You may not give much thought to what kind of collar you get for your pup. Often, pet owners view it as a one-time expense—unless it breaks. However, that’s precisely why you need to consider your options carefully when making this purchase. After all, it’s your pet’s only identification if he isn’t microchipped. By the way, we recommend getting it done.
The average dog owner will spend between $5–$20 on a collar. However, some designer brands can fetch hundreds of dollars and even cross the four-figure threshold! We’ll save those products for another tale. Our guide will provide you with everything you need to know about buying the right collar for your pooch. We’ll also discuss when and when not to use one. We’ll add some tips to keep things safe.
Finally, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and have detailed reviews on some of the best dog collars on the market. We’ve listed the pros and cons of each one to help you make an informed choice. After all, nothing is too good for your BFF.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated in 2022)
The 10 Best Dog Collars
1. Blueberry Pet 3M Reflective Dog Collar – Best Overall
The Blueberry Pet 3M Reflective Dog Collar took top honors for the best overall collar. The polyester webbing is durable yet lightweight. It also dries quickly and holds its shape. You can even toss it in the washing machine. It comes in two widths, depending on the breed size. We especially liked the heavy-duty loops. It comes with a buckle closure in a size range from 12 to 26-inch necks.
Although it’s not evident in the product’s photo, the collar has a reflective strip at the top and bottom. As long as your dog’s fur doesn’t cover it, you’ll have the added peace of mind of knowing the two of you are visible. On the downside, the manufacturer’s label takes up a relatively high amount of real estate. We’d prefer that the name was stamped inside of it.
2. Pet Champion Polyester Dog Collar – Best Value
The Pet Champion Polyester Dog Collar is our pick for the best dog collar for the money. It’s an example of getting a customized look for your pet. This one is camo, which should please all the hunters out there. It is polyester with a buckle for adjusting the size and a quick-release closure. It’s also lightweight, which can make it easier for your pup to get used to wearing one.
The manufacturer geared this product toward hunting dogs. That explains why a small size isn’t available. If you think about it, most canines in the field are at least medium-sized, even though small breeds like Yorkshire Terriers and others in this group also went in search of prey.
3. Herm Sprenger Ultra-Plus Training Dog Collar – Premium Choice
The Herm Sprenger Ultra-Plus Training Dog Collar is a well-made product, even if we don’t agree with its premise. The chrome collar holds up well to regular use and won’t rust if it gets wet. However, the prongs are blunt to minimize the risk to your pup. While not an option for obedient pups, it can give owners of dogs with poor leash manners another choice for taking walks without the pulling.
Collars of this type are best used if positive reinforcement has failed to correct the issue. The manufacturer does it right to make its use more humane with less discomfort. It’s durable and will likely last several years.
4. Blueberry Pet Classic Dog Collar
The Blueberry Pet Classic Dog Collar is a barebones model that gets the job done at an affordable price. It comes in eight color choices for pups with necks from 8 to 26 inches. It has a buckle closure made from recycled plastic. It’s an excellent feature that we appreciated. It is made of nylon, which has great staying power. It will last for the long haul.
We liked the fact that it’s machine washable to help prolong the life and usability of the collar. It’s quick-drying, which is another perk. You can also get a matching leash if that makes a difference for you. The branding is a bit in your face. However, the ranges for each size are generous to account for a puppy’s growth.
5. Starmark Pro-Training Plastic Dog Collar
The Starmark Pro-Training Plastic Dog Collar is a riff on the pronged training aid, using plastic instead of metal to get the point across to your disobedient pooch. The problem is that it makes sizing a bit more difficult because you have to take the length of the spikes into account with the size. It’s a factor if your pet is on the cusp between two options.
It uses a bolt clip to secure the collar on your dog. Inexplicably, there are only two sizes, small and large. However, you can add or remove links of the chain to get the right fit. Unfortunately, the length of the individual pieces can make it difficult to size.
6. Nite Ize NiteHowl LED Dog Collar
The Nite Ize NiteHowl LED Dog Collar isn’t so much a regular accessory as it is a visibility aid. That is its sole purpose. However, it is both lightweight and waterproof, even if it’s an extra thing on your pup. The light is bright and sure to make you, and your pet is seen on the road. It succeeds on this score. It is also comfortable for your pet with its rolled design.
