Dictionary of Dog Collar Terms

Although a dog collar is a relatively simple object, many dog owners find themselves overwhelmed when they try to find the right collar for their dog due to the many industry-specific terms describing the parts of a collar, functions of different types of collars, hardware, materials, and more. We've put together this glossary of dog collar related words in an attempt to help clarify confusion so you can understand, choose, and use correctly the perfect collar for your dog. Please contact us if you need a term defined that you do not see here.

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Adjustable Collar - A collar which can be made smaller or larger as needed, as opposed to a collar manufactured to fit one neck measurement exactly.

Active D Ring - An active D ring (or o ring) is a ring that moves and/or causes other parts of the dog collar to move when pressure is applied (usually via a leash). 

Belt Style Collar - also called a Traditional Buckle Collar, simply because they look much like a belt.

Biothane - The preferred material for waterproof collars, Biothane is a material created by coating polyester webbing with a urethane coating. Biothane retains the strength of nylon without the disadvantage of fraying, and is completely waterproof. Biothane is produced in varying types ranging from a stiff plastic-textured strap to a soft leather-like material.  

Bridle Leather - Bridle leather is a superior grade of leather that is both buttery soft and extremely strong. Named for it's preferred use in horse bridles, where the leather used must be incredible strong but supple to communicate subtle cues to a horse and also able to withstand being exposure to moisture. Creates superior dog collars that are extremely durable.

Bolt Snap - A snap which opens and closes via a spring loaded bolt. The bolt can be pulled back using a cast tab to reveal an opening into the hook, then allowed to spring shut once the collar D ring is enclosed in the hook. Bolt snaps are the most common snaps used for dog leashes and generally considered the most secure. A bolt snap is held shut both by the spring and the bolt sheathed in the upper half of the hook and thus is doubly secure.

Box Stitched - Nylon dog collars manufactured by automated machine usually include a signature box shaped stitch with two lines of stitching running across the webbing, two lines of stitching running parallel to the length of the webbing, and one or two diagonal lines of stitching across the box created by the other rows of stitching. This creates a securely stitched dog collar for a low cost, but can sometimes be unsightly. This is an example of a box stitched nylon collar. 

Brass Hardware - An alloy of copper and zinc, Brass is a relatively soft metal but sufficiently strong for dog collars. (Brass is often used for horse harnesses which bear exponentially more weight than dog collars) Brass is the preferred hardware for collars which will be subjected to water and especially ocean / beach conditions. Current copper prices make Dog Collars with brass hardware difficult to find. 

Brass Plated Hardware - When plated over steel, Brass Plated hardware appears to be brass and will have the same non-corrosive properties for the life of the plating. Since brass is a softer metal, over time the friction of snap hook against D ring may rub the plating off and expose bare steel to corrosive forces.

Buckle - A generic term referring to a collar's method of closure. Buckle types include variations on two basic buckle types: Side Release Buckles and Traditional Buckles.

Buckle End Collar - (aka Standard Buckle End) A Buckle End Collar is a dog collar where the buckle is at the end of the collar's strap. Sometimes called a "standard end" but most often not referenced at all, since it is by far the most common construction style of traditional buckle dog collars.

Buckle Martingale - A buckle martingale (aka buckle on martingale), is a Martingale Collar with a buckle added so the collar can be clipped or buckled onto the dog's neck instead of slipped on over the head. While convenient, the added hardware significantly reduces a buckle martingale collar's adjustment range.



Bull Snap - A snap which is opened by pulling the movable portion out, then hooking onto a collar, and letting the snap spring shut. Bull Snaps are very heavy duty and are usually only used on horse tack (where they are being phased out due to difficulty in use) but may be used on some heavy duty dog leashes.

Center Bar Buckle - A type of Traditional Buckle, a Center Bar Buckle is a metal buckle with one bar, onto which the tongue of the buckle is attached. This type of buckle is lower cost but requires a slot be cut in the leather strap to allow for the tongue to have a full range of movement. When buckled, the leather of each end of the strap will come in contact under the tongue.

Center Ring Collar - Center ring collars were developed by owners of hunting dogs and still remain mostly popular in working dog circles. In this construction method the D ring is usually removed from it's typical placement next to the buckle and the entire collar is cut in half and an O ring riveted into place halfway down the strap. A center ring collar is believed to help a dog free itself if caught by a fence or underbrush by flexing differently than a regular dog collar.  

