How Tight Should A Dog Collar Be?

Do you want to know how tight a dog collar should be or whether a harness is better? Read this blog post to learn everything you need to know about dog collars and their alternatives and how to make sure your fur baby is comfortable and safe.

Collars are an essential part of ensuring your dog can be identified if lost, and they provide many benefits in training and walking your dog. But are dog collars the right choice for you and your dog?

Read on for a deep dive comparison between dog collars and dog harnesses, including the benefits and uses of both. This guide should help you decide which option is right for you.

What Is A Dog Collar?

A dog collar is a tool used to identify a dog if they are lost or helps owners restrain a dog using a leash on their daily walks. Collars fit around the dog's neck and are fastened using a clip or buckle, and have D rings for dog owners to attach a tag to identify the dog and/or a leash to walk the dog. Dog collars are generally used with a leash to control a dog's movement and prevent them from running into traffic or other dangerous situations.

What Are The Primary Functions And Features Of A Dog Collar?

To know whether or not a dog collar is suitable for you and your dog, you should understand how you can use a dog collar.

Dog Collars Support Managing And Controlling Dogs

When dog owners take their dogs for walks, they need a way to keep their dogs safe and prevent them from running into dangerous situations or jumping up on strangers. A great way to do this is to use a dog collar and use it to guide the dog in the direction you wish to go.

Dog Collars Protect Dogs From Being Injured By Other Dogs Or Running Into Traffic

When you take your dog out for a walk, you need a way to stop them from going in the wrong direction and running into traffic. Your dog also has no way of knowing whether or not another dog is dangerous, so a collar can help you to practice caution before allowing your dog to communicate with other dogs. Also, when you walk your dog, there may be litter and dangerous objects on the ground that could be hazardous for your dog to eat, and a collar can help you guide them away from these hazardous items.

Dog Collars Help To Properly Identify Your Dog

One benefit of a dog collar is that it can be worn at all times. With important information such as phone number, address, and any health issues readily visible on the ID tag, your dog will be much more likely to be returned safely to you. Some dogs have a superpower of digging under fences, or escaping from open doors, so the collar could definitely be a lifesaver!

Dog Collars Support Training

Dog collars can help to support training exercises with your dog. You can use different types of dog collars to discourage pulling behaviors and train your dog to have good leash etiquette. You can also control larger dogs more easily using collars that help you regain control and mitigate strong pulls.

What Are The Different Types Of Dog Collars?

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be - Neewa

                      Easy Fit Dog Collar | Neewa

There are many different types of dog collars that provide additional functions, levels of comfort, and durability. This section will cover the main types of dog collars, their uses, and why they may be well suited to your dog.

Leather Collars

Leather makes an excellent choice for your dog collar as it is one of the most durable materials. Plus, the oils that accumulate on your dog's coat can improve the quality of the leather, meaning that it gets better over time. Leather collars are also visually appealing and create a classic look as an accessory for your dog.

Metal Collars

Metal collars consist of metal links designed to tighten around your dog's neck and control pulling behaviors. Metal collars are not recommended as your dog's everyday wear collar, as they can become quite uncomfortable with extended use.

Textile Collars

Textile collars are the most common collars used for dog tags and leash walking. Your dog can wear a textile collar at all times. Textile collars may not be as durable as leather collars, but they are weather-proof and can still be an attractive dog accessory for your pet and come in a wider variety of colors and patterns.

Safety Stretch Collars

A safety stretch collar is a loose collar designed to prevent injury. Safety stretch collars are ideal for dogs that are not difficult to control on walks and help to avoid adding strain to the neck. The safety stretch collar is a good choice for dogs with sensitive necks due to injuries.

Martingale Collars

The martingale collar prevents your dog from slipping out of its collar. Like greyhounds and whippets, some dogs have necks and heads of a similar size, making it easier for them to slip out of a collar. If your dog's head is smaller than its neck, this collar would be a great choice for you. The martingale collar tightens around your dog's neck when they pull to keep the collar safely around their neck. The martingale collar is preferred by positive reinforcement dog trainers over choke chains.

Flotation Collars

A flotation collar is very similar to a human life vest. It is filled with air and placed around your dog's neck to prevent its head from sinking underwater during swimming activities. If your dog's body becomes injured, this collar can provide a fail-safe so that your dog won't drown.

