Pros, cons, and uses of different dog collars: A comprehensive guide

From flat-buckle to martingale, there is such a wide range of dog collar styles available – it can be confusing and overwhelming to choose the right one!

When it comes to choosing the perfect collar for your dog, it's important to consider the purpose of the collar as well as your dog’s comfort and safety. In this article, we will explore the pros, cons, and recommended uses of different dog collar styles. Specifically, we’ll explore the following collars: flat buckle, quick release, martingale, personalised, spiked, tactical, pinch/prong and electric. By understanding the unique characteristics of each style, you’ll be in a better position to make an informed choice about the best collar style for both you and your dog.

Flat buckle collars: versatility and simplicity

Flat buckle collars are the ‘go-to’ choice for everyday wear. These collars offer simplicity and versatility. They are easy to use and suitable for dogs of all shapes and sizes. They are also suitable for secure leash attachment. Just make sure to find the right fit to prevent the collar falling off or causing discomfort. A flat collar that is too large will have an annoyingly long loose end. Check out the Led & Collared® Classic Collar and Classic Camo Collar.

  • Pros: simple, easy-to-use, suits all dogs
  • Cons: can have a loose end if too large
  • Best use: everyday wear for all dogs

Quick release collars: convenience and ease-of-use

Quick release collars are both convenience and easy to use. These collars allow for quick and easy removal when needed, making them practical for dogs that require frequent collar changes (or frequent collar washing). Most quick release collars are made with secure buckles, making them safe for leash attachment. Further, the design of the quick release collar makes for easy size adjustment without any annoying loose ends. Check out the Led & Collared® Quick Release Collar.

  • Pros: quick to put on & remove, easy-to-use, suits all dogs
  • Cons: more fiddly to adjust the size
  • Best use: everyday wear for all dogs

A note of caution, the standard quick release collar should not be confused with the breakaway safety collar. The breakaway collar looks similar to the quick release but has a buckle that is designed to come undone with the application of moderate pressure. While this is a useful safety feature in SOME circumstances, the breakaway collar is not suitable for leash attachment. And since the collar is designed to pop off with pressure, there is a real risk of losing it, along any identity tags attached to it. So, unless there is a compelling and unique reason for using a breakaway collar on a dog, we feel the risks outweigh the benefits and would recommend avoiding this style of collar for your dog.

Martingale collars: training and escape-proof control

Martingale collars (also known as ‘half chain’ or ‘half choke’ collars) are specially designed to prevent your dog from slipping out of their collar. They can also be used to teach your dog not to pull on their lead (since it is suitable for safe and secure lead attachment). These outcomes are possible because of the collar’s unique construction, which tightens around the neck when pressure is applied (either by you or your dog). The martingale collar differs from the full ‘choke collar’ or ‘choke chain’ in that only half the collar tightens under pressure, making the martingale style gentler and safer. These collars are particularly well suited to dogs who have long narrow heads (such as Greyhounds), but we wouldn’t recommend them for very small or toy sized breeds. We also recommend a level of caution when using this collar, as it (like most training tools) has potential to cause damage if used inappropriately. Check out the Led & Collared® Secure Collar.

  • Pros: secure, escape-proof, training application
  • Cons: can cause damage if misused
  • Best use: training and walking for medium-large dogs

Personalised collars: safety and style

Personalised collars offer the dual benefit of safety and style. By adding your dog's name and your contact information directly onto the collar, you get an extra layer of protection and identification. You can also avoid the additional cost of buying separate identification tags and that incessant jingling noise. Moreover, personalised collars generally allow for customised design/choices, meaning you can create a collar that both compliments your dog’s colouring and matches his/her unique personality. Personalised collars come in a range of styles (i.e. flat buckle, quick release etc.), so you should follow the relevant guidance and advice for your preferred style.  Check out the Led & Collared® Scrag Tag Collar - and many of our other dog collar styles can be personalised.

  • Pros: added identification, customisation, no need for tags
  • Cons: can't use the collar on another dog
  • Best use: everyday wear for all dogs

Spiked collars: unique style and aesthetic appeal

Spiked collars are a distinctive choice that add a bold and edgy look to your dog's appearance. While primarily used for fashion purposes, spiked collars have a historical association with working or protection dogs (to protect a dog’s neck from the bite of another). If you're seeking a collar that showcases your dog's personality and makes a statement, a spiked collar might be the perfect choice. However, its crucial to prioritise your dog's (and your own) comfort and safety. Keep in mind that there is a risk of being stabbed with spikes if you need to grab your dog’s collar quickly or if your dog bashes into your legs. As such, this style of collar is best suited to lower energy dogs with thicker necks (such as the English Bulldog). We would not recommend a spiked collar for working, high-energy or small/toy dogs. Check out the Led & Collared® Fierce Collar.

