When it comes to dog collars, there is no one size fits all. Consult your veterinarian or a professional trainer before deciding on a collar.
The standard collar, also called a flat collar, lays flat around your dog’s neck and closes with a metal buckle or a plastic snap-closure. The main purpose of the standard collar is to attach identification tags and a leash to your dog. The standard collar should fit comfortably around your dog’s neck -- you should be able to fit two fingers underneath it. Standard collars are available in different materials, such as nylon, leather or cotton, and several different colors -- pink, blue, red -- and patterns.
The harness type collar rests on your dog’s shoulder instead of around his throat or neck, which reduces pressure on the throat. Harness collars are ideal for dogs with respiratory problems, dogs with flat faces that restrict breathing, like pugs, and dogs with throat problems, like Pomeranians. Harness collars also work well for dogs with long, slender necks -- think Greyhounds. Harnesses are more difficult for your dog to slip out of than the standard collar; however, Purdue University notes that these types of collars often encourage pulling when you take your dog for a walk.
Choke collars, or choke chains, are a type of training collar that do just what the name implies -- they pull tight around your dog’s neck in an effort to control an unwanted behavior. Choke collars are made out of metal links that tighten when you pull on the dog’s leash. These collars are meant to train unruly dogs and are not recommended for everyday use. The Humane Society suggests that you consult a professional trainer to learn how to size, fit and use a choke collar before putting one on your dog.
The pinch, or prong, collar functions like the choke collar, but it also has dull, metal points that pinch the loose skin on your dog’s neck when the collar is tightened. The collar should sit on your dog’s neck right behind the ears. If the collar falls too low, it can pinch the trachea, disrupting breathing or causing injury. Like the choke collar, pinch collars should only be used during the training of disobedient dogs.
Shock collars apply an electrical current or shock to your dog’s neck when he engages in an unwanted behavior. The electrical shock can range from mild to severe. Shock collars are often used as part of an invisible dog fence to keep dogs contained in the yard, but they may also be used to stop persistent barking. The Humane Society notes that shock collars can inflame the skin, causing irritation around your dog’s neck. To reduce the risk, don’t leave the shock collar on for an extended period of time and clean the contact points regularly.