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What Is A Martingale Collar: The What, Why, How & Everything Else

Image of a dog with a martingale collar

Finding the correct type of dog collar for your dog takes careful thought. If you’re considering a martingale collar, use this guide to understand everything you need to know about this collar.

Key Takeaways

  • A martingale collar, or a no-slip collar, tightens when the dog pulls on it. This provides more control without harming the dog’s neck and throat.
  • Martingale collars benefit dogs that pull on the leash, dogs with thin heads (greyhounds & german shepherds) and skiddish dogs.
  • Never leave your dog unattended with a martingale collar. Use them only for training or walks while you supervise.

What Is A Martingale Collar?

A martingale collar, or a no-slip collar, tightens when the dog pulls on it. This provides more control without harming the dog’s neck and throat. If you own a martingale collar, put it around your arm and pull it to see how the mechanism works.

Why Choose A Martingale Collar?

Martingale collars tighten quickly but comfortably. This is beneficial for dogs that easily back out of their collars.

Similar to reason #1, if your dog is fearful of other dogs or humans, it may try to retreat when it gets scared.

Mimi Green makes strong and durable martingale collars up to 1.5” wide. They’re strong enough for breeds like German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Pit Bulls, and more.

Handling a puppy is no easy task. When your pup gets the zoomies and backs out of their collar, it can quickly ruin multiple people’s day. Martingale collars can prevent that while teaching proper leash etiquette.

Dog collars typically cause chaffing or strain on your dog’s neck because they’re too tight. Martingale collars only tighten when your dog pulls, meaning they’re a relaxed fit at all other times. Martingale collars choke less because they distribute the force around the entire neck instead of just the throat.

 

Two Types Of Martingale Collars

Standard Martingale Collars

Buckle Martingale Collars

  • Instead of using a buckle, they are slipped over the dog’s head.
  • Must be adjusted large enough to allow the owner to slip them over the dog’s head and further fitted when worn for a snug fit.
  • Better for smaller dogs who aren’t comfortable with the additional buckle weight.
  • Better for strong pullers who may break or strain a normal buckle.
  • Ideal for whippets or greyhounds with skinnier necks
  • Uses a quick-release buckle made from plastic or metal making the collar straightforward to remove.
  • Ideal if you want a more convenient design, with plastic options for dogs with metal allergies.
  • Better for a variety of breed sizes 
  • Great for dogs who have necks the size of their heads
  • Great for skittish dogs that are more likely to resist collars slipped over the head.

Using A Martingale Collar For Training

Martingale collars are great for use in conjunction with proper training techniques. Dogs that are still learning will try to pull or twist out of their collar when they see distractions or get excited. Martingale collars allow you to give slight tugs on the leash while walking to train leash manners.

While some dogs learn quickly, other dogs need more/different training aids and cues.

Breeds That Benefit From Martingale Collars

  1. Whippets
  2. Sheltie
  3. Greyhounds
  4. Salukis
  5. Sighthounds

Are Martingale Collars Cruel?

When properly fit, martingale collars are designed not to cause discomfort to a dog. This ensures the dog can learn not to pull over time without the associated pain response.

Martingale Collars Vs. Choke Chains, Prong & e-Collars

Martingales have a loop attached to the leash that tightens when pressure is applied. They are the most gentle and user-friendly option, suitable for many breed sizes and ages, and teach leash pressure to the dog without being able to overtighten.

Choke chain collars tighten the full length of the chain. When used properly, they can teach leash pressure. If misused, they’ll tighten too much (not a limited amount like a martingale) and restrict the dog’s airway.

Prong collars are similar to a martingale in that they have a loop that tightens to a limited degree. Of course, the prongs are on the inside of the collar. Prong collars can be helpful when a trainer teaches the owner how to use them. They should not be left on for long periods or after the walk is over, as they could injure the dog if misused.

E-collars are collars with a shock or vibrate option that allow people to communicate with their dogs off-leash. They should always be used with the help of a licensed trainer who is knowledgeable about the settings, as they could harm the dog if not used properly.

