Collars have two specific and very important functions. The main reason should be identificatory if your dog ever gets lost, we hope this never happens. Yet, if this ever comes to happen, proper contact information and possible special requirements of your dog could help tremendously.

The second reason it’s to connect with a leash for walking if a harness isn’t used of course. But regardless of reasons, what happens if a collar is too tight or too loose? Things can get messy or dangerous for you, your dog, and others.

Types of Collars for Dogs

Before jumping into how tight should a dog collar be, we should first know which kinds of collars can be found in the market:

Breakaway Collars

These are particular collars designed to avoid strangulation. Whether if your dog gets lost and trapped by a branch, or to avoid elevators accidents. When the force exerted is too much, it’ll break saving your dog from choking.

Lighted or Reflective Collars

Specially made for those who take walks during the night, or in dark places. Were meant to make your dog’s collar visible to others avoiding this way possible accidents.

Flea Collars

Manufactured with special chemical substances to fight and avoid flea infestations in your dog. These have to be combined with other collars since they haven't the place or the strength to connect a leash.

Head Collars

Normal collars which include their own muzzle, for dogs who need them, but in just one piece.

Pinch Collars

Also widely known as prong collar, designed to help prevent pulling. Knowing how to use it properly we can avoid harming our dog. Adding some behavioral training while walking, will surely help get rid of pulling.

Normal or Buckle Collars

The common textile collar, this one is also the most used kind.


They are more comfortable for dogs. While it works fine on walks, these can’t replace a collar. But can be mixed with one, since you still need the identification function that only the collar is provided.

How Tight Should a Collar Be

A collar should always be snug but not too tight. To help with this, there’s an interesting method called the “two-fingers rule”. It consists in putting your pointer and middle finger between the clipped collar and your dog’s neck. If it fits easily but feels snug that's the perfect spot.

Otherwise, if your fingers can pass through, the collar it’s too tight. Or if your fingers are free to move, the collar is too loose.

In addition, we recommend checking if the collar can slip out of the dog’s head. As some triangular-headed dogs can trick this rule and still escape their collars.

Problems Associated with Collar Misplacement

What happens if my dog’s collar hasn't a spot where the “two-fingers rule” is satisfied? Is it better tighter or looser?

None of these, we would recommend changing that collar for a well-fitting one. Looser or tighter than the correct tightness could lead to problems.

Loose Collar Problems

It can cause your dog to escape from it. A dog will likely know when the collar is too loose. He won’t try to escape until he needs or wants to. It could be to pick a fight, pursue something, or just avoid going somewhere he doesn’t want to.

Too Tight Collar Problems

This is surely more dangerous to your dog since it can cause injuries to the neck muscle or the trachea. Constant pressure over this area could damage the windpipe permanently causing collapsed trachea. If the tightness persists on time or is too high, it can also lead to asphyxiation.

When it’s too tight, the skin below the collar can get irritated due to permanent and constant rubbing. This could include hair loss and small cuts in the skin.

How to Choose a Proper Collar

This is easy, just take a measuring tape, now take your dog’s neck measure including your pointer and middle finger. Now that you have the perfect fit, go and find the collar that fulfills that measurement. With the right size, your dog may end up liking his collar! 

Does My Dog Need to Use a Collar?

Unless your dog has a very specific medical condition that supports not using a collar, your dog should always use one. It doesn’t matter if your dog is chipped, if he’s in your yard, or even if he’s using a harness for walking instead.

Collars will be the main tool to keep your best friend always close!