How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

Quick answer:

Dog collars should be comfortably tight:

  • not too tight; and
  • not too loose

Ideally, two fingers should be possible to place between the collar and your dog's neck which is a commonly accepted way of measuring the best possible collar tightness.

Two fingers rule Two fingers rule Two fingers rule

A dog collar is what a first-time dog owner usually buys. The collar may be an impulse purchase to welcome new addition to the family, but there is more to it than just a simple accessory.

A lot of questions arise when finding the right dog neck collar. How tight should a dog collar be? What type of dog collar is best suited for the house pet? How will they know if it makes their dog uncomfortable? Every dog owner must find a suitable dog neck collar that fits their pets’ comfort, activity, and needs. Besides the collar tightness, very important is also a question of its width. The width varies depending on a dog breed and purpose; you can read more about this topic in our article.

The Question About Tightness

Dog owners must search for a collar that allows breathing room for pets but must not be loose enough so they can wiggle out of it. Remember, a tight collar can make a dog feel uncomfortable to the point that it doesn’t want to move. Anything tighter will make dogs wince in pain, and more importantly, when a dog's breathing is limited, dogs are put under stress. Loose collars, meanwhile, will make it difficult for owners to control their dogs. If they take their dogs to the park for a walk, owners will struggle to catch their pet once they get out of their leash.

What are Dog Collars Used for?

A dog collar has other uses than controlling your pet. Collars can also serve as a way to hang dog licenses, which is required in most states when you want to take your dog for a walk in public. It can also be a place to hang identification and vaccination tags.

Dog collars have more uses aside from decoration and identification. An owner can use specific collars to train their pets, prevent ticks and lice, protect injuries, and stop dogs from barking. To find out what collar suits your dog, you need to know more about the different types of collars available in the market.

Different Types of Dog Collars

Regular Collars

Regular collars are the most common collars available for owners. They have the reputation of being comfortable and straightforward. Dog owners use this type of collar for their pets during walks in the park and activities.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be - Regular Collars

Flat Collars

Flat collars have buckles or quick-release closures that make it easy for owners to place it around a dog’s neck. The collar resembles a belt, which allows owners to adjust the tightness of the accessory to the dog’s comfort. A flat collar can fit tight enough for any dog. However, it is essential for owners to apply the measure if the collar is tight enough for the dog using the “two fingers” rule, which is the ideal way to measure how tight a dog collar should be.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be - Martingale Collars

Martingale Collars

Dogs with small heads or longer necks need to use martingale collars, also known as limited-slip collars. This collar is ideal for dogs that can wriggle themselves free from flat collars like greyhounds, whippets, and other sighthound breeds. At the same time, as the collar is usually wide, it provides a protection for long-necked dogs.

The martingale dog collar includes a primary loop with metal rings attached to both ends. The rings attach to a secondary loop, which has another metal ring where owners can attach a leash. If your dog tries to wriggle out of the collar, it tightens around the animal’s neck. When trying to figure out the proper size for your dog’s martingale collar, you must check if the accessory will not choke your pet head at its tightest and not fall out of the dog’s neck at its most loose.

Head Collars

Head collars are suitable for giant and energetic dogs that can beat their owners in jumping and a game of tug. The collar is also helpful for owners to pull their dogs away if they get aggressive with smaller dogs or animals.

The head collar resembles the halter of a horse. Owners can attach one loop of the collar at the highest part of the dog’s neck, which is just behind its ears. Meanwhile, owners can connect the second loop of the head collar around the dog’s muzzle. Both loops attach to a metal ring, where owners can place a leash. It is essential for owners to figure out how tight a dog collar should be when it comes to head collars because it can lead to injuries if not properly fitted. Some head collars have instruction manuals and video presentations to help owners. A massive leash pull on a strong dog wearing the head collar can cause it to tighten painfully.

Special Collars

Special collars have other uses besides control, which can be helpful for owners if they want their pups to learn new commands or prevent unwanted behavior. Unique collars have different sizes and collar styles that each serve dogs in different ways.

Anti-Bark Collars

Anti-bark collars will help owners prevent excessive barking. Despite not addressing the reason for the dog’s barks, the no bark collar helps avoid unwanted sounds from the pup, especially at private places. There are three different types of dog bark collars available.

Shock Collar

Shock collars can deliver small amounts of electric shock to the dog, making it an inhumane way to discipline your pet. However, the shock collar is helpful in places like libraries, parties, and restaurants.

Spray Collar

The spray collars interrupt a dog’s barking by bursting air or citronella on its face, focusing the attention of the animal on it instead of the thing causing the barking. However, it is essential for owners to avoid using the spray in front of other dogs as it may become the reason for their barking.

Ultrasonic Collar

The ultrasonic collar will emit a sound that only your dog can hear while it is barking. Most ultrasonic collars have high-pitched sounds to discourage dogs from barking.

Flea Collars

Owners must use the flea or tick collar if they want their dogs to be free from the pests. The collar has chemicals on the material used to create it, which helps kill or drive away ticks and fleas. However, owners must replace this collar every week as its effectiveness can only last for a short time.

Vibrating Collar

The vibrating collar is similar to a shock collar but uses vibration instead of electricity to get a dog’s attention. Aside from being a more humane way to discipline dogs, the vibrating collar can also be helpful when owners have deaf dogs. Owners can use the vibration to call the deaf dog’s attention during training sessions.

GPS Collar

GPS collars are more helpful to owners than dogs. The GPS collar has a global positioning satellite technology, or uses a mobile network, to help owners locate their pets when they get lost in a crowd or manage to get out of the house without supervision. The GPS collar resembles the look of a flat collar but has a tracker at the front. You can then locate your dog using a mobile phone application, or a transmitter.

Elizabethan Collar

An Elizabethan collar, or E-collar, is a cone-shaped collar that helps prevent dogs from scratching or licking wounds. The Elizabethan collar comes in different sizes to match the collar size of dogs. You can attach the cone in regular collars. However, some Elizabethan collars have loops or tabs available in the market.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be - Harness

Harness as an Alternative for Collars

If you do not want to choke your dog accidentally, you must consider using a harness instead. A dog may be uncomfortable with a harness at first, but they will settle in their new accessory over time. Dogs will also have more difficulty in trying to get out of a harness compared to collars, but owners must also be aware that they will struggle to put on the accessory on an energetic dog. There are dog trainers and video tutorials online available to show you how you can put a harness on a dog. The tightness of the harness also depends on the size of your dog.

Owners Must Regularly Check Collars

Similar to how humans outgrow their clothes, dogs may no longer fit in their original collars. Owners must be wary of their dog’s growth to avoid choking their pets. Owners should always be mindful of how tight a dog collar should be. By using the two fingers rule, owners can easily adjust or test the tightness of collars. If you want to buy a new collar for your growing dog, it is essential for you to take your pet to the store to try out the different collar sizes and see which makes the dog comfortable or cause pain.

Dogs Collar Safety Tips

Dogs do not like collars at first. They will try to wriggle themselves out of the accessory as much as possible, especially during the early stages.

Follow the tips below to make the experience safe for your dog:

  • You need to know how tight the right dog collar should be to make sure that the collar does not:
  • cause strangulation
  • lead to injuries or discomfort
  • cause skin irritation or trauma
  • and that the animal does not break free from your grasp
  • It is also good to try and remove anything inside the house that can catch your dog’s collar, which could strangle your pet.
  • Always keep an eye on the pup, especially during playtime. If you are not going outside of the house, you can consider taking the collar off to make it comfortable for your dog to roam around without concern.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?