Dog Training Tools: The Martingale Collar

Dog Training Tools: The Martingale Collar

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Also known as greyhound collar, a martingale collar is a type of dog collar with some added benefits. This collar is not very popular compared to your regular buckle collar or a choke collar. However, many dogs owners find this collar very beneficial for certain types of dogs.

At first glance, the collar looks almost like a normal buckle collar, but a closer look reveals that it has two distinctive loops. One large loop is the actual collar, the part that encircles the dog's head and is slipped onto the dog's neck. This loop is usually made of tough fabric. The other loop is most commonly made of chain (but can also be made of fabric) and is where you will find the ring to clip the leash to. This is the most important part of this collar, as it is what makes it distinct from others on the market

Once you have clipped your leash to the ring, when the dog pulls, the chain loop becomes taut which causes the collar to tighten on the dog's neck. When this happens, the dog is unable to slip his head out of the collar and escape as he might be able to if wearing another type of collar.

Pros and Cons of the Martingale Collar


Doesn't slip off

Shouldn't always be left on

Isn't constantly tight

May not be easy to find

Doesn't choke

Doesn't hold tags

Advantages of the Martingale Collar

There are several potential benefits of using a martingale collar. If you are unsure, ask a dog trainer what type of collar is the best for your dog. In the case of martingale collars, they offer several advantages for specific types of dogs.

1. It Doesn't Slip Off

The martingale collar is also known as a Greyhound collar or a whippet collar, and for good reason. Basically, greyhounds, whippets and other members of the sighthound family have heads that are much smaller than their necks. This makes slipping out of a dog collar quite an easy task. A martingale collar would be the perfect collar for these dogs as it prevents them from slipping their heads out. Other dogs who may benefit from this collar are dogs with very smooth hair which makes it easy for a collar to slip off or dogs who through trial and error have learned how to escape from a collar.

Why use a martingale in place of a regular buckle collar worn tight? This is how I see it: imagine a rigid, plastic bangle bracelet. These bracelets stay nicely put all day, but when you need to remove them, you wriggle them off your wrist and it works its way out. Of the dogs I've seen escape from buckle collars (and even harnesses), most sort of wriggle out as you would wriggle a bangle bracelet off your wrist. These dogs know the right moves to get out. They freeze, back away, move their necks side to side, get one ear out, get the other out, and voila! The worst "wrigglers' I have seen were fearful dogs. Often, the owners accidentally help these dogs get loose by instinctively pulling on the leash as the dog backs away. Greyhounds and other breeds with slim heads escape regular collars like a soaped hand out of a bangle.

With the martingale, what I have seen is that even when a dog tries to back out, the collar tightens enough to remove the wiggle room. I have often seen them used incorrectly with pullers. Dogs wearing a Martingale that are pullers are usually coughing and gagging as the collar is constantly pulled tight. Also, the owners let their dogs wear them all day when they're not meant to. Such dogs did much better once I converted them to a harness. No more coughing and gagging—yay!

2. It Isn't Constantly Tight

If you own a dog who slips out of collars or has a small head, you may feel compelled to let your dog wear a tight buckle collar to prevent him from backing out of it. This can be very uncomfortable as the buckle collar is tight at all times. With a martingale collar instead, the collar isn't tight all the time, (unless as mentioned, your dog is a puller) but tightens only when you need it the most, which is when the dog occasionally pulls on the leash and tries to back out of the collar.

3. It Doesn't Choke the Dog

Best of all, a martingale collar doesn't choke a dog as a choke collar does, it only contracts so it stays snugly on the dog and prevents him from escaping. For this reason, a martingale collar is often also known as a "Humane Choke Collar" since it's sort of mid range between a buckle collar and a choke.

Disadvantages of the Martingale Collar

As with other training tools, there are always risks for misuse. After discussing the advantages of the martingale collar, let's discuss some disadvantages of this training tool. of course, no training tool is ever to be used as a substitute for training!

1. It Shouldn't Always Be Left On

You shouldn't leave a martingale collar on 24/7 as it may very likely not be safe. As with other collars, it should not be left on when a dog is crated.

2. it May Not Be Easy to Find

A martingale collar may not be easy to find at times in stores and may need to be ordered online or you may need to head to large pet stores that carry a variety of collars.

3. It Doesn't Hold Tags

Another disadvantage is that martingale collars are not crafted to hold ID tags on the D ring. The reason being that they can get snatched on something with devastating effects. However, some martingale collars offer the option to have a name and phone number embroidered or the collars side slides can be used.

How to fit a martingale collar

Questions & Answers

Question: Would you advise a Martingale collar for a Min-Pin escape artist?

Answer: I am alway leery on using collars for small dogs, considering their delicate throats and risks for tracheal collapse. Perhaps you can look into some of those escape-proof harnesses purposely crafted for small dogs.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 01, 2013:

Hi Larry, thanks for the votes up!

