Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Also known as greyhound collar, a martingale collar is a type of dog collar with some added benefits. This collar is not very popular compared to your regular buckle collar or a choke collar. However, many dogs owners find this collar very beneficial for certain types of dogs.
At first glance, the collar looks almost like a normal buckle collar, but a closer look reveals that it has two distinctive loops. One large loop is the actual collar, the part that encircles the dog's head and is slipped onto the dog's neck. This loop is usually made of tough fabric. The other loop is most commonly made of chain (but can also be made of fabric) and is where you will find the ring to clip the leash to. This is the most important part of this collar, as it is what makes it distinct from others on the market
Once you have clipped your leash to the ring, when the dog pulls, the chain loop becomes taut which causes the collar to tighten on the dog's neck. When this happens, the dog is unable to slip his head out of the collar and escape as he might be able to if wearing another type of collar.
Pros and Cons of the Martingale Collar
Doesn't slip off
Shouldn't always be left on
Isn't constantly tight
May not be easy to find
Doesn't hold tags
Advantages of the Martingale Collar
There are several potential benefits of using a martingale collar. If you are unsure, ask a dog trainer what type of collar is the best for your dog. In the case of martingale collars, they offer several advantages for specific types of dogs.
1. It Doesn't Slip Off
The martingale collar is also known as a Greyhound collar or a whippet collar, and for good reason. Basically, greyhounds, whippets and other members of the sighthound family have heads that are much smaller than their necks. This makes slipping out of a dog collar quite an easy task. A martingale collar would be the perfect collar for these dogs as it prevents them from slipping their heads out. Other dogs who may benefit from this collar are dogs with very smooth hair which makes it easy for a collar to slip off or dogs who through trial and error have learned how to escape from a collar.
Why use a martingale in place of a regular buckle collar worn tight? This is how I see it: imagine a rigid, plastic bangle bracelet. These bracelets stay nicely put all day, but when you need to remove them, you wriggle them off your wrist and it works its way out. Of the dogs I've seen escape from buckle collars (and even harnesses), most sort of wriggle out as you would wriggle a bangle bracelet off your wrist. These dogs know the right moves to get out. They freeze, back away, move their necks side to side, get one ear out, get the other out, and voila! The worst "wrigglers' I have seen were fearful dogs. Often, the owners accidentally help these dogs get loose by instinctively pulling on the leash as the dog backs away. Greyhounds and other breeds with slim heads escape regular collars like a soaped hand out of a bangle.
With the martingale, what I have seen is that even when a dog tries to back out, the collar tightens enough to remove the wiggle room. I have often seen them used incorrectly with pullers. Dogs wearing a Martingale that are pullers are usually coughing and gagging as the collar is constantly pulled tight. Also, the owners let their dogs wear them all day when they're not meant to. Such dogs did much better once I converted them to a harness. No more coughing and gagging—yay!
2. It Isn't Constantly Tight
If you own a dog who slips out of collars or has a small head, you may feel compelled to let your dog wear a tight buckle collar to prevent him from backing out of it. This can be very uncomfortable as the buckle collar is tight at all times. With a martingale collar instead, the collar isn't tight all the time, (unless as mentioned, your dog is a puller) but tightens only when you need it the most, which is when the dog occasionally pulls on the leash and tries to back out of the collar.
3. It Doesn't Choke the Dog
Best of all, a martingale collar doesn't choke a dog as a choke collar does, it only contracts so it stays snugly on the dog and prevents him from escaping. For this reason, a martingale collar is often also known as a "Humane Choke Collar" since it's sort of mid range between a buckle collar and a choke.
Disadvantages of the Martingale Collar
As with other training tools, there are always risks for misuse. After discussing the advantages of the martingale collar, let's discuss some disadvantages of this training tool. of course, no training tool is ever to be used as a substitute for training!
1. It Shouldn't Always Be Left On
You shouldn't leave a martingale collar on 24/7 as it may very likely not be safe. As with other collars, it should not be left on when a dog is crated.
2. it May Not Be Easy to Find
A martingale collar may not be easy to find at times in stores and may need to be ordered online or you may need to head to large pet stores that carry a variety of collars.
3. It Doesn't Hold Tags
Another disadvantage is that martingale collars are not crafted to hold ID tags on the D ring. The reason being that they can get snatched on something with devastating effects. However, some martingale collars offer the option to have a name and phone number embroidered or the collars side slides can be used.
How to fit a martingale collar
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Would you advise a Martingale collar for a Min-Pin escape artist?
Answer: I am alway leery on using collars for small dogs, considering their delicate throats and risks for tracheal collapse. Perhaps you can look into some of those escape-proof harnesses purposely crafted for small dogs.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 01, 2013:
Hi Larry, thanks for the votes up!
Larry Fields from Northern California on April 30, 2013:
Thanks for answering my question from your sight hound hub. Voted up and useful.