9 Types of Dog Collars, Worst to Best

©Scott Sheaffer, USA Dog Behavior

I’ve ranked 9 types of popular dog collars below starting with my least favorite (#9) and ending with my favorite (#1).

#9 Shock Collars (aka eCollars): Anything that can fix problems with a push of a button just has to be too good to be true. Shock collars might appear to fix behavioral issues in some cases, but they frequently cause significant additional long term problems. Please do not ever use these.

#8 Prong Collars (aka pinch collars): The idea behind these collars is that a dog will fully understand that to stop the pain, he must stop pulling on the leash – many dogs don’t figure this out. These collars frequently cause a dog to hurt his neck (specifically his trachea) and can really frustrate him. There really is no place for these collars in my opinion.

#7 Choke Collars (aka: choke chains, slip collars): Not as bad as prong collars, but ditto #8 above.

#6 Harnesses (aka: body harnesses): While these “collars” are humane and are perfect for a dog with health issues in the neck area, they can actually encourage a dog to pull on the leash and lessen the control a handler has over a dog. Simply stated, there’s a reason that harnesses used on dog sleds are very similar to these harnesses – they make it easy for a dog to pull.

#5 Head Collars (aka: head halters): These collars are similar in concept to a horse’s bridle in that they humanely give you control of a dog. It’s a great tool for specific behavioral issues and for owners who are physically challenged. It’s basically a canine management tool.

#4 Martingale Collars: This is a standard flat collar that cinches down ever so slightly on dogs’ necks when they pull. The genius behind this collar is that it doesn’t harm dogs but acts as a “reminder” that they are pulling. Just like with prong and choke collars, these collars only work if a dog fully comprehends the connection between pulling and the collar cinching down.

#3 Rolled Collars: This collar is normally made from a strip of leather that has been rolled into a tube shape. These collars are great for dogs with long fur because they don’t mat the fur as much as a standard flat collar. My only gripe with these collars is that they are small in diameter which can be painful to a dog in some circumstances.

#2 Flat Collars, Quick Release: These are your run-of-the-mill collars that are normally made from nylon. My only complaint (and it’s a big one) with these collars is that the length adjustment mechanism that works with the quick release almost always slips, making the collar continually too loose.

#1 Flat Collars, Buckle: As is true with so many things in life, the most old fashioned and simple of all dog collars is the best. They got it right the first time. Since this collar is flat, it is less dangerous to a dog’s trachea. Because it uses a buckle, it doesn’t slip. Voila! Available in all pet supply stores in nylon or leather. If your dog is reasonably well behaved, take him to the pet supply store for proper sizing.