Home > Lost Dogs, Missing Pets, Pet Products, Pet Safety, Uncategorized > Extolling the Virtues of a Martingale Collar

Extolling the Virtues of a Martingale Collar


Martingale collar from Pink Puppy Designs

Martingale collar from Pink Puppy Designs

The first time I ever saw a Martingale collar was at the dog park. It was worn by a Greyhound that was new to the park.

I probably never even would have noticed the mechanics of the collar if I hadn’t noticed the beautiful coloring of it first. The collar was made of a bright and colorful fabric mixed with a swirl of blues and green and purple. It stood out.

I remember asking the dog’s mom where she had gotten it and her telling me all about the collar, where she had purchased it and why she had it. I was fascinated. Having a dog who regularly slipped her collar (Daisy), I loved the idea that I could purchase a collar that she couldn’t slip out of.

If you have never seen one before, a Martingale collar has two loops instead of one. Most dog collars you see these days are the simple ones that go around the dog’s neck (and hopefully, stay on them) and clip into a buckle. The Martingale collar is different. It is designed to prevent dogs from easily slipping out of their collars.  The beauty of the design is that it does this without cutting off dog’s airflow, as those old choker chains did when I was a kid.

The Martingale is often seen on Greyhounds because a regular collar does not work on them. Why? Because, like Shelties, a Greyhound’s head is smaller than their neck, which means a regular collar can easily slip off their neck, over their head, and they can be off and running before you can catch them. A Martingale allows the collar to tighten around the dogs’ neck without hurting them. The idea here is to keep your dog safe and in your control.

So why am I extolling the virtues of a Martingale collar today? Because I want dog owners to be aware of what is available to them, especially if they have a fearful or skittish dog (or just a dog who regularly slips their collar). Is your dog frightened by loud noises and looks for a place to run and hide? Get a Martingale collar. Does your dog like to chase runners like Jasper does? Get a Martingale collar.

Over the past few months, I have seen WAY too many Lost Sheltie signs and I have seen WAY too many dogs lost because they slipped their collar or weren’t properly leashed. I know it’s selfish, but I am tired of crying over someone’s dog who died because they slipped their collar and got hit by a car. If you have a dog that slips their collar, please consider getting a Martingale (and a harness wouldn’t be a bad idea either). Let’s keep them safe and in our control. I don’t want to read about another dead dog. I’m sure you don’t either.

If you are looking for some great Martingale collars, check out Pink Puppy Designs. They are colorful and fun and safe.

Also check out Classic Hound! They have some really stylish and cool collars for your hound, like the one pictured below. Seriously cool stuff!

Martingale collar

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  1. March 28, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    I love these collars and have used on Lacy since she came here. I don’t think Lacy was ever on a leash before and she was always backing up trying to get away from it. Loud or strange noises also caused her to panic and try to get away. I found a great selection on Ebay also.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      With a puppy mill rescue of your own Carole, you know exactly how quickly they can pull out of a regular collar. Daisy wears a regular one now, but back then she had a Martingale and a harness. I was terrified she would get scared and run.

  2. March 28, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    The dog trainer we started using with SlimDoggy Jack told us about these collars because he had slipped his collar a couple of times to chase after something and I hated the idea of choke collars. Love them.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      Me too My Slim Doggy. I hate choke collars too even though my first Sheltie had one (back when I was a child). I would much rather have a Martingale than a choker any day of the week.

  3. March 28, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Mel, I thought Martingales were a kind of “soft choke chain” for the more punitive training. The trainer I hired used it to yank at my dog. It was a big, soft one, but I was supposed to jerk it whenever she walked ahead. Funny thing, it only took one time with treats, saying “walk nicely” in a happy voice, and bang, she was right there. Anyway, should harnesses be the first choice?

  4. Roxy the Traveling Dog
    March 28, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Very cool, I never really knew the whole mechanical side of those. Thanks for educating me.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      You are very welcome Roxy! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. martie13
    March 28, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Dogs who slip their collars usually do so by backing out of them and it is this unexpected action that Martingale collars are best for. I have never heard of Martingales being used as a correction or as a replacement for a choke chain. Martingales, when fitted properly, are designed to contract only to a certain point and never more than needed to keep the collar from slipping over the skull…they don’t “choke.” IMO they are a must-have.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Thanks for sharing your own experience Martie. I completely agree.

