Last Updated - Aug 7, 2020

Monro Pet's Dog Collar Buying Guide

Your Insider Scoop to Flat Dog Collars & More!

Showing off the Kawaii Pinku dog collar and some really cool wall art in Orlando.

When was the last time you stopped by the local pet shop to glance at a few collars. You're looking on your phone. Scrolling through social media and searching on the Internet. When you see something, you imagine how adorable it would look on your pup. "Does this fit my pup's personality? "I know this color would look too cute on him/her." Trust us, we have all been. With all this in mind we have put together a simple guide for those buying a dog collar. Whether you are a first-time pet owner or have many years with dogs, this guide will serve you well!

Why Do You Need a Dog Collar?

"Every dog needs a collar, chiefly because they need something to hang their leash, license, ID and rabies vaccination tag on." - The Humane Society

There are two main reasons why your dog needs a collar.

  • Dog leashes
  • Dog ID tags

Dog collars are first functional before fashionable. In most places in the United States, it is illegal to walk a dog off the leash. Dog tags are also placed on the leash to provide identification for lost dogs

Should I Take My Dog’s Collar Off at Night?

We recommend that you let your dog sleep at night without a collar. This will give time for the skin on your dog's neck to air out. It is okay for your dog to be without a collar as long as your dog stays in the house.

Measuring the Dog’s Neck

The easiest way for you to measure your dog’s neck is to use a flexible measuring tape. Don’t have a measuring tape? No worries. You can use the following:

  • A shoelace or USB charging cord for your phone
  • A yard stick or tape measure

How to Select the Right-Sized Dog Collar?

Step 1: Place the cord or tape measure around your dog's neck.

Step 2: Use the measurement where the cord or tape crosses.

Step 3: Add an 1 - 2 inches depending on the size of your dog.

Step 4: Use a size chart to select the right collar size.

Note: Measuring tapes may make your pup unsure. Give him/her a treat when you measure and afterward.

Do Not Measure Existing Dog Collars!

All collars are different when it comes to sizes. Measuring your dog's current collar won't give you the right size for their neck. Your dog deserves to have a collar that is comfortable and safe. Measure their actual neck to ensure the right fit.

Dog Collar Sizes

When selecting the right collar size, proper fit is important.

When a Collar is Too Loose

  • It can become a safety hazard
  • Your dog can slip out and run away or get hurt
  • It can get caught on something and cause your dog to choke

When a Collar is Too Tight

  • Restrict your dog's airways, which can decrease blood flow
  • Make the dog feel uncomfortable
  • Cause your dog pain and skin chafing
  • Fur and skin loss around the neck

Getting the right dog collar size will ensure that it is a perfect fit around the neck. Now you are ready to get your dog a collar!

The Two-Finger Rule

Apply the two-finger rule to make sure there is enough space between the dog's collar and their neck. Adjust if needed.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

You should be able to fit at least two fingers between the collar and your dog's neck.

Types of Dog Collars

There are a variety of dog collars, but for this guide our focus is on flat dog collars. Other types of dog collars include:

Martingale Collars

A martingale dog collar

Also called “no-slip” collars, Martingale collars prevent your dog from escaping their collar. It's designed to tighten up when the dog pulls on the leash and will not choke your dog. If your dog is an escape artist, they will not be able to back out or slip through this collar.

Rope Collars

A rope dog collar

Rope dog collars are comfortable and durable. They don’t feel rough or tight around your dog’s skin. Rope collars are not likely to unravel nor are they worn down easy. You'll find a stylish option for your dog's personality. Look for the rope collars that have a fixed width or a leather buckle closure.

Smart Collars and Tracking Devices

A smart dog collar with tracking

With the advent of technology we get a new breed of dog collars. Smart collars. Some can track changes in your dog’s behavior and act as a GPS tracker. If you’re into having the latest technology, the smart collar is an excellent choice. Check out the following brands.

  • Link AKC
  • Fi Smart Dog Collar
  • Whistle GPS Pet Trackers
  • Findster GPS Dog Tracker
  • FitBark GPS Dog Tracker

Aversive Collars

a prong dog collar also called a choke collar.

When a dog is difficult to train, dog trainers and owners may use different dog collars. Aversive dog collars create physical discomfort around the dog’s neck to teach what not to do. They are painful for the dog and may cause your dog to act more aggressive toward you and others. We recommend positive reinforcement for dog training. The following are examples of aversive dog collars.

  • Choke or prong collars
  • Shock collars
  • Head collars

Flat Dog Collars

a flat dog collar, which can be made of nylon or polyester.

Flat dog collars (also called Everyday Dog Collars) are your most common kind of dog collar. There are two kinds of flat collars.

  • Collars with a metal or plastic side-release clasp
  • Collars with a metal buckle

Both collars adjust to your dog's neck size for a comfortable fit. They come in a variety of colors, styles and materials. There are even LED collars for when you are walking at night or on low light areas.

Dog Collar Materials

There are many materials used to make dog collars durable, comfortable and stylish. The following materials are most common in collars.

Biothane

a biothane dog collar

Biothane is a waterproof material used for dog collars. It's made of polyester and coated with polyurethane or polyvinyl. It's 100% non-toxic and great for dogs that love to play in the water. It comes in a variety of colors and is comfortable for everyday wear. It's easy to clean and durable for any activity.

Cotton Fabric

a cloth dog collar made of cotton

You can find some collars made of fabric, especially on craft websites, such as Etsy. This fabric features a variety of patterns and colors. Some dog collars have a fabric sleeve with a nylon ribbon on the inside to add to its durability. You can wash my hand or machine and let it air dry.

