If you’re like most folks, you purchase the dog first and worry about the collar later. The problem with this strategy is you don’t have long to hem and haw about which collar you want, neck size, etc. A dog collar is an important purchase, and we want to put you on the path to success. Leaving your new friend without a proper collar is certainly not an option.

This handy article will provide everything you need to know about collar sizes, how tight a collar needs to be, how often they should be worn, and then ten exceptional collars to choose from. Warning – all ten choices are amazing! This will be a tough decision, guaranteed. 

What Are Dog Collar Sizes?

What are dog collar sizes?

Buying a dog collar shouldn’t be a stressful affair, nor something to ponder over for days. But you do need to do one thing before purchasing, and that is measuring your pup’s head and neck. If this isn’t something you’ve done, don’t worry, it’s a snap.

First up, position little Oscar Mayer in front of you. You should be sitting on the ground with their head looking directly at you. Next, take out a tape measure, and from the top of the throat and over those floppy ears to the top of the head is the size of your pooch’s head. You’ll need this measurement if you’re interested in Martingale collars.

To measure the neck, locate the place on the neck where the collar will likely rest and add two fingers under the tape measure when you measure the circumference. This will result in a healthy measurement of roughly 2 inches larger than your dog’s neck. We’ll get into why this is important later on, so do be sure to take this into account.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

How tight should a dog collar be?

A quality collar restrains, identifies, and can also be stylish. While an overly tight collar has its obvious disadvantages, an overly loose one isn’t great either. Loose collars can provide dogs an easy escape mechanism, which could spell disaster for your pooch and you if something should happen to them. Another downside to an overly loose collar is the collar sagging, which could induce chewing by your dog. There are a host of mouth-related injuries that result from excessive collar chewing.

However, going too tight can lead to asphyxiation, and if you’re walking with your dog in hot climates for extended hours like this, you’re putting them at risk of death, no joking matter. A tight collar can also provoke skin irritation as well as neck muscle or trachea injuries.

As we touched on earlier, here is where the two-finger rule applies; take your pointer and middle fingers and place them between your pup’s neck and the collar. If they’re snug but can also slide in easily, that’s a perfect fit. If you struggle to get the two fingers in, or they slide in and out like a slip-n-slide, it’s either too tight or too loose. You want to find that sweet spot, and don’t give up until you do!

The Humane Society of the United States has some more helpful info on dog collars.

Should Dogs Wear a Collar all the Time?

Should dogs wear a collar all the time?

The short answer – no. Having a collar on 24/7, especially while your pup is indoors with little to no chance of them escaping, is not necessary. As you’ll soon see in the ten collars we’ve reviewed below, dog collars are made from some very sturdy materials. A good collar is designed to withstand the elements and your pup’s best intentions of removing it and tossing it into a large body of water.

While many dogs get used to their collars, the hair and coat under and around the collar can become irritated over time. This is why it’s important to remove the collar now and then (while inside, at night, etc.) so that irritated hair can breathe a bit. The constant rubbing and scratching with the collar on will only get worse over time. Experts recommend removing the collar every night, and if possible, when your pup is in a place where an escape isn’t possible.  

The Best Dog Collars, According to Customer Reviews

Mighty Paw Tactical Dog Collar

Mighty Paw tactical dog collar.

Any title with the word “mighty” in it immediately grabs our attention. Mighty Paw proudly touts their collars as built to last. Who are we to quibble with such a statement as this collar is manufactured with premium polyester webbing coupled with metal hardware. If you’ve got a medium to extra large pup, look no further. This tactical dog collar is as well-made as they come and looks great.

Mighty Paw has three different available sizes for their Tactical Dog Collar – medium, large, and extra-large. The medium measures from 14 to 19” while the XL stretches out to 27.” The good folks at Mighty Paw have also put this collar through some rigorous testing. The buckle can withstand up to 850 plus pounds of force without a bend or crack in its armor. Now that’s mighty!

Love it? Click here to buy now.

RUFFWEAR Crag Dog Collar

Ruffwear Crag dog collar.

If the Crag Dog Collar is any indication, creativity and durability are front and center. One of the most prominent features of this collar is the reflective webbing. Reflectivity is smartly integrated, allowing for greater visibility in low-light conditions. Only the patterns and colors will remain bright, which reflects approaching light.

The tag ring is known as a “quick ring,” meaning you can easily remove and add tags, thus keeping your pooch’s information up-to-date. A durable V-ring (aluminum) also provides a very secure leash attachment point, and the side-release buckle makes this collar a snap to put on and take off.  

To learn more, click here.

Hurtta Casual Padded Dog Collar

Casual padded dog collar by Hurtta.

Available in heather, ash, lingon, raven, or river colors, Hurtta brings a style and design that is unique and sure to be a head-turner. Sizes vary, anywhere from 12 to 16 inches. There is also a safety lock mechanism that applies less stress on your pups’ throat and neck area. We’re relatively sure most pooches will appreciate this often overlooked feature.

Hurtta is known for using lightweight material, and their padding is second to none. 3M brings their patented reflectors to all Hurtta collars, and according to a handful of online reviews, the visibility is exceptional. It’s hard to go wrong with this collar. Perhaps the most difficult decision is the color!

To read reviews, click here.