Reflective Collars

Reflective collars are designed to keep your dog visible at night. So, if you live in an area that experiences dark winters or you like to take your dog out for a walk during the nighttime, a reflective collar can ensure your dog is visible to cars and passers-by to keep them safer for nighttime activities.

Breakaway Collars

When dogs wear collars, this can leave them vulnerable to becoming entangled, which may potentially cause strangulation. With a breakaway collar, your dog will be able to break the loop of the collar and escape a dangerous situation. The breakaway collar is excellent for dogs with good recall and can be retrieved easily should they run.

Head Collars

Headcollars are used in tandem with a normal dog collar. These collars are beneficial for containing larger dogs on walks. If your dog pulls strongly, its head will be shifted to the side, causing a slight straining in the neck. If your dog is larger, their strong pulls could cause you to become injured, making this a great way to keep yourself safe when walking a larger dog. This is a great way to discourage pulling and train your dog to have good leash manners.

Prong Collars

Prong collars are a controversial training tool for dogs, and positive reinforcement dog trainers disapprove of them. They are designed to tighten and pinch the skin on the dog's neck when they pull. The pinching can cause damage to the dog's thyroid, esophagus, and trachea, not to mention psychological trauma.

Choke Collars

Choke collars are another controversial training tool for dogs. A choke chain, or choke collar, has a noose-like function and is designed to tighten and constrict a dog's neck when they pull. This kind of collar can cause damage and injury to your dog's neck, so many experts consider it a cruel training method.

Shock Collars

A shock collar has remote features that allow dog owners to transmit shocks to the dog's neck for training purposes. This training method is often considered cruel and less effective than positive reinforcement training methods. For more information on the prong, choke, and shock collars you can check this article.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be - Neewa

Easy Fit Dog Collar | Neewa

How To Check If A Dog Collar Fits Properly?

The best way to check if a dog collar fits appropriately is to use the two-finger rule. The two-finger rule is the most commonly used method to determine if a dog's collar or harness fits properly. When using the two-finger rule, your dog's collar should be loose enough so that your fingers slide comfortably between your dog's neck and collar. Otherwise, the collar is too tight. To make sure your dog's collar fits properly before buying it, you may benefit from taking measurements of your dog's neck.

Pros And Cons Of Dog Collars

Here are some pros and cons to consider before choosing whether a collar would suit your dog.


These are some of the benefits of using collars to train, walk, and identify your dog.

Larger Dogs Can Be Better Controlled And Managed With A Collar

If you have a larger dog, a collar may be better for controlling and managing your dog. It will require less effort for you to restrain a large dog breed with a collar than a harness.

Dog Collars Are Easy To Put On And Take Off

The best thing about dog collars is that they are easier to apply and remove than most harnesses. You can even leave the collar on your dog at all times, so long as it is made from comfortable materials.

Dog Collars Are Available In Many Designs, Colors, And Materials

Dog collars can help you walk your dog, making an excellent accessory for your dog. They come in a wide variety of materials, designs, and colors, so you can choose one that best suits your pup's coat and personality!


There are some drawbacks to using a collar on your furry friend, and it's essential to be aware of these before using a collar to walk your dog.

Collars May Cause Stress, Injuries, And Discomfort In Dogs

Some dog breeds, like chihuahuas and Yorkies, have weaker tracheas that make it uncomfortable and dangerous for them to wear a collar. Likewise, if your dog tends to pull firmly on the leash, it could damage its neck when tugging on the leash. It is essential to gauge how comfortable they are when wearing it and to introduce it as a puppy if possible. It is always wise to consider whether a harness may provide more support and be more comfortable for your dog based on their individual needs.

Some Dog Breeds Can Slip Out Of Collars Easily Due To The Similar Width Of Their Head And Neck (Like Greyhounds And Whippets)

Greyhounds, whippets, and other dogs with necks that are the same diameter as their heads may easily be able to slip out of their collar. This can be dangerous as they may break free and head into traffic. So, a collar may not be the right option for these breeds. You can try using a harness or a martingale collar, which will keep your dog secure and comfortable.