Calling this product a collar is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not a nighttime replacement for your pup’s everyday accessory. It’s worth noting that the collar is weather-resistant but not waterproof. That’s a vital factor, given its usefulness in misty or rainy conditions.
7. GoTags Personalized Nylon Dog Collar
The GoTags Personalized Nylon Dog Collar is a fantastic way to keep your pet safe with information to help reunite you and your pooch if he should get loose. The lettering is large and clearly displayed so that there is no uncertainty about the numbers or letters. Even if your dog is microchipped, this product is still a smart choice to cut to the chase without a visit to the vet to identify your pooch.
The collar is well-made out of nylon. It will last everyday wear. The color choices are limited. However, the contrast with the lettering is more than acceptable. It has a quick-release closure. It is also machine washable.
8. PetSafe Nylon Martingale Dog Collar
The PetSafe Nylon Martingale Dog Collar is the only one of this type on our list. This manufacturer does it right with no chain parts to the design. Part of the criticism of these other collars is that a pet could get his mouth caught. The extra component with the same nylon material eliminates this risk. The material is lightweight, bordering on too thin.
On the positive side, the collar is affordable, even if you have few color choices. That’s a significant downside, given the workability and cost of the material. While comfortable, it felt almost flimsy, especially if your dog is a puller.
9. Frisco Polyester Dog Collar
The Frisco Polyester Dog Collar features a USA-themed design, which we loved! It has a quick-release closure and is made of polyester webbing. They are adjustable to help you get the right fit. Your pup can wear his patriotic side with sizes ranging from 8 to 26 inches. It is well-designed and comfortable for your pup to wear
While the theme is USA-based, some parts are sourced in other countries, which we consider a major fail. It is hand washable only.
10. The Perfect Dog Command Training Dog Collar
The Perfect Dog Command Training Dog Collar sets a high bar with a name like that one. The product description stretches the bounds with lots of unfounded claims of better obedience and maternal corrections. However, the vinyl material reduces odor retention and makes it easier to clean. That’s near the border of its positive qualities.
First, there are only two sizes available, which is always a red flag for ensuring a proper fit. While the manufacturer includes an instructional DVD, the proper use of the collar is elusive, given its design. However, it promises more than it delivers with a slightly uncomfortable design.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Dog Collars
Buying a collar is an essential purchase for your pet. It can identify him to strangers and show that he’s current on his rabies vaccination. It’s a vital exercise for taking your pup on a walk. However, there’s more to getting one than just finding the one that fits. You also have to think about how and when you’ll use it. Some features make one collar better than another. There’s even a smart dog collar market.
We’ll cover each topic in detail with some tips along the way. On a side note, we don’t advocate the use of choke chains or pronged collars on dogs. There is a risk of injury if they are not used properly. And they’re inhumane because they rely on causing pain. There’s a good reason why the San Francisco SPCA has banned them from their locations. Back to our guide!
You have a few choices for the type of collar you can get. There is the traditional flat kind that is perhaps the most popular. Another variation on this theme is the rolled collar, which is an excellent choice for pups with long coats because it’s less likely to cause mats and tangles. Both are widely available in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. Your pet can get used to wearing one quickly, too.
Think of how you might not notice the watch on your wrist after a few days. It’s the same with your pet.
A more acceptable version of the choke collar is the Martingale collar. It swaps out the chain with a flat material that distributes the pressure on your pup’s neck better. It still tightens when he pulls but with much less force. Another option is the no-pull head collar. Instead of putting it on his neck, you place it over his muzzle, not unlike a bridle. It works just as well, too.
Another type you may see is the breakaway collar. Just like its name implies, the one will come undone if your pup gets his paw caught or a branch slips underneath it. The theory is that it will help your dog escape a potentially dangerous situation. However, the only problem is that it might do its work too well, or your pet may figure out how to release himself.
The choice of materials is a vital consideration for several reasons. First, it’ll likely determine the price you’ll pay. It can also affect the colorfastness, durability, and comfort of the collar. These are all practical considerations, given that your dog is going to wear this accessory every day. There is also the odor factor, especially if you have a Labrador Retriever or other breed with an oily coat.
