8 Different Types of Dog Collars

Collars are worn by dogs for training, walking, identification, or even fashion. Use the following descriptions to find the right collar for your dog, then check out some leash varieties.

  • 01 of 08

    Everyday Collars

    Dog collar with license

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    You can express your personal style with a variety of dog collars for everyday use. Collars with metal buckles or quick-release clasps are available in a variety of materials, colors, and styles. Many pet owners prefer buckle collars for stronger dogs, as quick-release clasps tend to be less sturdy.

    What is a buckle collar for dogs?

    Buckle collars are a standard type of collars for dogs that feature strong fabric (made from materials like leather, nylon, or cotton) woven between metal buckles and punched with holes to fit a variety of sizes. These collars have a simple, durable structure that is less likely to break than other styles.

    Rolled leather collars are durable and less likely to cause hair loss or parting. Always be sure your dog's collar has a name tag with your current contact information in case he gets lost.

  • 02 of 08

    Chain Slip Collars

    Black Schnauzer

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    Often called choke chains, these collars are not recommended by animal behaviorists and most veterinarians due to their risks. They were initially intended for training purposes such as training a dog to walk on a leash and heel. The collar is pulled tight for corrections in behavior with a quick tug on the leash, causing it to tighten on the dog’s neck. Over time, dog trainers have moved away from the choke chain method as it poses health risks and relies on punishment instead of positive reinforcement.

    Generally, these collars are not recommended because they could damage your dog's neck, and even cause fatal strangulation injuries. This is especially dangerous in small breed dogs who are already at risk for tracheal problems. Chain slip collars should never be left on a dog when unattended, as they pose a strangulation hazard.

  • 03 of 08

    Metal Prong Collars

    Dog wearing prong collar

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    Some trainers used to recommend these collars for strong, stubborn dogs with a tendency to pull on the leash, however these are no longer recommended by most animal experts. Also known as pinch collars, they are used for correction during training. These collars have metal prongs that pinch the skin when the dog pulls against it, and can lead to injuries of the skin, as well as injuries to the handler if their fingers get caught in the chain. These collars rely on pain and punishment to stop unwanted behaviors instead of using positive reinforcement. In many cases, dogs also learn just to stop pulling while the pinch collar is on, and the behavior does not generalize to other collars or leashes so they are not really learning proper walking techniques. These collars should be used with extreme caution and never be left on your dog when unattended.

  • 04 of 08

    Smart Collars

    smart collar on dog
    Link AKC

    Smart collars are much more high tech than your traditional buckle collar. Different types of smart collars include various attributes, such as GPS to track your dog's location, the ability to monitor changes in their behavior, and assistance in training your dog. Most are compatible with smartphone apps, and some are even waterproof and have wifi coverage. The Link AKC Smart Collar even allows you to track your pup's activity and health!

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  • 05 of 08

    Martingale Collars

    Close-Up Of Brown On Grass Against Houses

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    Also known as limited slip collars or greyhound collars, Martingale collars are used to prevent dogs from slipping out of collars while walking on a leash. Though the collars tighten slightly with a tug of the leash, they do not tighten enough to cause discomfort and there is a stopping mechanism to prevent further closure on the neck. They tighten just enough to prevent a dog from slipping out of the collar. This is especially helpful in dogs with wide necks and narrow heads, like greyhounds, who can be at risk for slipping out of a traditional collar. Often made out of nylon or similar material, Martingale collars are available in a variety of colors and designs. These collars are especially suited for sighthounds but can be used on most dog breeds.

  • 06 of 08

    Head Collars

    head collar for dogs gentle leader

    Head collars or halters slightly resemble muzzles, but they have a very different purpose. These halters act more like harnesses for the head and are intended to help train a dog to walk on a leash and heel. The head halter allows the handler to have more control of the dog's head and when unwanted behaviors occur, the handler is able to redirect the dog to the desired behavior. This training aid is currently favored by more animal experts since it allows for a positive reinforcement approach to training.

    When used properly, head collars can successfully discourage pulling and support other training. Head halters should not be left on unattended dogs or dogs on a very long lead, as they may be able to back out of some types of head collars. The Gentle Leader is just one of many brands of head collars available for your dog.

  • 07 of 08


    Pit Bull Sitting

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    Harnesses are designed for placement around a dog’s chest and abdomen, crossing over the back. A leash can be attached to the top of the harness. Some dog owners prefer harnesses over collars, especially for dogs with a tendency to pull, because they put no pressure on the neck.

    Harnesses are ideal for dogs with medical problems in the neck, back, and airway and should be used in dogs predisposed to these problems, such as small breed dogs. While a traditional harness is not a training device, some harnesses are designed to deter pulling, such as the Easy Walk Harness, which clips in the front of the chest to prevent pulling.

  • 08 of 08

    Dog Show Collars

    2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

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    Show Collars are slip collars typically made out of a braided material such as leather, nylon or metal. These collars should not be confused with chain slip collars, however, they can tighten around a dog's neck and should never be left on an unsupervised dog.

    Martingale Leads are all-in-one collars and leads. They operate in a similar way as the Martingale collars. Commonly used for toy breeds in the show ring, the collar portion slips over the head and tightens when the lead is pulled and prevents it from slipping off. A plastic tube slides down the lead to keep the collar in place.