5 tactical collars for working dog breeds

Alpine Dog Co. ™

I had been using normal collars with my Yorkshire Terrier. But when I adopted a Tibetan Mastiff, a large working dog, things changed. He was breaking standard collars now and then. I couldn't control him when we went on walks. I remember he once sprinted and dragged me on the sidewalk.

That is when I decided to try tactical collars. Indeed things changed. The collar is so sturdy, that the dog has never broken it. There’s also a handle that gives me immediate control over the dog. No worries about being dragged. Let me share some of the features, benefits, and uses of these collars, and, of course, tell you why tactical dog collars are a game-changer for working breeds.

Why Tactical Dog Collars Are a Game-Changer for Working Breeds

When you hear the word tactical, probably what comes to mind is military combat. Military working canines are part of the troops. These military k9 dog breeds like the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, and Dutch Shepherd are muscular and have massive pulling power.

To keep them in control, the military needs sturdy and military-grade durable collars. That’s where the term tactical collars came from. So, when we talk about tactical collars, we’re talking about extreme levels of collar sturdiness and durability, comparable to military-grade quality.

In fact, most tactical collars are meant for large, working dog breeds due to their high tensile strength and rugged design. Nowadays we have the breeds developed for military use in our homes. So, here are reasons why we also need tactical dog collars for working breeds.    

Our 5 picks for best tactical dog collars

Product Name

Price

Suitable Dog Size

Key Features

Special Notes

 

Rose Gold Tacti Luxe Collar

$57.99

Large breeds

Sturdy, durable, 1050D nylon, polyurethane coat

Water-resistant, not waterproof

Gold Cognac Tacti Luxe Collar

$54.99

Large, working breeds

Handle for control, durable construction

Comes with a top handle for immediate control

Chocolate Tacti Luxe Collar

$54.99

Large breeds

Neoprene lining, comfortable, wide design

Soft lining for comfort, good for sensitive skin

Olive Tacktik Dog Collar

$40.99

Adjustable for all sizes

Adjustable sizes, lightweight

Adjustable to fit weight changes

Buttercream Tacktik Collar

$45.99

Giant dogs

Extra-wide (2 inches), durable

Suitable for very large breeds


Sturdy and Durable Construction

Most tactical collars like the Rose Gold Tacti Luxe Dog Collar are made of 1050D nylon. 1050D means the nylon making the collar has a fiber weight of 1050 denier. One side of the fabric is then treated with polyurethane coating.

This nylon is so tough that it was used as ballistic material to make flak jackets for World War II airmen to protect them from flying fragmentation and debris from artillery and bullet shells. It’s the same nylon you see in luggage packs, tool belts, police duty belts, watch straps, motorcycle jackets, and knife sheaths.

As a result, tactical collars are abrasion-resistant and hold up well against rocks, bushes, and water. So, if your dog is adventurous like my Greyhound that chases a squirrel and goes wrestling down the hole, you can be sure the collar won’t get damaged. Another thing is that nylon is water resistant.

It doesn’t absorb water like leather!  Before getting a tactical collar for my Portuguese Water Dog, I remember how the leather collar absorbed water like a sponge, and the collar would become stiff and eventually warp and break.

For nylon tactical nylon collars, the polyurethane coating makes water beads up and roll off, protecting the fabric. As a result, tactical collars are incredibly durable, whether exposed to sun or water. But, something to note, tactical collars are water-resistant, but not waterproof.          

Quick Release Buckle Design

Once you close the buckle, the collar forms a loop around your dog’s neck. But have you ever thought about what can happen if the dog tries to jump over the fence, and it’s caught by the collar, or chasing something and a tree branch catches the collar?

Well, the collar chokes the dog! Now, for tactical collars, it’s worse, because they’re super strong, and will hang your dog to death without breaking. Manufacturers figured this out and equipped tactical collars with the quick-release buckle. 

These collars have a side-squeeze or snap-down mechanism you press and the collar pops open. So, if your Fido gets the collar snagged on a fence or takes a tumble and gets tangled, you just press the button and pop him free. The same happens when getting the collar on. No wrestling matches. You just snap it on.  

Enhanced Control

Working dogs like Saint Bernards were bred for rescue work. Although gentle, these dogs have massive pulling power. They can easily force you into walks if you don’t control them well on the leash. The same happens for Newfoundlands, only that they are more likely to drag you into unintentional swims.