There is much debate in the dog community about what the safest and most humane option is, so we always recommend reaching out to a professional if you are unsure what the best option for your dog may be. However, martingales are a safe and effective option to prevent dogs from slipping out of their collars, especially if fitted properly.

When To Not Use A Martingale Collar

  • Never leave your dog unattended with a martingale collar. Use them only for training or walks while you supervise. Sadly, your dog can get caught on something, which could tighten the collar dangerously. We’d suggest additionally fitting your dog with a traditional buckle collar.
  • Dogs with weak necks or breathing issues.
  • Stubborn of dogs, who pull no matter what. You cannot replace proper training with a martingale collar and call it good. Martingale collars are not intended for dogs that constantly pull during walks. The collar will be perpetually tightened and uncomfortable for your dog even though it does not choke.

How To Size A Martingale Dog Collar

Since there are two types of martingale collars, we’ll give you two ways to fit them:

Fitting a Buckle Martingale Collar

  1. Measure the middle of your dog’s neck (where the collar will sit).
  2. Add at least 1 inch for smaller dogs and at least 2 inches for larger dogs.

Fitting a Slip-On Martingale Collar

  1. Measure the largest part of your dog’s head and the middle of your dog’s neck (where the collar will sit).
  2. Add at least 1 inch for smaller dogs and at least 2 inches for larger dogs.
  3. NOTE: If your dog’s head is larger than its neck, use its head measurement to determine the size you need. If your dog’s neck is larger than its head, use its neck measurement to determine the size you need.

For small dogs, the typical width of a martingale collar will be around 3/4”, while the most common option for medium to large dogs is 1”, and the most popular choice for medium to extra-large dogs is 1.5”.

Graphic with three dogs wearing Mimi Green Marintgale Collars

Types Of Dog Collars: Guide To Choosing The Right One

Graphic showing six different types of dog collars

When choosing the right type of dog collar, you need to consider three things:

  1. The Type
  2. The Material
  3. The Style

This guide will help you choose a suitable collar for your dog. Different types of dog collars work better for dogs based on their age, breed, and needs. If you’re looking for a dog collar for training, or just for style, this guide is for you. Let’s take the confusion out of choosing a collar for your dog.

Flat Collar

The Comfortable Dog Collar Good For Most Dogs

Fat dog collars are the most common type of dog collar. They’re typically made of a flat strip of material, such as nylon, leather, or fabric. They’re designed to fit snugly around the dog’s neck. Flat collars usually have a buckle or a quick-release snap for easy fastening and removal, and they often include a ring for attaching a leash or identification tags.

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Martingale Collar

Safely Train Dogs That Pull On The Leash

A martingale collar, also known as a no-slip collar, tightens when the dog pulls on it. This provides more control without harming the dog’s neck and throat. A martingale collar will help reduce pulling by placing a small amount of pressure on your dog’s neck. However, these collars are not intended for dogs who constantly pull during walks. This is because the collar will be perpetually tightened and uncomfortable for your dog, even though they do not choke.

A martingale is different from a choke collar in one key way. While both tighten on the throat to correct pulling, unlike the choke collar, the martingale never tightens enough to choke or harm your dog.

You should not leave a martingale collar on at all times – especially when your pup is left unattended. While these collars are safe, the tri-guide increases the risk that the collar will get caught on something. This can lead to choking, suffocation, or another type of injury.

Harness

For Dogs That Back Out Of Collars, Have Breathing Trouble Or Sensitive Necks

While collars are best for everyday wear, a harness can be the safest option for dog walks and outdoor activities. Whenever a dog is more tempted to pull, a harness can worsen that pulling for specific breeds. However, it puts less stress on their necks. A harness may be the better option for dogs with sensitive necks or breathing trouble. Harnesses can also be a more secure option for dogs that tend to back out of their collars.

