Dogs will become a cherished member of the family before you know it, so you’ll want to keep them safe and secure. Dog collars are a vital part of this as they allow your pet to be more identifiable. They’re the ideal place to attach ID tags and medical tags, and a collar with identification will help your dog get home if he or she gets lost.

It’s also true that the right dog collar can enhance the appearance of your dog. Dog collars can often make bold statements about you and your pet!

It’s worth mentioning that our guide will focus on standard dog collars, and we have separate guides for GPS tracking and dog harnesses.

Read on to learn about what to look for in a dog collar and some critical tips for using them safely. We’ve also included our top picks for the best dog collars this year.

Our Top Picks: Summary

Best Overall: Lupine Adjustable Dog Collar
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Lupine Dog Collar

The 3/4-inch Lupine collar is suitable for a wide range of dogs, and it’ll last a long time.

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$13.99

Why we Picked It

Our best overall pick this year is Lupine’s adjustable dog collar. It’s a collar made from jacquard woven nylon; the pattern on the collar is woven directly into the webbing.

The 3/4-inch Lupine collar is suitable for a wide range of dogs, and it’ll last a long time. The company offers a lifetime guarantee and will even replace the collar if your dog chews it.

Featuring bar-tack stitching, a welded D-ring, and a custom side-release buckle, the collar looks stylish and provides a secure, durable, and sturdy fit at the same time.

The Lupine comes in three adjustable size ranges, is machine washable, and there are a variety of patterns to choose from⁠—an excellent all-around choice.

Keep in Mind

To work out the right fit, you’ll need to measure around the middle of your dog’s neck and then add an extra 5-percent.

In a Nutshell

  • Three adjustable size ranges
  • Machine washable
  • Bar tack stitching
Best Martingale: If It Barks Dog Collar
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If It Barks Collar

With its anti-pull system, it’s a humane option that will help give you better control, especially for skittish dogs or those that back out of regular collars.

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$32.00

Why we Picked It

Our top pick for the best martingale is the If It Barks dog collar. With its anti-pull system, it’s a humane option that will help give you better control, especially for skittish dogs or those that back out of regular collars.

The collar is ideal for training large and small dogs, especially those with necks that are larger than their heads, like greyhounds. It’ll keep your dog safe on the walks, preventing escape without irritating your canine.

It’s made from a durable x-tough fabric, comes in a wide range of colors and can be personalized to your heart’s desire. It will suit you and your dog, whatever the style.

If the collar breaks with regular wear and tear, then the manufacturer will replace it for you—no fuss, no hassle, just excellent customer service.

Keep in Mind

Some customers have mentioned that the collar performs best for those dogs with more fur.

In a Nutshell

  • Durable fabric
  • Wide range of colors
  • Comfortable and humane
Best for Pulling: PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar
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PetSafe Dog Headcollar

For those dogs that consistently pull, lunge, and jump while out on walks, this is the head collar for the job.

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$19.99

Why we Picked It

The best collar on our list for pulling is the PetSafe Gentle Leader head collar. For those dogs that consistently pull, lunge, and jump while out on walks, this is the head collar for the job.

Several collars aim to control your dog’s behavior (as detailed below), but none are as compassionate and safe as the head collar when it comes to forceful and active dogs. The PetSafe Gentle Leader was created by behaviorists to give you better control over your dog and help train away bad habits.

The nose loop is neoprene-padded, and the head collar efficiently puts pressure on the back of the neck, instead of dangerously around the dog’s throat—which could lead to choking.

It’s easy to fit this collar on your dog—it should take no more than a few moments—and we love the adjustable nose loop and quick-snap neck strap. Before you know it, you and your furry friend will be on your way!

Keep in Mind

It comes with a 1-year chew damage replacement, for a small fee.

In a Nutshell

  • Vet and trainer approved
  • Easy and quick fit
  • Great value for money
Best Waterproof: Regal Dog Waterproof Collar
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Regal Dog Waterproof Collar

With its adjustable and custom fit, it should fit small, medium, and even large dogs.

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$14.99

Why we Picked It

If you’re looking for the best waterproof collar for long and wet walks out and about, then Regal Dog’s collar is a top pick.

With its adjustable and custom fit, it should fit small, medium, and even large dogs. It comes with the added benefit of being water-resistant with vinyl-coated webbing and flexibility in cold weather. It’s also highly durable, more so than rubber or plastic dog collars.

The center safety ring handily relieves pressure if it gets caught on obstacles, and you can attach a leash when training your dog. It’s excellent at preventing moisture, bacteria, and dirt from building up on it, meaning you can go almost anywhere without having to worry.

