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Choosing the Right Dog Collar

Every dog on the trail needs a trusty collar and we’re here to help you choose one that best suits your buddy.

Now, we’re not going to downplay the fact that for humans, choosing a dog collar can raise some hackles—it’s the one critical piece of gear that a dog in society needs, right?  And that one piece of gear is so symbolic of the bond that you share with your dog.

All the patterns of the new Crag Collar are laid side by side.

Not to fret—we are going to walk you through the decision making process and point you to a collar that distinctively says, “Yeah, that’s my dog.” 

How to Choose a Collar: Start here

When it comes to Ruffwear’s collar collections, we’ve got inspiring colors and patterns, strong webbing, and reliable hardware—so how do you narrow it down? 

Start here, with the end goal in mind:

You want to arrive at a collar that speaks to you both in style and in function. You want to envision that collar representing all the good times ahead. 

We do like to remind human companions that there are times when it’s best for your pup not to wear a collar at all: at playtime, at home, and in crates. If that’s novel to you, brush up on our collar safety tips.

And fortunately, you can’t really make a wrong choice when selecting a Ruffwear collar. Sure, there are collars that are better for certain dogs, based on breed, lifestyle, or tendencies, but each collar is thoughtfully made and will endure all your explorations and outings—by design.

A man walks his labradoodle who is wearing a purple collar.

All Ruffwear collars: 

  • Are colorfast and long-wearing: These collars are made to hold up to the elements
  • Adjustable collars for small and big dogs: Each collar category is available in multiple sizes, and within a size, each collar has features that enable you to adjust the diameter of the collar further, so you get a great fit for your doggo.
  • Offer a strong connection: The point where your pup’s collar meets the leash is a sturdy-yet-lightweight aluminum, which ensures a dependable collar-leash connection.
  • Support quiet time: Each collar incorporates a silicone tag silencer so you and your dog can enjoy the quiet of the outdoors—and the quiet of quiet time.
  • Coordinate with a corresponding leash and harness design: Your dog will look color coordinated and ready for any excursion in their matching harness and dog leash The dog harness is optional, btw, but we wanted to mention them because they do match the collars, plus dogs love them and owners appreciate the extra functionality a harness brings.

Now that you’re familiar with the standards of all our collars, let’s consider how the collars differ, and to do that, it would be helpful to envision how your dog explores and interacts with the world around them.

A dog wearing a Crag Collar stands by a tent.

A collar that speaks for your dog’s personality:

As we mentioned, a collar that complements your dog in both style and function is ideal. You want the collar to speak for your doggo, in a sense, and so we’ve broken out the collar options into categories based on dominant character traits you might recognize in your canine companion. Certainly no dog can be simplified down to one descriptor, but if the collars represent a dominant trait, best to check it out.

Collars with Character

Recognize your pup in one of these brief descriptions? Click on the links below to read the corresponding collar recommendations. 

Two humans stand by their dogs in a boat. The dogs are wearing Confluence Collars.

The Confluence™ Collar—for the water dog

If you can imagine your dog saying, “I love the water!” The Confluence™Collar is a strong contender for your selection. Our Confluence™ Collar is ideal for medium-to-large-sized water dogs who live in wet environments and love to wade in and get wet. Constructed of a coated webbing that is waterproof, stink-proof, and easy to clean, this flat collar is packed with personality. There are several color options with a reflective, screen printed pattern. Read more about the splash-worthy features of Confluence™ Collar.

A woman stands with her greyhound who is wearing a blue web reaction collar.

The Chain Reaction™ and the Web Reaction™—for the slippery dog

If you can picture your dog saying, “See ya!” or “I’m outta here!” as their head slips out of their collar, consider our two martingale-style designs: The Chain Reaction™ and the Web Reaction ™.

The martingale is a training collar design that tightens when your dog pulls on the leash, thus preventing the dog from slipping out. This safety feature is helpful for the dogs who have a knack for backing out of a traditional collar design—especially breeds such as greyhounds and sighthounds, where the neck is larger than the head. 

The Chain Reaction™ and the Web Reaction ™: What’s the difference?

Both no-slip collars come in an array of bold colors, feature durable and long-wearing Tubelok™ webbing, enable you to easily add or remove tags with Quick Ring™, provide a separate ID attachment point, and of course come with Ruffwear’s signature collar features. 

