Best Dog Collar of 2020
In our minds, the Ruffwear Hoopie is the top dog when it comes to collars. This is one of our favorite all-around products we tested. The Hoopie latches and unlatches quickly and is exceptionally flexible — even after it has gotten soaked and then dried out in the sun. It didn't pick up any odors in our test, and we found it to be a solid and durable collar. It has a separate ID attachment with a silicone noise dampener, it looks great, and it's available in a handful of eye-catching prints and patterns.
In all honesty, we found very few flaws with this collar. It isn't available in as wide of a selection of colors and prints as some other models, so it might not appeal to everyone in the aesthetics department. We also found that this dog collar can start looking dirtier — especially with the lighter color motifs — but it's so easy to clean that we didn't find this to be much of an issue. All in all, we think the Ruffwear Hoopie is the best option for most dog owners.
If you are looking for a custom collar for your furry best friend, then our top recommendation is the GoTags Reflective Personalized Collar. This collar allows for up to 25 characters to be embroidered right on it, giving you more than enough room for most dog's names and a contact phone number, eliminating the need for an additional ID tag. You can choose from five separate base colors and 15 different thread options to match your style as well. We also like that the GoTags Reflective is quick to take on and off your pup and didn't retain smells in our tests.
However, the reflective strip and the embroidery do make this collar just a bit less flexible than a pure webbing option, though this is probably only significant for the smaller sizes. We also found that the reflective strip started to show some scuffs and scrapes after use and quickly shows dirt, but a quick wash brightens it up again in a hurry. This is a great option for any pet owner who doesn't want to deal with separate ID tags or who takes their dog for a walk in the early morning or evening, where its high-visibility reflective strip is sure to come in handy.
If you are searching for a simple webbing collar that gets the job done and doesn't cost a lot, then the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar is a great option. This relatively low-cost collar is a breeze to take on and off your dog and adjust in size. It's a flexible collar that easily conforms to your pet's neck and seems fairly durable to us, though — like most webbing collars — it might not last if your pup gets ahold of it and starts chewing when they aren't wearing it. This collar performed well in our odor absorption test — where we soaked it overnight in a diluted vinegar bath and then washed it in warm water — failing to retain any odors.
This model won't make a huge style statement compared to some of the flashier patterned options, but we appreciate the fact that it is available in a plethora of colors. We did find that the denser webbing held on to water just a bit more than some of the other collars and took a little longer to dry out once completely soaked through. All in all, we think this is an excellent choice for anyone shopping on a budget and who prefers a traditional solid color webbing option for their dog.
The Dog Karma American Flag is a great option if you and your pup are feeling extra patriotic about the USA and are shopping on a budget. We found this collar to be quite burly and durable, and with all but the largest size costing substantially less than some of the other options, it's a great value as well. It's available in three different variations of the stars and stripes and five different sizes, covering a range of 8" to 32". It wasn't prone to picking up smells, and it dried quickly in our tests, retaining flexibility even after getting soaked and then baking in the hot sun.
We did notice that the white stars and stripes show dirt and start to fade faster than other models, but a quick wash usually solved that without a ton of fuss. The only other slight flaw that we found with this collar is it lacks a retaining clip on the side of the collar where the webbing is doubled up. We didn't find this to be an issue — this collar never snagged on anything, even when our dogs were sprinting through the shrubbery — but we can see how there is a higher potential for the collar to get caught without that clip. Despite that, we find this model to be a solid, all-around collar for anyone and their dog who wants every day to feel like the 4th of July and is looking for a great bargain collar.
If you have a larger dog that can be hard to control at times (or one that pulls relentlessly), then the PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar is a great option to consider. In our experience, this collar almost immediately curbs pulling or lunging from even the largest dogs. It includes clear directions for fitting and use, and even includes a training DVD to get you started. The buckles and strap tensioners operate smoothly and seem solid enough. The Gentle Leader is available in five different sizes to accommodate just about any dog — even the largest breeds tipping the scales at more than 130 pounds. While it might not be the most stylish option, we think it looks alright, if not fairly plain, and is available in 8 different colors to match you and your pup's preferences. It's also able to convert to a traditional collar simply by taking the nose loop off and cinching up the tensioner.