  6. March 28, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    I love these! Natasha- I don’t consider them a corrective tool at all- actually Pearl hates walking in a harness and a martingale collar allows me to keep her secure and happy (especially when jogging.. a harness restricts her movement a bit too much in that situation), although it does not stop her from pulling. Any collar can be jerked or popped. One other thing that is nice about martingales, you can get them a little wider, which I think makes them more comfortable/less likely to hurt a dog who may pull or unexpectedly lunge (we are working on that) than a thinner collar would be.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      I completely agree Karen. They should not ever be used as a corrective tool. I also like the wider ones. A little more difficult with Shelties, but I do like how they look and how they lay flat on a dog.

  7. March 28, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    We have never heard of these and certainly never seen anything like it. They do look good and very practical. Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:01 PM

      Thanks for stopping by Molly. They are nice collars.

  8. Cameocreation
    March 28, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Thanks for the neat idea! 2 rescue Shelties and one regularly tries to back out of his. love your blog

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      You are very welcome Cameo. Jasper used to do the same thing when I first got him and well, Cupcake was lost for 12 days after puling out of hers, so I know exactly what you mean. I am so glad I have Martingales now. Thanks for your very kind words. 🙂

  9. March 28, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    I recently got Gizmo his first Martingale collar and I’ve liked it a lot

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      Cool! I like mine too. I would love to get the pretty fabric ones too. Is that what you have Gizmo?

  10. Mikey
    March 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    You could also try the command lead (http://huntsmith.com/article.php?id=5) to teach your dogs to heel properly. It uses very little force to get the dog to heel. The article has instructions on how to properly use the lead.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      I’m sorry Mikey. But I do not endorse that method of training. There are much easier ways to train a dog than using that method. Even the premier hunting dog trainer now swears by positive training methods. He found that his hunting dogs (both his own and the ones he sold to hunters) were much quicker and got better results.

  11. March 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Here is some good info. Maybe what I have is a half choke, because it’s a soft leather collar and the second loop is a chain, so – supposedly- if you snap it right, the sound of the chain part “zipping” is the correction. But it still does tighten, I guess it’s just a set amount? I would still thi nk stady pulling would hurt. But they get used to that.

    http://voices.yahoo.com/the-difference-between-martingale-collar-chain-6318014.html?cat=7

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 10:56 PM

      There are those too Natasha and they do have kind of a choker aspect to them, but many operate like a Martingale. I do want to say that a Martingale should NEVER be used in the manner you described being used by your dog trainer. In my opinion, he/she was either very misinformed on its purpose or they are a heavy-handed trainer who is using outdated and cruel methods of dog training. A dog should never be jerked like that or hung from a collar. You can break their trachea doing that. I am so sorry this person used the collar in this way.

      • March 29, 2013 at 7:38 AM

        Thanks Mel, you got my hints! In other articles I also saw Martingales equated with “correction.” They should just call the partial chain “soft choke,” so that people who want positive methods will stay away from them. I like that these all-fabric collars can stay more comfortable most of the time but closes when they try to back out. The first morning we had our doggie, we had a slip lead on her, she was too scared for us to put a collar on. Walking up the stairs back to the house, she stayed put and slipped right out and off she went! I have a couple of harnesses, but she wiggles so much, I’m afraid she’ll have an accident before I get her out the door, so occasional use.

        Also, I am so mad that I paid so much money for that negative training system, rhymes with Ark Clusters. Warn people away from them!

        I am shopping now, very picky about fabric styles! Thanks so much, Mel!

