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How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • The two-finger test is a benchmark for a perfect dog collar fit.
  • Measure your dog's lower neck using a measuring tape and reference the manufacturer's sizing chart.
  • Signs of a collar being too tight include coughing, lethargy/shortness of breath, chafing, and loss of fur.
  • A loose collar can slip off and cause skin irritations.
  • Follow the two-finger rule to ensure a proper fit for flat collars.
Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Practicing small pets and equine veterinarian and junior teaching assistant in Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Sunday 20 December 2020
Last updated on
Thursday 6 July 2023
how tight should a dog collar be
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Most new dog parents find themselves asking how tight should a dog collar be? A dog collar is a necessary dog accessory for several reasons. Be it safety or amping up your dog’s appearance, dog collars can do it all!

There’s a fine balance to be maintained between a collar being too tight or too loose. But thankfully the science of dog collars isn’t too difficult to understand, and it’s definitely something we can help you with. From the intricacies of picking the perfect collar to figure out the right fit. Consider this guide your one-stop-shop for all dog collar related queries.

How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?

Think of the two-finger test as a benchmark for the perfect doggy collar fit. Start by acquiring a collar that suits your pet best. Next, simply put it on your doggy and try and slide two fingers under its collar. If your fingers slide under the collar (near your pet’s neck) comfortably, then you’re on the right track. However, if you have to push your fingers under the collar with some effort – then the collar is too tight. Pretty easy, right?

The collar’s fit should be snug, not tight or loose. Also, it’s a good idea to keep checking on the collar’s fit once every few months because your dog may not have finished growing. Unfortunately, there are certain types of dog collars that can do your dog more harm than good. And you’ll be doing yourself and your furry friend a huge favor by avoiding them.

But apart from that, if employed correctly, dog collars can go a long way in keeping your canine safe from harm. For instance, collars are essential when you’re out in public, to make sure your pet doesn’t go bounding off into the sunset. That’s why you shouldn’t be apprehensive about collaring your pet. However, when it comes to figuring out how tight should a collar be on a dog, try and remember one thing – the two-finger rule.

Уou can ensure that the collar is soft enough and does not cause tearing and pulling of the fur. There are different types of collars that suit different types of dogs, that is, different collars are suitable for different fur.

How to Measure for a Dog Collar?

It’s time to get a teensy weensy bit technical. If you’re kind of clueless about how to go about measuring your dog for a collar, then you’re going to like this bit.

The right measurement can result in a collar that’ll give you a good fit, and hopefully, will last you a good few months. On the other hand, a collar that’s too tight can have serious consequences. To make sure your pup never suffers from a dog neck injury from collar related issues – just follow the subsequent steps.

1. Get a Measuring Tape

Get your hands on a soft measuring tape. We recommend you use a cloth tape to get the best results. If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can use a cloth string and measure that against a standard ruler.

2. Measure Your Dog’s Lower Neck

Next, figure out the spot where your dog’s collar is likely to sit. This is easier than it sounds. Just remember that gravity will help push your pet’s collar to sit near the shoulders. That’s why it’s a good idea to measure your canine’s lower neck.

Also, don’t forget to follow the two-finger rule. Place two fingers (four fingers for large breed dogs) under the tape or string as you measure. This will guarantee a comfy fit, rather than a tight/loose dog collar.

3. Reference the Manufacturer’s Sizing Chart

After noting down the exact measurements according to the tape, proceed to this sizing chart to get a better idea about the kind of collar you should be looking for.

If for whatever reason, you’re not convinced about the accuracy of this approach, you can contact a renowned pet store near you to help you.

tightness of a dog collar
Make sure the collar isn’t too tight!

Signs That Your Dog’s Collar is Too Tight

It’s not always easy to tell whether your dog is suffering through the effects of a collar that’s too tight. That’s why you must be aware of any tell-tale signs of your canine’s collar-related discomfort. Here are a few of the more common signs that your pet may exhibit if its collar is too close-fitting.


