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How Tight Should A Dog’s Collar Be?

How tight or loose should your pups collar be? What about width? What if you’re ordering online and you’re not sure what size to get?

While you’re pup’s collar is fashionable and useful, we have to take some very important safety precautions as well:

We have to consider comfort, but if your puppy is still growing we have to make sure the collar is continuously adjusted so it doesn’t get too tight. On that same note, a loose collar could mean an easy escape, or it could get caught on random objects.

Let’s quickly answer these questions.

The Quick Fitting Test:

You should be able to just fit two fingers sideways between their neck and the collar.

how big should your dogs collar be fitting test

Take Your Dog Shopping

The simplest and easiest way to pick out a collar is to take your dog with you to the pet shop. Most collars are available to try on, resize, and make sure it’s a perfect fit before leaving.

Use our quick fitting test with your pointer finger and middle finger. You should be able to fit in both fingers sideways between their neck and the collar.

“But what if I can’t take my dog to the store (or I’m ordering online)?”

Keep reading on, we’ll cover how to properly measure their neck and order the perfect fitting collar.


You’re dogs neck may not be finished growing. In fact, dog’s don’t stop growing for the first 12 to 36 months of their life.

They could be hit with a sudden growth spurt that causes their collar to be much too tight.

Do the quick fitting test with your fingers at least once every 2 weeks (until they’re fully matured) to ensure your dog isn’t slowly being strangled by their collar.

Likewise; a collar that’s too loose could easily get caught on their kennel or other parts of your home. Or they may easily escape during a walk.

What About Width?

While width can sometimes be personal preference, there’s a few important safety factors to consider:

Is your dog small or do they have a thin neck? Do they pull on their leash when going for a walk?

Then consider a very wide collar. This will put less pressure on their Trachea (wind pipe), and reduce the risk of a neck injury by better distributing force.

However, a thin collar will reduce damaging the hair around their neck. A thinner collar may be suitable if you don’t use their collar for walking purposes, and you just need something to hold their tags.

collar width size for dog

Neck Measurements

You can’t always have your dog with you when shopping for a collar, so let’s learn how to properly measure.

You’ll need a basic measuring tape for this.

For collars that slip over their head (like martingales) you need 2 measurements: the head and neck.  (Hound heads are often smaller, so a proper fit is essential or else they’ll be able to escape their collar)

1. Measuring Their Neck

  • Wrap the measuring take around their neck, and make sure it’s snug (but not tight).
  • Measure the thickest part of the neck.
  • Now add 4 inches to the total measurement.
This is the total length you’ll need when ordering your next collar.
Remember: Measure the neck, not the hair. If your dog is fluffy, make sure the measuring tape is snug.

2. Measuring Their Head

This is only necessary if the collar is meant to slip over their head. Otherwise you can skip this step.

  • Measure the widest part of their head (their ears included).
  • Add an extra 2 inches to the measurement so the collar can comfortable slip over their head and ears.

Common Breed Measurements

Don’t have a measuring tape handy? Here’s a few common measurements for various breeds to give you a general guideline.

Please keep in mind these are estimations. We highly recommend you measure you dog’s neck for better accuracy.

  • Extra Small (Teacup Yorkie, Chihuahua) – 4 to 6 inches
  • Small (Dachshund, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle) – 8 to 12 inches
  • Medium-Small (Miniature Schnauzer, Pug) – 10 to 14 inches
  • Medium (Beagle, French Bulldog, Border Collie) – 14 to 20 inches
  • Large (Labrador Retriever, Weimeraner, Boxer) – 16 to 26 inches
  • Extra Large (Great Dane, Mastiff, Bernese Mountain Dog) – 24 to 30 inches
Photo of author

Katlin Primrose

​​Katlin is ​a Certified Master Groomer (PIGA) and a registered Veterinarian Tech Assistant (working in emergency, exotics, and general practice). You can also find her in the show ring with her dogs, winning awards in rally obedience and show grooming with the Canadian Kennel Club. You might say she's multi-talented when it comes to pets.

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