The Regal Dog collar is made from a synthetic material, but looks and feels like leather, offering the additions of being waterproof and maintenance-free. It’s also available in a variety of colors.

Keep in Mind

Just be sure to know the size of your dog’s neck in inches before purchasing it.

In a Nutshell

  • Adjustable fit
  • Water-resistant with a vinyl coating
  • Ideal for hunting dogs
Best for Puppies: Pawtitas Dog Collar
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Pawtitas Collar

The Pawtitas dog collar is the ultimate choice for puppies and smaller dogs.

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$15.99

Why we Picked It

The Pawtitas dog collar is the ultimate choice for puppies and smaller dogs. It comes in a variety of sizes, the smallest of which fits dogs with neck sizes between 6 and 9 inches.

It features reflective collar threads that have been designed to reflect ambient light, especially in low light conditions. In other words, if you like to go on walks with your dog at night, you’ll have the visibility you need to keep your pooch safe.

The Pawtitas collar is constructed from a single piece of rip-stop nylon and is folded over for added strength and durability, meaning it can withstand many adventures. The D-ring is placed close to the buckle to avoid pressure on your best friend’s neck.

This puppy collar comes in a range of colors and different sizes. It’s a modern, stylish offering at an affordable price—you won’t be disappointed.

Keep in Mind

The collar isn’t resistant to being chewed, so always keep an eye on your furry friend.

In a Nutshell

  • Perfect for small dogs
  • Great value for money
  • Reflective threads

How We Chose the Best Dog Collars

When we were choosing the best dog collars, we looked at five key areas to help inform our decisions. After reviewing these, we came to our conclusions on the top picks of the year. For clarity, here’s what we looked at in detail during the process:

Material

We prioritized dog collars made from durable materials. A dog collar must stand the test of time and should endure typical wear and tear. We also looked for those dog collars that make it as easy as possible to keep them clean. A good example is leather; it looks great, but the material can be hard to keep clean. This fact is especially true for dogs who frequently get wet and muddy.

Safety

For the general safety of the dog, we eliminated any collars that are considered inhumane, like choke collars, which can cause physical and long-lasting emotional damage to your dog. Instead, we prioritized dog collars with safety features, such as those with reflective material and a high level of adjustability.

Reflective dog collars are ideal when walking a dog at night or in crowds, and therefore we consider them to be necessary. Dog collars with good adjustability allow the owner to tighten them properly, preventing discomfort for their pets.

Various Needs

There is a wide range of dog collars available today, and for good reason. There are many different sizes of dogs, and each has its unique temperament. Each dog will most likely need a different type of collar that’s individually suited to them. That’s why we look at a wide range of collars, to ensure we’re taking account of specific needs. There should be something for every canine.

Price

A good dog collar doesn’t need to cost the earth. However, those with special features do tend to cost more. A martingale collar is designed for dogs with narrow heads, while reflective material helps a dog to be seen at night and in large crowds—both of these do tend to cost more.

Even so, we still look at dog collars that provide excellent value for the customer. It’s certainly possible to have a reasonably priced dog collar that offers the special features owners need, and simpler is often better.

Customer Reviews

We look at a spectrum of customer reviews to help inform our decision. Specifically, we take into account recurring trends and mentions of faulty collars or those that have failed to stand the test of time.

We also look at how the brand responded to any problems and take note of their response. For instance, was it friendly, professional, and efficient? Was the problem solved for the customer? A brand that knowingly cuts corners will not feature on our top picks.

Types of Dog Collars

Virtually all dogs should have a collar for identification purposes. If your dog isn’t prone to running away, the same still applies.

As for the dog collars available, there are three main types:

Flat collar: The most standard type of collar for dogs. A flat collar will feature a buckle or plastic snap closure and a ring—you can attach identification tags and a leash to the ring. They come in a variety of unique designs and colors, so you’ll have plenty of choices.

A flat collar should be comfortable on your dog’s neck; it should be fitted, but not too tight. A collar that’s too loose will allow your dog to slip out of it.

Martingale: A martingale, also known as a limited-slip collar, is designed for dogs with narrow heads. While certain breeds, such as whippets and greyhounds, will benefit the most, almost any type of dog will find it harder to slip out of them.

A martingale is made with two loops; the larger one is slipped on the dog’s head. The small loop becomes taut when pulled on, making the larger loop smaller—this helps to prevent the dog from escaping.