Harnesses distribute pressure and force evenly across your dog’s body. Unlike a collar, which applies pressure to the neck, a harness typically has straps around the dog’s chest and sometimes the abdomen, with a back or front attachment point for a leash.

Head Collar

Good For Training Walk Ettiquete With Dogs That Pull

A head collar, also known as a head halter, is a training tool designed to provide better control over a dog’s movements. They’re commonly used for dogs that pull on the leash. It consists of a strap that goes around the dog’s nose and another that goes around the neck, behind the ears. When the dog tries to pull, the design of the head collar gently steers the dog’s head towards the handler, redirecting its attention and discouraging the pulling behavior. This tool is often used for training and behavior modification.

Head collars are a training tool, and like most training tools, they are not cruel in and of themselves.

Here are a few potential concerns with head collars

  1. The handler jerks on the leash causing the dogs head to snap around, injuring their neck.
  2. The head collar is attached to too long of a leash. When the dog runs, they reach the end of the leash and jerk their neck back.
  3. The dog decides to continue pulling despite the opposite pull of the head collar injuring their neck. Dogs can be obstinate, despite their best interests and health.
  4. Walks become miserable as your dog can’t get through the adjustment period of using a head collar. You don’t want your dog to resent you or walks.

If you foresee any of these issues, we’d advise against using a head collar.

Photo Credit: @botey.frown on Instagram

Slip Collar

Good For Training Walk Ettiquete With Dogs That Pull

Slip collars function similarly to martingale collars. They tighten around the dog’s neck when they pull and keep the dog from slipping out of the collar. The main difference between a martingale and a slip is a martingale has two loops instead of one. This makes it safer for your dogs neck compared to a slip collar.

Photo Credit: @lottiethedobermanmastiff on Instagram

Prong Collar

Good For Experienced Dog Handlers ONLY

A prong collar, also known as a pinch collar, is a type of dog training collar that is designed to apply pressure on a dog’s neck to correct unwanted behaviors, typically pulling on the leash. It consists of a series of metal links with blunt, evenly spaced prongs that face inward toward the dog’s neck. When the leash is pulled or the handler applies tension, the prongs pinch the dog’s skin, creating a sensation that is intended to deter the dog from pulling or misbehaving.

Look, we’re all for trained professionals choosing to use prong collars to train dogs. The problem – the vast majority of people who use them do so improperly, harming their dogs. It takes an understanding of their mechanics, fitting, and a camaraderie with your dogs mental/emotional state.

Tracking/GPS Collars

Keeping Track Of Dogs Prone To Fleeing

Tracking collars allow the owner to monitor the dog’s location in real time, providing peace of mind and security. These collars are particularly useful for pets that tend to wander or escape, as they can help owners quickly locate and retrieve their dogs.

Many GPS tracking collars also come with additional features such as activity monitoring, safe zone alerts, and health tracking. They typically require a subscription service for access to the GPS tracking and may connect to a smartphone app for easy monitoring.

At Mimi Green, we’re fans of Fi Dog Collars. Fi dog collars are the smartest dog collars ever built! These sophisticated, high-tech dog collars have a GPS tracking system, escape detection, LED lighting for night visibility, and is the longest lasting tracking device on the market. With all those outstanding safety features, it is no secret that Fi compatible dog collars are one of the safest dog collar options around.

E-Collar (Shock Collars)

Good For Experienced Dog Handlers ONLY

An e-collar, short for electronic collar, is a type of dog training device that is worn around a dog’s neck, similar to a regular collar. It is equipped with electronic components that can deliver a variety of stimuli, such as a mild electric shock, vibration, sound, or light. E-collars are commonly used for training purposes, particularly for correcting unwanted behaviors, reinforcing commands, and training dogs at a distance.

The use of e-collars is controversial and they should be used with caution. It is important to use them under the guidance of a professional trainer and to ensure that the intensity of the stimulation is appropriate and not causing harm or distress to the dog. Proper training techniques, including positive reinforcement, should also be employed alongside the use of an e-collar to ensure a humane and effective training process.

