What is a Martingale Collar?

A dog collar is probably one of the first things pet owners buy when bringing home a puppy. The collar offers a means of hanging his tags and most importantly, a means of attaching his leash. But there are so many different kinds- which one should you get for your dog? A flat collar? A head collar? A break-away collar? In this article, we will be discussing about the Martingale collar, a commonly used type that offers pet owners more control compared to a standard collar.

History of the Martingale Collar

The Martingale collar was originally designed for sighthounds as their heads are often smaller than their necks, causing traditional collars to be easily slipped off. While choke chains would remedy this problem, their use is often frowned upon and considered cruel by many pet owners. The much gentler Martingale alternative was thus created and is now used by many pet owners all over the world.

Design of a Martingale Collar

Two types of Martingale Collar

A Martingale collar consists of two parts, a large loop which goes around the dog’s neck and a smaller loop, with a D-ring, which is used for attachment of the leash. While the larger loop is often made of your standard collar material, the smaller loop can be both metal or fabric. While the metal-version can be sturdier and more durable against your dog’s teeth, the fabric variety can be quieter. Both work equally well; which one you get is up to preference.

When a dog wearing a Martingale collar pulls, the smaller loop gently tightens which prevents the collar from slipping off of the dog’s neck- it also acts as a light correction for the dog. Unlike choke collars, Martingale collars will not hurt or damage your dog’s throat area as it does not cause choking. Often viewed as a gentler alternative to choke chains, the Martingale is sometimes used for training purposes by some owners (although it is not truly indicated as a training device).

How does a Martingale collar work?

How do you properly wear and fit a Martingale Collar?

The Martingale collar easily slips around your dog’s neck; there are no buckles or fastening actions required. Many find this advantageous to the standard collar as it allows for an “easy on” and “easy off” and may help to prevent skin irritation.

Proper fitting of the collar is essential as it may choke or hurt your dog’s delicate throat area if fitted too tightly around the neck. On the other hand, you also do not want the Martingale to be overly loose as this will allow your dog to slip out of it despite its design. When fitted correctly, you should be able to fit your hand between the larger loop of the collar and your dog’s neck. Martingale collars fit looser than traditional collars.

Martingale Safety Precautions

Due to the corrective and potentially choking nature of the collar, it is not advisable to leave a Martingale collar on a dog unsupervised (ex. while they are in their crate, overnight). The concern is that an object may become entangled on the smaller loop, causing it to choke the dog as a result.

How do I know if a Martingale collar is appropriate for my dog?

While the Martingale was originally designed for specific dog breeds as mentioned earlier, it is now often used and worn even by non-sighthound dogs as an alternative to standard collars. They are convenient, easy to use and widely available. While many use them interchangeably with traditional collars, a Martingale may be better suited for your dog if he is:

  • A puller
  • Able to/or enjoys slipping his head out of a standard collar
  • Fearful and tends to pull back on his collar (with intention of bolting)

What’s good and bad about the Martingale?

We have already touched upon some of these points earlier in this article, but to make things a little easier for you we have compiled the pros and cons of the Martingale Collar into a list.


  • They help to prevent escape by making it nearly impossible for your dog to slip his head out of the collar
  • Collar of choice for dogs with narrow heads (eg. sighthounds)
  • Less stress on the trachea since the force is distributed around the entire circumference of your dog’s neck
  • There is no wrong way of putting it on
  • It offers the owner more control, whilst not choking the dog
  • They offer light correction yet are not as harsh and “cruel” as choke collars
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Tend to fit more comfortably around the dog’s neck


  • Proper fitting is crucial for its effectiveness and safety
  • Poses a strangulation risk when left unattended on a dog
  • Should only be used during dog walks
  • May be more expensive than traditional collars

Where can I buy quality Martingale Collars?

Looking to purchase a Martingale Collar online? Here are a few websites that you may want to check out:

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