      • Mel
        March 29, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        LOL! I love your hint on the name of the training company. Yeah. I am NOT a big fan of them either. I hate that people feel they have to hurt an animal to train them. Ugh!
        I also agree that the fabric ones seem better than the ones with a chain. I’m actually going to be shopping too! 🙂

  12. March 28, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    a harness is safer for a dog than a collar, especially if you have a puller. the martingale is not near as bad as a choker/pinch collar but still tightens around the dogs neck when he pulls and could cause damage to his trachea. the rescue i volunteer for (bully breed) uses martingales. I use a harness on my foster when walking her as you can hear her gasping for air when walked with a martingale. this is not good at all for the dog! i have heard dog trainers say they need this type of collar for training purposes and other trainers say this is hazardous to the dog. i agree with the latter, especially when you hear the dog gasping. please treat your pet humanely. thank you

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      I think it depends Paula. A martingale should not choke. If your dog pulls like that then I would use a harness, but some of our more fearful Shelties need a harness and a martingale collar because many have managed to pull out of a harness when they have been really frightened. That’s why I always have Cupcake double-leashed with one leash attached to her Martingale collar and one to her harness when we go somewhere new or someplace where I know she is likely to be frightened (like the vet).

      • March 29, 2013 at 1:29 AM

        thank you, mel. you sound very educated, with dogs. as an animal welfare activist, i like to educate ppl on the dangers of choking that are inexperienced or think it is OK to drag a dog down the street as i have seen many times. and you are right it does depend, on the dog and the owner. 🙂

      • Mel
        March 29, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Thanks Paula. I am glad you do educate them. I try to as well where maybe I can ad in my own experience or knowledge and training. I so appreciate you adding to the discussion! 🙂

  13. March 28, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Many shelters in NYC use them. I never hae and wonder if I have to loosen and then tighten it every time I put it on BJ.

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      Great question BJ Pup. I have mine tight enough to make sure Cupcake can’t escape, but I can still pull it over her head. I recently discovered the now make ones that actually have the clip like a regular collar. We are trying them on some of our Shelties in rescue now. I like them. That may be an option to explore.

    • Martie
      March 29, 2013 at 5:58 AM

      In replying to your question I noticed that Mel mentioned pulling it over Cupcake’s head, and now they have them that have a clip or clasp. I was unaware that there is a slip-on type (or I’ve forgotten since it’s been almost 2 yrs. since I got mine) but I would recommend the kind that clasps. I ordered one that has a metal clasp instead of plastic because I’ve had plastic clasps break. And to answer your question, when you purchase the correct size collar you also need to fit/adjust it so that it only contracts enough to prevent the collar from slipping over the head. Once you do that it needs no further adjustment, unless your dog’s weight changes significantly. It automatically tightens when you pull on the leash, and loosens when you loosen the leash.

      • Mel
        March 29, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        Thanks Martie! I am so glad you weighed in. I’m thinking of going with the clasp too. I did not know they had metal ones.

      • March 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Thank you both so much now I’ll purchase it. It’s good to know that they make a metal clasp.

      • Martie
        March 29, 2013 at 11:04 AM

        I went to the Pink Puppy Designs site just now to see if this is the site that I got my collar from and is is not. I didn’t look around very much but I was specifically looking for a breed specific design which is what I have…for a Lab. I didn’t find it so I went on a search for the site I used and found it here. http://www.bigdogboutique.com/
        Not only do that have collars for almost every breed but they have the option for a metal clasp as well as other options.
        If you want a breed specific collar you first choose the breed and then you upgrade to a Martingale, and also upgrade to a metal buckle-on. Or choose a buckle-on Martingale and upgrade to a breed specific, etc. http://www.bigdogboutique.com/productcart/pc/Labrador-Retriever-Dog-Collar-14p9812.htm

  14. Jen
    March 28, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    I wonder if I should get one for my cousin’s greyhound. He’s had him for a couple of years now, you’d think he knows. Still….

    • Mel
      March 28, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      They are pretty common in the Greyhound community Jen. Maybe you should ask Carrie what she thinks over at Tales and Tails. She might know more from a Greyhound perspective.

  15. March 30, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    The collar pictured above would be the perfect aqua for my sweet Eskie girl, but I couldn’t find it. I found a site Rescue Me dog collars and Apparel, that has a humongous selection. Beautiful fabrics and they donate to your favorite rescue. Plastic buckles but they do custom. Even the holiday fabrics are stunning. A few aquas but I don’t need more than one, or two! Enjoy! I learned a lot in this post!

