When shopping for a new collar for your best furry friend, there are so many options available that it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one! If you are considering purchasing a martingale collar for your dog, this article will provide the information you need to decide if it is the best choice for your dog.
What Is A Martingale Collar?
Martingale dog collars are a twist on a traditional dog collar; they feature an adjustable section usually made of the same material as the collar, or in some cases a chain, which tightens the collar when tension is applied. This design helps prevent dogs from slipping their heads out of their collars without you having to constantly readjust the collar.
Martingale dog collars are usually made of nylon, sometimes leather. They can be the same width as a regular collar or extra wide. It is easy to find a collar that matches your taste and suits your dog’s coloring; there are many different styles of martingales available on the market. They are most often a flat collar, not rolled into a tube shape like some leather collars.
Why Choose A Martingale Collar?
Martingale collars are an excellent choice for virtually any dog, better than traditional collars according to many pet parents, for the following reasons:
- Safety. If you own a dog who is nervous, aggressive, or who has a high prey drive, you likely have the concern of him or her slipping out of a collar when in a situation that they consider to be stressful or exciting. A martingale collar tightens when a dog tries to pull away from its leash, keeping your dog securely under your control, unlike a traditional collar that dogs can easily slip out of.
- Comfort. Since martingale collars tighten when pressure is applied, for example when a dog tries to pull away from a leash but loosens when the pressure is released, your dog will always be comfortable wearing this type of dog collar.
- Lifespan. While you should expect to purchase many collars throughout your dog’s life, martingale collars are generally the longest lasting because they can easily be adjusted to grow with a puppy, and because they are often made of durable materials.
Choke Collars v. Martingale Collars
Martingale collars seem very similar to choke collars, however, they are without a doubt the safer and more humane option of the two.
A choke collar, also known as a choke chain, will tighten the maximum amount possible around a dog’s neck when tension is applied, which can literally choke a dog. Despite this tightness, most dogs are not discouraged from pulling and will choke themselves as a result, which is why many dogs who wear choke collars are constantly coughing and struggling to breathe because of how tight the collar can become.
However, a martingale will only tighten to a point; the tightening feature of a martingale collar is about 1 to 4 inches depending on the size of the collar, unlike a choke collar, which does not limit the tightening potential.
What Breeds of Dogs Should Wear Martingale Collars?
All breeds of dogs may wear martingale collars, though they are most often seen on greyhounds, which has given them the nickname “greyhound collars”.
Greyhounds and other sighthounds most often wear these collars due to the fact that their heads are quite narrow in comparison to other breeds, making a traditional collar even easier for them to slip off due to their build.
How To Choose A Martingale Collar
When shopping for a martingale collar for your dog, keep the following tips in mind:
Search for safety features.
While dog collars are necessary to keep a dog under control and to have a way to keep your contact information on your dog in the event that he or she becomes separated from you, collars also pose safety risks.
Collars that feature a closure made of metal like a belt buckle can cause choking because a dog cannot break free if its collar becomes stuck on something. By only using collars with a plastic break-away buckle, you could save your dog’s life. This feature allows a dog the potential to escape if the collar got caught on something.
Find the right fit.
The most important part of purchasing a martingale collar is purchasing the correct size. When selecting a collar, consider your dog’s size and build; a martingale collar the normal width of an average dog collar is appropriate for some dogs, while others should have an extra-wide collar to better protect their neck.
To learn how to properly measure your dog for a collar, read our article How To Measure Your Pet Correctly for Dog Apparel and Collars.
Consider average daily use.
When choosing a martingale collar, consider what your dog’s average daily use of the collar would consist of. If the collar will get lots of wear, a martingale with an adjustable chain would likely last longer than a martingale with an adjustable nylon fabric section, which would wear from constant readjusting. While a chain stands up better for long-term use, the chain can be noisy.
If choosing handmade collars, look for durable features.
Handmade products are becoming increasingly popular today, which has led many pet parents to shop on websites like Etsy to find unique collars and other products for their dogs. While you can easily find the perfect collar for your taste by shopping handmade, you must search for collars that were made to be durable, which would feature the following:
- Double and or reinforced stitching.
