Picking the Best Collar for your Dog

Three Minutes
Apr 20, 2022

With so many different types of dog collars on the market these days, it can be downright overwhelming trying to pick one for your pup. Collars come in all kinds of different styles, colors, and materials, but did you know that they are also made with different purposes in mind?

In this article, we’re going to break down some of the most common types of collars. 

Flat Collar

A flat collar is a popular choice among dog owners. These collars come in a variety of materials, ranging from nylon to leather, and beyond and usually have an alligator clip closure or a standard buckle. Many dog owners choose these as the go-to collar for their dogs, likely due to the wide range of fun styles available, but they do have some limitations.

The main issue with flat collars is that they can easily slip over the head of a stubborn dog. This is particularly true when it comes to breeds with narrow heads and thick necks, like the Greyhound. A rambunctious puppy is also liable to slip out of his collar if he becomes excited or scared.

If your dog fits either of the descriptions above, a flat collar may not provide the control you need to have him walk with you safely. You might wish to consider purchasing an additional collar for walking purposes and reserve a flat collar as an accessory for holding your dog’s identification tags.

Choke Chain Collar

Choke chains are considered a type of dog training collar. They consist of a metal chain which slides through a loop and attaches to a leash. These collars were designed so that a handler can give their dog a sharp jerk if he misbehaves. As soon as the tension on the leash is released, the collar releases as well.

The use of these collars is somewhat controversial these days, but they are still moderately popular. When used responsibly these collars can be a very effective training tool for dogs who are prone to pulling. It should be noted though, that choke chains are not recommended for brachycephalic dog breeds, as they can be more prone to tracheal collapse. 

If you do opt to use a choke chain for your dog don’t use it as his primary collar. It should only be used when he is under direct supervision. Otherwise, if he happens to get his chain caught on something, he could strangle himself. Many owners will use a flat collar for day to day and slip on a chain when they walk their dog.

Martingale Collar

Similar to the choke chain, the martingale collar is a training collar which functions by tightening when the leash is pulled. Though they have the same use, martingale collars are considered a much gentler (but equally effective) alternative to the choke chain.

Instead of tightening infinitely as a choke chain does, a martingale collar is essentially a flat collar, but instead of a buckle, it has a loop of chain or fabric, which tightens only to a certain point. This is much safer for your dog, as you can adjust the collar to fit his neck in a manner that prevents restricting his ability to breathe.

Martingale collars are a great option for mischievous dogs who like to try pulling out of the collar. They also work well for breeds like Greyhounds or Whippets who have narrow heads. If a martingale collar is adjusted to fit your dog properly it can be safely worn every day.

Prong Collar

Prong collars (also known as pinch collars) are another controversial training collar option for dogs. These collars consist of large metal links of chain with metal prongs attached to the inside. They have a martingale style enclosure (a link of chain that only tightens to a certain point). The difference between this collar and a martingale collar is that when the leash is pulled, the prongs poke into the dog’s neck.

Just like the martingale and the choke chain, prong collars are said to be helpful for training dogs not to pull. They are particularly effective on highly animated and excitable breeds.

Prong collars have fallen out of popularity recently due to concern over the ethics of using them. Some people believe that prong collars hurt dogs, while some trainers insist that they only offer momentary discomfort.

One big problem with prong collars is that they aren’t particularly easy to use. If the collar isn’t put on properly it isn’t effective at all. Likewise, if the individual handling the dog doesn’t know how to offer the proper types of corrections, using a prong collar is pointless.

Head Halters For Dogs

A head halter might seem like a strange way to walk your dog, but they are very popular among some owners! These halters fit over your dog’s snout and behind his ears and tighten with a sliding toggle under his chin. These halters were developed as a training tool for dogs, and have been proven to be quite successful.

A dog halter offers you better control over your dogs head than any collar. As a result, it’s much easier to get your dog’s attention as you walk. This helps you deter them from pulling, barking at other dogs, or any other unfavorable behavior you wish to curb.

A dog’s first instinct will likely be to use his paws to pry his nose out of the halter. If you plan to use a halter, prepare to spend some time training your pup to tolerate it before you head out into the world!

Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses are a really popular alternative (or addition to) collars. Harnesses have been created for all kinds of different purposes. Some are designed to deter pulling, others are simply a more comfortable alternative to a collar, and some even include pockets and pouches so your dog can carry around accessories!

Harnesses are certainly more secure than collars in terms of keeping them on your dog. This is undoubtedly why they are favored by so many owners. Harnesses also prevent any unnecessary pressure against your dog’s trachea and therefore are considered safer than collars, especially for dogs that like to pull.

If you’re considering a harness for your dog, keep in mind that breeds who are notorious for pulling (Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc.) tend to pull even more when wearing a harness. That’s not to say that a harness isn’t a good option for one of these breeds, but you should take care to select a model with a leash attachment in the front. This way, when your pup begins to pull, his attention will be redirected to you!

As you can see, there are countless different types of collars, harnesses and even halters to choose from for your dog. When it comes down to it, it’s important to choose a collar that fits your dog’s behavior. If you have an easy going older dog who never pulls, perhaps a flat collar is all he needs. If you have a young, rambunctious dog a harness or a martingale collar might make it easier to control him on walks. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your dog are both safe and comfortable on your walks!

Protect your Dog

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.