When you get your first dog, there are many things you have to consider buying, as we outlined in our new puppy checklist post. I’m speaking form experience when I say that it’s very easy to get carried away. Pretty soon, you’re picking out a stocking for them for Christmas.
Even if you manage to resist the urge to spoil your pup, there is one thing that virtually every dog, in just about every circumstance, will have to wear: a collar. The collar performs a few key roles that can’t easily be accomplished by other means. It holds the ID tags that allow them to make their way back to you if they get lost, as well as their license and rabies vaccine tags that ensure the city doesn’t impound them. If you haven’t gone the harness route, the collar is the anchor that keeps your dog at the end of the leash. If nothing else, the collar provides an all-important handle for controlling your dog in everyday situations.
When it comes to choosing the dog collar, you have a few choices to make. There are the spartan, utilitarian options. The frilly, yet somewhat ineffective options. The fashionable choices and the rugged ones. What you choose depends in part on the activities on which you embark with your dog, their general behavior and demeanor, and, of course, your desired price point. Most dog collars will serve you well for years before needing to be replaced, so choosing wisely the first time will mean you’re set for awhile.
What’s my approach? Well, I have three pit mixes, all between 55 and 75 pounds. One is a shar pei cross, one is a husky mix, and the newest addition is predominantly blue nose pittie. When my wife and I walk all three of them, they look like quite the gang of bruisers. They’re very sweet and generally well-trained, but I would not hazard to be a squirrel within 25 feet of them, nor any kind of aggressive being, human or animal. To that end, my wife and I are fond of finding the cutest, most delightful collars for them to wear. Our blue nose wears one with skunks and flowers, while the shar pei has a very tasteful but more understated flower design himself. The husky mix is the only one of the three that goes to daycare, so we chose something more visible so we could locate him easily on the daycare’s webcams. The husky and the blue nose wear RC Pet collars (number two below), while the shar pei wears a Kurgo Muck collar (number seven below).
Whether you go our route and choose something that humorously contrasts with your dog’s outward appearance or buy something a bit more staid, all that matters is that you choose a quality collar that can do the job. If you’re not quite sure where to start, the basic nylon collar will do and is usually pretty inexpensive. For me, I like the option to show a little personality on the only piece of “clothing” my dogs wear regularly.
The most important thing you’ll buy for your dog is their collar. Here are ten of the best.
1. Lupine Adjustable Nylon Dog Collar
Lupine dog collars are a great choice for a reliable adjustable collar; this is the absolute standard for performing the job. These are certainly no-frills, but if you don’t want to mess around with picking out a design or fretting over performance, it’s hard to go wrong with these. Though they can deal with a good amount of abuse, Lupine offers a lifetime replacement that is in effect even if your dog chews it up. They come in three different sizes but are broadly adjustable to fit a just about any dog. The only choice you need to make is to choose from the available solid colors: red, purple, pink, green, blue, orange, or black.
Need more options? Browse more Lupine products here.
Price: $7.99 and up
2. RC Pet Products Adjustable Dog Clip Collar
These are a step up from the Lupine collars, building up from a similar nylon framework and overlaid with patterned soft webbing. The stitching on these Canadian-made collars is excellent and endures the abuse of my two younger dogs without breaking a sweat. The patterned surface does get somewhat pilled in time, but the pattern is still clearly visible and the collar itself shows no sign of giving up the fight. I like that these are somewhat stiff and largely remain in place. As an added bonus, the RC Pets logo is reflective for a little additional visibility at night. Choose from five sizes in over 44 patterns. Want your dog to look as dapper as mine? Go for the Preppy pattern, which is the one we use on our husky. It matches his eyes and contrasts with his russet brown coloring nicely. If you prefer, RC Pet also offers solid color Technika Utility collars made of climbing grade webbing.
Need more options? Browse more RC Pet products here.
Price: $11 to $14, depending on size and color
3. If It Barks Martingale Collar
You may find that you need a bit more control than the standard collar can provide. In that case, consider a Martingale collar. Also called limited slip, these collars gently cinch around your dog’s neck, applying even pressure all the way around. This allows for more direct control of your dog’s head, while ensuring that they don’t back out of it when you’re trying to corral them. These particular collars are made in the U.S.A. of military-grade webbing so they can take a beating. These are available in buckle and non-buckle variants in three sizes, but you can also order a custom-sized version, as well. They’re available in ten different three-tone patterns that straddle the line between fashionable and understated.