  • Pros: fierce and edgy look
  • Cons: spikes can be a hazard (mostly to humans)
  • Best use: fashion wear for lower energy medium-large dogs

Tactical collars: durability and utility

Tactical dog collars are specifically designed for working dogs, outdoor enthusiasts, and those involved in military or law enforcement activities. These collars are built with durability and utility in mind, featuring heavy-duty materials and additional functionalities. Where these extra functionalities often include additional loops and handles for better control, quick restraint and equipment attachment. Tactical collars are ideal for dogs involved in training, hunting, search & rescue, tracking and other demanding tasks. Because of their durability and additional features, tactical collars tend to be thicker and heavier than regular dog collars (meaning they may not be suitable for lean and/or small dogs). Check out the Led & Collared® Tactical Collar.

  • Pros: highly durable, additional functionality
  • Cons: tends to be thicker and heavier
  • Best use: working, hunting and training

Prong/pinch collars: controversial and cautionary

Prong or pinch collars are a subject of controversy in the dog training world (not helped by the fact that they look like medieval torture contraptions!). These collars have ‘prongs’ on the inside the collar and exert pressure on the dog's neck when pressure is applied (with the same sort of mechanism as a martingale collar). These collars are primarily intended to teach a dog not to pull on their lead, which means they are a short-term training tool and not intended for long-term use. While prong collars can be effective when used correctly, they can also cause harm if used improperly. As such, these tools should be used with extreme caution and under the guidance of experienced trainers. If you opt to use this style of collar at any time, ensure you choose one with blunt or covered prongs and follow professional guidance on sizing. The most reputable and well-known brand in this space is Herm Sprenger.

  • Pros: training application
  • Cons: visually unappealing, can cause damage if misused
  • Best use: training (by experts)

Electronic collars: advanced training tools

Electronic collars, also known as e-collars, are advanced training tools that provide remote electronic stimulation for training purposes (including sound, vibration and static stimulation). When carefully introduced to a dog and used correctly, e-collars can be highly effective training tools that provide an unparalleled level of freedom/flexibility (which makes the e-collar particularly useful for reliable recall). E-collars are also a viable and long-term alternative for prong collar. As with all training tools, e-collars should be used with caution and under the guidance of experienced trainers. If you opt to use an e-collar, it’s important to invest in a quality brand (as lower quality brands present risk of malfunction). Some of the most reputable brands in this space Educator (or E-Collar Technologies), Dogtra, Garmin and SportDOG.

  • Pros: training application, remote reach
  • Cons: can cause damage if misused
  • Best use: training (by experts)

LED or reflective collars: visibility for nighttime

Light Emitting Diode (LED) or reflective collars enhance safety by making a dog visible in darkness or in low-light conditions. Having a highly visible dog means you’re less likely to lose them in the dark and others will be better able to see them. This is particularly important in situations where your dog might be free roaming in the bush and/or near roads and traffic. There are various types of LED and reflective collars available in the market – including: standard (with a strip of LED lights or reflective material), rechargeable and solar-powered. For greater flexibility and adaptability, you may also consider use of a detachable LED safety light that you can attach to your dog’s collar only when needed. There are many varieties and brands available. If you opt for an LED collar, we recommend careful research as there are many cheap and poor-quality products out there. If you want a high-quality, robust and reliable safety light, we recommend the Orbiloc Dual Dog™ (the only safety light stocked by Led & Collared®).

  • Pros: nighttime visibility, safety
  • Cons: not ideal for all-day use
  • Best use: adventures at nighttime or in low light

So how do I choose?!

Choosing the right style of dog collar is an important decision that has a direct impact on both you and your dog. When choosing a collar, we recommend first answering the following questions:

  • What is the primary purpose and/or intended use of the collar (i.e. everyday use, training, working, hunting, fashion etc.)?
  • Does the collar suit my dog’s behaviour?
  • Does the collar suit the shape and size of my dog?
  • Will the collar be safe and comfortable for my dog?
  • Do I need to attach anything to the collar (such as a lead or tag) – and if so, is it suitable?
  • Does the collar make my dog look good (we all know this is important)?

Remember, a well-fitting and appropriate collar not only ensures your dog's safety and wellbeing but also strengthens the bond between you and your fur child. At Led & Collared®, we offer a wide range of collar styles, all of which can be customised, and many of which can also be personalised. We also provide high-level guidance to help you choose the right collar for you dog, but if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love discussing the pros and cons of dog collars!

- July 2023

Author: Lorna Brennan, Managing Director, Led & Collared®

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