One of the first big purchases you’ll make for your hound is a collar, but the big question is….
What style is right for you and your dog?
With so much variety now available and new designs frequently flooding the market, it can be overwhelming knowing what design to choose for your dog, what will be safe to walk with, what will last and withstand years of use. So, let’s have a chat about different collars types, including some advice from the incredible Anja at Brindle & Whyte.
Why are whippet collars different to normal dog collars?
So, why do sight hounds wear wide collars? There are a couple of reasons for this.
Hound necks are often wider than their heads (especially greyhounds) which means narrow collars can easily slip over their heads if they have a tendency to wriggle or pull on the lead.
As well as a slim shaped head to contend with, they have long elegant necks, slender and delicate. A wider shape collar helps to protect a larger surface area of the neck and distribute pressure evenly.
There are two main types of hound collars, the traditional hound shape collar and the fabric martingale style collars.
A traditional hound shape collar
This type of collar is most often seen on whippets and sight hounds, it’s a very traditional shape and they are readily available to buy mostly in shades of tan and black. They are wide in the middle, typically 4-5cms, slimming down to a normal collar width at the buckle end. This shape of collar is what I use the most for Winnie & George and whilst other breeds can wear them they're best suited to long sight hound necks.
"We approached a shoe maker to hand make some super soft nubuck leather, padded collars in a palette of gorgeous colours"
Fed up only being able to buy black or tan hard leather collars that rubbed the fur off Bruno’s neck, we approached a shoe maker to hand make some super soft nubuck leather, padded collars in a palette of gorgeous colours. They are suitable for the most delicate of whippet necks. We always remove George and Winnie’s collars when in the house to avoid any unnecessary rubbing.
Leather is hard wearing and long lasting, with the right care you can get out the worst fox poo rolls imaginable. Trust me, over the years I have scrubbed many a poo covered collar, re-waxed it and popped it back on the next day!
If have a serious puller and you are concerned that your dog might back out of the collar, you might find a gentle leader or a harness a good way to train your dog with the help treats, most whippets are very treat motivated and will walk nicely beside you if you have something tasty to offer! You will still need a collar as by law your dog must wear a tag with these details on:
Your surname, your address with postcode and your telephone number – mobile is best.
We used a gentle leader for our Frankie, who had never been walked so used to pull terribly with the shear excitement of being outside, it worked really well and in time she walked on the lead beautifully, but it took time and patience.
If you want to get the most out of your leather collars this short video might help.
A martingale collar
We don’t use a traditional martingale collar but, those lovely wide red collars you might see George and Winnie wearing are the same, but fixed, so adjusted to the dogs neck when on, they work like any other collar. A martingale is an extremely popular style amongst sight hound owners but, there are a lot of misconceptions around how these particular types of collars should fit. I’m no expert on Martingale collars so I thought it best to ask Anya the creator of Brindle & Whyte for a few top tips on fit and suitability.
What is a martingale collar?
A martingale is a style of collar that is designed with two loops. The largest loop goes over the dog's head and the small loop is designed with a large D ring where you attach a lead. When the dog pulls the smallest loop will tighten which in turn pulls to the large loop tighter making them extremely difficult to back out of. If fitted correctly it will only pull to the size of your hounds neck. A martingale should never choke your dog, only tighten to prevent escape but never to put an extreme amount of pressure on the dog's neck.
How should a martingale fit?
To measure your dog for a martingale style collar you need to not only measure around the neck but around their jaw and from where their neck meets their jaw over the ears to ensure you can slide the collar over their head. A well fitting martingale collar should allow you to put 2-3 fingers between your dog’s neck and the collar in order for the weight to distribute evenly.
A martingale is not a training collar; it is a protection against your dog slipping out of a collar.
They come in a vast range of gorgeous colours and are often lighter than a leather collar. The biggest advantage to any collar not made of leather is that it is washable!! Very useful in our house!
Who is a martingale designed for?
Any dog that might back out of a traditional collar could benefit from a martingale collar. They are predominately seen on sight hounds due to the unique slim shape of their heads which makes it easier for them to escape from a standard shaped collar. They are not suitable for dogs that are strong pullers, if your dog is a serious puller something like a gentle leader or a harness may be better suited to them over a martingale.
And what about House Collars
Our two don’t wear house collars, but that’s not to say I don’t have my eye on some very lovely ones made by The Velveteen Hound – but, they are popular. I think they are useful if there is any chance your dog might get out of your garden or the front of your house is not secure. A house collar should have a tag on with the details listed above.
In the 10 years I have been making clothes for dogs, the range of collars has expanded enormously, and for new whippet owners the choice is a little overwhelming. In a recent poll on Instagram I found that some have a bit of a collar obsession and actually owned up to having more than 20! George and Winnie have just 5 each but Frankie and Bruno managed with just one.
What would I chose if I had to have one? Well, for me I think it would be the traditional leather collar for its hardwearing ability.