Here is where they differ:

The Chain Reaction™ Collar uses a stainless steel chain as the cinch,which draws the collar snug on your dog’s neck. The jingly sound of the collar cinching can cue the dog, or train them, to stop pulling. There is no buckle to this collar; instead your dog puts their snout through the collar to don. 

The Web Reaction™ Collar uses collar webbing, instead of a stainless steel chain cinch, creating a consistent, around-the-neck look and feel for your doggo. Plus, this design incorporates a buckle, for easy on/off maneuvering—when you’re both ready for the collar to come off.

A man runs with his dog who is wearing a hi & light collar.

Hi & Light™ Collar—for the minimalist

Our Hi & Light™ Collar speaks to all minimalists with a warm, “Hello.” Its simplicity is soothing—there’s a harmony in the twotone the colors—and the webbing is lightweight yet strong. This flat collar offers an easy side-release buckle, includes our signature collar features, and is available in our smallest size—a favorite among dapper pups and smaller breeds.

A family puts a crag collar on their dog.

The Front Range™ Collar and Crag™ Collars—for the everyday dog

If your doggo simply needs a collar for everyday life—walking the block, checking the crops, or scouting the campsite—we’ve got two recommendations for you, The Front Range™ Collar and the Crag™ Collar. There is fun and functionality packed in these flat collars. Both have the Ruffwear signature collar features, an easy-to-use side-release buckle, and Quick Ring™, which enables you to easily add or remove tags. 

What’s the difference between the Front Range™ Collar and Crag™ Collars?

  • On the Front Range™ Collar, the webbing is a solid-colored, ombre pattern and it is not reflective.
  • The Crag™ Collar is a reflective collar, providing visibility in low-light conditions, and is available in an array of bold new colors and patterns.

A dog sits in a van with a bowl on his head. He is wearing a Knot-A-Collar.

Knot-A-Collar™ Category—for the rugged dog

If you’re part of an outdoorsy ensemble and your sidekick has longer fur, we’re going to point you to the Knot-A-Collar™. This one emulates the colorful climbing ropes that dangle down rock walls and boulders and is just as vibrant and dependable as those ropes. Knot-A-Collar ™ is lightweight and its low profile provides an understated look that settles comfortably in long or short fur. It is a boon for our longer-furred friends because it settles easily without getting their fur matted. Not just for climbers, the design incorporates functional fisherman’s knots—it’s a design choice that says, “I’m rugged,” and “You should see me fly fishing.”

Two dogs lay on a camping bed with a top rope collar on.

Top Rope™ Category—for the recall dog

If your dog loves off-leash romps and frequents the dog parks or dog-friendly trails, you could consider the Top Rope™ Category. In addition to our signature collar features, Top Rope™ has two standout features: a metal buckle in the front provides a ballast for the V-ring at the back of the collar. What does that do? The buckle up front is the heavier part of the collar so it keeps the V-ring, where the leash connects, in a predictable place at the back of the dog’s neck, so you can reconnect the leash in a jiffy. If your dog has strong recall skills and likes the bling of the metal buckle—Top Rope™ is a top choice.

What’s the difference between a plastic buckle and a metal buckle on a dog collar?

With Ruffwear collars there is no functional or reliability difference between our plastic and metal collar closures. All our products are rigorously field tested and guaranteed against defects in materials and craftsmanship. The majority of our collars have plastic buckles, with the Top Rope™ Category being the only exception.

With the Top Rope™ Category, the additional weight of the metal closure serves a practical purpose, keeping the buckle low in order to keep the V-ring (leash connection point) high. But it can’t be denied, the metal buckle adds a touch of style to the dog who wants a little shine on their neckline.

 A dog sniffs the ground in woodland. They are wearing the Crag EX Collar.

The end of the collar chase: Did you pick one—or two?

It’s only natural to find more than one of our brightly colored collars appealing. And to further reduce the pressure of the decision, we’re going to offer that depending on your pup’s lifestyle, dominant traits, and favorite activities, you could choose more than one collar—and we’re not just trying to get you to fetch more gear. 

As you’ve gathered from the collar profiles, there are different reasons for different collars: Climbing Saturday calls for one look while Beach Trail Tuesday calls for another. The important thing is that your best friend is ready for all the weekend trips, the city sidewalks, the snow romps and that you maintain your connection to each other.

Need more help? 

  • Sniff them for yourself: Nothing beats greeting the collars in person where your buddy can sniff try on each option. Here is our store locator, where you can find the closest store near you that carries Ruffwear products.
  • Contact us: Send our support team a message. Our customer service team loves to help and to get tails wagging.