Note that the momentum of a sprinting working dog is enough to drag you on the sidewalk, especially if the leash is long. Also, remember that pulling is normal for most working dog breeds. So, I don’t recommend using prong collars or choke collars to prevent pulling. That’s just punishing the dog for instinctively doing what it was bred to do.

Instead, I recommend managing the dog on a leash, and there is no better way of doing it than using a tactical collar. Tactical collars like the Gold Cognac Tacti Luxe Dog Collar come with a handle on the top of the collar.

So, if you're walking with your Tibetan Mastiff and he sees your neighbor’s dog and turns into a bulldozer, you just hold this handle and gain immediate control. There's no room to gain speed. At the same time, you don't risk a hand contortion trying to hurriedly wrap it under the collar itself. It's a perfect oh-crap solution to out-of-control issues.

Compatible With Training Attachments

Most working dogs were bred for hunting, herding, rescue work in the military, or guarding dogs. They are muscular and have lots of energy. Dogs like the Tibetan Mastiffs and German Shepherds are territorial and protective. They are independent thinkers who turn stubborn if you don’t show proper leadership.

It’s disastrous if your Tibetan Mastiff can’t obey commands like Leave It when it’s attacking your visiting friend, or a German Shepherd developing destructive barking behaviors, and you know how intimidating those thunderous barks are. That brings out one thing: the need for proper training.

The problem I had with regular collars is that most are not compatible with training accessories. I had to buy separate collars, one for regular use, and the other for training. On the other hand, tactical collars come with heavy-duty D-rings.

You only need to attach the training accessories and change the collar into a training collar. For example, you can attach a receiver and change the collar into a bark collar, or attach a secondary chain leash on the second handle to discourage biting the leash.

The best thing with this method is that the dog doesn’t know when the collar is a normal all-day collar, and when it’s a training collar. For instance, if you remove the receiver when going for hikes or jogging, the dog will still avoid excessive barks thinking the collar will deliver static shocks.     

Variety of Colors

Do you know that the color of your dog’s collar sends a coded message? When I owned my first dog, a Golden Retriever, I bought an orange collar because I thought orange meant warmth, energy, and enthusiasm. But I kept wondering why other dog owners avoided me in the dog parks. Well, it’s because of the color. Here’s a breakdown of what different collar colors mean.  

  • Blue: It means the dog is under training, or it’s a service dog. In short, you’re telling people to avoid disturbing the dog because it’s working.
  • Red: You must be guessing it right. It means the temperament of the dog is quite unpredictable, or outrightly aggressive.
  • Green: It means the dog is friendly and goes along well with people.
  • Orange: The meaning of orange collars fall between red and green. It means the dog is not as aggressive, but doesn’t go along well with other dogs. In short, it needs space.
  • Yellow: The color is common for dogs looking for adoption.
  • White: It means the dog has hearing or sight problems.
  • Purple: Purple collars are interesting. They mean that you shouldn’t feed the dog.

The good thing is that tactical collars come in a variety of colors, from solid colors to complex patterns. You have the option to go for the above solid colors to bring out a message about your dog, choose a solid color that matches the coat of the dog, or even go for a pattern that shows the personality of the dog.

For example, go for a bright collar like the Rose Tactik Dog Collar for a peaceful dog that loves cuddling. On the other hand, go for a camo collar like the Gold Camo Tacti Luxe Dog Collar to give a guard dog like the Tibetan Mastiff or German Shepherd a military-like look.   

Comfortable Lining

The structure of the dog’s neck is the same as humans. It’s where the trachea, esophagus, thyroid gland, and blood vessels are. So, when the collar goes around the dog’s neck, the feel is the same as going around your neck.

If the collar is not flexible, it creates pressure points on the neck. In case these pressure points are on the windpipe, well, the dog will have problems breathing, and in worst cases, damage the windpipe. Another thing to note is that a dog’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than human skin.

In fact, according to VetWest, the epidermis of a human is 10 to 15 cells thick, while that of a dog is 3 to 5 cells thick.   As a result, a dog is more prone to irritations and allergies than us. When I think about this reality, I always prioritize the comfort of the collar, and that is why I go for tactical collars.

Tactical collars like the Chocolate Tacti Luxe Dog Collar come with neoprene lining inside the collar. Neoprene is the synthetic rubber used to make swimsuits. The material is soft and flexible. As a result, it distributes pressure over the entire dog’s neck when you put pressure on the leash, not just some parts.

The feel of these tactical collars is comfortable, probably the same level of comfort you feel when wearing a swimsuit. However, not all tactical collars are neoprene-lined, so check before buying. 