  16. March 31, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    I have heard of Martingales but never knew how they worked. I’ve always used harnesses for walking my dogs. But just recently one of my dogs had a lump removed on his upper back and I couldn’t use the harness because it would rub there. Also, all of my dogs hate having harnesses put on them! So this is definitely an option that would be worth looking into as an alternative to the harnesses. Great post, thank you!

    • Mel
      March 31, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      You’re welcome Jan. I hope you found the info useful. I am so sorry your dog had to have a lump removed. Poor baby. Hope all is well now.

  17. Janet
    October 30, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    My dog is a chocolate lab who figured out how to back out of a regular collar and even a harness. Once we got the Martingale collar, she tried to back out a couple of times, but now does not do so. However, since she is skittish around loud noises, we continue to use the Martingale collar, but seldom does she try to back out of it.

    • Mel
      October 30, 2013 at 7:52 PM

      Wow Janet. I am so glad your Lab did not get lost. Glad the martingale is working for you too. Cupcake has tried to pull out of hers a couple of times, but it has always worked. Thank goodness.

  18. January 30, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Mel, Ellen from Classic Hound here. That’s my Whippet, Abby, and my very own artwork breaking down the proper use of a martingale. I would love to team up for a giveaway of one of my martingales on your blog? http://www.classichound.com. Let me know!

    -Ellen contact@classichound.com

    • Mel
      January 31, 2014 at 6:43 AM

      I would love to do that Ellen. I had no idea the picture a friend shared on FB was yours. I am sorry, but I will most definitely link it to your site! Thanks for letting me continue to use it. I am happy to send business your way and to credit you. I will email you this weekend. Thank you for letting me know!

  19. February 8, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Awesome! I’m just now seeing this. Let’s do a giveaway! 🙂 ps- Thanks for linking back to http://www.classichound.com and no worries, I figured as much!

    • Mel
      February 9, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      I am so sorry Eileen. It has been extremely busy around here (family stuff and work) and I forgot to contact you! How do I email you again? I’ll try through your site. Again, I am so sorry that someone stole your image and presented it on FB as theirs. Ugh. I am always so careful about that too.

  20. March 17, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    Hi Mel, No worries! Thank you for the shout out. you can reach me at contact@classichound.com and I’m still very interested in doing a giveaway with you. Love your website! 🙂

  21. sue littleton
    December 29, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    Can you find these collars at regular pet stores? I have a cattle dog. Same thing. Her neck is bigger than her head, and she knows how to twist and get the collar off. Here is the link: http://classichound.com

    • Mel
      December 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      Hi Sue – Unfortunately, they are not found in many pet stores. I am not sure why. But if you click on the image in the story, it will take you to a lady who makes some amazingly beautiful ones. I would recommend one to anyone, but especially for dogs like ours who can slip out of a regular collar.

  22. Tim
    January 5, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    The comments are right. I have Brittanys, They don’t slip off. Found that out when I saw my 7 mo. pup dragging my lifeless 11 mo. up and coming field and show champion with the lose loop warped tightly around her bottom jaw. Strangling him to death, and damaging her lower jaw. Yeah great product. It can kill pups/dogs when playing in the yard. I have 9-well 8 now. All of the highly recommended Martingales have been replaced with regular more rigid collars with buckles, and thrown when they belong. In the trash. Never going to lose a great dog to a gimmicky collar again. Shame on the manufacturer, and the people that recommend them.

    • Mel
      January 6, 2015 at 6:02 AM

      Tim – I am sorry for your one personal experience. That is sad. I have never heard of that happening. We use them with all our shelties and it has prevented them from getting loose and lost many, many times. Shelties and Greyhounds, and some other sighthounds, have larger necks than heads and as a result can pull out of regular collars very easily. I would never recommend using one while field trailing or hunting, but for walks they are the best.

  23. December 1, 2016 at 10:38 AM

    Martingales have their place, I use them for walking but I never leave them on my dogs when they are alone in the house. If your looking for great collars check out my site, I make both martingales and regular collars. https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/MuttStuffnc

  1. March 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM
  2. July 15, 2013 at 9:51 PM
  3. March 14, 2016 at 7:19 AM

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