Some dogs (or pups) can display their discomfort with the fit of their collar by coughing. A collar that’s too tight will put pressure on your pup’s throat, and your puppy may try and alleviate this by coughing. If you notice your pet coughing without any other symptoms of a cold, then check the fit of its collar immediately.

Lethargy and Shortness of Breath

A tight collar can also restrict your dog’s airways. An inadequate supply of oxygen can lead to your dog acting lethargic. Some dogs may also vomit due to a lack of oxygen. If you’re trying out a collar for the first time, be sure to watch out for these signs.

Chafing and Loss of Fur

Two other common signs of a collar being too tight are chafing and a loss of fur on your canine’s neck. Furthermore, chafing can also lead to skin infections if left unattended for long.

Signs That Your Dog’s Collar is Too Loose

The main sign that your dog’s collar is too loose is that it will slip off partially or entirely. A lot of people have the misconception that a loose collar can’t harm your pet. While a loose collar won’t cause any shortness of breath, lethargy, or worse, choking – but, it can still do plenty of damage.

First off, a loose collar isn’t safe when you’re out and about with your pet. There’s no saying when your furry friend can slip off its collar when its fitting is relaxed. Secondly, a loose collar can cause skin irritations for your doggo due to it moving around too much. Sidestep any such problems by following the two-finger rule, unless of course, your pet happens to be a big breed dog.

Common Questions

Pet parents generally are very careful about selecting and placing a collar on their fur-baby. And, for that, they must be commended. However, if you still have some queries related to collars, then check out our FAQ section. Chances are, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.

How tight should a dog harness be?

Generally, a dog harness should have a snug-fitting. If you’re wondering about how tight should a dog harness be, then simply follow the two-finger rule. A harness should be tight enough to prevent your pup from backing out from it and loose enough so that you can slide two fingers under the harness without too much effort. Just make sure that the ring the leash is clipped to is placed high on your pet’s chest.

If you’re apprehensive about causing your canine discomfort with a collar and leash, then you can always opt for a harness. A dog harness may work better than a collar because not only does it offer you more control, but it can also prevent any injuries to your canine’s trachea.

How can you tell when a flat collar is properly fitted?

Once you’ve fastened the collar on your pet, try and slide two fingers under the collar. When you slide your fingers between the collar and your hound’s neck – the fit should feel snug. Don’t worry too much about how to tighten a dog collar – because you can simply adjust the strap to tighten the collar.

You’ve probably seen a flat or regular collar at least once in your life. These collars are available in either plastic or metal enclosures. A lot of dog owners end up asking how can you tell when a collar has been properly fitted? That’s easy. You can easily employ the two-finger test to tell if your dog’s flat collar is properly fitted.

Can a dog collar be too loose?

Your dog’s collar can be too loose if you don’t follow the two-finger method. A loose collar will allow your little Houdini to pull a disappearing act, and that can be dangerous when you are out in public.

You can generally also tell if a dog collar is not tight if it moves around your pet’s neck too easily or too much. This can allow the collar to rub against a dog’s skin continuously and cause chafing or skin irritation.

Should I take my dog’s collar off at night?

If your dog is comfortable with its collar and barely notices its presence, then there’s no need to take it off at night. If, however, you notice your pup doesn’t like wearing the collar 24/7, then you can offer it some respite by taking its collar off at night.

A collar not only makes sure your canine doesn’t go running off into the blue yonder, but it also works like your dog’s ID badge. For that reason, collars are a necessity when dogs venture outdoors.

One of the biggest factors you should consider when purchasing and adjusting a dog’s collar is how tight it is. Your dog needs to be safe, without a collar slip, but not at risk of too tight of a collar. Always remember the two finger rule.

One comment on “How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?”

  1. Asif

    Thanks for the information. You have done a great job by writing about things normally not found anywhere.

    And the language is absolutely wonderful.

    Great job.

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