Chain Martingale - A chain martingale is a Martingale Collar that features a control loop made entirely of metal instead of nylon. Less common than nylon but popular. Chain must be appropriate type with small links or the control loop may not slide smoothly though the D rings when in use. A collar is referred to as a chain martingale if the control loop is chain, regardless of other materials on the collar.


Check Cord - a long and very lightweight leash used to train dogs for off leash work. It gives a dog the illusion of being off leash while still allowing the handler to manually correct the dog.

Chicago Screw - occasionally collars will use an piece of hardware called a Chicago Screw. Chicago screws appear, from the outside of the collar, to be a regular rivet, but the inside head will include a slot for a screwdriver. These screws can be removed to adjust the collar or change out hardware and then retightened easily by a dog owner. Chicago screws should be checked monthly for loosening and can be glued shut permanently if desired 

Clip - see side release buckle

Control Loop - The small chain or nylon loop on a martingale collar which, when activated and pulled away from the neck, pulls the ends of the dog collar together, tightening it around the neck. 

Choke Chain - The standard for dog training collars for many years, now declining in popularity- the choke chain is a length of chain with an O ring at either end. The chain is looped, fed through one of the O rings, and the loop is placed over the dog's head. The free O ring is then attached to a leash and pressure is applied in short bursts to correct undesired dog behavior. The ring which connects to the leash should always be the connected to the chain that is draping over the neck, and never the ring coming up from under the throat.


Die Cast Hardware - Die Cast hardware is created when foundries produce metal hardware using molds. It can be distinguished from welded hardware by sharp angles on D rings and the lack of a point of welding. It has an advantage over welded hardware in that the entire piece is cast in one piece, so there should be no weak areas.  "D" ring - A metal (occasionally plastic) piece of hardware in the shape of a capital letter "D" attached to nearly all collars as the point of attachment for a leash. A D ring may be cast into a mold to create the D shape or bent and welded into shape. (Some light weight D rings may be bent and not welded but these are not advised for dog collars)


Double Bar Buckle - A type of Traditional Buckle, a Double Bar Buckle is a metal buckle with two bars in the center, one bar for attaching one end of the strap and the second bar onto which the tongue of the buckle is attached. This type of buckle often allows for freer movement of the tongue, thus easier buckling and unbuckling of the collar.

Double Buckle A traditional buckle style in which the strap is fed into the buckle under a metal bar, locked by the buckles tongue, and then fed back out of the buckle under a metal bar. This is the most secure style of traditional buckles.

Double Ring Collar - Two definitions: 1. a collar on which two D rings have been placed at the typical D ring location (one to hold ID tags while leaving the other D free to be used with a leash) 2. A center ring collar which also has an additional D ring in the typical location.  


Dye Sublimation - More correctly called "dye sublimation heat transfer imprinting" this relatively new and exciting development in dog collars allows full color almost photographic quality images to be permanently printed onto smooth polyester webbing. This method of printing is permeant and withstands time, machine washing, and a number of environmental factors without fading.

Extended Dee Buckle - (aka D-end) An Extended Dee pattern refers to collars where the D ring is at the end of the collar's strap. This pattern is often used on heavy duty collars as it is believed to be a slightly more secure placement for the D ring. In this construction, the D ring functions as an attachment point, ID tag holder, and as the keeper for the excess strap.  


Fixed D Ring - see Static D Ring Grommet - Grommets come in many varieties, but as used for dog collars grommets are metal rings inserted into the buckle holes on traditional buckle nylon collars. A grommet is actually a very, very short tube that supports the opening in the nylon and is flared on each end to lock it into place.   Hardware - All the non-strap parts included on any kind of dog collar, including but not limited to: buckle, D ring, slide, martingale chain, o ring, etc.




Head Collar - (Aka head halters) Head collars aren't really dog collars, but more closely related to horse halters. Head collars control the dog by controlling the head- working on the idea that a dog cannot/will not pull if the result of pulling is the head being turned. Head Collars are very effective if the dog allows the equipment to rest on their face without fighting, but can be dangerous if the dog suddenly hits the end of a leash and the head is jerked too suddenly.




Keeper - Added to traditional buckle collars when the buckle style does not include a bar to secure the excess strap. Since it is not weight bearing, a keeper can be fashioned out of decorative materials but is most commonly made of leather or metal. The keeper's purpose of securing the excess strap is very important; if the excess strap was pulled or rubbed and there was no keeper securing it the collar could become unbuckled and fall off the dog.


