Types of Dog Collars: Things to Know Before Making A Purchase

Types of Dog Collars
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Dogs, whether grown with basic commands or intensive obedience training can have instances of becoming hyperactive and out of control. Because they are very curious with things around them, especially when walking outdoors, they become less receptive to commands. As a pet parent, it is very important to gain control of your dog not just for its safety, but for yours and others as well. This is why dog collars are being used for a variety of reasons.

There are numerous types of dog collars that serve a particular purpose, either for walking, training, identification, or even for aesthetic or medicinal purposes. Collars have been considered as one of the most valuable dog accessories in the market. There are even designer dog collars for the more discriminating dog owners, see our must-read article on these one-of-a-kind collars.

Ruffwear Dog Collars Comparison

Before selecting the dog collar that fits your fancy as a pet parent, there are several factors that need to be taken care of. It is very important to find a collar that is best suited for your dog to avoid complications such as discomfort and injury. Here are some of the basic requirements in selecting the best types of dog collars for your fur baby.

The five “rights” of a dog collar

The right size. This is quite obvious, yet size is one of the most overlooked features of any dog collar. Pet parents tend to purchase either an undersized or an oversized collar for their dogs. Having the right size is very important because wrong sized collars are one of the leading causes of injury. A collar that is too tight inhibits circulation around the neck area, and the warm temperature is favorable for bacterial growth, which may lead to skin infection.

It can also restrict airway and can cause breathing problems. On the other hand, a collar that is too loose can lead to injuries by being caught in cords or fallen branches. The right size also involves the right width, as there are collars that are wider compared to others.

The right features. There are a lot of additional features dog collars have nowadays. Despite all these freebies, you should be able to identify what features matter to you and your dog. There are collars that are medicated that kill fleas, but are sometimes the medication is too strong it can irritate the skin when worn for extended periods of time. Reflective and collars that have an added bling can look pretty, but if you’re not the kind of pet parent that walk their dogs at dusk or at night, this will not help at all.

Collar features

Another problem for beginning pet parents is that they consider the aesthetic appeal as part of the right features. It is not uncommon to find a toy dog wearing an oversized harness because their pet parents think it is cute. That cute moment can actually lead to injuries that could have been prevented if they chose the proper dog equipment for their fur baby.

The right type. It is very important to find the right type of collar for your dog. There are several options available, and you should be able to select the one that suits you and your dog’s needs.

The right leash. This is quite tricky for some pet parents, but there have been instances that they managed to get the right collar and paired it with a wrong leash. The correct size of the leash is important because having a leash that is too short or too small for a big dog will just snap or drag the owner, while a leash that is too long or too big will be a burden to the dog because leashes add weight to their necks and back. It is best to consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about correct size for both the collar and leash.

The right attitude. You might be wondering why attitude is involved here. It is actually very important to be cautious enough when handling a dog that has a collar and leash because any forceful pulling can strangle or injure the dog even if it was not intentional. Right attitude is being responsible, alert, and assertive in the actions that your dog will do. This inhibits accidents and injuries for both the dog and the owner.

Types of common dog collars

Whether for casual walking, basic or advanced training, and even fashion, there is a type of collar that will fit your needs. Here are some of the dog collars available, with their corresponding use and description.

Everyday collars

Everyday collars are simple and decorative collars widely available in pet stores and veterinary clinics. Your personal taste and style can go a long way because of numerous choices available for everyday use. Some of the basic features include collars with either quick release clasps or metal buckles made in a variety of colors, styles, and materials. Everyday collars are generally the most affordable, although the pricing may increase based on the material used and where it was made.

Everyday collars

Stronger dogs may need buckle collars because it is more durable compared to the quick release variant. Another variant of an everyday collar is the rolled leather collar. These collars are durable and less likely to irritate the skin and cause hair loss. Because these are very basic accessories, make sure that the dog collar has a nametag with updated contact information.

