Dog collar

For the detachable white collar worn by Anglican vicars and other Christian clergy, see clerical collar.

A dog collar is a piece of material put around the neck of a dog. A collar may be used for control, identification, fashion, or other purposes. Identification tags and medical information are often placed on dog collars.[1] Collars are also useful for controlling a dog manually, as they provide a handle for grabbing. Collars are often used in conjunction with a leash, and a common alternative to a dog collar is a dog harness. Dog collars are the most common form of directing and teaching dogs.[2]

Basic collars

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:

Nylon quick-release buckle collar with identification and medical tags.

Special-purpose collars and attachments

Medical collars

Training collars

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

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

Martingale collar

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. 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 according to some who use them. 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

Main article: Halter
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, including include "Comfort Trainer",Halti, or Gentle Leader or Snoot Loop, that are also used when referring to these collars. 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 collars that fit strictly around the neck. Pressure on this type of collar pulls the dog's head towards the handler. These type of collars can stop a strong dog pulling an owner in an unsafe direction. They are also good for dogs that pull as the pressure will no longer be directly on their wind pipe.[8]

The theory it 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 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. It is especially useful with reactive dogs, when control of the dog's head can be a safety issue.

Those who do not recommend use of the head halter say that some dogs find it unnatural and uncomfortable. 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. 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 attach behind the neck and tighten around the nose when the dog pulls causing discomfort to deter the dog from pulling. Manufacturers tout them as safer than halters that attach below the muzzle.

These collars may be considered aversive as they may rely on a level of discomfort to redirect the dog. A force is applied to the side of the dog's face which causes at best an unpleasant sensation, at worst intense pain. The dog then alters its behavior to avoid this unpleasant or painful sensation.

Aversive collars

Aversive collars use discomfort or pain to cause a dog to stop doing unwanted behaviors.[9] The use of aversive collars is controversial, with many humane and veterinary organizations recommending against them.[10][11][12]

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.[13] 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 significant discomfort and startle without risk of producing permanent physical injury when used correctly.[14] Shock collars are prohibited or restricted in some places.[15][16]
Prong collar; the looped chain limits how tightly the collar can pull in the same way that a Martingale functions.
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.[17] Plastic tips are occasionally placed on the ends of the prongs to protect against tufts forming in the fur or, in the case of low quality manufactured collars with rough chisel cut ends, irritating the skin. Like the choke chain, the prong collar is placed high on the dog's neck, just behind the ears, at the most sensitive point.[18]
Some dogs can free themselves from prong collars with large wire looped sides by shaking their head so that the links pop out, so some trainers have come to use a second collar (usually an oversize check chain) in addition to the prong collar so if this happens the dog does not run loose.
The use of these collars is controversial and is opposed by animal rights groups such as PETA. This collar is mainly used in punishment-based dog training and does yield results. Some dog training organisations will not allow members to use them, and they are prohibited by law in some places.[19]
Choke chain, showing how the chain pulls through the loop at one end.
Cesar Milan's "Illusion collar" is a choke collar wrapped in a buckle collar.[21]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dog collar.


  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. 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.
  4. "Dog Collars; Which type Is best for your dog?".
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. "Dog: Head Halters and Harnesses" (PDF). Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  9. Humane Society. "Dog Collars: Aversive Collars". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  10. Humane Society. "Dog Collars: Aversive Collars". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  11. American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. "AVSAB Position Statement The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  12. San Francisco SPCA. "Trade in Your Pronged Dog Collar". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  13. Lindsay, 2005, p. 583
  14. Lindsay, 2005, p. 584
  15. "Ogmore illegal shock collar dog owner gets £2,000 fine". BBC News. 18 July 2011.
  16. Victorian Consolidated Regulations (2008). "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 - SECT 17". Retrieved 2 December 2012
  17. "Herm Sprenger Prong Collar Covering Caps". Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  18. "How to fit a Prong Collar". Leerburg. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  19. Victorian Consolidated Regulations (2008). "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 - SECT 9". Retrieved 2 December 2012
  20. "Dictionary of Dog Collar Terms". Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  21. "Illusion collar". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
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