Kennel Lead - A kennel lead is a collar and leash in one- named for its popularity among kennel workers. The kennel lead can be slipped on and off a dog's neck in seconds, provides control and security, and fits any dog. A kennel lead works similarly to a choke chain in that the collar portion of the lead is slipped through an O ring to create a collar loop that tightens when pressure is applied to the lead. Popular ringside at dogs shows and for agility, the kennel lead is not suitable for unsupervised or inattentive use due to its tendency to loosen too much or tighten excessively if the leash portion is not monitored.


Latigo Leather - The word Latigo refers to a type of leather that is tanned in a way that makes it especially soft and supple with use. It is the same leather used for accessories in the saddle-making trade, such as reins and cinches.

Limited Slip Collar - An ambiguous term referring to any type of collar which tightens around the dog's neck when the active ring is engaged but has a setting to prevent excessive tightening. Martingale Collars and certain kinds of Choke Collars are included in this description.

Loop - see Keeper.

Loose Ring (see Sliding Ring)

Martingale Style Collar - A martingale collar is a type of dog collar tightens all the way around the neck when the active ring is engaged. Used for training and to prevent escape read more about What is a Martingale Dog Collar

Martindale Collar - Martingale collars are sometimes called martindale collars. See What is a Martingale Dog Collar


Nickel Plated Hardware - Steel hardware rusts and corrodes quickly, nickel plated steel retains the strength of steel with the added corrosion resistance and shine of nickel plating. Nickel plated hardware is frequently used for dog collars.  

Nylon Webbing - Nylon webbing is a type of strap created by plating fine nylon threads together, and then braiding the plaits together in a smooth, flat fashion. Nylon webbing comes in many grades and a plethora of styles, thicknesses, and textures. Nylon webbing can range from thick and smooth to sharp edged and somewhat coarse. Nylon webbing works exceptionally well for Adjustable Buckle Dog Collars and moderately well for Traditional Buckle Collars. Nylon webbing must be heated and melted to prevent fraying, and the melted edges become ridged and may eventually break under direct pressure or repeated use.


"O" Ring - A metal (occasionally plastic) piece of hardware in the shape of a letter "o" - or perfect circle- that can be used to replace a D ring but more often is used as a Sliding Ring. A D ring may be cast into a mold to create the D shape or bent and welded into shape.

Overlay - Any type of embellishment or addition to a collar added over the basic dog collar strap for decorative purposes.  


Polypropylene webbing- Polypropylene webbing is a type of strap created by plating fine thermoplastic polymer threads together, and then braiding the plaits together in a smooth, flat fashion. Polypropylene webbing is usually very coarse and not advised for dog collars.

Prong Collar - A type of metal collar comprised of sections of prongs linked together around a dog's neck, with the prong facing inward. Used correctly, the prong collar can be a very effective collar training collar that is preferable to a choke collar.

Quick Release Buckle - (see Side Release Buckle)

Rivet - A rivet is a permanent mechanical fastener. Before being installed a rivet consists of 2 parts: a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one end and a receiver head with an opening for the shaft of the first piece. On installation the rivet is placed through layers of leather and capped with the receiver head. The rivet is then is upset, or bucked (i.e., deformed), so that it expands to about 1.5 times the original shaft diameter, holding the rivet in place. Installed correctly, rivets are sufficient to construct leather dog collars without requiring stitching.


Roller Buckle - A type of traditional buckle which includes a round tube placed around the farthest bar of the buckle. In equestrian equipment, a roller buckle is used to make it easier to buckle a strap very tightly. When a roller buckle is used on dog collars the purpose is primarily decorative, though it may facilitate smoother buckling.




Scissor Snap - (aka trigger snap) is a snap hook which opens and closes in a scissoring motion, enclosing the D-ring between two spring loaded hooks which spring together to hold the contents securely. This snap style is growing in popularity for dog collars but is not common.



Side Release buckle (aka Quick Release Buckle) Side release buckles are available in plastic and more recently metal, in all colors, and are the standard closure method for adjustable dog collars. A side release buckle is composed of a female part and a male part. The male part compresses and inserts into the female part. The female side of the buckle has notches which catch the male prongs and lock the male part in place until the male prongs are manually pushed inward simultaneously to release them from the notches on the female part.

