What is a Martingale Collar?
...and why do you keep calling it a Greyhound or Sighthound collar?
A martingale collar is also referred to as a limited-slip or no-slip collar. This type of collar suits a dog breed that has a head narrower than its neck. They’re popular among owners of Whippets, Greyhounds, Salukis, and other sighthound breeds.
Martingale collars used to be the only game in town when it came time to train your dog. Before no-pull harnesses were invented, trainers recommended martingale collars as the best option to help with pulling behavior on a leash (along with training).
Is a martingale the best collar for my Pit Bull? Or Great Dane? Or any other huge-headed dog?
Don’t have a sighthound? Not to worry, you can use martingale collars with other dog breeds as well, with one caveat. Martingale collars slip over the head, there is no open/closing mechanism. So if you have a dog with a big head, you will need to slip it over the head, then adjust it to the right size for your dog's neck. A Buckle Martingale collar may be a better option for these breeds of dogs.
On the other hand, if you have a non-sighthound that can slip out of his or her collar, the martingale will likely work perfectly without the need to be readjusted constantly.
How do Martingale Collars work?
Dog collars serve two primary functions. First, they help keep your pet's ID tag attached to them at all times. And second, they offer an anchor point to attach a leash.
As a dog owner, choosing the right collar for your pet is essential. At the very least, it should serve these two basic functions without hurting your dog.
Martingale dog collars give you control over your pet and help keep them safely on-leash without choking them. The martingale collar design is an improvement on the (not recommended) choke chain. But unlike choke chains, they allow you to adjust and control the fit around your pet’s neck. Choke Chains are considered aversive equipment by Positive Reinforcement Dog Trainers (such as Association of Professional Dog Trainers)
Other popular names for martingale collars are:
- Greyhound collars
- Whippet collars
- Sighthound Collars
- No-slip/Limited-slip collars
- Humane choke collars
Martingale collars consist of two loops:
- An adjustable loop that goes around your dog's neck.
- A smaller loop with a D-ring, upon which you attach the leash.
The first loop is adjustable to give you control over the diameter of the band. This ensures a secure fit over your pet's head and neck to prevent choking or slipping off.
When your dog pulls on the lead or tries to slip out, the tension pulls the smaller loop taut. This, in turn, tightens the larger loop gently and uniformly around the dog's neck.
And when your pup stops pulling on the leash, the collar relaxes back to its original shape.
Note that the loop only gets tight enough to prevent slipping out, but not so tight that it hurts your pet.
This feature also comes in handy when training your dogs. The tightening of the loop discourages them from pulling and tugging at the lead. And this is why martingale collars are among the most recommended products by dog trainers.
What Dog Breeds Should Wear a Martingale Collar?
Martingale dog collars were developed for hounds with large necks and small heads. The most common breed that fits this description is the sighthound.
- Lean bodies
- Long legs
- Flexible backs
- Deep chests with a neck that is larger than their head (making it easy to slip out of traditional collars)
These improve their speed and agility and help support their large hearts and lungs.
With such large chests, sighthounds’ necks tend to be wider than their heads. This makes it a lot easier for them to slip out of regular collars.
Sighthounds are also known for their sharp hunting instincts. And when triggered, they often dart off, chasing after quick-moving objects. Potentially putting themselves in danger.
Thankfully, martingale collars are very effective, even on sighthounds.
The double-loop collar design allows you to make alterations to the straps for a secure fit. This provides the necessary control over your pet and ensures they cannot slip out of their collars.
Here's a list of sighthounds that would benefit from wearing martingale collars:
- Afghan Hound
- Irish Wolfhound
- Italian Greyhound
- Pharaoh Hound
- Scottish Deerhound
- Silken Wind hound
But martingale collars are not exclusive to sighthounds. They are just as effective on other breeds.
They are available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes to suit every dog. And are an invaluable asset when training pups. Especially those that like to tug on the leash, or have a knack for slipping out of their collars.
Their design offers more control when needed, and is much safer on dogs of all ages. This is why martingales come highly recommended for puppies and older dogs alike.
Why Does Your Dog Need a Martingale Collar?
For many dog owners, there are few things more terrifying than their pet getting away from them. Nothing can turn a pleasant walk sour like your pup slipping out of their collar.
To prevent this, you need a safe and reliable collar for your dogs. This is where the martingale design comes in.