Larry Fields from Northern California on April 30, 2013:

Hi alexadry,

Thanks for answering my question from your sight hound hub. Voted up and useful.

1. The martingale makes it hard for a dog to slip free.

Some dogs can slip out of their collars easier than others, depending on their fur texture and the shape of their neck compared to their head. If your dog has ever slipped out of or backed out of his collar, you may want to think about getting a martingale collar for safety reasons.

Martingale collars are especially safe for dogs with narrower heads such as whippets, shelties and greyhounds, as these dogs often have an easier time slipping out of a regular collar.

2. Martingale collars are helpful for training.

The martingale collar tightens slightly if the dog pulls on the leash, but not so much where it will choke the dog or harm his neck in any way. If you prefer to give your dog slight tugs on the leash while working on leash manners, the martingale is a nice option.

Dogs that are still learning good leash manners are also more likely to pull or try to twist out of their collars when they see other dogs and other distractions. As mentioned above, the martingale collar is a good tool to prevent your dog from slipping out of his collar.

3. They’re gentler than a choke collar or prong collar.

The martingale collar allows you to give slight corrections if you’d like, but it is much gentler than a choke (or slip) collar or a prong/pinch collar. This makes it a nice option for a variety of dogs, even puppies or senior dogs.

4. They’re stylish.

Martingale collars come in all sorts of colors so you can find the right style for your unique dog. For example, dogIDs carries a chain martingale collar that is made with heavy-duty nylon material for the first loop and a steel chain for the second loop. If you prefer an option that’s all nylon, check out our embroidered nylon martingale option. We also offer a new waterproof martingale collar, which works great when training a dog that loves the water.

The martingale collar works great as your dog’s normal, everyday collar. Or, it can be used specifically for training. It just depends on what your needs are.

Do any of you use a martingale collar for your dog?

What more information about dogIDs collars? Check out these blogs.

About Lindsay Stordahl

Lindsay Stordahl is a blogger for She has a black Lab mix named Ace and two naughty cats named Beamer and Scout. Lindsay owns a pet sitting business called Run That Mutt and also maintains the blog . Add Lindsay to your Google+ circles at You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @ThatMutt.

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[…] prevent this by tightening based on your dog’s actions. Watch the video below or read, “4 Reasons to Use A Martingale Collar for your Dog” for more […]

We have two bully mix dogs with thick necks..a regular flat collar does nothing for correction with these types of dogs..and a regular chain slip collar is ineffective because the narrowness keeps them from really feeling it until they are pulling too hard..the only benefit for chain for them is the click sound of a snap correction. But we have found that in most cases, martingales work best. We use a 2″ wide one on them both since the wider coverage makes them more aware when it does tighten..and does not run the high risks of injury associated with a CC. They are perfect for being tied up out back too. We do use prong collars for walks and crowds..but I would also Only recommend them for people who are trained in how to use them. PC are NOT meant for sustained tension and should Never be used for tying out your pups! But are a useful tool when properly used, especially on thick necked and/or stubborn pull/lunge dogs. They are meant for just a quick tension and release, or “snap” action. So that it only gets their attention, gets their brains back focused on what you are asking of them.
I guess the best advice is that use of Any restraint requires research, training and practice. Each dog responds to different things..and sometimes breed also plays a Huge factor! It’s all about Everyone’s safety, including your furbaby!

[…] post 4 Reasons to Use a Martingale Collar for your Dog appeared first on The 'How-to' Dog […]

[…] » From "How To Dog Blog" » 4 Reasons to Use a Martingale Collar for your Dog This post was originally published on this […]

I have 2 female Vizsla’s that are 8 month’s old and they both wore Martingale Collars. One of them got her teeth caught in one of the loops on the collar of the other female and could not get lose from it. The harder she tried to get her mouth free the tighter the collar got on the other one’s neck. We were not able to release the collar to get it off of her neck and was choked until she passed out. If we had not been able to cut the collar off we would not have her today. After a very large vet bill and a lot of loving care she is back to her normal self. We are now afraid to put collar’s on either one of them!!

Hi Susan,
We are sorry you went through such a scary moment. To help prevent moments like that we recommend a buckle martingale collar. That way you can release the collar from your pet’s neck if needed.

Totally agree! I just bought one and read on the tag that you cannot leave your pet without supervision while wearing it. I was so shocked. The collar looks pretty nice but it is an absolute NO for leaving your dogs alone wearing them. Not even with the buckle added. Dogs are mischievous and I just wouldn’t like to find and accident happened while back home and couldn’t stop it because of not being on the right time to open the holy buckle.

We are trying to educate more pet parents on taking your pets collar off when they are home alone. Thank you for starting this and keeping your pet safe!

I totally agree! It’s very hard to control my Labrador dog every time we walk so this type of collar really comes in handy.