Alternative To Dog Collars: Harnesses

Many owners, after considering the pros and cons of collars, decide that a harness is a better solution for walking and training. It’s common to actually use both - the collar is worn at all times for identification purposes, and the harness is worn only when walking or training. Just like collars, you can ensure your dog harness is a proper fit by using the two-finger rule and using a measuring tape to measure your dog's body. Simply slide two fingers between the harness and your dog's body. You should be able to fit no more or less than two fingers comfortably in the gap. Using a tape measure works well to help you buy the best harness for your dog if they can’t try it on first.

What Are Harnesses?

A dog harness is an alternative to a collar that fits around your dog's chest as opposed to their neck. Dog harnesses are designed to provide more comfort and support for dogs, making them more comfortable for dogs prone to pulling and eliminating the potential for trachea damage. Harnesses come in a variety of types for various activities.

What Are The Different Types Of Harnesses?

There are many different types of harnesses for dogs. Some examples of different types of dog harnesses include:

  • A front-clip harness - with this harness, the D ring that attaches the leash to your dog is at the front, on their chest. This can add resistance and discourage pulling behaviors, as your dog will become unbalanced when they pull.
  • A back-clip harness - a standard harness where the leash attaches to your dog's back.
  • X-back and H-back harnesses - these harnesses are designed for dog sports like mushing and canicross, where your dog will be pulling weight. These harnesses distribute weight evenly across the dog's body to ensure your dog's comfort.

For more information on dog harnesses, check out the Neewa ultimate guide to dog harnesses.

Pros And Cons Of Dog Harnesses

Let's discuss some of the pros and cons of using a harness for your dog instead of a collar.


There are many benefits to using a harness for your dog, and here are just a few.

Dogs Can Feel More Comfortable With Harnesses

A harness supports the dog's whole body, and any sharp pulls or tugs on the leash won't cause pressure on your dog's neck. Harnesses provide more support for a dog's body when they pull on the leash. Harnesses are available with more padding than collars, which prevents harness parts from digging into your dog's body.

Harnesses Protect The Dog's Trachea And Spine

When dogs pull and are wearing a collar, this can cause strong pressure and pain that can damage their trachea. Depending on the angle of their body, the effect of strong pulls may also twist their spine. This is not a problem with harnesses, and using a dog harness can help you protect your dog's trachea and spine.

Harnesses Discourage Pulling

When you opt for a front clip harness, it takes the advantage away from your dog and discourages pulling behaviors. The front clip harness is cruelty-free and can prevent pulling without injuring your dog and maybe a better idea for your dog than more aversive options.

Harnesses Are Better For Running With Your Dog And Performing Other Sports With Them

Harnesses come in styles that facilitate running and performing other sports with your dog. Harnesses can even come with small handles to help you hike and swim with your dog. For performing sports like mushing, skijoring, canicross, and bikejoring with your dog, you will need a suitable harness that distributes the weight of pulling evenly across your dog's body. You cannot perform these sports with a collar, and a harness is required to make the sports cruelty-free.


There are a couple of drawbacks to consider when deciding if a harness is suitable for you and your dog. Here are some of the disadvantages of opting for a harness.

Harnesses Can Be More Expensive Than A Collar

Harnesses have a more complex design than collars, and more materials are required to make a harness, which means they are often more expensive than collars. The harnesses designed for dog sports and dog pulling may be more expensive, too, as they are more complex than standard walking harnesses.

It May Take Longer For A Dog To Get Used To A Harness

Since a harness is more noticeable for your dog than a collar and covers more of their body, they may not be comfortable wearing it right away. It's best to introduce your dog to wearing a harness slowly, putting it on for short amounts of time each day until they adjust to wearing it.

Harnesses Can Be Uncomfortable In Hot Weather

When the weather is hot, a harness adds a layer of insulation to your dog's body that can be uncomfortable and cause them to overheat. For hot weather, it's best to opt for strappier harnesses instead of padded harnesses that cover a more significant portion of your dog's body.


While dog collars can be worn all the time and may be more convenient for taking your dog on short walks, dog harnesses offer more support and facilitate more activities for you and your dog. When it comes to choosing which is best for your dog, it is vital to remember that you don't have to choose! You can use both a harness and a collar for different purposes and get the advantages of both dog accessories.