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Tags, Microchips, Tattoos: Can You Have Too Much Dog ID?

There is no such thing as too much identification for my dogs. What forms do you use for your dogs?

 |  Oct 24th 2013  |   34 Contributions


Even if your dog never goes off-leash when you go out, it makes sense to get ID tags for your dog’s collar. You can opt for simple ones engraved with your dog’s name, address, and phone number, or add a rubber tag cover to prevent the metal ID tag from jingling or hitting other metal tags that your dog might wear.

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Do you have your new phone number on your dog's collar, and is his microchip updated?

Of course, it’s a little more challenging when you have very small dogs like Chihuahuas or dogs with short legs like Dachshunds. Those dogs wear collars, but the tags often hang so low that they almost drag on the ground, plus they rattle every time your little pup tries to eat from the food dish.

Our toy Schnauzer, Dusty, wears a hot-pink collar with her name and contact number embroidered on it. This avoids any noise from rattling tags while still keeping her protected should she somehow slip away.

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I always wear my pink collar with my name and number on it.

Collars and tags are a great first start. However, your dog can easily lose her tags if the clasp breaks or the collar gets stuck on something. In addition, if someone is intent on keeping your dog, they can easily remove the collar and tags.

This is why I also suggest getting your dog microchipped. The grain-of-rice-sized chip is easily inserted by your veterinarian between your dog’s shoulders, and all of your dog’s pertinent information is then stored in the chip manufacturer’s database. If your dog bolts from you and is found by someone, that person can take your dog to a nearby veterinarian, animal control facility, or animal rescue shelter to have her scanned with a RFID wand that captures the information. Your dog’s information shows up in the microchip company's database, and you’re notified that someone has located your dog.

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Buzz with his tags and a microchip, too.

A friend's yellow Labrador Retriever climbed a six-foot security fence in her backyard, wandered the downtown streets of San Diego, and ended up entering the lobby of a luxury hotel. Hotel management used the dog’s ID tag and microchip to contact the owner at work. At first, she thought it was a prank call, but once staff described the dog, she knew it was definitely hers. I guess he was just interested in checking out the sateen sheets on the king-sized beds in the rooms. That and the lunch buffet, of course!

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When's Momma coming home?

If you’d like yet a third option for providing identification for your dog, you might want to consider tattoos, which are becoming extremely popular for dogs. Now, I’m not talking about a shoulder tattoo that reads “I Love Momma!” These are usually a series of numbers and letters comprising a code that has meaning to the dog’s owner. The code and dog’s identifying information is usually registered by an authorized agent, who also applies the tattoo. I see this type of tattoo most often with high-end breeding and show dogs or AKC-registered dogs. 

I remember one client who had his Doberman tattooed and registered. In addition, the dog had a collar and tags. The dog was stolen from a boarding facility while he was on vacation. His dog was eventually recovered, but only by providing proof of ownership through the dog’s tattoo. The tattoo was placed on the dog’s stomach near the fur line; people who aren’t familiar with dog tattoos would never think to look in that area. Even if they did, the tattoo would be hard to cover up or to make unrecognizable.

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No, not that kind of tattoo. (This one is on the arm of Dogster editor-in-chief Janine Kahn.)

I’ve worked with thousands of people trying to locate and identify their lost animals. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as too much identification for your dog. Does your dog have a tag, microchip, or tattoo? Share your pictures and stories on Dogster.

About Tim Link: All-American guy who loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir and prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters. Considers himself to be the literal voice for all animals. Author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and consultant at Wagging Tales

Read more by Tim Link and about dog ID on Dogster:

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