A Martingale for Dogs

Horse lovers will recognize the term "martingale" because it is a piece of tack (that means equipment for us non-equestrians) used to control movement of the horse's head. This prevents injury to the rider if the horse decides to throw its head back toward the rider. It also keeps the horse's head in the correct position when jumping. In either situation, a martingale prevents injury to rider and horse.

A Martingale dog collar works in the same way ... sort of. It controls movement of the dog's head, mainly by keeping it inside the collar where you want and need it to be!

Some pet owners believe their dog belongs to them while some "pet parents" behave more as if they belong to the dog. So my question is this … which one of you wears a collar, goes to the vet for a checkup, and pays for said collar and vet check up? That makes it pretty clear to me who should be in charge, at least outside the house.

The Collar's Job

Admittedly, it's my job to think about dog collars pretty much all day long. It occurred to me that dog collars serve the same basic purpose as our wallets and purses. Of course, my dog's collar isn't cluttered with unnecessary objects like my purse. (Too many credit cards, a Starbucks® Rewards card with a measly $1.03 left on it, some folding money, and of course, an "electronic leash" a.k.a. my smartphone.)

A collar's main job is to serve as a "handle". When you need to hold onto your dog, you can do so either with your hand on the collar or with a leash's hook connected to the D-ring.

A pet tag with ID can reunite you quickly.

A collar also has a secondary job. Today's pets usually have identification and ICE (In Case of Emergency) phone numbers, emergency medical information, and rabies tag on a metal or plastic tag. These hang from the D-ring on a nylon webbing or fabric dog collar.

It's a simple method that lets everyone know how to get in touch with an animal's owner. It works pretty well most of the time, too. But what if your dog pulls a disappearing act? There you are ... holding a leash connected to a collar full of nothing. Depending on where you are when it happens, you could have a real problem on your hands.

Street traffic, confusion, fear, and left-behind ID tags can bring sad times for owners and pets alike. But there is hope. The unique design of a Martingale collar will keep your pet safely collared and under your control without damaging her throat or neck.

Humble Beginnings of the Collar

When man and dog first started hanging out together, neither wanted or needed a "thing" to define ownership or provide restraint. A cold hungry dog simply needed the fire and scraps of food provided by man. In return, man used the dog as protection for or help with livestock.

And then, the relationship began to change. Enter the dog collar.

collar n. col·lar: a band of leather, plastic, etc. worn around an animal's neck.

My article is going to explore the Martingale. It's a type of dog collar that can make a big difference in the comfort and safety of dogs who have wedge-shaped heads. It’s also great for any dog who can Houdini out of a collar faster than you can say "doggone it"! Here is a great blogpost for those of you who want to know more about the evolution of dog collars. You'll find some interesting facts and pictures of early collars.

What a Martingale Collar Is

Eye-catching green paisley Martingale will look beautiful on any dog.

One of the first things I had to get used to is the proper pronunciation of "martingale". Being from the South, I grew up pretty much ignoring any "g" sound I came across. College opened my ears to new words … those with the long absent "g's" being among them. Nothing like being called out in speech class for elidin' a "g". (Elide means to omit a sound when speaking. That was one of the new words I learned from a certain speech teacher.)

Take a closer look at a Martingale. Notice the two loops, a D-ring, a tri-glide slide for adjustment and two rectangle rings. The larger loop lies against your dog's throat area and the smaller loop rests on the top of your dog's neck. When the short loop is pulled, the large loop is affected. This is what keeps your dog from slipping a collar and it works unbelievably well!

What a Martingale Collar Is Not

Carol's Tip: The Humane Society recommends avoiding the use of choke collars unless you're an experienced trainer and know how to properly size and use one.

The main difference between a choke collar and a martingale collar is that the owner has no control over how much a choke collar tightens, which can lead to health problems such as fainting, nerve damage, and death in the hands of an inexperienced owner.

Unlike metal choke collars, the Martingale will not crush or injure your dog’s trachea. The collar itself will also not be damaged or tangled, even in thick fur. Short-haired dogs can suffer skin injuries from the metal on choke or prong collars. The unique design makes the Martingale a safe, effective, and humane collar for your canine friend.

Remember, a Martingale collar is not a choke collar.

How a Martingale Works

This type of collar is designed to encourage good behavior without incurring injury to your dog, as a choke chain or prong collar might. A Martingale is also bidirectional which simply means you can teach your dog to heel from either side of your body.

Because of its distinctive two-loop design, the Martingale is known as a "humane" choke collar. Your pet, not you, controls the tightness of the collar. This means she is in control of her own comfort which should work pretty well for both of you.

