Martingale Dog Collars – Definitive Guide, Selection, Usage & Tips

martingale dog collars

The following sections will explain what martingale dog collars are, how to select the right size, the proper usage, and some final tips on the best practices for using the collar on your dog.

Martingale dog collars are gaining significant popularity among dog owners and trainers since their design suits various sized breeds. Even so, the chances are that most people have looked at martingale collars at the pet store and did not know what they were looking at nor understood how they work.

The basic functionality of the martingale collar is to keep the dog from being able to slip out of the harness without causing the choke-collar effect.

For those dog owners that want another alternative to the standard choke-collar, the martingale collar is a good alternative and worth a bit of exploration.  

What Is a Martingale Dog Collar?

PetSafe Martingale Collar, 3/4" Small, Red
  • A comfortable alternative to a choke collar
  • Martingale loop prevents dogs from backing out of collar and escaping
  • Recommended by vets and trainers as the best design for daily wear

Martingale collars are an alternative collar system for dogs, made to tighten—but not choke—when a dog pulls away. Martingale collars are designed with two sets of flat straps interlocked through the use of three individual rings or slides. The small strap has a loop with a ring in the middle, and the other strap has a ring on each end. 

These interlocking straps provide for “limited-slip” or “no-slip” action across the two straps, which pull inward against the neck when the dog pulls away. Instead of creating unlimited tightening, like the basic choke collar, the martingale collar tightens just enough to create a firm grip on the dog’s neck without strangling your pet. 

This tightening is made possible by hooking the leash to the center ring, located in the middle loop of the collar. As you pull the leash, it removes the slack in the center loop and pulls the other two rings and flat strap inward. This causes the non-slip action we mentioned to keep the dog in the collar and on the leash.

Choke Collar Design Vs. Martingale Collar Design

Choke collars are designed to forcefully stop your dog from pulling by cutting off its air supply. 

Martingale collars provide the same function without the risk of hurting your companion.

Country Brook Design - Pink Martingale Heavy Duty Nylon Dog Collar - 21 Vibrant Color Options (1 Inch Width, Medium)
  • 1 INCH WIDTH | Adjustable from 15 inch - 21 inch neck. Be sure to use our martingale sizing chart for the most accurate fit. (Use the true...
  • No Buckle | Martingale-style collars give you gentle control over your pet. Designed for training purposes, this collar slips over the head and...
  • Personalize your pup with rich, fashionable colors and mirror like metal hardware. The classic style of this collar looks cute on both boy and...
  • Martingale collars are designed with one smaller loop, inter-looped with a collar using two “D” rings or slides.  
  • The center loop has the leash connect ring in the middle of the loop.
  • Materials for the martingale collar are usually nylon webbing, a strong plastic length adjuster, and a smaller nylon piece of webbing that makes up the center loop.
  • When the dog pulls on the leash, the center ring slack goes away and pulls inward on the two collar rings. This action puts uncomfortable pressure on the dog’s neck. But, is limited by the center loop and two rings coming together to keep from choking your pet. It’s like a safety catch.

How to Select a Martingale Collar for Your Dog

Wolfgang Premium Martingale Dog Collar for Small Medium Large Dogs, Made in USA, Overland Print, Medium (1 Inch x 14-18 Inch)
  • Design and comfort come together with our martingale dog collar featuring curved nylon buckles for quick leash attachment when needed; size...
  • Made with highly durable and easy to clean abrasion-resistant polyester webbing with curved nylon buckles to ensure durability; all ends are...
  • Pull tested to over 800 pounds; for use with large and small dogs; UV and stain resistant; martingale collars are great for training and...

If shopping in person, we recommend that you purchase your martingale collar from a retailer. One with staff trained in helping customers select the right size, width, and best-quality collar. If your dog likes car rides, then bringing your pet along to be fitted can also be a great idea.

Shopping online can be convenient and provide a similar level of service during your purchase of a martingale collar. Consider the dog’s head and neck size, and shapes, such as a wide or narrow head, when searching for collars. 

