Updated February 1, 2023
The best dog collars are like a favorite pair of jeans: comfortable, durable, and — if you’re lucky — fashionable, too. We formulated a list of different types of dog collars, ran them by our advisory board of veterinarians, then tested each one in real-world situations. Our favorite collar, the Joytale Reflective Dog Collar, checked all the boxes as an all-purpose choice for most dogs. But other collars emerged as better fits for certain types of dogs and their people, such as small versus large dogs, or collars made for leash-pullers or escape artists.
Like jeans on humans, collar types and sizing can be confusing. We’ll help you measure for the best fit and sort the options by the features that are most important to you.
Many collars claim to be reflective, but the Joytale Reflective Dog Collar caught the light even on the darkest streets during our tests. It’s also one of the first nylon collars we’ve seen with thick padding, making it comfier on dogs’ necks and easy for owners to clean after a rainy or muddy walk.
|✓ Reflective stitching||✗ No separate ring for a name tag|
|✓ Neoprene padding|
|✓ Available in 12 colors|
We liked the Joytale Reflective Dog Collar as soon as we took it out of its packaging. The neoprene layer felt soft to the touch, but it also clicked crisply into place during testing. When the collar is adjusted to its shortest length, part of the padding will be covered. Be sure to order the correct size for your pup so it fits well with little to no adjustment.
|Collar Size||Neck Size|
|Small||8" - 12"|
|Medium||12" - 16"|
|Large||16" - 24"|
|Extra Large||18" - 28"|
The only thing we didn’t like about this collar is that it lacked a separate, smaller ring for a name tag. It’s a small detail, but one that’s included with some other collars on this list.
Squirmy puppies need a snap collar and the Tuff Buckle Adjustable Nylon Small Dog Collar by Coastal Pet is curved to make the quick-release clip even easier. The clip and D-ring for attaching a leash were highly durable in our tests, but the material is still soft and comfortable for puppies and small dogs.
|✓ Washable||✗ Not reflective|
|✓ Made in the U.S.||✗ Limited colors|
|✓ Extra-small width available|
It’s often tough to find a collar small enough for puppies, but that’s not an issue with an extra-small Tuff Buckle. Measuring just ⅜” wide, it won’t envelop the newest member of your household but still has plenty of room to expand as your puppy grows.
We also tested Coastal’s Standard Nylon Small Dog Collar with a buckle enclosure, but overall preferred the Tuff Buckle’s snap enclosure instead.
This ZippyPaws Vivid Collection collar is the most heavy-duty collar we tested, but it’s also the most stylish. There’s nothing subtle about the teal model we tested, but that’s the point. This is a collar for dogs (and their people) that want to stand out.
|✓ All leather||✗ Too heavy for small dogs|
|✓ High-quality construction||✗ One color option|
Like your favorite leather jacket, this ZippyPaws collar felt buttery smooth as soon as we slid it out of the packaging, but also heavy. Our tests found that this collar swamped even our medium-sized (45-pound) dogs. We did test a size large, but we suspect that smaller sizes may still swallow petite pups.
The belt-like collar, however, would be a great accessory for larger, more muscular, breeds. Think of the ZippyPaws Vivid Collection Teal Dog Collar like your favorite chunky belt — it’s perfect with the right outfit. The bright teal is reminiscent of the famous blue boxes from the jewelry company Tiffany. But while Tiffany carries collars for about $400, the ZippyPaws collar is less than $20.
|Collar Size||Neck Size|
|Small||10" - 13"|
|Medium||12" - 16"|
|Large||15" - 19"|
|Extra Large||18" - 22"|
Sometimes you need a collar that you don’t mind getting dirty and that can stand up to any amount of playtime and mud baths. The lightweight Lupine Original Designs Collar is designed to take a beating, get thrown in the laundry, and come back for more. With at least 18 different cheerful patterns, you could stock up on a few for variety. Lupine will replace any damaged collar free, even if the collars have been chewed.
|✓ Multiple, fun design choices||✗ Not reflective|
|✓ Lifetime guarantee||✗ Absorbs water easily|
The Lupine Original Designs Dog Collar snaps on smartly, but the first thing we noticed about this collar was its beautiful color and pattern. The design is actually woven into the webbing, not printed or sewn on. The New Hampshire-based company has a loyal following due to its generous replacement policy, as it will replace any damaged collar at no charge even if it’s been chewed.
Even though Lupine offers several different types of collars, including reflective and martingale training collars, the Original Designs line is by far its most popular, perhaps because of the variety of colorful patterns that resemble everything from peacock feathers to preppy plaids.
Pretty packaging doesn’t always guarantee a quality product, but a Blueberry Pet accessory is a treat to open when every item comes in a gift box. The Blueberry Pet Genuine Leather & Polyester Webbing Dog Collar has more than surface-deep style: it has soft leather stitched onto durable and stylish navy and olive green webbing. While some pet parents might prefer the primary colors found on many collars, others might prefer this more sophisticated look.
|✓ Unique styling||✗ Buckle fastener, not a clasp|
|✓ Matching leash||✗ Not machine washable|
If you’re accustomed to the snap of a plastic fastener, a collar you must pull through a traditional buckle might seem like a throwback. We found it easy to get the right fit with the five holes, but those with squirmy dogs might get frustrated. Understanding the sizes will help you get the best fit.
|Collar Size||Neck Size|
We recommend pairing the Blueberry Genuine Leather & Polyester Webbing Dog Collar with the matching leash. You can read more in our roundup of the best leather dog leashes.
