How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

dog collar

Dog collars should never be tight around a dog’s neck.  Knowing how to measure a dog collar is a fairly easy process.  There should be enough room to slip a finger or fingers inside the collar.  Depending on the size of the dog, and the amount of fur they have, will determine the amount of room between the neck and the collar dogs need.

Collars that are too tight can cause irritation, injury, and limit breathing.

In this article, we will provide information on how a dog’s collar should properly fit, what types of collars are safe to wear all day, and those that are not.

How Do You Know If a Dog Collar Is Too Small?

If a dog collar is too small, it can cut into the skin or cause redness and irritation.  It’s important to always check your dog’s collar during its growth periods and adjust accordingly.  Small breed dogs with short hair require at least a finger width between the neck and the collar.  It should be snug enough to where it won’t slip off the dog’s head or get caught on an object.  Medium-sized dogs should have a two-finger space, and larger breed dogs require between a two and three-finger space.  If you are unable to slip your finger or fingers in between the dog’s neck and the collar it is too tight and needs to be adjusted.

Length of fur is also a determining factor when it comes to adjusting a collar to fit correctly.  If a dog has thick or long fur it will increase the size of the neck even if it isn’t the neck itself.  The same rule applies regarding the amount of space needed for a properly fitted collar that isn’t too tight or too loose. 

On the other hand, if a dog’s collar is too loose they also are at risk of hooking it on an object such as a fence, or even getting it caught in their mouth.  This possesses a dangerous situation, as the dog could sustain an injury. 

Should A Dog Wear a Collar All Day?

There are several types of dog collars; some are designed to be worn all day and some are for temporary use only.  It’s important to educate yourself on the different variants of collars and what and how they are used. 

Typically, pet owners collar their dogs for identification purposes such as attaching tags.  The collars used for these reasons are collars that can be adjusted during growth and are constructed for comfort.  Materials used for these continuous wear collars usually are made out of nylon or leather and are flat with a buckle.  In some instances, they can also be attached by a plastic or metal side closure clip.  Collars, such as these can be worn for extended periods without harming the dog as long as they are adjusted for proper fit.

Other dog collars such as a prong collar, shock, or training collar should only be worn when they are being used for training purposes.  Leaving these specific dog collars on for longer periods could potentially injure the dog.

Some people prefer choke collars, slip leads or choke chains for their dogs.  Though they may seem harmless, we wouldn’t recommend leaving them on a dog as they are prone to get caught on objects.  They are a good alternative for training or teaching your dog to walk correctly but after use, should be removed.

In addition to the traditional long-wearing collars, a harness such as a Halti harness is a great alternative.  They are designed to provide comfort and control.  Certain dog harnesses are safe to wear all day as long as they are adjusted correctly and not pressed tightly against the skin.

Are Dog Collars Supposed to Be Loose?

Again, dog collars are designed to control a dog when walking and for identification purposes.  Dog collars should have some wiggle room between the neck and the collar, but not so much that the dog can break free from the collar.

Dog collars that are too loose can be a hazard.  As mentioned before, a dog will sometimes try to remove a collar by biting at it.  If the collar is too loose a dog might be able to lodge the collar in its mouth and not be able to free itself.  It is also possible for a dog to trap their leg in a loose collar, this can be quite dangerous especially if the dog is not being monitored or is left alone for periods of time.  Other unpleasant situations might include a loose collar hooking onto an object and potentially causing strangulation.

Following the finger width rule will determine whether the dog collar is too loose or too tight.  Then you will be able to adjust accordingly.

In conclusion, it is the responsibility of the dog owner to pay attention to the fit of the collar. We have discussed the various collars, and how tight a properly fitted collar should be on the dog’s neck.  Pay close attention to the fit and while the dog is growing the collar should be continuously adjusted to provide a comfortable space between the neck and the collar.

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