Some breeds, like the Borzoi, Greyhound, Afghan Hound, and Dobberman Pinscher, have narrow necks and heads. So, you will want to make sure you order a smaller collar designed for those sleek necked breeds. A wider version or specialty martingale collar may be required for some dog types. 

No matter where you shop, make sure to measure your pup’s head. Do this by placing a flexible measuring tape around the head to ensure you purchase the appropriate size.  

When measuring, run the tape around the neck. Next, line it up with the top of the head, immediately behind the ears. This measurement will represent the size of your collar when the loop system is pulled tight. 

The proper use of this measurement is to match it with the martingale length that is the smallest applicable collar. And can be adjusted outward to fit your dog’s neck. It should be snug in the resting position. It should also tighten without choking when pulled by the leash at the center ring. The general recommendation is that you should be able to stick two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck without forcing them.

Using the Martingale Dog Collar

Now you have learned the benefits of the martingale chain and how to purchase the proper size. Next, we cover how to fit the collar to keep the dog on the leash and other valuable tips.   

Using the martingale dog collar is a pretty simple feat. Placing the collar over the head will be a little snug. But, it will slip over and down to the neck as a collar should. Then hook the leash to the center ring, and you are ready to go. 

It is always a good idea to double-check that the tension of the leash causes the collar to create the limited-slip tightening without choking before you set out on a walk.

Dr. Read of the ASPCA mentioned to CNN that dog owners who use a harness and a collar should consider clipping the leash to both at the same time. This may require using an additional ring or leash with a large clipping mechanism. But, will provide double protection against your pup slipping out of the leash restraint setup.

Final Tips for the Martingale Dog Collar

Blueberry Pet Spring Scent Inspired Rose Print Martingale Safety Training Dog Collar, Turquoise, Medium, Heavy Duty Adjustable Collars for Dogs
  • 【 Award Winning Brand】- America's Best Petcare Brands 2022 & 2021 Award by Newsweek Magazine and Statista.
  • 【 SIZE 】Neck 14.5"-20", Width 3/4", Size Medium; All pictures are taken with our production samples in a size of Medium. Martingale collar is...
  • 【 FEATUERS 】Martingale collars offer greater control without the choking effect of a slip collar, making them ideal for preventing escape....
  • If you have a narrow-headed, long-snouted dog, you will want to get a wider collar.
  • Using the martingale collar with a harness adds an extra layer of protection against your pet getting off-leash.
  • Every so often, check the adjuster on the collar to ensure proper tightness settings are still appropriate.
  • As with any flat collar, ensure the collar width is not too skinny for your dog so that it does not create abrasions on the dog’s neck. One inch wide is suitable for most dogs but should be adjusted based on the size and head/snout configuration.
  • The martingale collar can be used for loose-leash training and to train your dog against leash pulling.
  • Martingale collars are a fantastic alternative to full choke collars.


Regal Dog Products Custom Fit Sky Blue Dog Collar with High Strength Military Buckle and Heavy Duty D Ring – -Proof, Waterproof Dog Collars for Small, Medium, Large, or XL Dogs
  • Adjustable / Custom Fit: This handmade dog collar fits small, medium, large, and big dogs. Our dog collars for small dogs are ranging from 12"...
  • Virtually Indestructible: Blue waterproof dog collar which will never absorb moisture and dirt. Our durable dog collars are -resistant which is...
  • Doggone Durable: Poorly made dog collars often break the first time your pooch lunges for a squirrel, but this thick durable dog collar is...

A martingale collar is a phenomenal option for dog lovers who would prefer to forgo the use of metal chains or choke collars. They are affordable, durable, and come in various widths, sizes, and a wide assortment of designer options.

The martingale collars can be cleaned (see the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions) and are easy to put on and take off. Once they are correctly adjusted, you do not have to mess with clasps or clamps again.  Minus the occasional adjustment due to weight gain/loss. Just slip it over your dog’s head, hook up the pup’s leash, and test the slip function.  Then, it’s time to head out on a walk.

Martingale collars offer dog lovers peace of mind that their pet will remain on the leash and collar without causing pain, airway constriction, or physical damage. For additional information on martingale collars, checkout Regal Dog Products on the web.

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