How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

dog collar

Dog collars are the most important accessory that a dog can use, it’s also the most useful one. Dog users can be confused about how tight the collar should be and we are here to answer that question with other additional questions related to that

What is a Dog Collar?

It is a strap around the collar of a dog that helps to control or lead them.

Types of Dog Collars

There are many types of collars let’s discuss some types of collars

Types of Dog Collars
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1. Buckle/Flat Collars

Traditional collars that you’re used to seeing the dog wear.

2. Breakaway Collars

They are quite similar to the collars we just described but the only difference is that they have a strap/buckle on the collar that breaks if enough pressure is applied. They are commonly used if strangulation is a concern.

3. Safety Stretch Collars

These collars have an elastic piece along the collar to allow a certain amount of stretch in case pressure is applied.

4. Lightened Collars

As I’m sure must be clear by the name, these collars have light in them so that the dog is visible in the night.

5. Reflective Collars

These collars also serve the same function as the lightened collars, they allow your dog to be seen in the dark. The collar is made up of a reflective surface that lets the light bounce in the dark making the dog visible at night. 

6. Floatation Collars

These collars are for floatation aid please don’t confuse them with doggie life jackets.

7. Martingale Collars

These Collars are designed specifically for dogs that are more prone to slip out of their normal buckle. It has a secondary collar that helps to tighten the collar preventing the dog from slipping out.

8. Flea Collars

These collars are laced with chemicals that help the dog fight against flea infestation.

9. Head Collars

These collars are more commonly known as ‘head halters’ and have a strap that covers their nose while covering their face a little.

10. Shock Collars

These are used for training the dogs, they send an electronic signal/vibration/sound for negative reinforcement during training.

11. Prong Collars

‘Pinch Collars’ is what these types of collars are known as and they are specifically designed to prevent pulling.

12. Choke Collars

These collars have two loops on either of their ends and are made up of a silver chain. It allows applying less or more pressure around the neck of the dog.

13. Harness

Instead of collars some dog owners prefer harnesses, harnesses also have different sizes, types, and colors. It is preferred by owners who have dogs who pull a lot and hence are more prone to choking on the normal collars.

Does My Dog Need A Collar?

Yes unless advised otherwise by your veterinarian your dog needs a collar. There is no reason for your dog to not wear a collar. It helps if the dog is lost and also comes in handy to restrain them. Having a collar protects your dog and others. It’s quite necessary to wear a collar and more importantly wearing that collar right.

What if it is Too Loose?

Three things can happen if your dog collar is too loose-

1. Loose Dog- If and when they figure out that the collar is loose and believe us they will figure it out, they will try to get away. This makes it a dangerous situation. Someone can get hurt and it’s not a pretty picture for any dog owner. 

2. Injury- If the collar is too loose then the pup can hurt itself by getting its paws, teeth, legs, or jaws stuck in the collar. 

Also, Read – Do you Know How Long Can a Dog Go Without Eating?

3. Skin Rash- if a collar is loose then it might rub against the skin of the dog giving it skin irritation.

How many fingers should be on a dog’s collar?

Exactly two fingers, there is a popular rule for the collars of your dog. It’s called, yes you guessed it The two-finger rule. You are supposed to take your index and middle finger and slide them between your dog’s collar and its neck. The idea is that your fingers are supposed to slide in quite effortlessly which means that the collar is just right. If you aren’t able to then the collar is too tight. If the fingers are not snug to the neck then it’s too loose. Adjust the collar according to the two-finger test and make a habit of doing it.

What Happens if it is Too Tight?

Just like the horrible possibilities of what happens when a dog collar is too loose, some things might happen if the dog collar is too tight as well.

1. Choking- This is quite obvious, dogs can have trouble breathing properly if the collar is too tight eventually leading to choking.

Also, Read – How To Choose the Right Dog for Your Family

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2. Skin Rash- A dog’s skin might start to get irritated if the tight collar rubs against their skin.

3. Injury- A collar too tight might strain their neck leading to severe injuries.

Is it bad for a dog to wear a collar all the time?

It does rub against their fur, it’s ideal to let them be without it once their walk is over. Or you can always remove it at night as most dog owners do.

Should you take your dog’s collar off at home?

Yes, you can take out your dog’s collar at home if you live in a house that doesn’t make the dog run away. As you may know, it’s difficult to find a dog that’s run away when it’s not wearing a collar. Make sure of that.

How Do I Know It Is A Correctly Fitted Dog Collar?

Like we discussed it’s done by just a simple two-finger rule but make sure you do it every time. It’s important to do that.

How To Measure For A Dog Collar

This is very important, please read carefully.


Flexible measuring tape.


Take a cloth or a measuring tape (preferably a measuring tape) and measure the neck of your dog, use that measurement to buy the collar. You can also take the dog to the store and see which one is a perfect fit. Once you have decided on the collar, use your middle finger and index finger to see if it’s a good enough fit. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose. If your fingers are having trouble entering then it’s too tight. If the fingers are snug then it’s too loose. Adjust the collar according to this finger test and keep doing it to make sure the perfect fit is being maintained.


In case you don’t have a measuring tape, don’t worry, use a ribbon, string, a tie, or even a shoelace.

Side Effects of an Ill-Fitting Collar

As discussed earlier the side effects can be- 

  • Skin Rash and Irritation 
  • Neck Muscle Injuries 
  • Choking 

How Often to Check Collar Fit?

It’s always a good call to check it right before every walk, having the dog’s collar properly sized is one of the most important things. So try to do it as regularly as you can.


Dogs are wonderful companions and the least we can do is make sure we do the bare minimum for their safety and well-being. Regularly checking their dog collar and making sure they have the right collar is a part of every dog owner’s duty. Do not take the side effects of an ill-fitted collar lightly, your dog deserves the world and this is just a start.

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