The Gentle Leader is a bit more work to get adjusted and take on and off your pup than a traditional collar, especially since we found most dogs aren't overly fond of this headcollar at first. It's not too bad once you get the hang of it and your dog gets used to it. We didn't like that there isn't a clip to secure excess webbing from the neck loop, but PetSafe does mention in the instructions that you should cut this off once your dog is fully grown. We love the Gentle Leader for persistent pullers, and it's a great tool for bigger dogs that might be harder to control — but it isn't, as the manual states, a "cure" for overly aggressive animals or a lack of training.
If you're a routine nighttime walker and want to add a little more visibility to your pet, then we can't recommend the Illumiseen LED Dog Collar highly enough. This collar cleverly hides its battery and LED light source in a small enclosure sandwiched between layers of webbing, then uses a pair of flexible fiber-optic tubes to light up almost the entire length of the collar. It's flexible and easily conforms to your pet's neck, and is easy to take on and off. The plastic buckle, the leash attachment, and the stitching all seem solid and secure.
Unfortunately, while the Illumiseen manual states that it is splash and moisture-resistant, it says that this collar shouldn't be submerged, so you are going to need to consider a different option if your dog is going swimming. There isn't a separate attachment spot for a tag, and it isn't the easiest to adjust in size. We also weren't impressed that this collar uses a proprietary charging cable instead of a standard one, so you will have to purchase another one direct from the company if you lose it. All of this aside, the Illumiseen is our favorite LED light-up collar to recommend.
If you are looking for a simple, no-frills dog collar and don't want to worry about dog tags, then the GoTags Personalized Custom Embroidered Collar is a great option. This webbing collar is fairly run-of-the-mill, but it's hard to argue with what works. This collar is a snap to take on and off and is easy enough to adjust in size. It's available in a wide variety of colors, and the embroidered name and contact info negate the need for a separate ID tag. It dried out very quickly in our test and didn't absorb any odor even after soaking overnight in a vinegar solution.
Our biggest complaint with this dog collar is that some of the embroidered characters look a little sloppy, particularly with some of the numbers. It's also only available in 5 colors but does give you 15 different options when it comes to the thread color. The embroidery also makes this collar just a bit less flexible than some of the other models we tested. It's a great option if you want a basic, but personalizable, dog collar.
If you are a fan of floral prints and pastel colors, then the Blueberry Pet Floral Collection is a fun option. This collar is easy to use and adjust and is available in a wide variety of vibrant prints. It's resistant to odors, easy to clean, and dries quickly, making it a great option if your pup is a frequent swimmer. The stitching seems solid and secure, and this collar seems quite durable overall, with no visible wear and tear after our tests.
However, we did notice that the lighter colors and floral prints tend to show dirt and grime a bit faster than some of the more muted collars. It brightens back up after washing, but we wouldn't be overly surprised if it starts fading over time. We think this is a solid all-around collar, and while the color options might not be for everyone, it's the perfect option for floral-loving dog owners.
If you are the kind of owner that wants your pet's collar to make a style statement, then the Wolfgang Man & Beast Webbing Collar is where it's at. This collar is available in a collection of eye-catching prints, ranging from mountain landscapes to skulls straight from Día de Los Muertos. Besides its stylish appearance, this collar is flexible, convenient to take on and off, and easy to clean. It also dried extremely quickly and showed resistance to absorbing odors in our assessments.
However, we could see the various prints of this collar being a little ostentatious for anyone who prefers more simple, solid color collars for their pet. We also found that the plastic buckle got scuffed and showed some scratches after our tests, and like most printed collars, the Man & Beast doesn't hide dirt as well as some of the other options, leading to more frequent cleanings. Despite that, we think it's an excellent collar and a good choice if one of the patterns matches your personal preferences.
The Custom Catch Personalized Collar is a basic leather collar that looks great. It's available in six different colors and offers some of the best options we have seen when it comes to personalizing your collar with a variety of fonts and icons. Any customizations are engraved into the leather so they won't fade, and both the metal belt buckle clasp and leash attachment appear quite durable. This leather collar is also rather flexible, easily conforming to your pet's neck.
