be an ideal option for long-haired dogs. Small dogs may find them preferable to a flat collar, too. On the down side, they don’t come in as many options as flat collars, and dogs with very short hair may not like them.
- Rope Collars can be a good solution for senior dogs or dogs with sensitive necks. These collars are soft and gentle. They may show dirt more readily than other materials, but the comfort will be a welcome relief to your senior dog’s sensitive neck.
- Spiked Leather Collars are sometimes used as protective gear, especially if you have a dog that might subjected to some bullying, specifically, the spikes can be a deterrent against attacks by bigger dogs who find the spikes uncomfortable inside the mouth.
How Do I Know if My Dog’s New Collar is Comfortable for Him?
As every dog is different, you may find that your pup has a different idea of the ideal collar than you do. While it’s normal for a dog to fuss and play with his new collar in the beginning, if you notice excessive scratching or signs of discomfort, you may want to check closely for signs of irritation, fur pulling or matting, or redness of the skin.
While it’s uncommon, some dogs can have an allergic reaction to a new collar.
Some dogs may be allergic to metal, so they may have trouble with metal collars or buckles. If this is the problem, consider trying a different type of metal or a non-metallic collar.
Allergies to nylon are rare, but dogs may be allergic to dyes or chemical treatments used on the fabric.
Leather allergies are rare for dogs, especially if the leather is a quality vegetable tanned leather. If you notice any abnormal or prolonged scratching, remove the collar and check for redness or bumps. If your dog seems to be struggling with dermatitis, you may want to consider a rolled collar as an alternative, as it allows for more airflow and reduces the moist conditions that allow yeast to thrive.
What About Accessories?
While your dog’s comfort is important, it’s fun to find her a collar that fits her unique personality. Studded leather dog collars, decorative collars, or seasonal dog collars can be a fun way to show a little style. When decorations are added to collars, you’ll want to make sure they’re securely attached. If the collar’s ornaments seem loose, don’t use the collar. Take a few minutes every now and then to check the decorations to make sure they are still secure.
With a little consideration, you can find the right collar to help your pup look fashionable and stay comfortable.
You may want to start your search right here at Auburn Leathercrafters.