Anyone who’s been through any type of surgery with a pet is all too familiar with the “cone of shame,” that plastic Elizabethan collar your veterinarian might send home with you and your pet. The cone is cumbersome, cuts off your dog’s peripheral vision, and gets dirty easily. Enter the padded Comfurt Collar with a removable and machine washable cover. Unlike inflatable post-surgical collars, this one is solid and durable. The downsides are that some dogs may be able to wriggle out of it easily or that it does not extend far enough to keep dog paws from the sensitive areas you’re trying to protect.
|✓ Padded||✗ Pricier than an Elizabethan collar which vets may provide for no charge|
|✓ Washable||✗ May not be suitable for all dogs|
|✓ Comfortable for dogs|
The Arlee Pet Products Comfurt Collar has several ingenious features, including loops for holding your dog’s regular collar. When you click or buckle this collar around your dog’s neck, you’ll secure it and the recovery collar into place simultaneously. A strap stored in the cover serves as a leash attachment, a marked improvement from the awkward arrangement of fitting a collar around a plastic Elizabethan collar.
However, this collar wasn’t without issues. In one of our tests, our subject easily wrestled her way out of both collars. Two hidden toggles tighten the Comfurt Collar, but an extra-vigorous tug broke these in our tests. Without a snug fit or the appropriate size, you risk exposing the surgical wounds you want to protect.
Dr. Erica Irish
“The pet’s snout cannot extend beyond the edges [of the collar], so they don’t lick or bite whatever it is that they’re not supposed to be licking or biting!”
betterpet board advisory veterinarian
Bottom line: We wish we’d had a plush, washable collar like this during a recent month-long recovery, but it might not be right for determined dogs. Correct sizing will help, so use this guide when buying:
|Collar Size||Pet Size|
|Extra Small||5-10 pounds|
|Extra Large||40-70 pounds|
For every dog family that swears by stress-reducing products, you’ll see naysayers in online reviews who report few positive effects. However, betterpet veterinary advisors Drs. Irish and Michelle Diener are fans. “The calming collars may help a dog or cat that has mild anxiety around other pets or is being introduced into a new home,” Dr. Diener says. “These collars would not be worth trying on a dog or cat that has severe anxiety.”
In our tests, we tried the Sentry Calming Collar for Dogs on a pup barking at the moon on recent nights. In the first week at least, everyone was getting better sleep.
|✓ Stress-reducing for pups & parents||✗ Mixed reviews about effectiveness|
|✓ One size fits all||✗ Pricey|
This is a one-size-fits-all collar, which can be convenient when ordering, but less so when it’s time to get the right fit for your dog. You’ll need a pair of scissors handy to cut off any excess portion. The collar stays functional for 30 days.
Collars are meant to be functional, but there’s no reason why they can’t be cute, too. Blueberry is known for its decorative collars and leashes, including stylish numbers with detachable bow ties and flowers. Keep these for occasions when you’ll have eyes on your dog, as some dogs may be tempted to chew or even attempt to swallow them.
|✓ Durable||✗ Not reflective|
|✓ Easily adjustable|
Some collars may be all style and no substance, but not the Blueberry Pet Ladybug Designer Basic Collar. In our tests, it was durable and fit well. The collar is not technically reflective, but the bright pattern might be helpful at night. For those who object to a ladybug print in fall or winter, well, we’ll leave that decision to the fashionistas, but we think it’s cute any time of year.
There are dog collars to suit every family’s needs and tastes, but most fall into a few main categories. We did not include chain slip collars, choke chains, or metal prong collars on this list because they’re not widely recommended by veterinarians.
Dr. Michelle Diener
“It is easy to train dogs with a Gentle Leader as well. My dogs were trained in seven days. The Gentle Leader usually comes with a training video which is important to watch as it discusses ways to train a dog to a Gentle Leader.”
betterpet board advisory veterinarian
To get the best fit for your new dog collar, measure your dog’s neck before ordering. You’ll need a clothing measuring tape or a piece of string, plus a rigid ruler or plastic measuring tape. Gently wrap the clothing measuring tape or string around your dog’s neck where the collar will sit. Pull it snug then adjust so you can fit two fingers between your dog’s neck and the tape. Where the tape crosses is your dog’s neck size measurement.
If you’re using a piece of string, compare the string to a rigid ruler or yardstick. An alternative method is to measure your dog’s current collar. Then, look for that number in the collar’s sizing guide. These will usually be a range — for example, if your measurement is 13″ then you should order the 12″ – 16″ inch collar.
The betterpet lab developed a set of criteria then put them to the test in real-world situations. Those factors included:
The writers, editors, and staff of betterpet are pet parents, and we know the value of accurate, trustworthy information. Because of this, the content we create is reviewed and approved by our vets. We tested these dog collars so that when we say a dog collar is best, it comes from firsthand experience.
Dog collars are more than decorative items or key equipment for dog walks. They usually have dog tags with the pet’s name and your contact information in case of an emergency, something many municipalities require when dogs are in public spaces. But there are times when you can remove your dog’s collar. Good examples include crate time when they could pose choking hazards, or playtime with other dogs when collars could become entangled.
Nylon is a popular material because it’s durable and comfortable and often includes reflective stitching for nighttime walks. Leather is another popular option because it tends to last well over time. A disadvantage is that leather collars aren’t machine washable like many nylon collars.
The Humane Society recommends standard flat collars, Martingale collars, or head collars. It discourages the use of choke chains, prong or pinch collars, and shock collars. There are also bark-control collars, collars that protect your dog against fleas and ticks, vibrating collars, and smart or GPS collars.