Chain slip collars

Chain slip collars are specifically made for basic training and obedience purposes. When a dog is being trained to walk on a leash, a quick pull on the leash can be a corrective act, allowing it to close by slightly on the dog’s neck. This type of collar is slowly being refrained from use because of the potential damage it can inflict on the dog’s neck. Only experienced trainers are adept in using this type of specialized collar.

However, if you as a pet parent will do the training yourself, you must learn how to use it properly. This type of dog collar should be used with extreme caution and never be left on your dog when you are not around. Chain slip collars have a high potential for strangulation.

Metal prong or pinch collars

Metal prong collars can be intimidating and harsh to look at, but trainers generally prefer this to the chain slip collars. This is the collar of choice for training dogs that are stubborn and strong. Metal prong collars are also called pinch collars, and are widely used for training like the chain slip collars.

Metal prong or pinch collars

They also share the same precaution, and dogs wearing these must not be left unattended.

Head collars

Head collars slightly resemble muzzles, but they are made for a different purpose. Also called halters, head collars act like a harness placed on the head and allows the dog to be trained to walk on a leash. Once the dog pulls on the leash, the halter will make the dog’s head turn. This mechanism is unnatural for the dog and will discourage the behavior.

Head collars can support other training objectives without inflicting too much force or pain. There is also a minimal potential for injury.

Martingale collars

Martingale collars, which are also called Greyhound collars or limited slip collars, are used to inhibit dogs from sliding out of their collars. The functionality of Martingale collars is similar to chain slip and metal prong collars. What sets it apart is the safety mechanism that this collar has. The stopping mechanism tightens the leash, but prevents absolute closure of the neck, which may lead to strangulation.

Martingale collars

Usually made from nylon, and come with a wide variety of colors, Martingale collars are some of the collar types that offer the most variety. While this type of collar is more compatible with sighthounds, it can also be used by most breeds.

Break-away collars

Break-away collars are suitable for daily use, and have a safety feature that inhibits choking. Break-away collars are used for walking on a leash just like most collars. When a dog is caught on something and pulls away, the collar will break apart. Once a leash is secured onto both loops, a dog can be walked safely without the possibility of the collar being torn.


Harnesses have a unique structure in the list of collar types. It is designed to be secured around your dog’s abdomen and chest, crossing at the back. A leash is attached to the harness. Dog owners, especially those with dogs that have a high predisposition to pull, prefer harness as their collar of choice. This is because harnesses put negligible pressure around the neck, which inhibits any possibility of neck injuries for dogs.

However, some dog trainers think otherwise and revert back to the traditional collars because they believe harnesses actually encourage pulling that can become out of control. This is a matter of personal preference. Veterinarians recommend the use of harness for dogs that have an existing neck injury, or have airway problems. There are also dogs that have a small neck area, especially the slender ones that wearing a collar can agitate the dog.

Dog show collars

Dog show collars are specifically made for show. They are pretty fashionable and complement a particular grooming style or dog clothing.

Dog show collars

There are two most common types of dog show collars, the standard, and the Martingale leads.

Standard show collars

Standard show collars are slip collars that is normally made out of weaved material like metal, leather, or nylon. These collars may look like chain slip collars but they work differently.

Martingale leads

Martingale leads are leads and collars secured into one device, and the mechanism is similar with the Martingale collars. Martingale leads are used for toy breeds for show and exhibition. The collar portion slides over the head and tightens once pulled. A tube made of plastic slips down the lead and keeps the collar secured.

Types of specialized dog collars

There are some dog collars that have been created for a particular purpose aside from aesthetic appeal, maneuverability, and control. These collars are used by professional trainers for dogs that have been trained for a specific responsibility. There are even electronic dog collars that we’ve written on in an article that you can read.

Wolf collar

Wolf collars, or sometimes called protection collars, are collars fitted with large metal spikes pointing away from the dog. Wolf collars are usually worn by dogs that work to protect livestock in case they are attacked by predators such as wolves and coyotes.