- Hardware that has been double welded or is very strong.
- Thick and durable materials. For example, a collar should never be made exclusively of decorative ribbon; ribbon should be stitched onto thick nylon.
If a handmade collar appears flimsy, do not use it; you could potentially lose your dog if the collar was to break while walking your dog.
How To Use A Martingale Collar
Martingale collars are very simple to use; they should be used similarly to regular dog collars. Follow these tips for success:
Use martingale collars for safety, not training.
Martingale collars are designed to keep a dog securely under an owner’s control who would try to slip out of a collar. They were not designed to prevent a dog from pulling on a leash; the average dog who tends to pull will not be discouraged from pulling by a martingale alone, which will result in the collar is tight for the entire walk. This is uncomfortable for both you and your dog and can restrict your dog’s ability to breathe, which can be dangerous in hot weather (1).
If your dog pulls, watch this loose-leash training video by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society for tips on how to use positive reinforcement training to stop pulling.
It is also critical for your dog’s safety and wellbeing that he or she learn to come when called; learn how to train your dog to obey the come command in our article, How To Train A Dog To Come When Called.
Supervise all wear.
While martingale collars offer more safety while walking your dog, they are not safe to be worn constantly. Due to the design, when a martingale is just being worn around the house, the adjustable section would hang lower than a traditional collar would since no tension is being applied. Though this is comfortable for your dog, the collar hanging lower poses a risk of it being caught on something. This means that your dog should only wear the martingale collar when with you; always remove any collar before crating your dog or before leaving your dog unsupervised when you go out.
Inspect the collar regularly.
Be sure to inspect your dog’s martingale collar at least weekly for signs that it is becoming worn or weak. For example:
- Hardware or D-rings look as though they have been stretched, they are misshapen or the welding looks as though it is weakening.
- If the collar features a safety release buckle, the buckle is cracked or no longer buckles securely.
- The nylon or fabric of the collar is warping, fraying, or tearing.
If you notice that your dog’s martingale collar is exhibiting any of these signs, it is time to throw it away and purchase a new collar for your dog’s safety.
Martingale Collar FAQs
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we have received about martingale collars and their answers:
Are our Martingale collars cruel?
No, martingale collars are not cruel when used appropriately. If your dog’s martingale collar is properly fitted and used appropriately, he or she will not mind wearing it and it will not be unpleasant or painful. Actually, martingale collars can be more comfortable than regular collars when properly fitted; they tighten and loosen according to the tension exerted on them, making your dog more comfortable without having to constantly adjust a collar.
Why put a martingale collar on a dog?
As discussed in our Best Dog Collars article, martingale collars are ideal because:
- They are ideal for safety; they are harder for dogs to slip out of.
- They can be adjusted to grow with puppies.
Is a martingale collar better than a harness?
Martingale collars and dog harnesses fulfill different purposes; they are both great at what they do. Harnesses are best for longer walks and brachycephalic breeds, while general control of your dog that would occur during activities such as running outside for a quick potty break or to check the mail would be fine with only a martingale collar.
The best way to use a martingale collar is simultaneous with a harness. By clipping your dog’s leash to their martingale collar and harness, you provide as much security against escape as you are reasonably able to on walks. If your dog’s harness and collar do not have hardware placed near enough to both be attached to the leash simultaneously, consider attaching the collar to the harness with a sturdy carabiner clip.
However, if your dog is prone to collapse of the trachea or is a Brachycephalic breed, a harness should be used exclusively. Your veterinarian can offer guidance on what is appropriate for your dog to wear if your dog has any unique medical issues associated with its throat.
Are Martingale collars effective?
Yes, martingale collars are effective. They give owners the ability to walk their dogs safely who are prone to attempting to escape while giving their dogs constant comfort since the collar adjusts itself automatically based upon the tension applied or removed from it.
Martingale collars are better than traditional dog collars for their abilities to help keep dogs safe and comfortable. However, they should only be worn when a dog is under the supervision of a responsible handler; they should not be worn in a crate or worn by a dog who is being left alone to prevent injury. Further, martingales were not designed to stop a dog from pulling; positive reinforcement training is the most effective way to handle this behavior.