Regrettably, we didn't find this collar to be the most practical of the group. The belt buckle clasp is harder to operate and takes more time to take on or off your pup. It also offers a more limited range of size adjustment, and we found that the end of the collar tends to stick out and flap around if you are using one of the smaller settings. Leather collars will also usually absorb water and odors more readily than a webbing collar — something you may want to keep in mind if your dog is a frequent swimmer. The Custom Catch is a great choice if you want a custom collar and love the leather look, but we weren't overly enamored with its overall performance.
If your dog likes to pull but you don't want to go the headcollar route, then the PetSafe Martingale Collar could be the perfect option. A Martingale Collar will cinch up when your dog starts to pull, and loosens when it stops — but it won't ever get as tight as a choke chain and is generally much safer than prong collars. This collar is quick and convenient to take on and off your dog, with an easy to adjust metal clip to get the fit just right. It is relatively easy to clean, like most webbing collars, and the stitching seems sturdy and durable.
While the PetSafe Martingale is very easy to adjust in size, it can take a little bit of experimentation to get the fit right. It's also fairly plain when it comes to appearance but does come in six different colors. This collar also took a little longer to dry out and retained some of the vinegar smell even after washing in our odor absorption test. In our opinion, the PetSafe Martingale is a great option if you want to curb problematic pulling or if you are shopping on a budget since this is also one of the least expensive collars we tested.
The Country Brook Petz is a fairly typical webbing collar, but it stands out with its metal buckle, leash attachment, and clips. We think this adds to this collar's overall durability, coupled with its reinforced seams and secure stitching. It's convenient and easy to adjust, with four sizes covering a range from 11"-26". The Country Brook Petz is available in a wide array of colors, and with its traditional look, it looks pretty good on most dogs.
Unfortunately, we found this collar to be a little more prone to retaining smells and water in our tests, and it took longer to dry than some of the other options. The metal buckle is noisier and doesn't operate quite as smoothly as some of the plastic ones. Additionally, we noticed some accelerated signs of wear and tear and tarnishing after our tests. It's a good budget option if you like the all-metal look and your dog doesn't spend a ton of time in the water, but we feel plenty of other collars outperform it.
The Black Rhino Padded Collar is another belt buckle collar that we think looks a little better than it performs. This collar, available in five different color combinations, has a unique industrial look with reflective stitching and neoprene padding for maximum comfort. We think the Black Rhino seems very durable, with a metal buckle and leash attachment, along with grommet reinforced holes.
However, we did find that this collar is much less convenient to use if you frequently take it on or off your dog, hampered by its belt buckle clasp. This clasp also offers less adjustment, since you are limited to six pre-punched holes. Due to its padding, we found that this collar took a bit longer to dry than some of the other options in our tests. It also retained a more odor in our side-by-side test, but this did dissipate once the collar dried completely. The Black Rhino isn't our favorite collar but is worth checking out if you strongly prefer a belt buckle style collar and want a durable option with extra padding
The BSEEN LED Collar is a good choice if you like your current collar but want the option of adding a secondary illuminated collar for walking in the evening. The BSEEN is very simple to put on, though you will have to trim it to the proper length the first time you fit it to your dog. It's available in five different colors, fitting just about any dog that has a neck circumference under 27.5" or so. It can be set to either flash quickly, slowly, or stay constantly lit, and its internal battery is easy to recharge with the included mini-USB cable. The clear tube blends into your dog's fur when it isn't lit up and greatly increases visibility in the dark when it is illuminated.
This collar is all-plastic, making it easy to clean off any mud or dirt, but, like most illuminated collars with electronics, we would be very careful about how wet it gets. It's also fairly easy for this collar to come off, with a simple friction fit holding the end of the tube in place. It's one of the only collars we have tested that will separate with a light tug. This collar is clearly meant to be a supplemental collar as well, lacking a spot to connect a leash or tag. The BSEEN is a good way to light up your nightly dog walks if you are trying to save some cash, but it isn't our favorite illuminated collar we have seen so far.
If you place the most importance on the look of your best friend's collar, then this might be the perfect option for you. The Soft Touch Leather Collar has a unique and stylish look that sets it apart. This luxurious leather collar is available in a handful of different color combinations, with more than enough padding to ensure an extra comfortable fit for your furry friend.
