Your Guide to the Best Dog Collars and How to Choose the Perfect Fit for Your Pup

By: Catie ParrishUpdated:

best dog collars
Chewy Studios

Your Guide to the Best Dog Collars and How to Choose the Perfect Fit for...

As a new dog parent, one of the first things you buy is a dog collar. All you have to do is grab a collar in your favorite color that looks to be the right size, right? Well, not really. There are many different types of dog collars and selecting the best one for your pet requires a bit more brainwork.

“The main purpose of any collar is to carry identification,” says Irith Bloom, a certified professional dog trainer and certified dog behavior consultant based in Los Angeles, California. “As long as the collar is on your dog, then you know the ID is on the dog.” (Although she adds you should still have your dog microchipped).

But if you choose right, the collar could last your pup for years, help them feel more comfortable, and make walks more enjoyable for both of you. We’ve rounded up the best dog collars across a variety of categories to help you find the right one for your pet.

What to Consider Before Buying a Dog Collar

You know your dog best. Ask yourself the following questions before you shop for a dog collar. This will help you narrow down what you’re looking for.

  • How big is your dog? It’s important that your dog’s collar is properly fitted. If it’s too tight, it will be uncomfortable, and if it’s too roomy, your canine is at risk of getting loose without their ID. Not all dog collar brands have consistent sizing, so be sure to double-check the sizing chart against your dog’s neck size and weight. Additionally, Bloom says, “Generally, the proper fitting for a dog collar is that you can fit two flat fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck.”
  • What’s your dog’s neck and head structure? If your doggo has a smaller head with a muscular neck or a lot of loose skin, you’ll want to choose a collar that won’t slip off easily, like a martingale collar.
  • What activities do you like to do with your dog? If this collar will primarily be used for walks around your neighborhood, the best dog collar for your dog will be totally different than if you enjoy hiking or swimming together. Speaking of dog walks, Bloom notes that leash pulling can happen with any collar, so if that’s an issue when walking your dog, she recommends pairing your dog collar with a dog harness.

With these considerations in mind, you’re all set to look for the type of collar that will work best for you and your dog.

Dog Collar Types

best dog collars - nylon dog collars

Standard Dog Collars

If you’re looking for something simple, yet effective, it’s hard to go wrong with this classic collar design. You could also think of these as buckle collars. Bloom assures, “These are suitable for well over 90 percent of dogs.” Parents of stinky dogs take note: A nylon dog collar, like this one from Frisco, is a piece of cake to wash. It’s also adjustable so you can make sure it’s a perfect fit for your dog. When it’s time for a jaunt, simply hook a leash (Chewy sells matching ones!) onto the D ring.
Perfect for: Most dogs.
best dog collars - leather dog collars

Leather Dog Collars

Leather dog collars, like this one from OmniPet, are a classy and comfortable choice for your dog. “Leather tends to cause less damage to fur than nylon,” Bloom says. “If your dog has especially fancy fur, try a rolled leather dog collar.” A little water won’t hurt it either. “If it rains a lot, your leather dog collar will be fine and won’t get stinky,” Bloom says. “You can hand wash them if they need to be cleaned. However, the leather could get damaged if it gets submerged.” If your dog loves taking a dip, a nylon or waterproof dog collar may be a better choice.
Perfect for: Dogs with sensitive fur.
best dog collars - waterproof dog collars

Waterproof Dog Collars

If your dog loves swimming or has a rugged, outdoor lifestyle, a waterproof dog collar, such as this reflective one from Wigzi, is a good choice. Not only do they repel water, but they stand up well against mud and sweat. They’re also stink-proof because they don’t absorb moisture, and they’re super easy to clean—just run it under some water. They come in a range of colors, and some waterproof dog collars glow in the dark for nighttime visibility. So long, soggy collars!
Perfect for: Adventurous dogs and those who explore in rural or suburban locations.
Best in Class: Ready to Shop? Click here to see the best-selling and top-rated dog collars tested and approved by dog parents like you.
best dog collars - lighted dog collars

Lighted Dog Collars

These dog collars keep your dog safe at night because you—and others—can see them. Bloom says, “Lighted dog collar like this one are even better than reflective dog collars because you can actually see the dog glowing.” If you let your dog out at night, it gives you the opportunity to see that your dog stays in the yard. Remember that you need to turn an LED collar on and off to preserve the battery. It’s also important that your dog doesn’t chew on a collar like this.
Perfect for: Dogs who take lots of dusk and dawn walks, especially on a busy street.
best dog collars - cute designer collars with patterns

Dog Collars with Patterns

These collars have all the benefits of standard collars, they’re just cuter! Whatever your style, there’s sure to be a patterned dog collar that fits. For example, this stars and stripes collar is a charming choice for a patriotic pup. Leopard print, tie-dye, floral? We’ve got you covered. The only thing that matters is whether you like the pattern, reassures Bloom. “I promise you the dog doesn’t care. Whether it’s pretty or colorful, choose whatever makes you happy.”
Perfect for: Dog parents who want to show off their and their pets’ personalities and interests.
best dog collars - personalized dog collars

Personalized Dog Collars

Personalized dog collars, like this one from Frisco, have your dog’s info printed or embroidered right on it. Bloom is a big fan because they serve as back-up identification if your pet’s ID tag falls off. But choose the info you share carefully: “If your dog’s breed or your area puts your dog at risk of being stolen, you may want to reconsider [sharing your pet’s name]." If you’re concerned about sharing your phone number, she suggests using a business number or a Google Voice account that lets you access messages.
Perfect for: Pet parents who like the idea of their dog having a second form of ID.
best dog collars - martingale dog collars

Martingale Dog Collars

Martingale dog collars, like this one from Country Brook Design, work by tightening if the dog starts to pull it off. “They’re not designed to be a choke chain. They’re a safety device,” Bloom says. You attach a leash to a martingale collar just like you would any other collar. The two rings should just touch when the collar is pulled to its full tightness. "This will ensure you’re not creating a situation where you’re choking the dog,” Bloom says.
Perfect for: Dogs whose necks are larger than their heads, such as Greyhounds and Boston Terriers.
best dog collars - dog head collars

Dog Head Collars

Dog head collars, like the Gentle Leader from Petsafe, function by giving the person walking the dog a lot more control. Bloom says the principle is very similar to using a halter for horse training. “Power of the head gives you power over the whole body,” she explains. She recommends working with a dog trainer to ensure you’re using the collar correctly as improper usage, such as jerking the leash, could hurt your dog. You’ll also need to start slowly, “otherwise your dog will spend the whole walk trying to take it off.”
Perfect for: Large dogs with parents who have trouble keeping them under control on walks.
A dog collar can be a surprisingly significant purchase for man’s best friend. As one of the few things your dog will use daily, getting it right matters. Identifying your options, as well as your needs, will ensure the collar you choose is a favorable fit for both your dog’s size and personality.


By: Catie ParrishUpdated: