How Tight Should a Dog Collar be? All You Need to Know


Dog owners are always in search of new accessories for their dogs. Pet enthusiasts also like to maintain a proper wardrobe for their dogs. The dog collars are on the top list of dog accessory as they are essential for the dog’s safety and differentiation from stray dogs.

Usually, when buying a dog collar, the pet owners do not take their dog to the pet shop rather they order online. Therefore, they are unable to measure the size correctly. So, sometimes, the dog collar is loose or tight around the dog’s neck. Both of these situations can be irritating and harmful for your furry friend.

Thus, one should know the average size of the dog’s neck and collar so that there is room for adjustment. If you are a dog owner, you better know how tight should a dog collar be, if you do not want your dog to suffocate or run freely.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

how tight dog collar

The size of a dog’s neck varies from breed to breed and their coat. Therefore, we cannot generalize a set measurement figure for all dogs. Moreover, the types of dog collars, material, shaping, and style also determine the fitting around the dog’s neck.

If you are purchasing the dog collar online, one way of estimation can be the reference size charts, but the risk of accuracy still prevails. Therefore, the veterinary experts have a rule of thumb for the ease of dog owners.

According to the two-finger rule, you need to insert your index and middle fingers into the dog collar and neck to assess perfect fitting. 

  • If your fingers slide in easily, but there is a snuggle between the dog collar and the dog’s neck, then you have the perfect fitting for the dog collar. 
  • The dog collar is exceptionally tight if you apply force to sneak in the fingers. 
  • If your two fingers do not stick between the dog’s collar and neck, the fitting is too loose to be around a dog’s neck. 

However, you can fix these problems by making adjustments to the fitting of the dog collar. Most dog collars have adjustment holes on the straps to fit according to the size of the dog’s neck.

In contrast, you can look for exchange offers or replacements if your dog collar does not have this option. It is always better to shop for a good fit first, but you can surely improve your mistakes. 

How to Measure for a Dog Collar?

dog collar fitting

Measurements are necessary for the exact sizes and perfect fittings of any piece of wardrobe, whether a human or a dog. For this purpose, one must take accurate or near to precise measurements of the dog’s neck to buy the perfect size dog collar.

These measurements will help you online and offline shopping for dog collars. You must follow the steps to get the measurements and use them for accurate purchase. 

Get a Measuring Tape

The first instrument that you need is a soft measuring tape. You can take a flexible measuring tape for clothes or sheets. Please do not use the metal ones because the dogs can be impulsive at times, you may risk injuring their neck. So, it is better to get a soft plastic tape to do your job without harming the innocent pet. 

Measure Your Dog’s Lower Neck

The next step is to determine where to measure around the dog’s neck. For this purpose, you must check where you usually tie the dog collar. However, in general, the dog collar is at the lower neck of the dog. So, it is safe to measure the dog’s lower neck to get the exact dog collar’s size.

Wrap the measuring tape around the dog’s lower neck and note down the figure at the intersection of the measuring tape. This measurement gives you the size of the dog’s neck that you can utilize while buying a dog collar either in-person or online. 

Reference the Manufacturer’s Sizing Chart

The sizing charts are a great help for the new buyers of pet accessories. Once you have your dog’s neck right measurement, you can compare it with the reference sizes on the chart to get the perfect fit for the dog collar. These reference sizing charts are available at stores and online websites for clients’ help.

These are most helpful during online shopping as you cannot measure the dog collar physically, so you trust the math and place the order accordingly. The measurements and sizes may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so getting the product closest to your measurement figures is better. 

Why a Properly Fitting Collar is Important

When talking about dog collars, we are not prioritizing fashion; instead, we are favoring the dog’s comfort. There are a variety of collars available on market today for different requirements and individual preferences. These include chain collars, shock collars, reflective collars, flat collar, GPS collars, pinch collars, and dog harness for all kinds of dogs.

The collar should feel snug on your pet which allows your dog to breathe, eat, drink and move its neck freely.

However, it should not be so loose that the dog can escape its neck from the collar, nor should it be too tight that it gets difficult to turn its head. Therefore, it is essential to get a properly fitted collar so that you can ensure your dog’s safety and comfort at the same time. 

Try to get the nearest to the exact size of the dog’s lower neck so that there is no discomfort to the dog’s airways. In contrast, a loose collar can make your dog end up in a fetal position as the dogs can get stuck in their paws or legs in the loose portion of the dog collar. It can harm their bones and skin and can even cause cuts.

Moreover, the tight collar can make your dog choke to death. You would not want to lose your dear friend due to negligence in buying a proper fit of the dog collar. Therefore, you better get a properly fitting collar for your buddy so they can play around you freely and comfortably. 

Signs That Your Dog’s Collar is Too Tight

The innocent dogs cannot express their pain and feelings in words, so it is at your end to understand their body language. You can observe them and their actions to assess whether they are in pain or not. The detection of signs can help you in timely reactions and precautions.

If the collar is too tight around the dog’s neck, it can make them uncomfortable. It can cause shortness of breath, difficulty consuming food and water, etc. Moreover, the primary sign that your dog’s collar is too tight includes coughing, lethargy, chafing, and loss of fur. 

how tight should a dog collar be


The tightness of the dog collar can initiate coughing in your dog. This action can be the first sign that the dog collar is too tight, so you better not neglect it. However you can give your dog some medicine, but first, try to lose the dog collar and see if it works. 

Lethargy and Shortness of Breath

If you suddenly notice that your dog is not as active as before, then believe that it is another sign of the tightness of the dog collar. Moreover, if you see your dog having a short breath, instantly loosen the collar.

The excessive pressure on veins and around the neck can make it difficult for them to breathe. Eventually, they struggle hard to breathe, resulting in the pet’s lethargy. 

Chafing and Loss of Fur

The tightness of the collar is the leading cause of chafing and loss of fur of your dog. The tight grip and friction of the collar strap can cause irritation and itchiness on the dog’s neck. This discomfort can be disturbing for both the dog and dog owner.

Moreover, the loss of fur can affect the appearance of the dog. The loose hair is all over the place on rugs, couches, and even your clothes. It can be embarrassing and can even cause allergic reactions in some people. Therefore, putting on a collar that is too tight around your dog’s neck is not advisable. 

Should I take my dog’s collar off at night?

Every living thing has the right to relax and have some rest. Therefore, one must not torture the pets by keeping the pet collar around their necks 24/7. If your dog is well-behaved and does not hop around at night, you should never leave on the collar.

Night time is a relaxing time for all, so why should we bother these innocent animals with the excessive pressure around their necks. The constant and persistent use of a pet collar can damage the structure of a dog’s neck. It can also affect their breathing and eating habits in the long run.

It can also make them tiresome, and they will not be as active as before. So if you want a healthy and playful pet, you better take the collar off at night. 

Final Thoughts

A normal dog collar is an accessory that helps keep them safe and sound inside and outside the house. However, these should not be too tight around the neck because they will do no good to the dog’s health. The tight grip can cause chafing, cuts, bone deformation, and even the pet can choke due to shortness of breath.

So it is better to get the perfect size of the pet collar with the help of measurements. Utilizing the two fingers rule is also recommended. Once you have the measurements, you can use them for comparison with the reference sizing chart of the manufacturers. In this way, you can have the nearest exact size for the dog collar.

Thus, you must monitor your dog and its behavior to detect any discomfort. Loosen or adjust the dog collar strap according to the fitting around the dog’s lower neck.

Hence, if you are a keen observer and a proactive person, you will never fail to get the best fit product for your dog. Also, you will be more aware of how tight should a dog collar be and make your purchases accordingly. 

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Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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