Collars By Material

After choosing the type of collar your dog needs, choose the material that works best for your dog.

Nylon

One of the most common and most easy to maintain, nylon dog collars are a low maintenance option for busy dog parents. Nylon dog collars are typically flat and composed of woven nylon mesh with a plastic or metal buckle attached. They are pretty easy to find a collar that will fit dogs of every size.

On top of their easy maintenance, nylon collars tend to cost less than other kinds of collars making it a cost effective option. They’re lightweight and strong, being able to hold up impressively in water and humid climates. They’re easy to adjust and come in all shapes, sizes, and designs.

While nylon collars are safe for dogs, some dogs do have a sensitivity or are allergic to nylon.

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Biothane/Waterproof

Our waterproof dog collars are made from BioThane®, a waterproof polyester webbing that is easy to clean and extremely durable. They are a huge hit with outdoor-loving dogs. They’re perfect for your outdoorsy pup who loves splashing around in puddles. Water will never damage these collars, smells will never linger, and you’ll never have to worry about the mess your pup makes.

Our waterproof dog collars are made of Biothane®, a water-resistant and stink proof material. They’re easy to clean as all you need to do is wipe with a wet cloth, and your pup’s collar is good as new.

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Leather

Leather dog collars provide a classy and timeless look for dogs. They are typically made from animal hide, such as cow, and usually come with a belt buckle closer and can have a name plate attached to them.

It’s important to keep in mind that collars made from leather do require more upkeep however, and should be taken into consideration before buying one.

Leather collars are made from safe, natural, and organic materials. Because of this, they are less likely to irritate than collars made from other materials. They “breathe” and can take in the oils that come from your dog’s coat and skin to help it break in and soften, making it more comfortable.

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Metal

We’ve already discussed how metal and prong collars may cause pain to dogs. Many dog owners use unethical training techniques when using metal prong collars.

Blogging….

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Years ago when I first started Mimi Green, I was an avid blogger. I blogged all about my life, my kids, my house projects and my makes. That was 2007. At the time, facebook was just becoming popular and texting was finally becoming free (remember when it was like $.25 a text?!) And things just started to change.  Being vulnerable and open on my blog felt safe, my readers were so engaged and so supportive.   When Instagram’s popularity began to increase I noticed more people spending time on Insta (which lets face it, is a place to write mini blogs) and less time on their blog feeds. Continue reading

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When driving or taking car rides with dogs, it is important to keep them safe and secure. Many dogs enjoy taking trips and riding in the car, and it is extremely common for dog owners to take their dogs along with them whenever they can. However, many dog owners fail to take the necessary precautions to keep their dog safe and protected while in the car.

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Safety Collars for Dogs: Options for Keeping Your Dog Safe

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So, let’s take a closer look at the different types of safety collars and break-away collars for dogs, how they work, and how to choose the best safety collar for your unique pup.

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Dogs are known for chewing things—whether it be their toys, your belongings, or their collars. Unfortunately, we can’t always stop our dogs from chewing things they aren’t supposed to—like their collars—but there are collar options out there that are less susceptible to damage from chewing and other abuses. 

Chew-resistant dog collars—sometimes incorrectly referred to as chew-proof dog collars—are the ultimate solution for dogs who just can’t help but chew at their collars.

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Dog collars are a necessary tool in your pet parent arsenal. Not only do they have your dog’s identifying information on them, but they also allow you to safely take your pup out to explore the world. 


When it comes to your home, however, you may be wondering if it’s necessary for your pet to wear a collar while indoors. Does your dog even like wearing a collar? If not, should dogs wear collars in the house at all?

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When to Replace Your Dog’s Collar & Harness – How to Know It’s Time

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Dog collars and harnesses are arguably the most important accessories your dog will have in its lifetime. And although many harnesses and collars are design to last, you will more than likely have to replace them at some point—whether it’s due to wear and tear, functionality, or something else that has jeopardized the safety of the accessories.

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