Unfortunately, overall we weren't very impressed with this collar when it came to actual day-to-day use. Each size covers a much smaller range of dogs than other models we tested, and the belt buckle clasp limits the amount of adjustability with its pre-punched holes. We also vastly prefer snap buckle collars, finding them much easier to take on and off. On top of that, we find that leather collars are much more difficult to clean and more prone to picking up smells than those made of synthetic materials. The Soft Touch Leather Collar is a great choice if you love its look and are sure that it will stay relatively dry and clean, but we wouldn't recommend it for most people.
Why You Should Trust Us
With the number of dogs and dog owners that frequent the GearLab, we had plenty of experience to draw on. Our dog collar testing and review process is headed up by David Wise. David has reviewed hundreds of home and outdoor products for the GearLab and is helped in this review by his 130+ pound Newfoundland and Bernese mountain dog. He is also joined by a handful of other testers with dogs of all shapes and sizes, all to help you find the perfect collar for your furry friend.
To test and rank these products, we went on walk after walk, then more walks, and then, even more walks — to the point where even our dogs were tired. We also scored the convenience, ease of adjustment, and ease of cleaning of each collar, as well as assessing their durability.
Analysis and Test Results
We split all of our head-to-head collar tests into four metrics — Convenience/Ease of Adjustment, Ease of Cleaning, Aesthetics, and Durability — with standout performances of products in each metric outlined below.
Convenience/Ease of Adjustment
The first things that we rated and compared when it came to collars were how easy they are to use and adjust. We looked at the time it took to take them on and off, how smoothly the buckle or clasp operates, how flexible and conforming each collar is, what sort of leash and tag attachment points there are, as well as how easy each collar is to adjust in circumference.
For convenience, we vastly preferred webbing collars with a snap style buckle over the ones with a belt buckle closure, like the Ruffwear Hoopie, Man & Beast, both Blueberry Pet Essentials collars, the Dog Karma American Flag, and both GoTags Personalized Collars. In particular, the Ruffwear Hoopie, the Man & Beast, and the Blueberry Pet Essentials Floral Collection also stood out from the other models for how well they conformed around our dogs' necks with their extreme flexibility.
In terms of flexibility, the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar and the Dog Karma American Flag are pretty much what you would expect from a traditional synthetic webbing collar. Unfortunately, we did find that both the GoTags Reflective and GoTags Personalized collars are just a little bit less flexible due to the embroidery, with the Reflective collar being even stiffer.
These webbing collars are all reasonably easy to adjust in size, as well. The PetSafe Martingale Quick Snap performs very similarly to the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar when it comes to convenience, but can take a bit more effort to get the size adjusted right since you need to account for the tensioning loop that makes it a martingale collar. The Country Brooks Petz is another snap collar, but features an all-metal buckle, which we found didn't latch and unlatch quite as smoothly as some of its plastic competitors.
All of the webbing collars, along with the Illumiseen LED Collar, have sturdy D-rings to serve as leash attachment points. The Ruffwear Hoopie and the PetSafe Martingale Quick Snap both have a dedicated ID tag loop, so you never need to worry about accidentally clipping your leash to the tag instead of the D-ring again. Even better, the Ruffwear Hoopie includes a rubberized noise dampener to minimize your dog's tags jingling on your walks. The embroidered GoTags collars are also very convenient in this regard since the customization option negates the need for a separate ID tag entirely.
The Black Rhino Comfort Collar Ultra Soft, the Custom Catch, and the Soft Touch Collars Padded Leather all have a belt buckle clasp, making them, in our opinion, more cumbersome to use. You are also more limited when it comes to size adjustments since you are relying on the pre-punched holes for discrete lengths, rather than having an entire range available as you do with a sliding adjustment. However, we do think the Black Rhino is a bit more user-friendly than the other two, as it's more flexible, and the Soft Touch did earn a few points for a dedicated ID tag attachment loop.
The two illuminated collars we tested — the BSeen and the Illumiseen — are relatively user-friendly but are a bit more work due to their electronic nature. The BSeen is very easy to use, but it can only work as a supplemental collar since it lacks a leash attachment and can get pulled apart easily. The Illumiseen can be used as a normal collar, but it's harder to adjust and much less flexible, so we would mainly recommend it for its light-up qualities and wouldn't be our first choice for a day-to-day collar.