Head collar: The head collar is an excellent choice for active and forceful dogs, particularly those who pull and jump. They work by fitting over the dog’s nose and neck, and by doing so, limit the leverage your dog has when pulling.

A head collar must be carefully adjusted to be effective. Be sure not to yank your dog’s leash when in use—this can be hazardous for them. Your canine may not like one of these collars at first, but they should become accustomed to it over time.

Collar Types We Don’t Recommend

We don’t recommend the following types of collars because there are more humane ways to train dogs.

Choke chain: As you might have guessed, a choke chain controls your dog by tightening around his neck—it’s made from metal links. Perhaps most significantly of all, there is no way to control how much the choke chain tightens around the dog’s neck, making it possible to strangle them. Other injuries include nerve damage and paralysis.

The martingale collar is an infinitely better option here.

Bark collars: Bark collars are designed to reinforce to the dog that excessive barking is wrong. Most agree that this form of punishment rarely prevents the dog from barking, causing stress without a solution.

Positive reinforcement—using treats—is effective here, and of course, it’s more humane too.

Shock collars: Shock collars work by using an electric signal that produces anything from a mild sensation to a sharp shock for your dog. This approach can lead to aggressive and fearful behavior from your dog.

A dog trainer doesn’t need the use of a shock collar, and we don’t recommend them.

What to Consider When Choosing a Dog Collar

As you might expect, there are quite a few things to consider before simply going out and buying a dog collar. From the size and temperament of your dog to the design of the collar—it’s worth putting time aside to consider each area.

The perfect collar for your dog will be one that is easy to clean and fits it appropriately, with the ability to be easily adjusted. Here’s everything you need to think about before diving in:

Dog Size

Getting the proper fit for a dog collar is crucial. The collar should be adjustable and able to fit your particular dog. For example, breeds with smaller heads, such as greyhounds, are best suited to martingale collars. For bigger dogs or those who need extra training, the best collars tend to be head collars; they are better at controlling more powerful canines.

Think carefully about your dog, the breed, and which type of collar would be the most appropriate for it.

Dog Temperament

Related to the size of your dog is its temperament—different breeds have wildly different characteristics and will have different needs when it comes to collars.

Dogs who habitually pull or lunge on walks may benefit from a head collar. Highly active dogs tend to do better with a more durable collar to withstand the increased activity. The key is knowing the behavior of your furry friend and responding to it with the appropriate collar. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting it right.

Cleaning

In terms of keeping a dog collar clean, synthetic materials tend to be the best option. Other materials may work for dogs that aren’t very active because there aren’t as many chances for them to get dirty. Decorative grommets (holes along the collar) are harder to clean due to dirt getting trapped.

After a while, some materials are also prone to odors that can be unpleasant. Be aware of the material your dog collar is made from, as this can affect the level of cleaning required from you.

Design

The design of the collar isn’t quite as crucial as some of the other considerations here. With that said, some owners want their dogs to be as stylish as possible. They see their dog as an extension or representation of them. That’s not a problem. Luckily, there is a vast range of collars, each with varying colors, patterns, and designs; it’s worth taking a good deal of time to find the right one for you.

Dog Collar Safety

Having a dog collar is the first most vital step to keeping your dog safe. Storing your information on the collar, via a tag, could mean the difference between finding a lost dog or never seeing it again. A collar and a leash will help you to control dogs too.

That said, there are some general safety tips to keep in mind as well, including the following:

  • Ensure the right fit: Ensuring the proper fit is essential to get right. An ill-fitting collar might be too tight and could put your dog at risk of strangulation. The wrong size of collar could be highly irritating to your dog and could, therefore, alter its behavior too.
  • Use for short walks: Unless your dog is really well trained on a leash and hardly ever pulls, you should use a collar for short walks. A harness is the better option for smaller dogs who are prone to injury from pulling with a traditional leash and collar. Harnesses themselves are also helpful for any dog that pulls and for training them not to. Since you asked, we have a separate guide to harnesses right here!
  • Attach ID tags: At the very least, you should attach some ID tags to your collar. Even better, suitable identification could be written or embroidered on the collar. Microchipping the dog is a last line of defense, but not all owners desire this.
  • Take the collar off when necessary: It’s important to remember to take off the collar before putting your dog in a crate—they can catch on bars and choke themselves—or if dogs are roughhousing, for the same reason.
  • When outside, dogs should wear their collar: You should always have your dog wear her collar when outside, even for short walks. Of course, as we’ve said above, harnesses are a great option too.

Related Resources

For more on our furry friends, you can check out these guides below:

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Jamie Giggs