Nylon is a popular choice because it comes in so many colors, styles, and patterns. It’s also affordable. On the downside, it’s not as durable as leather. It can also develop off odors, especially if your dog likes to swim. There’s a slight risk of skin allergies, too. Leather will stand the test of time. However, some collars are spendy. It’s not odor-resistant, either.
Neoprene and biothane are excellent options if your dog can’t stay out of the water. They are both waterproof and comfortable. However, you’ll likely find that your selection of colors and styles is limited. On the other end of the spectrum, velvet and suede are fun choices if you want to pamper your pooch with something fancy. We say to give in to your fancies and treat your pup.
Buckles are the traditional choice. They allow you to get a precise fit. There adjust so that you can make the collar snugger if your pooch gets a haircut, for example. These closures are infallible. There’s also the risk that the collar could come apart from everyday wear and keeping it in the same hole all the time. It will eventually become a weak point in the design if it doesn’t have reinforcement.
You’ll also see quick-release closures. You press on both sides to remove the collar. The design prevents your dog from getting it off himself. Bolt snaps are another dog-proof option. The only problem we foresee is trying to open it on a cold day. The metal won’t feel any better against your dog’s skin.
Comfort and Safety
We have to address the elephant in the room when it comes to these two issues. Your dog isn’t going to want to wear a collar if it scratches or irritates his skin. That is particularly true with narrow ones. Some manufacturers put padding on the interior surface to make it more comfortable for your pet. It’s a desirable feature if your pup pulls a lot.
The other concern is safety. Some dogs shouldn’t wear collars at all. Brachycephalic dogs like Pugs and Shih Tzus should wear a harness instead because of their risk of respiratory issues. Breeds at risk of collapsing trachea, such as Chihuahuas, should opt for the harness, too. The problem with a collar is that it puts too much pressure on a dog’s throat, which can cause serious injuries.
This group of options allows you to customize a collar for the activity. For example, reflective material can make you and your pet more visible on evening walks. Another feature you may see in the so-called smart dog collar market is LEDs that serve a similar purpose. You can always get a personalized collar with your pet’s name and your phone number on it in case he gets loose.
Many sellers will offer collars in a wide range of sizes, grouped by breed class. That’s helpful for homing in on suitable products that are an appropriate length and width for your pet. They typically come in a range of two or more inches, depending on the type. The essential thing is to know your pet’s neck size to get you in the ballpark.
Use a cloth or plastic tape measure to determine its circumference. Hold it snug but not too tight against your pup’s neck. You should be able to slip two fingers underneath it for some wiggle room. Use that figure to determine the right size for your dog. We suggest you get one with an inch or so to spare on either end of the size range.
Let’s face it. You’ll probably end up buying several collars for your dog during his lifetime. Tears and breaks happen. The first one you get might not be the best choice. Colors fade, and it could get dirty just from everyday use. Most collars aren’t easy to clean, anyway. It’s quicker to cut the chase and get a new one.
Durability is another reason that you should pop for a well-made collar. Inevitably, if it’s going to break or the closure fails, it’s going to happen at the worst possible moment. Don’t risk it. Examine the collar closely for any weak points, particularly at the leash clip.
When we get to this point, we’re in personal preference territory. Manufacturers know the close relationship people have with their pets. They offer a myriad of colors, designs, and styles to satisfy anyone’s tastes. Remember those designer collars we mentioned in the beginning? Whatever you fancy, we say go for it.
If you want your Papillon to look like the princess she is, buy her a jeweled collar with a pretty leash to match. If you want your tough guy Mastiff to look the part, get him that slick black leather collar. Just make sure that you’re getting a quality product for a decent return on your investment.
Going through our collar reviews showed us one thing. There are a lot of variations on this theme. The Blueberry Pet 3M Reflective Dog Collar was our top pick for the best of the bunch. It’s an affordable product that goes the extra yard with its reflective strips to make it more practical. The color choice is also a boon. We only wish that you get a matching leash.
You can’t go wrong with the budget-friendly Pet Champion Polyester Dog Collar. It’s a product geared toward hunting dogs with two camouflage color choices. There are also limited sizes available, which reflects the fact that pups of specific sizes are in the field, anyway.