Need more options? Browse more If It Barks products here.
4. The Good Dog Company Hemp Corduroy Collar
Hemp is not only green and Earth friendly, but it is also a strong and durable fiber that is perfect for long-lasting dog collars. The Good Dog Company has created some beautiful collars, in numerous colors, textures and designs, but the simple corduroy offering is among their best. This is a straightforward but effective collar, available in five sizes and the following colors: Avocado, Black, Blue, Bronze, Marigold, Pink, Plum, Ruby Red, and Rust. This is one way to make a slightly unique collar choice without straying too far from the basic utilitarian approach.
Need more options? Browse more The Good Dog Company products here.
Price: $17.18 and up
5. Ruffwear Knot-a-Collar
Their name really does say it all: Ruffwear dog collars are made for the outdoor types who like to abuse their gear. They are a great option for those that take their dogs out for hikes and mountain climbing. The Knot-a line is particularly popular as the unorthodox design allows for greater strength while also being light. The matching leash was one of our best selling pet products in 2017, so buying the set will ensure that you’re well outfitted for walks of all kinds.
Need more options? Browse more Ruffwear products here.
Price: $22.95 and up
6. BronzeDog Classic Handmade Genuine Leather Dog Collar
For the trade off of being somewhat less flexible than nylon options, a leather dog collar combines superior durability with solid fashion sense. These are handmade of full grain cowhide and feature solid brass hardware. The real joy of a leather collar is that it will wear in and soften in time, producing that well-loved leather look. Available in six sizes, you can choose from the following colors to best represent your dog: Light Brown, Black, Dark Brown, Green, Pink, Purple, or Red. Also available in a padded version.
Need more options? Browse more BronzeDog products here.
Price: $9.49 to $17.99
7. Kurgo Muck Waterproof Collar
This is my pick for favorite collar and the one my older boy wears, paired with a slide-on tag from The Copper Poppy which we briefly discussed in this post. These are normal nylon collars coated end-to-end in clear PVC. This makes them totally waterproof and resistant to stains and dirt. They’ll even put up with more wear from chewing, too. The unique leash hook also serves as a bottle opener for those camping adventures. They’re on the stiff side because of the coating, so if you’re looking for maximum flexibility, you might consider others on this list, but these collars will be best for staying clean longer.
Need more options? Browse more Kurgo products here.
8. Hamilton Double Thick Nylon Deluxe Dog Collar
It’s hard to overstate the effectiveness of the common nylon collar. While the Lupine option at the top of this list is certainly the most ubiquitous, this Hamilton version takes the concept a step further. It’s double thick, for one thing, offering somewhat more resistance than the average nylon collar. The nylon itself is high thread count for very soft feel, double stitched in complimentary thread. In addition to expected D-ring, there’s a separate tag keeper so the leash attachment doesn’t have to do double duty. They’ve even made a wider variety of sizes available, from 18 to 32 inches. Finally, they offer a full complement of 18 solid colors and three other patterns.
Need more options? Browse more Hamilton pet products here.
Price: $9.11 and up
9. Blueberry Pet Padded Dog Collar
Bluebery Pet collars are made of polyester webbing and have a neoprene bottom layer for maximum doggie comfort. The buckles are made of eco-friendly plastic, and each collar includes a loop on the logo for attaching tags or charms where other collars would have you attach it to the D-loop. Like the other collars on this list, there’s a very wide variety of designs to choose from, so there’s something for every dog. Don’t worry, they also make their version of the standard nylon collar.
Need more options? Browse more Blueberry Pet products here.
Price: $11.99 and up
10. Perri’s Padded Leather Dog Collar
Here’s another excellent leather option, this one handmade in the U.S.A. Though these won’t put up with the same degree of abuse that most of the others on this list will, the major advantage here isn’t durability but maximum comfort. Using super soft lambskin, these padded collars are meant to sit snugly on your dog’s neck and provide gentle guidance and support. These have a refined, understated look and come in 14 color combinations across five sizes.
Need more options? Browse more Perri’s products here.
Price: $25.59 to $27.95
This list focused on basic, everyday dog collars. If you’re looking for something more high-tech, try our smart dog collars post here. If you’re still in the training phase, you might want to focus on training collars, though these really can’t be used all the time. For walks, we strongly recommend buying a harness, as these offer greater control and safety for your dog.
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