Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Measure a Dog for a Collar: 5 Key Tips

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

pet owner putting a dog collar on his pets neck

How to Measure a Dog for a Collar: 5 Key Tips

Dog collars are an essential and versatile piece of pet equipment that every dog should have. They provide identification and vaccination information, and you can put your contact information on them for incidents when your dog gets lost.

Fitting your dog with an appropriately sized collar is necessary for keeping your dog comfortable and ensuring safe walks. Fortunately, finding the correct collar size for your dog is easy to do. Here are some essential things to know before buying a new collar for your dog.

Before You Start

The easiest way to measure your dog’s collar size is to use a flexible tape measure. However, if you don’t have one, you can use a piece of string and measure the length using a straight ruler.

Some dogs may not feel comfortable with you touching their neck because it’s a vulnerable area. So, puppies and newly adopted dogs that haven’t had time to develop a certain level of trust with you may be resistant to getting their necks measured. If your dog has a hard time sitting still, enlist the help of a friend to distract your dog while you quickly measure its neck. Make sure to reward your dog after you get its measurements.

Woman sitting next to dog and holding pet treat in hand in outdoors, side view
Image Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

How to Measure a Dog for a Collar

How to Measure Your Dog for a Collar Infographic
You are free to use this image but we do require you to link back to for credit

1. Measure at the Base of the Neck

Since the collar will rest at the base of your dog’s neck, it’s important to get an accurate measurement from this area. Many dog breeds have necks that are narrower at the top, so you could end up getting a collar that’s too tight if you measure a different area of the neck.

Make sure your measurement isn’t too tight, especially if your dog has thick, long hair. Collars should rest comfortably around the neck without being so loose that they can slip off or risk getting your dog’s paws caught in them.

If you have a puppy, it’s important to keep the breed in mind. Knowing the average total size of the breed can help you determine the size of collar you should buy. Just keep in mind that the sizes of most large and giant dog breeds vary significantly between puppies and adults. So, even if you have an accurate measurement, it’s very likely that you’ll have to purchase a second, larger collar for your giant breed puppy as it reaches adulthood.

2. Measurements for Nylon Collars

Nylon collars tend to be the best choice for puppies because their measurements can be adjusted significantly, and they’re relatively affordable. Once you have your dog’s neck measurement, all you have to do is look for a nylon collar with a range that your dog’s measurement falls into. For example, if your dog’s neck measurement is 13 inches, you can purchase a nylon collar that can be adjusted lengths between 12–16 inches.

american bulldog puppy
Image Credit: kong-foto, Shutterstock

3. Measurements for Metal Buckle Collars

Metal buckle collars usually have a more luxurious appearance than nylon collars, but their sizes aren’t as adjustable. So, it’s often best to purchase a metal buckle collar at the end of your puppy’s growth and development.

Like nylon collars, metal buckle collars do have some room for adjustments. However, you won’t be able to get as much of a custom fit because the length of the collar depends on how far apart the buckle holes are from each other.

4. Use the “Two Finger” Rule

The best way to determine if a collar is sized correctly is to use the “Two Finger” rule. Once you’ve fitted the collar around your dog’s neck, slip two fingers beneath the collar. Your fingers should slip through relatively easily without the collar sliding around. If your fingers can’t fit between your dog’s collar and its neck, it means the collar is too tight.

Dog with Electric shock collar on outdoor
Image Credit: Parilov, Shutterstock

5. Martingale Collars for Specific Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds have heads that are narrower than the base of their neck. Examples would be Greyhounds, Salukis, and Whippets. These dogs often need special collars called martingale collars. Martingale collars have two rings that help adjust the size of the collar after you put it on your dog. When a dog pulls on its leash, the collar will tighten to ensure it doesn’t slip off. Martingale collars are often helpful alternatives for dogs that tend to be escape artists or have anxiety and try to retreat during walks.

Final Thoughts

Finding the correct collar measurement for your dog is a straightforward process that can be completed using either a piece of string or a tape measure. Once you get the measurements, you can choose from a wide selection of collars. In general, nylon collars are more appropriate for puppies, while metal buckle collars are a better investment for adult dogs. Make sure to use the “Two Finger” rule to ensure the collar isn’t too tight or loose, and if your dog consistently slips out of its collar, consider using a martingale collar to prevent escapes.

Featured Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.