Dog collars are not as simple as they seem. There are many different styles of dog collars to choose from depending on your dog's size, disposition, and function. Different breeds of dogs need to be controlled using different dog collars. The pinch collar which is usually used on larger breeds as Boxer may not be suitable for small dogs like Yorkshire Terrier. Therefore, you need to know the details and the uses of different types of collars in order to select the right one for your dog.
- Buckle Dog Collars are the traditional dog collars. They are meant to be buckled to fasten them and are mostly made up of cotton, nylon, or leather. The buckle dog collars can both be flat or rolled and are quite adjustable so they do not strangle dogs. Rolled leather dog collars can also avoid chafing or hair breakage.
- Quick-Release Dog Collars are also the traditional dog collars. Usually the flat nylon buckle collars have plastic fastenings that help to put on and take off the collar quickly. These are adjustable too and do not tighten around dog's necks.
- Break-away Dog Collars are designed to release for safety if caught, to reduce the risk of being strangled or injured. The break-away dog collars are meant to help the dog pull himself free. The dog collar will not open when it attached to a leash. The design allows you to control the dog when you are with him, but also protects the dog when he is alone or playing with other dogs.
- Slip Dog Collars and Choke Chains Slip dog collars are made of braided nylon, cotton, or leather, with "O" rings at either end. The collar loops through one of the rings, making a "P" shape. The lead is usually attached to the ring at the bottom of the "P" – the floating ring or the dead ring, which allows the collar to tighten and loosen with pressure from the lead. The metal training slip dog collars known as choke chains or chokers are used as the primary training tools for the dog. Width and weight of the links decide the type of chokers to be chosen for the dog. There are wide-link chokers with rough sliding for long-haired dogs, as often the chain will pull out the hair around a long-haired dog's neck. A study done in Germany showed that choke chains cause a quite deal of neck, back, and tracheal injuries to dogs and even trauma. Many suggest that only qualified, experienced dog trainers should use them with care. The choke chains are used as training collars “only” and should NEVER be used on puppies. Tags should not be attached to chokers, as they will interfere with the sliding action.
- Pinch or Prong Dog Collars contain blunt prongs that protrude inward from the links are used for the same purposes as the choke dog collars. These training collars are much safer than the chokers. The study in Germany mentioned above also evaluated prong dog collars, and found no neck/back/trachea injuries as a result of correct use of this collar. They are designed for those stubborn pullers as temporary training tools used to change behavior on dogs that do not respond to their owners. Please note that the pinch dog collars are not intended for puppies; they should only be used carefully.
- Gentle Leaders or Head Halters are also commonly used for dogs that pull. They are much like halters used for horses and give you the control over your dog by controlling his whole head instead of the neck only. The dog head halters sit right below the eyes, and thus many dogs are uncomfortable with them. They should not be confused for muzzles as they allow the dog to drink, eat, bark or bite. It is to be used when the dog is walking at your side and not trying to escape from you.
- Dog Harnesses which go around the neck and around the shoulders behind the front legs, are recommended for dogs who have upper respiratory disease or diseases of the throat or trachea. Some dog owners use dog harnesses in an attempt to stop their dogs from pulling when on lead. This is a very contradictory use of the device since dog harnesses are supposed to be used for sled and carting dogs to help them pull and is the most effective means to distribute weight evenly.
- Electronic Dog Collars often called Remote collars or Shock collars which deliver an electrical stimulus to the dog in training as a “correction method”. The intensity of the stimulus starts from low level to high, depending on the disobedience of the dog. These training-only collars should only be used by professionals or may have destructive effect on dog's self confidence, desire to work and general good will.
With all collars, proper fit is of vital importance. The non-slip dog collars should be loose enough to leave two-finger width space between the collar and the neck of the dog. The slip or choke dog collars, prong collars, head halters and harnesses should be fitted with the help of a professional who is experienced in their use, since improperly fitted dog collars and their incorrect usage may even prove fatal to dogs.