When picking out a collar at Petsmart, it’s tempting to pick the cutest one. However, collars are not always fashion statements; a martingale collar could save your dog’s life. We learned the hard way that even the most secure buckle collars aren’t always strong enough. We don’t want you to make the same mistake we did.
But what is a martingale collar? Are martingale collars safe? And worse, are martingale collars cruel?
Let’s talk about what a martingale collar is, what their benefits are, and how to use one properly.
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Why We at Creative Haven Homestead Advocate for Martingale Collars
When we adopted Winston, the shelter gave us a martingale collar. At first, we didn’t realize how important this would be in the future. Winston doesn’t pull much on walks, and we’ve trained him pretty well to come back when called if he gets a few moments of off-leash time in the backyard.
Then we adopted Aloy. Aloy has significantly less grace than Winston, and a lot more energy. While we’re waiting on our fence to get installed, we put them on lines so they can go out and do their business at night. We bought Aloy a sturdy, utilitarian collar with a clip because there were no martingale style collars at Petsmart.
One night, I put her on the line, opened the door of the deck, and she shot off the porch like a rocket after something I couldn’t see in the dark.
She ran straight out of her collar. As strong as it was, she just went so fast that it broke and ripped right open for her.
Thankfully, she finally came to her dad after a terrifying 2 minute race through our back woods.
She’s worn a martingale collar ever since. We’re never letting that happen again.
What Is a Martingale Collar?
So first and foremost: what is a martingale collar? A martingale collar goes by a few names: no-slip, limited-slip, and even greyhound collars.
Greyhounds are uniquely shaped. Their heads are narrower than their necks. That makes it difficult to keep a traditional collar on, as they easily slide off over the head. To reduce the chances of this happening in dogs with uniquely shaped bodies, the martingale collar design was invented.
At first glance, they look like your average collar. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that there’s no clip. Instead, a third of the collar is made from a loop of fabric connected to the rest of the collar with a D ring. Sometimes manufacturers will make this loop out of chain instead of fabric.
How Does a Martingale Collar Work?
So what does this loop do? When a dog pulls on their leash or line, the tension will pull at that loop. This tightens the circumference of the collar, preventing it from slipping off. However, it’s not a choke collar, as it can only tighten so far. Choke collars have no limit to how far they can tighten. When fitted properly, the use of these collars is safe for your dog. It keeps them secure without harming them.
While these collars were invented primarily for dogs such as greyhounds, whippets, salukis, and others with similarly-shaped faces, the general public noticed how useful these collars were for many other breeds. They’re much more common to see, and many shelters will give them out when you adopt a dog, as they consider it the safest option for keeping your dog secure.
When you adopt a dog, the unfamiliar surroundings may alarm them. Lots of dogs will try to escape their new home and get lost. Martingale collars reduce that risk.
Are Martingale Collars Safe?
When used and fitted correctly, martingale collars are perfectly safe.
Some notes for making sure you’re as safe as possible with your martingale dog collar:
- Don’t use these collars on brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breeds. Dogs like Frenchies, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs have difficulty breathing, and anything even temporarily constricting around their neck could be hazardous.
- Don’t use these collars as a correction for dogs that pull on walks. These collars work well for a dog that will pull every once in a while or for a bit of extra security. If your dog pulls constantly while you’re out walking, you want to use a no-pull harness instead. Once you’ve worked on training with them and they improved, you can switch over to the martingale.
- Don’t leave the martingale dog collar on when your dog is unsupervised. Many people will use two collars: the martingale for security during walks and a separate one for general use. The second one could be more fashionable, like a personalized dog collar or customized dog collar. This collar can hold their ID tags, just in case they happen to sneak out the door.
How Should a Martingale Collar Fit?
So you’ve decided a martingale collar would be the best choice for your pup. The most important part of getting the best martingale collar for your dog is measuring it properly.
First, think about the width of the collar. Most dogs do well with a generic 1 inch collar. The best martingale collars for greyhounds and other thin-necked dogs are the padded, wide martingale collars so they lay on the neck more comfortably.
Now here’s how to fit a martingale collar. Grab a fabric tape measure and measure the base of your dog’s skull. You’ll find that line right behind your dog’s ears. This is the measurement of the collar when it’s closed (fully tightened). When used, the collar will tighten to this position and prevent it from slipping over your dog’s head. Buy the smallest size you can while keeping that measurement.
Once you purchase the right collar, it’s time to size it to your dog. Slip the collar over their head and put it at the same spot you measured before ordering. Pull on the small loop and monitor the metal slides as they tighten. Once tightened, stick two fingers between your dog’s neck and the collar to make sure it’s a safe size for them.
Now you know how to use a martingale collar for dogs safely! There are a bunch of unique martingale collars out there for you to pick the one that’s best for your precious pup.