Tips & Training
Collars 101: How to Choose & Care for Your Dog’s Collar
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Photography: Akemi Photography
Pet lifestyle expert Serena Faber-Nelson is the founder of Pretty Fluffy. A contributor to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Modern Dog Magazine, Cesars Way and more; her modern, stylized take on DIY dog treats has seen her recipes viewed millions of times over.
Serena is the author of the go-to dog mom bible, Dog Mama, and the popular dog treat recipe book, Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.
How do I fit my dog collar?
How do I choose my dog collar?
Fabric vs Leather Collars?
How do I clean my collar?
Do these questions sound familiar? Well, today you’re in luck – welcome to COLLARS 101 – your go to guide on how to choose and care for the perfect collar just for your dog. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite dog collar experts to give you everything you need to know.
Pay attention – you will be quizzed at the end of the semester. That means you, Bueller.
Rebecca Martin – Owner of Remy & Co – the online boutique specialising in designer, bespoke and unique dog and cat collars.
Katie Day – President of WOOF New York – the NYC based luxury pet brand offering stylish accessories and fine leather collars and leashes for the modern dog.
Ruth O’Leary – Owner and crafter behind Ruthless Leather – the Sydney based boutique specialising in handmade strong leather collars and leads for strong dogs.
CHOOSING A DOG COLLAR
When first choosing a collar the #1 thing to decide is what lifestyle your dog leads and what collar will best suit that lifestyle.
Rebecca Martin from collar boutique Remy & Co encourages owners to look at their dog’s day to day life before making a decision, “If you are getting a new puppy, go for a fabric collar that is light and adjustable, that way as your precious pooch grows, you can adjust the collar. Make sure the collar you choose is machine washable as pups have a knack of getting into mischief! For a grown dog, think about the comfort, style and use of the collar. ”
Rebecca says asking yourself some simple questions will narrow down your search – Does your dog swim? Does your dog like to roll in the mud? Do you need a collar just for walking? Do you need a collar for training?
Owner of the stylish WOOF New York collar brand, Katie Day, says considering your dog’s personality is also important.
“Know your dog and their breed. Different types of dogs require different types of collars. You wouldn’t put a Great Dane in the same type of collar as a Pomeranian – do your research. Also, choose a colour and style that represents their personality, it’s just like choosing an outfit for yourself.”
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DOG COLLAR
When choosing a dog collar, above all, make sure you’re looking for quality.
Focus on strong, thick stitching, stainless steel or solid brass hardware that won’t tarnish or rust, and supple fabric or leather materials.
Ruth O’Leary, the founder and crafter behind Ruthless Leather, encourages dog owners to buy from a manufacturer that uses leather from a reputable tannery and avoid products stamped “genuine leather” – these products are often made from inferior reconstituted leather. Says Ruth, “While made-to-order leather collars are more expensive, the quality is generally far superior to mass produced collars and will last a lot longer, so they work out cheaper in the long run.”
“You can definitely tell if a collar or leash has just been pulled off a factory conveyor belt or crafted by hand,” says Katie. “Take note of the small details which signify quality, character and attention to detail such as custom embossing and hand-painted edges…look at how the leather bends and moves, how it smells and feels – a quality leather collar should feel like a high-end handbag.”
FABRIC VS LEATHER DOG COLLARS
The biggest choice you’ll make when choosing your pup’s collar is the fabric versus leather dog collar debate. Rest assured, both are great choices – each with their own advantages.
“Robust and durable, some leather collars are guaranteed for the life of the dog,” says Rebecca. Leather collars are great for hard working or hard playing dogs but a beautiful leather collar can also be at home on a smaller dog. Make sure you buy soft leather for your pooch’s comfort.
If your dog loves lots of time in the water, Rebecca advises to opt for the fabric option, “Fabric collars are great for ease of cleaning and they are light around the dog’s neck. If your dog likes to swim, find a waterproof collar or make sure the collar is rinsed in cold water after the swim (this makes sure any salt or dirt comes off the collar).”
CARING FOR YOUR LEATHER DOG COLLAR
“A quality leather collar, if well cared for, should last your dog’s lifetime,” says Ruth.
To keep your leather collar in top condition, Ruth recommends trying to avoid getting the leather wet, especially with salt or chlorinated water as it eats away the oils and tallows. If the leather does come in contact with these, rinse with fresh water and allow to air dry (out of sunlight), when fully dry treat with a suitable leather conditioner.
If prolonged exposure to water occurs and the leather hardens Ruth suggests neatsfoot oil to restore suppleness to the leather. If the leather becomes dirty with mud, simply wipe clean with a damp cloth and when dry treat with a suitable conditioner recommend by the collar manufacturer.
CARING FOR YOUR FABRIC DOG COLLAR
Rebecca’s number one tip for fabric collar care? “Make sure your fabric collar is machine washable. You can pop it in a laundry/lingerie bag to protect it, then just dry it naturally.”
Rebecca suggests washing your fabric collar every few months to keep them clean and odour free. If you’ve been to the beach or a river, rinse the collar in cold water to get rid of dirt, sand and salt.
WHEN TO UPDATE YOUR DOG’S COLLAR
“Depending on what your dog does, you can keep your fabric collars for as long as they last,” recommends Rebecca, but agrees collars are an easy way for owners to follow trends and fashion with their dogs.
“I believe pets are an extension of ourselves and our own personal style,” enthuses Katie. “I like to change my dog’s collar and leash at least once a year.”
In addition to fashion, checking your dog’s collar for signs of wear and tear can ensure their safety, says Ruth, “If you see the leather starting to crack it’s time to buy a new collar. Don’t risk your dog’s safety by waiting for it to break.”
But lastly – have fun! Says Katie “A high quality dog collar should be stylish, durable and perfectly match your dog’s unique personality. They are just like a great pair of shoes or handbag – you get what you pay for.”
Does your dog have a favourite brand or collar?
How often do you update your dog’s collar?
If you’re looking for a new dog collar, don’t forget to check out our Collars & Leads Shopping Guide where you’ll find our favourite dog collar brands of all time!
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Photography: Akemi Photography