Martingales for Dogs

Martingale collars allow for dog tags to easily hang through one of the metal rings.

Martingale collars allow for dog tags to easily hang through one of the metal rings.

It can be scary if your dog slips out of his collar in the wrong circumstance. If your dog tends to slip out of his collar, wearing a martingale collar is a solid option to prevent this from occurring and leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

Martingale Description

Martingale collars do not buckle like traditional dog collars or clip into place modern ones. Instead, martingales have two rings with loops of materials passing through each ring. Made of nylon or leather, the martingale collar slips over your dog’s head, and you adjust the straps in the rings to fit your dog’s neck. His leash attaches to the smaller of the rings. With a good fit, the collar will not slip over your dog’s head.

Martingale Fit

Martingales were originally designed for horses, and then for dog breeds such as greyhounds, whippets and Salukis, whose necks tend to be thicker than their smallish, wedge-shaped heads. However, martingales are suitable for any breed. They're wise choices for breeds such as bulldogs and retrievers, which also have thick necks. Fit is important, as the collar will tighten during leashed walking if your dog tries to pull. For the best fit, you should be able to slip two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck without resistance.


Trainers and organizations such as the ASPCA consider martingale collars more humane than other types of collars. Not only will a properly fit collar reduce the chances of slipping off over your dog’s head, the collar is useful during training as it helps give you control of your dog when leash-walking without the tightening around the throat and resulting discomfort of a choke or prong collar, or even a traditional neck collar, as the martingale seats more over the shoulders than around the neck. Martingales are also more comfortable for your dog as he will not have a hard buckle pressed against his neck.

Other Collar Options

Besides martingales, traditional collar options include flat buckle or snap collars. Training collars include choke or prong collars, which pinch the dog to deter pulling. Flat buckle collars are very common and can be worn at all times, but they may slip over some dog’s heads. Some consider choke chains and prong collars inhumane, as they cause at least some pain. Decide the best fit for your dog based on his neck size and behavior.

About the Author

Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.

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