A dog’s collar should be snug (somewhere in between tight and loose). There is a standard rule that the collar should leave an allowance that can fit two fingers (the pointing and middle finger) comfortably. If you can’t “run” two fingers around your dog’s collar without using undue pressure or force, the collar is too tight.
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- How loose or tight should a dog collar be?
- How do I know if my dog collar fits?
- Signs to look out for
- Should I take my dog's collar off at night?
- How wide should it be?
Besides being able to control your dog’s movement in public, a dog collar is also critical for identification and legal purposes in some jurisdictions i.e., when walking your dog in public places. However, there’s no need to have a dog collar that hurts your dog or one that your dog can remove easily. So, how tight should dog collars be? Well, it depends on two main factors discussed below.
Size of your dog: There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dog collars. Your dog's size will dictate how tight their collar should be.
Age of your dog: Dog collars are also ideal for older dogs. Dog collars can pose safety risks to puppies below one year. If you must buy a dog collar for a puppy, it should be designed specifically for puppies.
Ideally, you must measure your dog’s collar to ensure you get a perfect fit. You can do this using a measuring tape, a piece of cloth or ribbon. The collar should allow an extra 1 to 3 inches of space depending on the size of your dog.
Bigger dogs will need a wider collar because they tend to pull harder on the leash. However, the collar shouldn't be too loose as it may rub on your dog's skin causing discomfort. The collar shouldn't be too tight either, as this can cause discomfort when you are walking your dog.
The two-finger-rule accounts for 1 to 3 inches of extra space on the collar. If you can slide your pointing and index finger under your dog’s collar, that’s more than enough space. You should lookout for a snug but free fit. What's more, your dog shouldn't be able to slide the collar off their head. If your dog's head and collar are almost the same size (true for some dog breeds), you may need a smaller allowance or an dog collar alternative that is designed to snug the neck and legs.
Account For Growth
Unless you have a fully grown dog, you need to consider the fact that your dog is still growing when deciding how loose or tight their collar should be. The best remedy for this factor is to get a collar that is adjustable. You should check and adjust the fit periodically to ensure your dog is comfortable at all times.
This applies to both puppies and fully-grown dogs as the neck size may vary due to weight changes, hair growth, etc. The two-finger-rule is adequate enough to account for growth changes. As long as you can slide your two fingers between the collar and your dog's neck, that's a perfect fit, whether they are growing in size or body fat.
If you’re wondering why the tightness or looseness of a dog collar matters so much, here are some risks to consider:
Choking risks: A dog collar that is too tight can choke your dog. This risk tends to affect puppies, which seem to outgrow their collar size on a daily or weekly basis.
Discomfort: Tight or lose dog collars can cause discomfort that affects your dog's overall well-being. For instance, it can affect your dog's playfulness, energy levels, mood, etc.
Injury risks: A tight-fitting collar can injure your dog's neck. Your puppy can develop neck problems simply because of a poorly fitting collar. A loose-fitting collar can snug to stationary objects and cause injuries.
While the two-finger rule can help avoid such risks, there are other considerations to make when you want to know if you have gotten the collar fitting right. Since your dog can’t talk and let you know outright what is bothering them, it pays to know the signs to look for when you want to identify collar problems.
1. Your dog will try to remove their collar: This is by far the most common sign of a tight-fitting collar. If you see your dog attempting to remove their collar, it is tight or uncomfortable.
2. Inactivity: Your dog may also protest against a poorly fitting collar by simply laying aside. If your dog isn’t moving, their collar may be too tight to allow comfortable movement.
3. Unusual movement: A tight collar can also make your dog assume an unusual walking style.
4. Coughing and vomiting: This is a severe sign of a dog collar that is too tight. If your dog can’t breathe properly because their collar has been tight for too long, they may start coughing or vomiting.
5. Itty and/or red skin: While the risks associated with tight dog collars are more, loose dog collars also pose some notable risks. A loose collar that rubs on your dog’s skin constantly will cause skin problems like itchiness and redness. The irritation is depicted as excessive itchiness concentrated on the neck. Dogs also tend to lose fur on their necks when they have loose collars.
Harnesses are better alternatives to traditional dog collars. Besides offering more security, they offer a more comfortable fit for dogs that are heavy pullers as well as puppies prone to slipping out of their collars. Most importantly, they eliminate risks such as chocking because they wrap around the body as opposed to the neck only.
Yes. You should remove your dog’s collar every night to maximize their comfort at night. By doing this, you’ll also be able to know when to adjust your dog’s collar as they grow.
Your dog’s collar should be wide enough to allow you to slip your pointing and middle finger underneath with ease when your dog is wearing the collar.