Personalized Custom Dog Collar by Aiseel

Personalized dog collars by Aiseel.

Custom dog collars are growing in popularity, with more and more folks opting to engrave names, phone numbers, or other personalized text on their pooch’s collar.

If this is you, look no further than this affordable option. Available in x-small, small, medium, and large, these genuine leather collars are well-made, long-lasting, and come in a range of colors, appropriate for any pup with a personality (or an owner as well).

To see pricing, click here.

NVK Dog Training Collar

Dog training collar by NVK.

This is a collar that also doubles as a personal trainer for your pooch. This trainer is electric and provides three distinct training modes: static shock mode, vibration mode, and standard tone mode. You can shift from one to another depending on your dog’s behavior and what response you’d like to communicate.

Owners are provided a remote control that can be operated from up to 1,600 feet. While the static shock mode might have raised some eyebrows, fear not. None of these responses hurt or harm your pup. They end up associating a behavior or action with a response, and the responses (static shock, vibration, and tone) are not painful but also not agreeable.

Ready to buy? Click here.

Mighty Paw Sport Collar 2.0

Mighty Paw Sport collar 2.0 for dogs.

Our second installment from Mighty Paw, this Sport Collar 2.0 is as rugged as they come, and while the first version was only available in one color, you now have a choice between green, black, grey, or orange. Made of nylon and neoprene, we dare you to put this collar up against the chompers of Captain Chaos, Power Paws, or Growlilocks. It’s a durable collar for a reason and can withstand even the most persistent chewers.

An added plus with this collar is its performance during nighttime walks. The reflective stitching will highlight you and your pup’s position from a safe distance. If you live in areas with low street lighting or need to walk either in the street or next to a small curb, do consider this collar. The padding is thick and safe, and keeping you illuminated at night could not be more important.

To learn more, click here.

Two Hounds Design Dog Collar with Buckle Adjustable Safety Collars

Two Hounds Design adjustable dog collar with buckle.

For those new to the collar world, these types of collars are the most widespread. They’re essentially as the name suggests – a collar that has a buckle on the side rather than the top or bottom. The reason folks love them is they’re easy to take on and off and work best for larger breeds or dogs with big heads.

The colors it comes in are fun and whimsical. You’ve got your choice of 1980s, Bonnie, Clyde, Daisy Dot, Flag, and Rocky. Proudly manufactured in the USA, Two Hounds also uses recycled plastic bottles as some of the ingredients they use to manufacturer their collars.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

KONG Max HD Ultra Durable Dog Collar

Extra durable dog collar by Kong.

There are durable collars, and then there’s KONG. A brand that is extremely respected in larger breed dog circles, KONG comes correct with their Max HD Ultra Durable Dog Collar. There are few collars that go through strength tests. KONG goes out of their way to ensure that nothing (and we do mean nothing) can slip out of this number.

Now, fair warning – you will find videos online of pups breaking away from KONG collars. But from what we’ve seen, those collars were poorly affixed. Most KONG heads will agree that slipping out of a KONG is harder than an escape from Alcatraz when properly fastened. The collar is fully adjustable for supreme comfort and built with heavy-duty coated metal hardware coupled with ultra-strong thread.

To read reviews, click here.

Snufflemart Leather Dog Collar

Leather dog collar by Snufflemart.

It doesn’t matter the size of your pup when it comes to this fashionable leather collar. While some collar companies have a “size niche” they stick to, Snufflemart recognizes that Indiana Bones, Winston Furchill, and Woofgang Puck come in all different sizes. What fun would relegating a fashionable leather collar to one size be?

Available in a range of neck sizes, this collar separates itself from the pack due to the D-rings it brings to the table. One D-ring can be used for your GPS locator or the dog’s tags while the second is for attaching the actual leash. Doubling your D-rings has never been a better bet, and there is certainly no substitute for real leather. This collar is functional, looks great, and will also soften over time to fit your pup like a glove.  

Love it? Click here to buy now.

BMusdog Tactical Dog Collar

Tactical dog collar by BMusdog.

If you’re a military guy or gal, we can’t think of a more appropriate collar. Made from premium quality 1000D nylon, the metal buckle is understandably sturdy, but so is the entire unit. Like any tactical piece of military garb, wear and tear is simply not part of the equation. If you’re storming a weapons facility, holding off a foreign invader, or trying to chase a squirrel out of a tree, you need a quality collar to accompany you.

The medium, large, and extra-large sizes are all adjustable, and the collar runs from 13.5 to 24 inches. While the nylon is certainly durable, this collar is also concerned with comfort. Soft and comfortable padding is found throughout, allowing your military pup to defend their position in comfort all day, every day.

To see pricing, click here.

To Sum It Up

Although it’s a tough decision, we’re sure that whatever collar you go with, your dog will be thrilled. After all, at the end of the day, most pooches just want to be next to you, collar or no collar. In this article we talked about size considerations, the proper way to ensure your dog’s collar is tight and secure, how frequent they should wear their collar, and then our list of collar options.

The collar world is a vast one, full of some high-quality providers. The brands on this list are trusted, positively reviewed, and are a great purchase regardless of the one you choose.  

Pssst…Looking for more dog inspiration? Then check out The Best Raised Dog Bowl Stands for Your Pup next!