There is a huge range of Labrador collar styles and designs. And choosing a collar is often a source of confusion for new dog owners.
There are important questions to be answered before you dig down into your wallet!
- What are the best dog collars for Labs?
- Is a waterproof collar essential if your dog is going to swim?
- What is the average Labrador collar size and what would a lab puppy collar size be?
- Should you buy a flat collar or a metal chain collar for your Labrador?
- Is fabric better than leather?
- What about a check chain or a half-check chain?
It is all rather bewildering, but there is no need to worry!
This is where you can find the answers to those questions, and get some ideas and inspiration too.
Labrador dog collars and the law
In many parts of the world, dogs must legally wear a collar when out in public.
For your dog collar to meet legal requirements, you’ll probably need to have an identity tag.
This is usually a disk attached to the collar, with your phone number and name on it.
Some collars come with a brass or stainless steel plate attached to the surface, others have a metal ring for you to attach a tag onto.
Others will embroider the ID into fabric or tool it into leather.
These last two methods are most often used for adding the dog’s name, whereas a metal plaque or disk is usually a better way to display a telephone number and your own name.
Are personalized dog collars safe?
Some pet parents really like the idea of having their dog’s name written clearly on the surface of the collar. But others feel that this is a dangerous thing to do.
The concern in the past has been that knowing a dog’s name might make him an easy target for thieves.
But most dogs are always supervised when outdoors, and many dogs are also microchipped so proof of ownership is more easily accomplished.
Unless your dog is very friendly and spends time outdoors on his own, having his name on his collar is unlikely to put him at risk.
Collars as a fashion statement
A collar is the traditional way of attaching a restraint to a dog, for the purposes of keeping him safe.
Before harnesses were invented this was an essential feature of life in a modern world, where cars and other hazards are everywhere.
But in many homes and families, a collar has become something of a fashion statement too.
A whole industry has arisen to meet the demand for different fabrics and styles.
Instead of going out to buy a collar that looks like everyone else’s, you can now choose something charming or exciting. One that suits your dog’s personality as well as your own.
But before we look at the choice available, and discuss how to get the right size collar for your dog, let’s just quickly mention training collars.
Many people look on a collar, as an aid to training their dog how to walk on a leash. A way to get their dog to tread along nicely next to them, without dragging or pulling them along.
They want to choose a collar that will best help them in this goal. And quickly discover that putting pressure on a standard collar doesn’t stop their dog from ignoring their pleas to ‘walk nicely’.
Several different types of collar have been invented in order to enable dog owners to ‘correct’ their dogs when they pull.
Prong collars and pinch collars have been designed that are uncomfortable and even painful when a dog leans into them.
The problem of course, is that pulling is often very rewarding for a dog (he gets nearer to the destination he likes). So collars usually have to be quite painful if they are to successfully stop the pulling.
Collars that can be used to pinch and choke dogs, are becoming less popular, as more and more dog owners want to train without using unpleasant aversives.
And fortunately there are now excellent ways of teaching a dog to walk nicely without using collars at all.
Here is the information you need to teach your dog not to pull you along the street:
And in the meantime you might find it helpful to have a strong pulling dog fitted with a body harness that will give you more control without damaging his neck.
Before you set off on a Labrador collar shopping expedition, you will need to think about sizes. And to know your Labrador neck size.
Labrador collar size
Not all collars are made in sizes large enough for an adult Lab.
And one adult Lab will not have the same neck size as another. So you do need to whip out your tape measure in order to avoid disappointment
Both my Labs have an 18 inch neck. They are medium build slim Labradors.
A classic stocky English Lab is likely to have a bigger neck so I’d say allow for 20 inches. But it really is best to measure.
If your dog is a wriggler, just get someone to dip their fingers in some butter and let the dog lick it off while you take his measurements!
Collars for adult Labs are usually about an inch wide – this allows enough space for a small ID plaque if desired.
What size collar for a Lab puppy?
Puppies grow so fast that your Lab’s baby collar won’t fit him for very long.
You’ll need to buy a collar at least 9 inches long, some puppies will need to start at 10 or more inches.
If you buy a puppy collar two or three inches longer than this it will last him a few weeks.
We have put together a collection of our favorite puppy collars to inspire you!
So what kind of collar should you buy? Leather? Fabric? Metal? Let’s take a look.
Which Labrador collar style?
We recommend that you buy your Labrador a flat collar with a buckle fastener.
We don’t recommend metal ‘choke chain’ collars or even half check (see training collars above).
Leather ones, like this Traditional Leather Collar are fine, but so are many strong man-made fabric collars.
You can choose one to suit your taste and wallet.
Leather and fabric collars are great, but they can get a bit ‘smelly’ as they age. Especially if your Lab likes to swim.
Waterproof collars tend to resist odor and are easy to clean. They often come in striking bright colors – we love them and think they look cool!
We have a review of the best collars and leashes for large breeds like Labs to give you more general ideas. For specific collar types check out our collar collections.
Does my dog’s collar fit?
It is normal to worry whether or not your dog’s collar is too tight or too loose.
Your dog’s collar should be a snug fit without compressing his airway or rubbing his skin. But not so loose that he can back out of it.
You should be able to fit two or three fingers under it quite easily, but not much more.
A collar that is too loose can be slipped by a lively dog very easily.
Some dogs are experts at backing out of collars and you definitely don’t want that happening on the edge of a busy highway!
It is also worth considering alternative forms of restraint. Especially for puppies and lively young dogs that can get very sore necks if leashed to a collar.
Buying a harness
The breadth of choice in body harnesses for dogs has burgeoned in the last couple of years as people discover how great they are.
A body harness is an excellent way to restrain a young dog that has not been taught to walk to heel.
It has several advantages over a collar. It is almost impossible for the dog to slip out of.
And most importantly, a puppy that wears a harness is not learning to lean into or pull, on his collar.
Our favorite is the Freedom harness which has front and back attachments.
You can find plenty of harness reviews here as well.
Labrador collar sizes and choice – a summary
A collar is best purchased with the object of identifying your dog and enhancing his natural beauty! Rather than as a training aid.
Harnesses are the best way to restrain dogs that are still learning how to walk nicely.
Labrador neck sizes vary so measure your dog before you order a collar. If your dog is an adult, his neck will probably measure between 17 and 20 inches.
Traditional leather collars often look expensive and charming. Synthetic collars are bright and low odor, but for the widest choice of color and styles you’ll need to look at fabric dog collars.
Check out our collar collections for ideas and inspiration, and don’t forget to share your favorite Labrador collar designs in the comments box below
Looking for a great guide to keeping your Lab happy and healthy? Then check out the Labrador Handbook.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website