[…] 4 Reasons to Use a Martingale Collar for your Dog […]

I like that you mentioned that a martingale collar is much gentler than a choke or pinch collar. I just bought my wife a puppy, and we want to train him early on because we want him to behave around our children and not pose a threat. Thanks for the information–I’ll be sure to look for a martingale collar when I go to the pet store today!

[…] 4 Reasons To Use A Martingale Collar […]

This article gave me some peace of mind today. I was given a martingale when I adopted our puppy and have used it until she was too big for it. I recently bought a new one and was pretty much accused of animal abuse and choking my dog because the petco dog trainer said I should be using a harness instead. I was so annoyed because I haven’t had any problems with it and i would never hurt my baby.

[…] Martingale Nylon Collar to ensure your dog has identification on at all times. Check out the blog 4 Reasons to Use a Martingale Collar to find out more information on how they can benefit your furry […]

I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay
a quick visit this blog on regular basis to take updated from most recent reports.

[…] time with your information or at least the rescue group or breeder’s information. For a collar, a martingale is a nice option for most dogs because it’s less likely to slip […]

Well some of my dog’s triggers are- dogs, rabbits, squirells, bicycles, skate boards, and school busses.

Martingale collars are great for all the reasons you mentioned. Greyhounds have been wearing them for years, and now they are becoming popular with all breeds. There are some safety factors to consider however. They should not be left on a dog unattended as they can pose a choking hazard. For our greyhounds we use them for walks only, and keep tag collars on in the house. In addition, tags should never be placed on the “D-ring” of a martingale collar, which is the ring the leash attaches to. Again, caught tags can pose a choking hazard. Tags should be placed on the side hardware of the collar.

I have been looking for a dog collar for my greyhound and I think I found it already in the martingale collar. And as you’ve said, they are best for dogs with narrower heads because it has features that make it hard for dogs to slip free. I will find a dog store soon to buy one of these.

I’m gone to inform my little brother, that he should
also pay a visit this blog on regular basis
to get updated from most up-to-date news update.

Would it be okay if we used a quote from this blog entry and an image of one of the collars for one of our social media posts? Thanks in advance!

Martingale collars, usually leather ones, but recently made from other materials as well, are the standard collars for gundogs in Germany.

Great review. I have never tried this on my dog but it looks very interesting and nice. I must say that I like all of those mentioned above and price. Thanks for this post!!

I’ll keep continue reading your website

I like a Dog Calming Collar. Because it’s more beautiful a Martingale Collar

Thank you for sharing some of your reasons to choose a Martingale Collar. I found your article very interesting, informative and learned something. I will bookmark your site for future reference.

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Martingale Dog Collars for Training

My puppy Remy somehow made it through his basic obedience class last week. (He’s quite a handful!)

One unique thing about this training class was the instructor encouraged us all to use martingale-style collars. dogIDs offers martingale collars in Nylon and in a Waterproof option.

Martingale collars are “limited slip” collars. They tighten a bit under tension but not so much that they continue tightening like a slip or “choke” collar can.

Check out the Embroidered Martingale Collar!

I wanted to share the reasons why our trainer recommended martingale collars because this type of collar is normally not my first choice. I was actually a bit resistant when she told me no choke collars or flat, buckle collars!

But, I don’t like it when people are closed-minded about my dog training ideas so I decided to keep an open mind. I started using a dogIDs martingale collar with my Weimaraner puppy, Remy.

Turns out, I can see why people like using a martingale!

Any Cons?

Take It Off When You're Done Training

The Mighty Paw Martingale Dog Collar 2.0 is a training collar and should only be used under supervision.

That's why we don't recommend using the Martingale Collar as an every day collar - only use it for training sessions and walks.

When you're done training, we recommend to take it off your dog and switch it out for a regular flat collar. For example, our padded Dog Sport Collar 2.0 or our Standard Reflective Colorblast Dog Collar.

Tip: Check out all of our collars in our Mighty Paw dog collar section.

Not A Good Fit For Strong Pullers & Aggressive Dogs

Martingale Collars are not a good fit for determined, strong pullers or those with aggression issues.

For very strong leash pullers, we recommend a slip choke chain collar along with our dual-handle bungee leash.

Dogs with aggressive tendencies towards other dogs or people will do better with our heavy duty tactical dog collar. It has a built-in handle to quickly gain control of your dog and works best with one of our dual-handle bungee leashes.

The bungee feature is highly recommended by physical therapists because it reduces unneeded stress to your wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck⁠!

They Are Perfect For Training

Whether you are dealing with an older rescue or a puppy, martingale collars can help you to teach your dog not to pull on their leash. With a martingale collar, you can safely control your dog until they learn some basic commands. The tightening action will indicate to dogs that they need to pay attention.

Martingale collars provide numerous advantages over standard collars when used on dogs that are prone to pulling. Most importantly, they can help you to keep your dog under control and safe on walks.