Hemp

a hemp dog collar

Hemp may feel more gentle and soothing to dogs with allergies and sensitive skin. Other benefits of hemp is that it's durable and biodegradable. It's resistant to orders and mildew too.

Leather

a leather dog collar

Leather is a natural material that looks good and is very durable. Though it is more expensive, they are a great option for dogs with allergies or sensitive skin. It's easy to clean and can last for years unlike collars made from synthetic materials.

Neoprene

a padded dog collar with polyester and neoprene.

Neoprene is a material made of rubber. It's soft and comfortable. It's used in other products, such as wetsuits. As a result it is very resistant to water. It doesn't hold moisture, which can cause an odor or mildew. Dog collars that use neoprene along with nylon or polyester are more durable and strong. Dogs with skin allergies benefit from a soft dog collar.

Nylon or Polyester

a nylon or polyester dog collar.

Nylon and Polyester are the most common materials for dog collars. They also offer the most variety in patterns, colors and widths. Nylon and polyester are very versatile and can be easy to clean. You can find many options, from something inexpensive to high-end and stylish!

Dog Collar vs. Dog Harness: Which Is Better?

a dog collar vs a dog harness. which is better? you need both.

Deciding whether to buy a dog collar or leash does not have to feel like a clash between titans! There is a lot people have to say about the topic, but we want to make this easy for you. You already know why having a dog collar is important. Let's now explore why you may need a dog harness.

Why Use a Dog Harness?

Dog harnesses are a great way to control and manage any dog. Depending on the type of harness, it can distribute the force of pulling across the body. One of the most common reasons to use a dog harness is because of pulling. The tension people feel when their dog pulls is because of the difference in pace, also called stride. For every stride your dog takes, you make two or more strides.

Yes, your dog wants to go outside. Yes, your dog may be in a new environment and curious to explore. Yet when a dog and a human are at a similar pace there will always be pulling.

When to Use a Collar Only

  • When your dog is well-trained on a leash
  • In your house or backyard
  • Your dog won’t take off after a distraction
  • Your dog dislikes wearing a harness

You don't have to choose between one or the other. We see dog collars and harnesses as necessary in many situations. It’s good to remember that some dogs do better with a collar and others do better with a harness. Here are a few examples below.

Harnesses Are Never a Replacement for Collars

Please remember that you still need to use a dog collar when using a harness. You want to ensure your dog has the right ID tags in case of an emergency. Even if a dog has a microchip, (s)he should always wear a collar. Never leave home without one.

For Dog Tags

dog tags.

Please include the following information customizing a dog tag:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email (if space is available)
  • “Text OK” (if space is available)

Rebecca Gridley from Total Pet Care in North Carolina recommends this information. “I have found speedier responses often with a dog that’s found via text message,” she said.

For Dog Tags

There is no need to choose between a dog collar and leash. It’s good to have both. They are tools used to keep your dog safe. The best way to determine what your dog needs is to understand him/her. Over time you will know which ones to use based on your dog’s needs and the life you live with them.

The last thing we want to cover when buying a dog collar and leash is maintenance. How do you clean a dog collar?

Cleaning a Dog Collar

Whether you have a house dog or one that is very active, cleaning their collar is necessary. In this guide, you will learn what you need to do to take care of your dog’s collar.

What Causes Dog Collars to Smell?

  • Bacteria and microbes
  • Dirt
  • Environmental debris
  • Dead skin

 Dog collars are the perfect place for something smelly!

How do you prevent a collar from smelling? The first thing you can do is buy a collar made with materials that resist odors. The second thing you can do is clean the collar often. No collar is stink-proof. Routine cleaning and odor-resistant materials will help reduce bad smells.

Dirty Collars Can Cause Problems

A dog collar that remains unclean can cause skin sores and infections. The dirt and germs on the collar can irritate your dog. Once it becomes uncomfortable, your dog may scratch at the area making the matter worse. In the same way wearing dirty socks can cause the foot to itch, an unclean collar can irritate a dog's neck. When a collars goes without a good cleaning for a long time, issues will arise.

How to a Clean Dog Collar

Keeping it clean helps to keep your dog's coat clean longer. To wash a dog collar you will need a few things:

  • A large bowl
  • Hand soap, shampoo or vinegar and baking soda
  • Hot water
  • A used or soft-bristle toothbrush
  • A bath towel
washing a dog collar.

The following steps are for synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester. Please use other methods for leather and fabric dog collars.

Step 1: Place hot water into a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix 2 - 3 tablespoons of baking soda and vinegar or add shampoo to the water.

Step 3: Soak dog collar for about 15 minutes.

Step 4: Scrub the dog collars until it's clean.

Step 5: Rinse with hot water.

Step 6: Wrap towel around collar and press to absorb excess water.

Step 7: Let the collar air-dry.

Disclaimer: The steps taken above are not intended for leather collars. If your collar has a metal buckle, do not place it in the dryer. Metal buckles make lots of noise and can damage the appliance. Let it hand dry.

Buy a Dog Collar

Now that you have read this guide to buying a dog collar, we hope you find the right one for your dog. Every dog deserves to have a collar that fits them well, is comfortable and helps them stay safe. You also want a collar that expresses their personality. Feel free to refer to this guide for help. Share this guide with others in need of a dog collar. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at hello[at]monropets[dot]com.

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