Wide Design

The laws of pressure apply here. A wider surface area distributes pressure better. When the collar is thin, it digs into the dog’s neck, especially if the dog is a heavy puller like the Saint Bernard. The result? Skin irritations and pain. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why dogs refuse to wear collars.

Also, the constant rubbing and pressure on the dog’s fur makes the fur break and wear away. If you have noted coat damage around your dog’s neck such as thinning fur or bald patches, maybe it’s the type of collar you’re using. However, the right width for a dog’s collar depends on its size and weight.

For example, the right collar width for a Jack Russell Terrier is not the same for a Bernese Mountain Dog. Here is a general guideline for the right width.

  • Small dogs under 20 pounds with neck size of 9-12 inches: Narrow collars of 1/2," 5/8," to 3/4" wide.
  • Medium dogs of 20 to 35 pounds with neck sizes of 13-15 inches: Medium collars of 3/4" to 1" wide.
  • Large dogs of 40 to 65 pounds with neck sizes of 16-19 inches: Wide collars of 1.25" to 1.5" wide.
  • Giant dogs of over 70 pounds: Collars at least 1.5 inches wide.

Now, when buying standard collars for giant dogs, you’ll notice that most collars have a width of 1.5 inches. Well, that width is not bad. But tactical collars such as the 2-inch Buttercream Tacktik Dog Collar are better. They come with a width of 2 inches. This width is wide enough not to irritate the dog or damage the coat.   

Adjustable Sizes

Even working dogs have a basal metabolic rate. That means they lose and gain weight just like humans. When you take the dog for exercises such as long walks, hikes, jogging, or swimming, it burns additional calories, causing weight reduction.

On the other hand, if the dog takes in more calories than it’s burning, the body stores excessive fat, leading to weight gain. In fact, according to the Healthy Dogs Guide, dogs can safely cut 3% to 5% of their body weight in one month. So, always expect your dog’s weight to fluctuate.

When buying dog collars, you'll probably measure your dog’s neck size. But, have you ever thought about what happens when the dog’s weight fluctuates? If the collar’s size is not adjustable, it’ll restrict breathing if the dog gains weight, or slip out if the dog loses weight.

Unfortunately, most standard collars don’t have adjustable sizes. That means the collar turns restrictive or loose when the dog’s weight fluctuates. But that is not the case for tactical collars like the Olive Tacktik Dog Collar.

The collar is adjustable for three size ranges. So, if you ordered a collar size that matches the middle sizing, it means there's room for weight gain and weight loss. You just need to put your two fingers between the dog's neck and the inside of the collar, fit the right size, and snap close.     

Lightweight

When I was looking for a sturdy collar for my Newfoundland, the first thing that came to my mind was a chain collar. The fact that it’s stainless steel gave the reassurance of sturdiness. But I had to change my mind and go for tactical collars. Chain collars are heavy, and nowhere to be compared to tactical nylon collars.

In fact, the weight of stainless steel is 0.28 - 0.29 lb/in³. On the other hand, the average weight of nylon is  0.0412 lb/in³. That means stainless steel is around 7 times heavier than nylon. This weight difference is large enough to affect the dog when running or swimming.

Considering that the sturdiness of tactical collars matches that of chain collars, but are far more lightweight, they’re the outright winners. So, if you have a Greyhound that loves chasing prey or a Portuguese Water Dog that loves swimming, don’t weigh it down with a chain collar. Get a tactical collar! 

Good Value for Money

Good value for money doesn’t mean cheap. But when you compare the service you get from tactical collars compared to the other types of collars, they are surely worth it. For example, a normal nylon collar costs around $25. Usually, these collars are below quality, and the nylon starts to decolorize and fray within a few weeks. 

It’s even worse if the dog is a heavy chewer like the Giant Schnauzers and Labrador Retrievers. You might have to buy 3 to 4 collars in one year. On the other hand, luxury leather collars that are known to last for years are so expensive. Yet still, the smell and texture of leather are tempting for dogs to chew.

Tactical collars strike a perfect balance between durability and price, giving you the best value for money. For example, there are tactical collars costing as low as $55 such as the Gold Noir Tacti Luxe Dog Collar, but they last the dog’s lifetime under normal usage.     

Final Thoughts

Working dog breeds are active and full of energy. They easily break standard collars. Even with sturdy chain collars, a working dog can easily drag you when it sprints and gains momentum. But with tactical collars, you’re sure the dog can't break the collar, and the handle gives you better control over the dog. These collars are also comfortable, and won’t cause skin irritations.  


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