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Selecting the right collar size for your dog


Man and his "best friend," the dog, have been living together for thousands of years. Egyptian representations of dogs wearing collars date back to around 3,500BC and man's first domestication and control of dogs probably goes back several thousand years before that. The dog collar is a very effective way of handling and training your dog and also in more modern times as a means of carrying information and identification. Dog collars come in all sorts of materials and types. However, if your dog's collar does not fit properly then your dog will not be comfortable and could also be at risk.

Types of collar

A collar for small dogs should be 8-11 inches long.Early types of dog collar would have been made of leather. And, in ancient Greece or Rome these collars would often have been spiked. Not to be macho but as a defense against predators. Even today, these collars, known as, "wolf collars," are still worn in some parts of the world. However, you are more likely to choose a dog collar for the function that you want it to perform and also for its looks on your dog. You might select a:

  • Basic buckle or flat collar, which can incorporate variants such as flea protection, stretch or breakaway collars to prevent your dog choking should it become snagged, and studded collars for protection, or just for show
  • Training collars, including electronic shock collars
  • Slip collars or choke chains
  • Prong or pinch collars designed to prevent your dog pulling on the leash
  • Martingale collars, which are designed for dogs whose heads are smaller than their necks
  • Head halters
  • Dog harnesses, which go around the front legs and chest for dogs and are principally for dogs with breathing difficulties
  • Wolf collars

All of these types of collars can come in a bewildering variety of materials, colors, and styles. You may choose a color for its look or you may want to consider a collar with reflective material if you are out with your dog at night. However, bear in mind the strength or your dog too and choose an appropriate material; leather, synthetic, chains and more are all options.

Choosing a collar

Before you measure your dog up for a collar reduce the range available to you by matching your dog's breed to a collar and from there to your needs. As a rule of thumb certain sized dogs will, typically fall into certain guideline measurement bands:

  • Small dogs, collar length 8-11 inches long by just over half an inch wide
  • Medium dogs, collar length 12-15 inches long by around three quarters of an inch wide
  • Large dogs, collar length 16-19 inches long by around an inch wide
  • Extra large dogs, collar length 20-23 inches long by around an inch wide

Ensuring the right fit

Dogs are not one size fits all and they will, just like humans, change size throughout their lifetime. A correct fit is important, if your dog's collar is too tight it may chafe or cause choking or gagging. If the collar is too loose it may slip over you're dog's head, slip down too far and risk damaging its throat, or the collar may become snagged up in something and cause your dog to choke. Measure your dog's neck with a tape measure and add two to three inches. If you have a puppy, check its collar on a regular basis as it grows. You may not always have your tape measure to hand so, as a rule of thumb on a small to medium dog you should be able to easily slip two fingers under the collar and with larger dogs, three fingers.

Of course, it is not just puppies that you should be monitoring. Aside from wear and rear on the collar, all dogs will gain or lose weight at some time in their life and your dog should always have an effective and comfortable collar.


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