Wolf Collar

These types of collars protect the dog’s neck from an incoming attack. Neck is considered as the most critical part of a herding dog’s anatomy, because severing it will cause airway and motor incapacitation. With the constant improvement in livestock and herding protocols and safety precautions, this type of collar is rarely used nowadays.

Lighted collar

Lighted collars or dog light is a custom-made collar that emits light to allow better visibility for the dog and nearby motorists. This is more commonly used for dogs that are performing search and rescue, K-9 routine perimeter checks, and forest trail clearing. New dog owners might misuse this, thinking that lighted collars allow dogs to see well, when these are worn. The light is actually for the owner’s and pedestrian advantage because they can be seen from afar.

Dogs do not need additional light because it has been proven by multiple researches that dogs can see clearly even with low light. Majority of the lighted collars have LEDs, or light emitting diodes as the primary light source, and comes in different colors. These collars are battery operated, and the battery being used is usually coin cells to reduce the added weight.

Flotation collar

Flotation or buoyant collars are used as a buoyancy aid for dogs. The mechanics of a flotation collar is not the same as the floating vests in humans. It can keep the dog’s head above the water, but it may still need added support or mobility. There are two types of flotation collars available in the market, the foam, and air-filled type.

Flotation collars

Nowadays, the primary purpose of a flotation collar is to assist an injured dog during hydrotherapy sessions where the dog is having motor exercises while recovering from an injury.

You can even make your own dog collars to customize according to your dog’s needs — see our article on this topic as guide.

Dog collar care and additional instructions

Dog collars, especially the ones used for daily activities, require care and other considerations. Just like clothes, different materials call for different cleaning methods because using the wrong method can damage the material and lead to faster wear and tear rate.

Cloth-based collars

Cloth-based collars made from nylon, cotton, vinyl, or combination need similar care instructions like the instructions we have for clothes. In general, cloth-based collars only need gentle detergents and warm water to clean the accumulated dirt and to remove the doggy odor. Detergents should be gentle enough to prevent irritation to the dog’s skin. It is very important to rinse the collars thoroughly to prevent suds from drying up which can trigger irritation and can actually worsen the doggy odor that will stick to the cloth-based collars.

Leather collars

Leather collars are very durable, but they tend to collect grime and bad odor faster compared to other materials used for collars. They also need a different cleaning agent, such as the oils used for leather gloves.

Leather collars

The outer part can be wiped with moist towel, but those collars that have not been cleaned regularly will require oils and scented cleansing materials.


Chains are generally resistant to water and can be cleaned with dog shampoo. You can actually do this while giving your dog a bath.

Reminder: It is important that for any kind of dog collar material, excessive brushing is highly discouraged because it can damage the material (especially cloth and leather-based collars).

Dog collars should be treated the same way as we treat our towels and toothbrushes. They should not be shared among other dogs in the house. Aside from sizing differences, the most important aspect of not sharing collars is for health safety precaution. A simple act of providing individual collars for your dogs will reduce the incidence of cross contamination or introduction of ticks and fleas. This is very important, especially for families that have small children and have many dogs in the house.

This is also applicable to medicated collars – it should also be a one collar per dog policy. This is a different scenario when utilizing a leash, because unlike the collar, it does not touch the dog’s skin as frequent, and it is less exposed to ground contaminants unlike the collar when the dog roams around and play. It is a matter of correct mindset about cleanliness, and this attitude will come a long way in preventing sickness and skin allergies or infection.


Dog collars are one of the best dog accessories ever made for our canine friends.

Collar size chart

It promotes control, safety, and even a fashion statement. As long as we know the things that we have to check in selecting the proper dog collar that will fit the dog’s needs, it can be one of the best investments you can do for your dog.

For tips on choosing the right collar for your dog, read our article dealing on the topic to help you.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.