How Tight Should a Dog’s Collar Be to Fit Properly?

By Ann Collins / August 6, 2021
Regardless of whether you have a puppy or a grown dog, a collar is essential. Though dogs look adorable wearing it, do you know how tight should a dog collar be?

Collars are essential to show the identity of your dog as well as other important info. You may think that your indoor dog doesn’t need one, but we’ll help you understand why it does need it.

Golden Retriever wearing a properly fitting collarDog collars come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and materials you can choose from. However, you have to be careful how you put it on since it goes around your pet’s neck. You want it to sit comfortably, so it doesn’t harm the puppy in any way.

How tight should it be? In the text below, we’ll help you put a choker on your pooch the best and most comfortable way.

How Should it Fit Properly?

Make sure the collar is long enough.Remember that every canine grows a little bit every day, especially if it’s just a puppy. So if you put a choker on a young canine, it’s crucial you check if it fits appropriately as often as possible. Full-grown canines might not grow as much, but why wouldn’t you check the collar every once and a while?

To check if it fits, put two fingers inside the collar and see if there’s room to wiggle them. If it’s too tight for your fingers, it’s definitely too tight.

An adjustable choker is probably the best choice regardless of the breed you have. It allows you to go from one size to another in a second.

When is it Too Tight?

dog with a perfectly fitting collarIt can be either too tight or too loose causing your pet to be uncomfortable the majority of the time. If it’s too tight fitting, it can be more dangerous than if it’s loose. This means that you should pay particular care if your pet is still growing.

Sometimes, pups will show that they’re uncomfortable and choking by trying to take it off. On the other hand, some will just lay aside and not move. Others might even cough or vomit frequently. Any of this strange behavior indicates that the choker is too tight so use the two fingers rule to check.

When is it Too Loose?

puppy wearing a brown leather collarMany people think that loose collars can’t hurt or do any harm. Though they probably wouldn’t be choking on it, other things can happen.

When it doesn’t fit properly, it moves around a neck more frequently than it should. In most cases, this can irritate after a while. Many different complications may occur if you don’t notice this in time. Your pet will first lose its fur on the neck before its skin becomes itchy, red and irritated.

If there’s room for more than two of your fingers to mingle, it’s too big.

How Much are They?

A properly fitting dog collar should not be expensive.Like everything else, these collars can be cheap or expensive. The price usually depends on many different factors such as quality, materials, size, adjustability, etc. Still, it doesn’t always mean it’s durable and reliable just because it’s pricey.

Thick and durable materials such as leather are usually more expensive. In most cases, these deliver better quality and are far more reliable than many other materials. Rolled leather collars are one of the most favorite types with a price that’s not too expensive or too cheap.

Nylon and polyester are cheaper options that can do just as well with smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pekinese, and others.

How to Properly Measure for Your Breed?

Small dog with green collar walkingYou should measure the circumference of your pet’s neck to determine the exact size you should get. It’s best if you’d use a cloth tape measure to do this, but if you don’t have one, a ribbon or a string will do just as well.

Make sure to check if your two fingers can fit in there, too. If not, you can add a few inches to the size you’ve measured.

Keep in mind that a slightly loose collar is better than a slightly tight one as far as comfort goes.

Other Considerations

leather dog collarThe first thing we always think of its length as we make sure that the choker isn’t tight or loose. Still, width is just as important.

A collar that’s too wide would probably be uncomfortable and rubbing on your pet’s neck. A too narrow one could cause trouble when walking a dog that on a leash. If your canine pulls on its leash, you should consider a wider collar or even a harness.

If the canine will wear it regularly, it’s important to consider everything you think might cause discomfort.

Different Types of Dog Collars


spotted dog taking a walkWalking collars make it easy to identify the dog, but also to attach a leash for walks. These should fit well and be comfortable especially if your pet sometimes pulls on its leash. We recommend you go for softer materials and wider collars to prevent rubbing and chocking as much as possible.


These are somewhat the same as those for walking. If you opt for a collar, make sure it fits properly and doesn’t do any harm in any way. Because hiking adventurers are longer than simple walking, you have to be confident your pooch is comfortable. At times, a hiking harness may be a better option depending on the breed as well as general behavior.


large dog walking with ownerAs we mentioned above, leather collars are one of the most popular on the market. Not only these look stylish and classy but are quite reliable. Leather ones are ideal for both big and small breeds especially if they don’t like wearing them as much.

Barking Collars

Bark collars are great tools if your dog barks excessively.If you have a canine that tends to bark, there are specific collars for that. This is great for training a puppy or even a rescue dog that was never trained. It’s safe to use and can be very effective. Although they can be pricey, they definitely can get the work done. You can visit our barking collars page to learn more.

Final thoughts

Every breed looks cute wearing a collar with his name on a small tag. Not only it’s adorable but quite useful in case your pup gets lost somewhere.

Still, many owners don’t know how tight it should be. Sometimes it’s tricky to determine whether your pet is comfortable with something around its neck.

These few steps help you pick a size and make sure it fits the right way.  Don’t forget to always pay attention to your pup and how it behaves when wearing a new collar. Dogs almost always show how they feel about this new thing around their neck, especially if they dislike it, so look for any signs of that sort.

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About the author

    Ann Collins

    I've been a college grad for over 4 years now. I'm a full-time contributor for puppypointers and I absolutely love it. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world, especially those that have a warm heart for doggies. When I'm not writing, I spend a lot of time at the beach in sunny California.

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