Best Dog Collar of 2021
Of all the dog collars we tested, the Ruffwear Hoopie is the top dog. This collar latches and unlatches quickly and easily, and it's especially flexible, even after getting soaking wet and then drying out in the sun. Despite its flexibility, we found it to be solid and durable, and it also managed to stay odor-free during testing. The collar includes a separate ID attachment with a silicone sound dampener, and we love all the eye-catching patterns and designs offered.
There aren't many things we don't like about the Hoopie. Some other collars we tested offer a more extensive selection of designs and colors, but there are a lot to choose from here, and we imagine you shouldn't have trouble finding something to suit your style. We noticed that the collar could start to look dingy, particularly the lighter colorways — however, because it is so simple to clean, we didn't find this to be a big problem. All told, we think the Ruffwear Hoopie is the best choice for the majority of dog owners.
If you want a customized collar, the GoTags Reflective Personalized Collar is our recommendation. You can get a total of 25 characters embroidered on it, which should be enough space for most pet names along with a phone number, eliminating the need for a separate ID tag with contact information. There are five different base colors to choose from, with 15 separate thread choices to customize. We love how easy the GoTags collar is to put on and remove from your dog's neck, and we appreciated that it didn't hold on to any residual odors during our testing.
Pure webbing collars offer a lot of flexibility, and we noticed that the embroidery and reflective strip of the GoTags Reflective reduce that flex, which we assume is going to be more noticeable on smaller sizes than the larger ones. Dirt, scuffs, and scrapes all appeared rather quickly on the reflective strip, but after a swift wash, the brightness returned fast. This is a great choice for those who tend to take their pet out on early morning or late evening walks when high-visibility is of the utmost importance, and also for those who want to keep the number of jangly ID tags to a minimum.
Look no further than the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar for a simple webbing collar that won't empty your wallet. It's flexible, easily adjustable, and quick to put on and take off. However, as with any webbing collar, if your dog gets his teeth into it while he's not wearing it, it may not survive too long. 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.
Compared to some of the flashier patterned options, this model won't make a huge style statement, 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 if completely soaked through, it took a little longer to dry out. 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 was quick to dry 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 this was usually solved with a quick wash. 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. Even so, we find this model to be a solid all-around collar for those seeking a great bargain and anyone who wants every day to feel like the 4th of July.
If you have a larger dog that can be hard to control at times (or one that is constantly pulling), 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. It might not be the most stylish option, but we think it looks alright, if not somewhat plain. However, it 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. But, once you get the hang of it and your dog gets used to it, it's not too bad. We didn't like that there isn't a clip to secure excess webbing from the neck loop, but PetSafe does note in the instructions that once your dog is fully grown, you should cut that part off. We love the Gentle Leader for persistent pullers, and it's a great tool for bigger dogs that might be harder to control — but as the manual states, it isn't a "cure" for overly aggressive animals or a lack of training.
If you routinely walk your dog at nighttime 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, easily conforming 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.
While the Illumiseen manual states that it is splash and moisture-resistant, it says that this collar shouldn't be submerged, so if your dog is going swimming, you are going to need to consider a different option. 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 if you lose it, you will have to purchase another one direct from the company. All of this aside, the Illumiseen is our favorite LED light-up collar to recommend.
Are you looking for a simple, no-frills dog collar and don't want to worry about dog tags? If so, 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 cancel out the need for a separate ID tag. It was quick to dry out in our test, and even after soaking overnight in a vinegar solution, it didn't absorb any odor.
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 you have 15 different options for 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 just need 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. This collar seems quite durable overall, with seemingly solid and secure stitching, and it showed 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. After washing, it brightens back up, but we wouldn't be shocked 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 if you're into floral and are a dog owner.
The Wolfgang Man & Beast Webbing Collar is where it's at if you are the kind of owner that wants your pet's collar to make a style statement. 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.
For anyone who prefers more simple, solid color collars for their pet, we can see the various prints of this collar being a little extravagant for their taste. In our tests, we also found that the plastic buckle got scuffed and showed some scratches. Like with most printed collars, the Man & Beast also isn't the best at hiding dirt as well as some of the other options, which will cause the need for more frequent cleaning. 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 great-looking basic leather collar. Available in six different colors, it offers some of the best options we have seen when it comes to personalizing your collar with a variety of fonts and icons. The 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. The adjustment size offered is also a little more limited, and we found that if you are using one of the smaller settings, the end of the collar tends to stick out and flap around. 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. While we weren't overly enamored with its overall performance, the Custom Catch is a great choice if you want a custom collar and love the leather look.
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, and the metal clip is easy to adjust to get the fit just right. Cleaning it is relatively easy, and the stitching seems sturdy and durable.
While the PetSafe Martingale is very easy to adjust in size, it can take a little trial and error to get the fit right. When it comes to appearance, it's also fairly plain, but it 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 these features add 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 look of all-metal and if 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 is available in five different color combinations, with 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 the belt buckle clasp to be inconvenient if you frequently take it on or off your dog. 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 longer to dry than some of the other models we tested. 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 if you strongly prefer a belt buckle style collar and want a durable option with extra padding, it is worth checking out.
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. Putting on the BSEEN is very simple, 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 and fits just about any dog that has a neck circumference under 27.5" or so. There are three different settings: flash quickly, slowly, or continually lit. 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 it lacks a spot to connect a leash or tag. The BSEEN isn't our favorite illuminated collar we have seen, but it's a good way to light up your nightly dog walks if you're trying to save some cash.
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, and there is more than enough padding to ensure an extra comfortable fit for your furry friend.
Unfortunately, when it came to actual day-to-day use, we weren't very impressed with this collar. 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. If you love its look and are sure that it will stay relatively dry and clean, the Soft Touch Leather Collar is a great choice, 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 were how easy these collars were 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. In particular, the Ruffwear Hoopie, the Man & Beast, and the Blueberry Pet Essentials Floral Collection 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. The GoTags Reflective and GoTags Personalized collars are just a little bit less flexible because of their embroidery.
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. Still, it 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 it features an all-metal buckle, which 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, which we found to be much less convenient since they take longer to put on. Your size adjustments are also more limited since you must rely on the pre-punched holes for discrete lengths rather than having an entire range available as you do with a sliding adjustment. The Black Rhino is a bit more user-friendly than the other two due to its flexibility, and we liked that the Soft Touch had 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 lacks a leash attachment and can get pulled apart easily, so it can only work as a supplemental collar. 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 each took to dry, and how prone each one is to 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. After washing, we smelled each collar 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 also almost completely dry just from the spin cycle, though a few were still damp.
The Black Rhino, the PetSafe Martingale, the PetSafe Gentle Leader, and the Country Brooks Petz all had a strong vinegar smell 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.
Leather collars like the Soft Touch and the Custom Catch are notorious for collecting smells and are more susceptible to water damage than webbing collars. Because of this, we skipped our soak test so we wouldn't risk destroying them. Given their electronic nature and manufacturer warnings about submerging them, we also skipped soaking and washing the LED collars.
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.
The Man & Beast and the Blueberry Pet Essentials Floral Collection offer the most prints and color 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.
For those seeking a solid color, the Blueberry Pet Essentials Classic Collar and the Country Brook Petz 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 thread color options for the embroidery of your pet's name, which allows you to 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.
Of course, since they light up, both the BSeen and the Illumiseen are the most visible when walking at night, 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.
In general, leather collars like the Custom Catch and the Soft Touch are probably better for dogs who aren't prone to diving into the 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