Recommended Space Between a Dog’s Collar and Its Neck

The best dog collar ensures your dog is comfortable and gives you full control of your pup.

There are various things you should consider before buying your dog a new collar.

Read on to discover what is the recommended space between a dog’s collar and its neck.


The recommended space between a dog’s collar and its neck should be between one to three inches depending on the dog’s size. You should be able to fit two fingers between the neck and collar.


A lot of pet parents get puzzled when deciding the right collar size for their dog.

You do not want the collar to be too tight or too loose on your pup.

Also, with the rising trend of harnesses, should you switch to a dog harness or stick to the traditional collar?


Finding the best collar for your dog will depend on many things;

  • Collar size
  • Dog’s neck size
  • Breed neck sensitivity
  • Dogs weight
  • Dog’s age




Measure your dog’s neck before buying a collar. If possible, take your dog along for collar shopping!



Why an ill-fitting collar won’t work?

loose collar

A dog’s collar should not be too tight or too loose.

A tight collar hinders neck movement which makes your pup uncomfortable.

If the collar is too tight, your pup may also struggle with eating, drinking, or barking.


A collar that is too loose makes it hard to restrain or control your dog.

This can be a problem especially in times of danger.


If you encounter a stray, your dog may wiggle out of the collar and attack the stray dog.

This can end with your dog getting severely injured.


When your dog knows he can free himself from the collar, he may start sneaking out of the house.

One day he may end up getting lost trying to find his way back home.


Also, your dog may be deemed as a stray and end up in a dog pound.


So what is the ideal collar size for your dog?

ideal collar size

It all depends on the space between the neck and collar.

As a rule of thumb, the collar should sit slightly above the underside of your dog’s neck.

You should be able to fit one or two fingers through this space without causing any discomfort to your dog.


Here is a quick size chart on the right collar for your dog


XXSLess than 5lbsChihuahua, Miniature Poodle, Maltese
XS5-10lbsDachshund, Pomeranian, Pug, Chinese Crested Dog
S10-25lbsBoston Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
M25-55lbsBeagle, Bulldog, Border Collie
L55-75lbsBoxer, Golden Retriever, Dalmatian, Labrador
XLMore than 75lbsMastiff, Pit Bull, Great Dane, Alaskan Malamute, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard


How to measure your dog’s true collar size

The above chart represents the collar sizes for an average dog.

To get the right collar size for your dog, you will have to measure its true neck size.

You can do this using;

  • A soft tape-measure
  • A string
  • A ribbon


Using a soft tape measure

  1. Hold your dog still
  2. Bring the tape measure around the dog’s neck
  3. From the original reading, add two inches for a small to medium dog or three inches for a large dog
  4. Alternatively, place two fingers under the dog’s neck and let someone take the reading. The tape measure should go above the fingers.
  5. This creates enough space for neck mobility and


Using a string or ribbon

  1. With your dog still, take the string/ribbon around the dog’s neck
  2. Transfer your measurement to a rule for actual reading
  3. Add two or three inches to your reading to get the ideal collar size


VIDEO: How to Measure Your Dog’s Neck


What else do I need to know about collar sizes for dogs?

Collar sizes

Buying a collar for your dog does not end when you find the right size. It also extends to how that collar will affect the quality of life of your dog.



Some dog breeds will slip out of any collar if their neck is thick and the same width as their skull.

-Dr. Michael Walsh, Oak Hill Animal Clinic



As a rule of thumb, ensure the collar has a one to three-inch allowance between collar and neck.

Here are some extra tips to consider when getting a collar for your dog.

  • Most dog collars are designed to fit a range of sizes. For a puppy, get a collar with a size range that will accommodate the puppy’s growth.
  • The best time to measure your dog’s true neck size is after grooming. Once the hairs around the neck are trimmed, wait for a week or two before taking your dog’s neck measurement.
  • Consider your dog’s physique when getting the right collar. If your dog experiences weight fluctuations, ensure the collar can adjust up or down to suit the body changes.
  • Dogs like the Greyhound, Pug, or Whippet have necks that have the same thickness as their head. They can easily slip out of a collar that loosely fits them.
  • To perform a collar test, gently pull the collar towards the dog’s head. If the collar does not slide over, then it is the right fit for your dog.



We hope this article answers your question “What is the recommended space between a dog’s collar and its neck?”.

If you can slide two fingers between collar and neck and it feels snuggle, the collar is the right size.

See Also

Frequently Asked Questions

Dogs quickly learn that a collar is an object of control. Once it is off, they know they have their freedom and it excites them.

Dogs can sleep with their collar’s on if the collar fits snuggly. However, vets recommend to take the collar off to allow your dog’s neck to breathe.

The best neck position for a dog collar is just behind the ears. Ensure the collar fits snuggly to prevent it from moving up and pinching your dog’s trachea.

Slide your index and middle finger between the dog’s neck and collar. If the fingers slide and feel snug, that is the perfect collar size. If your fingers struggle to slide through or freely move about, the collar is too tight or too loose respectively.


A pet owner who loves to share useful facts and information about a variety of animals.