How to pick the right collar
Picking the right collar for your pup can be surprisingly challenging. When you are searching for the best collar for your dog it’s a good idea to make a mental shortlist of your and your dog’s needs. To guide you in the right direction, we’ve narrowed it down to the following factors:
The human Requirements: quality, sustainability, and aesthetics
The pup Requirements: growth, anatomy, coat, lifestyle and sensitivities
Quality ━ Craftsmanship and materials are requirements that are important if you expect your collar to last. We recommend spending a little time researching material and production ethos when you are looking to invest in your dog’s forever collar. This brings us right onto the next human factor…. Sustainability
Sustainability ━ In my opinion quality and sustainability go hand in hand. You will want to look for a collar that is crafted in materials that will last a lifetime and support a company that has long-term sustainability values for their products. In the long run, lowering your environmental pawprint by shopping quality will agree with your wallet, as well as the planet.
Aesthetics ━ Find a collar that you love so much you will want to keep it forever! Companies that pay extra attention to design and craftsmanship tend to also be conscious about fitting – a collar that looks good because it fits well is likely to be more comfortable.
Growth ━ If you are planning to welcome a new pup into your home, you should take growth into consideration. We are all aware of the fact that puppies grow, and they grow fast.
One way to tackle this challenge is by using a “transitional” approach. Start with a basic, budget-friendly collar and transition into the dog’s forever collar when it comes of age. Around 9 months is a good time to take a neck measurement and start looking for the right adult collar size. Consider donating the puppy collar to a shelter or a friend’s pup when your dog has grown its way out of it.
Another option is to go for a puppy collar that is designed with extra girth, so it allows the puppy to grow into its adult body without having to swap out the collar. When using this approach keep in mind that your pup has probably never worn anything around it’s neck before, so resist the temptation of buying a big, heavy collar but rather go for something light and comfortable. In this case, we recommend looking for a durable quality collar and also take into consideration the points below.
Anatomy ━ Take into consideration your pup’s neck girth and length when shopping for a collar. As a general comfort rule, wider collars will distribute pressure more effectively thus be more comfortable if your dog is straining against the lead. However, a collar that is cut too wide will restraint the dog's neck movements. If you own a non-sighthound-breed, our advice is to look for a straight classic cut collar.
Some breeds – typically sighthound and lurchers are equipped with a long, muscular neck and a narrow head. If you own a hound with these anatomical features, we recommend looking for a sighthound collar with a wider cut. A wider cut will provide a more comfortable and much-needed support for the long, slinky hound necks and prevent the hound from cutting off its arterial blood flow and breathing abilities when on lead.
Another thing to consider is that the sighthound's head is typically narrower than their neck which makes it easy for a sighthound to back out of its collar. This is just as true for Greyhounds as it is for Italian greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, Borzois, and Azawakhs as well as other hound breeds like dachshunds. If your pup has a habit of sliding out of its collar; a well-fitted wide-cut martingale “safety collar” might be a better option for you. A sighthound martingale collar is constructed without pin buckles and is slipped over the dog’s head rather than opened and closed in the front. As your dog tries to pull or back out of its collar the front strap tightens, thus preventing it from successfully escaping and serving its purpose as a safety collar.
Type of coat ━ If your dog has a very long coat, it’s advisable to look for a collar with a smooth backside, like leather or webbing. In some cases, wool and cotton can have a tangling effect on long furs and leave you with more combing headaches than necessary.
Breeds with short to medium coats however can benefit from collars with wool or cotton backing as you don’t have the tangling to take into consideration. Soft wool or fleece will provide comfortable support and allows for soft cushioning when your dog is pulling against the lead. As shorter coats are typically oilier than longer coats it’s also a good idea to look for a collar with a natural material backing. Natural materials tend to have better breathing abilities and naturally prevent bad odor and skin allergies.
Lifestyle ━ What do you need from a collar and how do you want it to perform?
The adventurer: Consider the collar’s ability to withstand the particular conditions your dog is adventuring in.
Urban jungle: In the urban jungle a well-fitted collar is key to safety. The big city with all its distractions, excitement, smells, and noises can be scary - especially to inexperienced city dwellers. When looking for a city-collar be mindful of your dog's anatomy. You will want to look for a collar that can provide you with the safety that your pup won’t break or wiggle out of its collar in excitement or a scare at the wrong moment.
Mountain: For professional and adventure dogs embarking on mountain adventures, skiing, hiking, or biking you might want to consider a strong harness suitable for the activity that you are planning on doing. In addition, a small, comfortable collar with an ID-tag might be all you need.
Sea: Nylon webbing collars are commonly recommended for swimmers. However, our experience is that nylon has a habit of fraying when exposed to saltwater, in addition, the saltwater often irreversibly stains the nylon and washes the dye. Nylon webbings and synthetic materials might also irritate the skin and break the hair shafts of your dog's coat. If you find yourself in possession of a swimmer, a simple, durable all-leather collar without padding might be the thing for you. Look for rust-free hardware such as brass, inox, and titanium. Saltwater is hard on all materials, so remember to give the collar a freshwater rinse after a swim in the ocean and it will last you much longer
The Hunter: Some breeds are powerful and equipped with a strong prey drive, like Terriers, Huskies, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. These breeds are typically intelligent, highly energetic, and tend to go after moving objects, whether it's a cyclist, a bird, or leaves blowing in the wind. Under some circumstances wiggling out or breaking free of the collars can be fatal. A well-fitted, high-quality collar is the key to safety. Look for a collar in durable materials that can withstand years of forceful lunges. And remember, any collar is only as good as the fastener that keeps it together, so look for a solid cast metal fastener and stay clear for the plastic ones.
The Showdog: Whether you’re a professional dog handler or you are planning to show your dog in the future you are probably spending a lot of time and resources maintaining your dog's coat and appearance. Look for collars with a smooth back surface. Skinny, round leather collars, that will create as little friction against the coat as possible are usually a good way to go.
Skin or neck sensitivities ━ Some pups are born with skin and neck sensitivities and some develop them over time. It’s therefore always a good idea to consider different kinds of materials.
If you know that your dog suffers from skin sensitivity or allergies, it’s safe to say that you should stay away from synthetic faux leather or waterproof plastic materials. Faux leather and other plastics are non-breathable materials and often stiff and unyielding.
Be conscious about the coloring process, vegetable tanned leather and natural dyes are always the safest way to go. Vegetable tanned basically means that the leather has been dyed with natural products like oak, spruce bark, quebracho, olive leaves, and mimosa bark. Chrome tanned leather, typically bright colors, are tanned using a solution of chemicals, acids, and salts, including chromium sulfate which is terribly bad for the environment and highly likely to trigger allergic reactions.
Also, be mindful of the collar hardware. Like humans, some dogs can be sensitive to heavy metals like nickel. Nickel is a very common composite in hardware metals today, so look for hardware made from such metals as brass, nickel-free stainless steel, and titanium.
Text by Canem Studio
Photography by Carlina Gea & Canem Studio