How to Choose a Puppy Collar Size

Have you just obtained a new puppy (or are you about to)? You’ll need a puppy collar from the very beginning, not only for looks and style, but also to help acclimatize your pup to the idea of wearing one and begin with leash training.


What size puppy collar should I buy?

My usual way to size puppy collars is to punch the smallest hole at the pup’s current collar size, and add five or six holes after that to allow for room to grow. The spacing of the holes is usually equivalent to the width of the collar (between 0.5 and 1″). If the pup has a lot of growing to do, then the flap of extra leather can be very long, and should this be the case, I’ll attach a “keeper” (an extra metal loop) to hold it down. The photo below shows a puppy collar with a keeper and a Dee ring.

A puppy collar, featuring a keeper

A puppy collar, featuring a keeper


Will my puppy’s collar still fit when he/she is fully grown?

I’m often asked by prospective clients if they can buy a new collar when their puppy first moves into their home, and still have it fit when he/she is fully grown. This will very much depend on the pup’s age and breed.

Most puppies tend to grow tremendously in the first few months of their lives. While one could buy a collar that would fit both now and when the pup is fully grown, the collar would probably need a long flap when the pup is small, and have a lot of unused holes later on.

If the pup’s expected adult collar size is more than 6″ larger than his or her current size, it may be best to buy a cheap nylon collar to use for a few weeks during the pup’s initial growth spurt, and buy a nicer leather collar thereafter. Waiting those few weeks (perhaps a month or two) will get the pup past its initial growth spurt, and allow the collar to last a lot longer without being outgrown.

The exception to this is some very small breed dogs. I will usually suggest that the dog’s breeder be consulted about expected adult sizing. Please remember that within a breed, boys will tend to need slightly larger collars than girls.

I would like my puppy to wear his/her collar as soon as I purchase it, and still have it fit when fully grown! What’s the youngest age at which I can purchase such a collar?

I will usually recommend that people wait until the pup is at least 4-6 months old before ordering a collar that they would like to have last through the first growth spurt.

It might also be a good idea to let the young pup get used to an inexpensive nylon collar in the beginning, so if there’s going to be any chewing or scratching, there won’t be any damage to an expensive collar that will be costly to repair (if repair is even possible).

What’s the widest collar I can buy for my puppy?

Many adult dogs (especially bully breeds, most sighthounds, or any other large/extra large breed) need a collar that is 1 1/2″ wide or larger. This would dwarf a young puppy of any breed! A width of 1/2″ is plenty for most young puppies, and the larger size collars should be reserved for later once they can wear them with pride and comfort.

The best way to get an idea of what a collar will look like in different sizes is to cut a strip of paper in each size, and hold it around the puppy’s neck. I often suggest this to potential customers who are deliberating over sizing their collar. They can then see what each width looks like, and be confident that their collar will look right.

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