The collar should slip easily over your dog's head, past her ears and onto her neck. It's an ideal collar for pet owners who don’t want to fiddle with a buckle system or who might be unable to handle a buckle quickly. With one motion, you and your dog are good to go for a walk.

Any Dog Can Benefit from a Martingale

LOVE this design of a collar! My dog knew the tricks to getting out of hers. I don't have to make it tight at all yet she can't escape from it. Super simple to take on and off too!
- Amazon Review

A Martingale collar is tailor-made for dogs who have heads that are smaller than their necks.This collar is most commonly seen on greyhounds or other sighthounds. Patterned or solid, a well-chosen wider collar material is stunning on the long neck of a greyhound, whippet, or Italian greyhound.

Rest assured, this design will work for any dog whose head size is smaller than its neck. Unlike a standard collar which a dog can back out of, the Martingale collar tightens whenever the dog attempts to remove it. When the dog stops trying to free itself from the collar, the loop loosens.

Martingale collars are considered to be more humane than choke collars, as the risk of injury is minimal. In fact, the collar is designed to train your dog while also maintaining her physical safety. Metal chains and prongs can pull hair, irritate skin on short-haired dogs, and injure the throat or trachea of any dog.

Whether it’s for a rescued greyhound or just for training your new animal friend, the Martingale collar is a helpful tool in learning to live, work, and play with a canine companion.

Best Collar for These Breeds or Any Wayward Dog

  • Greyhound/Italian Greyhound
  • Sheltie
  • Collie
  • Whippet
  • Afghan hound
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Irish Wolfhound

What Owners Should Know About a Training Collar

Carol's Tip: When your dog is having a tough time adapting to life on a leash or staying in the collar where it's safe, don't give up or give in -- get a Martingale.

A collar or leash is simply a method or tool for keeping your dog safe and nearby. Neither item should ever be used to inflict punishment for failure to pay attention to your commands. Both should serve as tools to assist you and your pet. Misuse of any collar or leash will simply create anxiety and fear in your pet. Remember, there is really no good substitute for training her to pay attention to your commands.

Martingale collars are great training collars for dogs still learning to cooperate with their owners.

Country Brook Design offers a wide range of Martingale collars with fun and fashionable designs. They can also be paired with a matching leash for a great gift!

Using This Collar Correctly

Position a Martingale this way before you put it over the dog's head.

A Martingale collar is an incredibly useful collar design, especially for owners of sighthounds. It is critical that you know how to use the collar -- there is a correct and an incorrect way to use it. The following pointers will help you and your pet enjoy a safe, comfortable experience with your Martingale collar.

The Country Brook Design® tag should be visible from the inside and will touch your dog's neck (Number 1). This is the best way to ensure that you are using the correct loop to slip your dog's head through.

Your dog's neck will be visible through the rectangle ring.

Another way to know that you are using the correct loop is to check the rectangle ring. When everything is correct, there is a gap in the rectangle ring (Number 2) through which you'll be able to see your dog's neck. Notice that the Country Brook Design® tag is hidden (Number 3). This collar will not work as intended without repositioning.

A Martingale positioned this way will not work as intended.

Also note the rectangle ring in the picture. It is not facing correctly into the collar and there is no gap (Number 4) through which to see your dog's neck.

On a Martingale Mission

This is not a "collar", it has an extra giant noose-like loop that protrudes from the top of it, making it impossible for your pet to wear as a collar.
- Amazon Review

It's our mission to stamp out Martingale collar ignorance. As a manufacturer of these collars, we want to make sure every Martingale customer understands the proper way to fit this collar on their pet. It must be terribly frustrating to purchase a collar that should make your pet-owning life easier and not be able to figure out how to use it! If this information helped you better understand the purpose of a Martingale, we'd love to hear from you. And, please share it with others! The easy-share buttons on this page can help.

If you think you are the only one who didn't understand a Martingale's function or how to put it on your dog, think again. We receive our fair share of phone calls asking for help. Occasionally, we even get a returned collar or see a review from a disappointed customer who is confused about the two-loop system.

If you still have questions about using a Martingale collar, I hope you'll contact a member of our Customer Service team at 256-974-0700. One of our representatives will be happy to help you.

If your dog slips out of her collar or neither of you like the idea of a choke or prong collar, please browse our extensive selection of Martingale dog collar materials. You find a wide array of basic or bright solid color webbing in narrow and wide widths. You might choose a beautiful eye-catching patterned material that will make your collar every bit as special as your pet. Whatever you decide, be assured that in choosing a Martingale collar, you've made the right decision for your pet's safety and comfort and your own peace of mind.