A martingale collar is a special type of dog collar that helps a dog stay comfortable and happy while being completely secure on their leash. One of the most frequent questions we're asked is "How does a martingale collar work?". This article demonstrates through explainations and illustrations the
dog pulling on collar
Martingale collars were originally used only on breeds with small skulls.
method by which a martingale style collar can keep your dog securely collared, safe from choking, and stylish. Jump to animation of martingale collar in action.

How it Works

A martingale collar is made with two loops. The large loop, which is usually adjustable in size, is placed around the dogs neck and adjusted to fit loosely. The leash is then clipped to the D ring on the small loop, also known as the control loop.

When the dog tries to pull their head out of the collar, the tension on the leash pulls the small loop taut, which makes the large loop smaller and tighter on the neck-- preventing escape. When adjusted properly the dog is never choked, but the collar stays snug around the dog's neck (just behind the ears) until the pressure is released.

This illustration shows how the large loop on a martingale contracts inward when the control loop is pulled outward.

Reasons to try a Martingale Collar:

  • When not engaged by a taunt leash, fits looser than traditional collars, lessening fur breakage, tangles, and skin irritation from too tight collars.
  • A martingale style collar gives a more gentle form of correction than a choke collar, and is recommended by many top trainers for obedience training.
  • Relieves pressure on your dog's trachea by translating a tug on the leash to even pressure around the neck instead of direct pressure on the front of the neck.
  • Prevents escape of scared, agressive, or excited dogs by securely contracting the entire collar when the dog pulls in any direction.

This animation shows how the large loop on a martingale contracts inward when the control loop & active D ring are pulled outward.

image copyright © 2004-2014

Why is it called a Martingale Collar?

A martingale collar should perhaps be known as a "Martingale Style Collar". Not taking it's name from a trademarker, the martingale dog collar actually got its name because of the similarity it bears to an article of horse tack known as a martingale. Horse martingales use a similar action to prevent a horse from raising their head dangerously high while being ridden.

The Advantages of Martingale Collars over Standard Collars:

The problem with standard buckle collars is that for the collar to be tight enough that it can't slip over the ears when pulled forward by a dog backing up, it must be uncomfortably tight all the time. A martingale collar allows the dog to wear a comfortably loose collar that is only tight when it needs to be tight.

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Nylon   Martingale Dog Collar

Choose from solid Mint Green, Kelly Green, Pink, Red, Black, or pattered Pink Madras, White Daisies on Lime, or Yellow & White Chevron. Your order ships from our shop in Missouri within 48 hours and your purchase is protected by Paypal's buyer protection. Sizes available include Small (3/4" x 14"), Medium (1" x 14-20"), or Large (1" x 18-26"). Contact Us to arrange to order another of the 16 colors or 85 patterns we keep in stock, or to arrange for your collar to be upgraded to a martingale with buckle. *$1 Shipping per item available to US customers only

 Green Daisy Dog Collar
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Pink Madras
Green Camo


Should I leave a martingale collar on my dog all the time?

All collars can be potentially unsafe and a martingale style collar carries a slightly greater risk of injury if left on 24/7. However, you should evaluate whether the risk of choking or getting a collar caught is greater than the risk that you'll find yourself, without warning, in a situation where you'll need to be able to grab a collar that will not slip off. CollarGirl does not endorse either policy but we do stress that a martingale left on all the time MUST be adjusted so that it cannot choke the dog when the smaller loop is tightened. No collar should ever be left on a crated dog.

What types of dogs are martingale collars good for?

Almost all breeds can benefit from a martingale collar. Martingale collars were originally designed for greyhounds and whippets- because of their thin face and small ears standard buckle collars slip off easily. All breeds with necks larger than their heads (bulldogs, some labrador retrivers) should wear a martingale when on a leash. Dogs of any breed can learn how to slip a collar though, and owners and trainers of every size and type of dog appreciate the gentle correction of a martingale over more harsh training collars like choke collars and prong collars.