Slide - A plastic or metal piece of hardware on an adjustable collar which allows the user to slide material over the center bar and then lock the strap in place to adjust the collar smaller or larger.


Slip Collar - A somewhat ambiguous term, Slip Collar is sometimes used to refer to a martingale collar and other times to a choke chain or the fabric quivalent of a choke chain. Slip Collar is most correctly used as a general term to describe any kind of dog collar that controls a dog by using moving parts that slip through hardware to tighten around the dog's neck.

Slip Lead (see kennel lead) Snap (or snaphook) - A Snap (aka snap hook or bolt snap) is the correct term for the clasp at the end of the leash. Available in an assortment of styles, the most common being Trigger Snaps and Swivel Snaps. Almost all snaps used for dog leashes are swivel snaps, which means they pivot completely around on a pin in their base in order to prevent leashes becoming twisted.

Sliding Ring (aka Loose Ring) - A ring, usually an O ring strung onto the body of a dog collar and not stitched or riveted into one position, but instead sliding freely up and down the length of the collar.

Spike Spiked dog collars are usually leather, occasionally nylon, collars which include pointed spikes firmly attached to the collar. In the US, these spikes come to a point but are always slightly blunted and never sharp. Spiked dog collars were originally developed for livestock protection dogs as a way to protect the most sensitive park of a dog, the neck, from predator attacks. Today spikes are mostly cosmetic.


Spot - see studs Stainless Steel Hardware - All metals except gold, platinum, and palladium eventually corrode, but stainless steel is exceptional durable and slow to corrode. Stainless Steel hardware is Only occasionally used on dog collars due to it's expense and the relatively short life of dog collars.  


Static D Ring - A static D ring is a ring that is stitched or riveted into one position and remains in that position during the use of the collar.


Stitched Leather - Stitching leather dog collars down the length of the collar may appear cosmetic but actually serves the purpose of preventing stretching. Leather naturally stretches as it ages and is used, stitching prevents the leather from stretching and may prolong the life of a leather dog collar.


Stud - Similar to spikes, the word stud refers to domed metal decorations on a collar. Studs may be flat, oblong, or almost perfect half-spheres. The purpose of studs is to create collars similar looking to spiked collars, but which are more comfortable for dog and handler. Also known in some circles as 'spots'.

Tab - A 6 inch or shorter strap or loop sometimes attached to dog collars to make catching the dog easier. If looped, the tab should not reach the base of the chest or the dog may step into the loop and injure itself. A tab is sometimes used on large breed dogs in agility training.

Tag Collar - Two definitions: 1. A tag collar is a dog collar that is designed to hold tags only. While any collar should be able to hold a dog's identification, a tag collar is not intended to be used with a leash. This may be due to being not strong enough or other specifications that render it useless for containment (Example: ultra lightweight collars used for dogs with skin issues around the neck or purely cosmetic dog necklaces) 2. Sight hound owners, who must walk their dogs in a martingale collar or one of its variations, refer to adjustable or traditional buckle dog collars as tag collars. Before time proved that correctly adjusted martingale collars were generally safe to leave on, owners of these breeds often removed the martingale collars when the dog was safely confined, this requiring the use of a second collar for identification.

Traditional Buckle - A closure method involving a metal buckle with moving tongue and a strap with preset holes. The Punched end of the strap is fed into the buckle, the tongue is inserted into one of the holes in the strap, and then the strap is tucked out of the way by an additional bar on the buckle (if a double buckle) or a loop stitched onto the collar nearby. This closure method is the most traditional and has many variations. The primary drawback of the traditional buckle is a limited range of adjustment compared to adjustable collars which use a slide and side release buckle. Sometimes called a "Belt Style" collar. 

Traffic Lead - A very short dog leash. Usually 12 inches long. Traffic leads are most commonly used in urban areas or large crowds where a longer leash could lead to tangles or a dog too far away for safety. A traffic lead keeps a dog very close. See also Tab.



Trigger Snap - see Scissor Snap 

Welded Hardware - Hardware that is made of metal which is bent into a form while still malleable and then welded to secure the closure.

Zinc Plated Hardware - Steel hardware rusts and corrodes quickly, Zinc plated steel retains the strength of steel with the added corrosion resistance and shine of nickel plating. Zinc plated hardware is frequently used for dog collars. 

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