How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

By: Nathan Grant

A dog collar is so much more than just an accessory for your four-legged friend. Your dog’s safety ultimately depends on a well-fitted collar.

A collar with tags, could aid in the safe return of your dog, if it happens to escape. It also can help you maintain control of your dog on walks, and even just around the house. However, many dog owners are left with the question, how tight should a dog collar be?

In this article, I’ll discuss how to determine the proper fit to keep your best friend safe and happy.

Why the Fit Matters

Many people may just grab a collar, that appears to look like the right size, and put it on their dog. This is a huge mistake. A collar that is too loose or too tight can easily affect the wellbeing of your dog.

What Happens If the Collar Is Too Loose?

This may seem preferable over the alternative of a collar being too tight, but it can be just as problematic. A collar plays a huge role in the control of your dog. If a collar is too loose, your dog could slip out of it on a walk. Alternatively, if you’re needing to hold your dog back, for any reason, you certainly don’t want to lose that control due to the collar sliding off. If your dog happens to escape, a loose collar can also hinder rescue efforts.

What Happens If the Collar Is Too Tight?

A tight collar may seem to resolve the concern of lack of control, but there is such a thing as too tight. The issues with a collar that is too tight revolve around the negative effects it can have on your dogs wellbeing. A collar that is too tight can cause extreme discomfort for your dog. In the most extreme cases, it can become embedded, which can result in major medical issues. It is extremely important to ensure that the collar does not hinder your dog’s everyday activities like eating, drinking, and barking.

How to Measure Your Dog’s Neck

Obtaining an accurate measurement of your dog’s neck is the first step to finding a collar with the proper fit. For best control, the collar should sit slightly above the bottom of your dog’s neck. This is going to be the area you want to measure.

The easiest way to measure is to use a soft tape measure like this one. If you don’t happen to have a soft tape measure, you can also use a string or ribbon and then measure that on a traditional tape measure. The key is to get something that is similar in flexibility to that of a collar. You’ll want to add an inch or two to the measurement, which ensures that the collar fits comfortably and is secure.

Purchasing the Correct Sized Collar

Collars are sold based on their size: XS, S, M, L, XL etc. These sizes are roughly correlated to the size of the dog that they would best fit. The collars will also specify the length ranges that the collar will fit. That’s why it’s really important to measure the neck circumference before purchasing your dog’s collar.

While the length specifications are a huge help when finding the correct sized collar, it is also very important to consider the width of the collar. A wider collar can help with dogs that are strong and tend to pull a lot. A collar that is more narrow can be useful for smaller breeds, or dogs that may have shorter necks.

Potential Sizing Issues

Typical collar sizing is based on the fit for an average dog. Collars don’t fit every dog the same way, so it is important to consider your dogs anatomy.

According to Dr. Michael Walsh, of Oak Hill Animal Clinic, “Some dog breeds will slip out of any collar if their neck is thick and the same width as their skull. Breeds such as Greyhounds, Whippets, Pugs, Bulldogs and similar breeds will slip out of even the tightest buckle collars.” In cases like this, where any collar may slip, you may want to consider looking into a harness for added safety and control while on walks.

The Importance of Testing and Adjusting

There is a really simple rule out there when it comes to the appropriate fit of a collar. You want to be able to fit two fingers comfortably between your dog’s neck and the collar. While it is simple, it’s also very accurate. This test ensures that the collar is not too loose, or too tight.

Another quick test you can do is gently pull the fastened collar towards the top of your dog’s head. You want to ensure that it does not easily slide over, and off, your dog’s head.

Adjusting the collar is imperative to ensure your dog’s constant comfort. If you have a puppy, it is important to check the fit, and adjust accordingly, often. However, it is also vital to check the fit of your dog’s collar even once they’ve hit adulthood. Grooming is one thing that quickly throws off the fit of the collar. It is important to check the fit right after the grooming, and also after a few weeks have passed.

Accounting for minor changes in anatomy is also important when it comes to adjusting. While most dog’s weight stays consistent, there could be fluctuations throughout their life. Checking every so often ensures that you account for changes in their weight or even excess skin that may appear as they age.

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