Here’s a list of the items that make martingale collars the best option for you and your pup:
The Design Makes It Hard for a Dog to Slip Free
As discussed above, some breeds, like sighthounds, can easily slip out of their collars. Additionally, features like the texture of your dog's fur can make it easier for them to slip out of their collars.
However, the martingale design makes this a lot harder. And best of all, it works no matter the shape of their heads, size of their necks, or texture of their fur.
The Collars Are a Helpful Training Aid
If your dog is still learning to walk on a leash then he is more likely to pull and tug during walks.
This kind of behavior can cause choking, and serious injury. Especially with the wrong dog-walking products.
Thankfully, martingale collars ensure that this never happens to your pet.
When pulled against, the adjustable loop tightens around your pup’s neck per your sizing. This ensures that at no point is the band ever so tight that it chokes your dog.
When the pulling stops, the band automatically slackens, reverting to its original diameter.
This feature helps your puppy learn to associate the tightness and discomfort with pulling and tugging. And thus they learn good leash behavior.
They Are Gentler Than Other Options
Martingale collars are humane. The design allows you to set a length beyond which they cannot constrict around your pet’s neck.
And when tension is applied, they constrict evenly, dispersing the pressure to prevent choking or injury.
Additionally, they allow you to make adjustments for a more comfortable fit. They also allow you to make slight adjustments to fit your pet better.
Martingale Collars Are Stylish
2 Hounds Design offers martingale collars in a wide selection of colors and styles. This makes it easier to choose designs that suit you, and your dog's breed, color, and personality.
Consider the following table for a quick overview of the pros and cons of martingale collars:
How to Fit a Martingale Collar
For the collar to work properly, you need to pick one that fits your dog perfectly. Otherwise, you might end up with one that’s too loose and easy to slip off, or too tight - choking your pet.
Here's a guide on how to pick the best martingale collar based on whether you need a slip-on or a buckled collar:
Use a soft tape measure and measure the largest part of your dog's neck AND the smallest part of the neck (usually right behind the ears).
Note: Other than the size of the collar, choosing the right width is also critical. For instance, wide collars on small-necked dogs look like a turtleneck and can pose a choking hazard. Smaller breeds should consider the 5/8" or 1" width for a better fit. Really large breeds (think Great Danes) or dogs with really long necks (think Greyhounds) look perfect in a 2" wide martingale collar!
2 Hounds Design offers collars in widths ranging from 5/8" to 2" wide.
How to put on a Martingale Collar
First, adjust the collar large enough to slip over the head of your dog. Once you have put it on your dog, adjust it to the correct size for your dog's neck. If you have a sighthound, you will want to put the collar right behind the ears (smallest part of the neck) and adjust it so that the collar can tighten gently without the 2 pieces of hardware on either side of the loop touching. If the hardware touches, the martingale collar is too loose.
How to use a Martingale Collar (best practices)
Martingale collars are a lot safer than regular collars. However, martingales can also pose some risk if not used properly.
Observe these best practices to ensure your dog's safety when using a martingale dog collar:
- Ensure the collar you pick fits your dog perfectly. Too snug and it might cause choking. Too loose, and your dog will slip right out.
- Never leave your dog unattended with a martingale collar on. It can easily get caught on household items and surfaces, choking the pup.
- Martingale collars work best with a leash. Otherwise, they may get loose enough for your dog to slip out of.
- Introduce the martingale collar to your pet in a familiar space. Then allow the pup to get comfortable before heading out for a walk.
- Never put the collar on while your dog is in their kennel.
Martingale dog collars are the best solution to your walking and training needs. They are secure, comfortable, and will ensure your dog behaves while out on a walk.
They also discourage bad leash behavior like pulling and tugging without hurting your dog. Thus ensuring your walks are pleasant for both you and your canine friend.
Want to read more articles about Martingale Collars? We've got you covered!
- Best Martingale Collar options from 2 Hounds Design We run through the different types of martingale collars that we make here - from Nylon to super luxe satin lined martingale collars
- Choosing the Right Collar or Harness for your dog Do you need a collar or a Freedom Harness? We will run through the steps of deciding.
- Dog Collar Safety - How safe is a martingale collar for your dog? We run through some things to consider when using a martingale collar - like should you use it in the crate? (the answer is no!)