First of all, I wonder how many people know of the existence of the world’s only Dog Collar Museum, a showcase of canine neckwear spanning five centuries of doggie fashion and function? This unique collection consists of over 130 collars that were collected by medieval scholar John Hunt and his wife. Extended by the Leeds Castle Foundation in Essex, UK, the collection has pieces from medieval to Victorian times. Apparently, in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, the forests of Europe were full of predators that were happy to rip out the throats of the hunting dogs that entered their territory, and to protect their faithful companions, hunters would fit the dogs with thick iron collars covered in impressive spikes. Poor things either way!

Nowadays, collars are a vital part of dog ownership. You hang their ID on them, maybe even your phone number, and of course it gives you somewhere to clip on the leash when going walkies.

But did you know there are a few ways collars can potentially harm your dog?


Tags can get caught on objects and cause choking and can put your dog at risk of snagging their collar on a fence post or a branch outside. Even a well-fitting collar can be dangerous if used to tie up a dog (heaven forbid) in a backyard, where dogs have been known to try to jump a fence while tied on a long leash and end up hanging themselves.

Skin Problems

Collars that are too tight can cause hair loss, and the skin in those areas can become more prone to infection. Even a damp collar after playing in the water at the beach or in the garden can cause chafing leaving sore skin open to infection. In extreme cases, a very tight collar can cut into a dog’s neck, which can happen in cases of neglect, when a puppy-sized collar is left on a growing dog. A good idea is to rotate between a few different collars and regularly check that they still fit well, and even letting your dog sleep at night without a collar gives your pooch a bit of a break.

Limb or Mouth Injuries

Apart from strangulation hazards, a collar can present other serious physical risks, especially if it’s too loose. If your dog is scratching its ear and the collar is loose, there is the potential for the back leg to accidentally get caught inside the collar, which could lead to a limb breaking. It’s always possible that a dog could get their teeth or tongue stuck in a too-loose collar while grooming themselves too, which could lead to broken teeth or other mouth injuries.

Neck Damage

Traditional collars can harm a dog’s neck if a pet owner uses the collar to pull the dog around, or the dog is pulling too hard. Jerking the dog back could cause damage, as the neck is a very sensitive area. Repeated stress on the neck can even lead to long-term medical issues—including damaging the thyroid glands and tissues around the neck area and salivary glands- using a chest harness can be a safer alternative if you have a ‘puller’.

Collar Safety Tips

Breakaway-style collars, which are designed to snap apart when pressure is applied to the buckle are a really good idea and can prevent many potentially fatal injuries. When sizing a collar, experts say you should make sure you can fit your thumb between the collar and the dog’s neck, and if you can get your whole hand in there, it’s too loose, and if you can’t even wedge a finger in there, it’s too tight. To complicate matters, If the dog sits down or rolls over, their skin and body fat is redistributed, and a collar that sits perfectly when it’s standing up may be too tight when the dog reclines. The wrong collar can simply be irritating for a dog, too and owners should use common sense when collar shopping. If a collar looks rigid and uncomfortable, it probably is – a really stiff collar is going to impede their mobility and you might end up with a very dejected doggy.