Ease of Cleaning
Our next series of tests focused on easy to clean each collar is, how long they took to dry, and how prone each one is at absorbing smells. To test this, we soaked all of the collars that can be submerged in an apple cider vinegar bath overnight, then ran them through a washing machine on a "Quick Wash" setting without laundry soap, so there wouldn't be any fragrances to mask the vinegar. We smelled each collar after washing and noted how much water they held after the spin cycle, then laid them out in the sun to dry to see if they lost any flexibility.
We couldn't smell the slightest hint of vinegar on the Ruffwear Hoopie, the Dog Karma American Flag, the Man & Beast, the Blueberry Pet Essentials Floral or Classic collars, or either GoTags collars once they came out of the wash, passing this test with flying colors. Most of these collars were almost completely dry just from the spin cycle, except for the GoTags Reflective, the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar, and the Blueberry Pet Essentials Floral Collection collar, which were just a bit damp.
The Black Rhino, the PetSafe Martingale, the PetSafe Gentle Leader, and the Country Brooks Petz all smelled strongly of vinegar after the washing machine and were quite wet but the smell mainly dissipated once they had dried. We also found that both PetSafe collars stiffened up a bit more than the others once they baked in the sun.
The Custom Catch, the Soft Touch Padded Leather, the BSeen, and the Illumiseen all scored the lowest in this metric. Both the Soft Touch and the Custom Catch are leather collars, which are notorious for collecting smells and are more susceptible to water damage than webbing collars. Due to this, we skipped our soak test so we didn't risk destroying them. We also skipped soaking and washing the LED collars, given their electronic nature and manufacturer warnings about submerging them.
In our most subjective metric by far, we judged the visual appeal of each collar. We aggregated the opinions of multiple pet owners when comparing looks, and took into account the number of colors/prints available, as well as any other aesthetic features.
When it comes to prints and patterns, the Man & Beast and the Blueberry Pet Essentials Floral Collection offer the most options, followed by the Ruffwear Hoopie and the Dog Karma American Flag — though on a longer haired dog, it can be hard to see any of these collars!
If you prefer solid color collars, then the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar and the Country Brook Petz are going to offer the most options. The GoTags Personalized, the GoTags Reflective, and the Custom Catch are going to be your best bets if you're looking for a custom collar with your pet's name on it. The GoTags collars are only available in five different base colors, but you get 15 different colored thread options for the embroidery of your pet's name, which allows you mix and match to get your desired aesthetic.
The Custom Catch also allows you to add some icons — like paw prints — for even more visual embellishment. It, along with the Soft Touch Leather Collar and the Black Rhino, has a unique look that might fit well with your personal preferences, but we found all three of these collars lacked the widespread appeal many of the other products had. Don't get us wrong, these three are all quite stylish, we just don't think they are quite the look that most people may be going for.
Of course, both the BSeen and the Illumiseen are the most visible when walking at night, since they light up, but the reflective strip and stitching on the GoTags Reflective and the Black Rhino make an impact after dark.
To compare and assess durability, we looked at the materials each collar is made of, if they sustained any wear and tear or damage during testing, and pulled as hard as we could on each collar to see if the clasp separated or anything broke.
All of the webbing collars emerged from our tests relatively unscathed, but we did see some slight tarnishing on the Country Brooks Petz's metal buckle as well as some scrapes and scuffs on the Man & Beast's plastic buckle. We also noticed some slight wear on the reflective strip on the GoTags Reflective, but these all seem pretty minor. All of the collars except for the BSeen passed our pull test, with this LED collar separating almost immediately, as expected.
The Custom Catch and the Soft Touch are some of the least durable collars in our minds, given their leather construction. In general, these collars are probably better for dogs that aren't overly rough on their collars and who aren't prone to diving into water at every available chance. The BSeen and Illumiseen are similar since their electronics are going to be more susceptible to damage from impact or liquids. However, not even the toughest dog collar will stand up to extensive chewing, so it's best to make sure the collar is either snugly worn or safely stored if you want to prolong its life and keep it from becoming the next toy your dog shreds.
We hope this has been a helpful analysis of all the top dog collars currently on the market and has been beneficial when it comes to finding the perfect product, regardless of if you have a tiny terrier, massive mastiff, or anything in between.
— David Wise