It’s always difficult figuring out what size collar for lab puppy you should get and when – it’s like picking clothes for a baby, they just outgrow them so fast! And, then, there are a whole other set of considerations such as material, style, comfort, training, and so on. There are even some legal aspects to keep in mind depending on where you live. And, with the popularity of dog harnesses in recent years, the choice becomes all the more complex.
So, what type and what size color for lab puppy should you go for? We’ll cover all the basics below.
What Size Collar For A Lab Puppy Is Right?
Lab puppies start tiny but grow up extremely fast. We’d say that the right starting lab puppy collar size is usually about 9 to 10 inches (22 to 25 cm), depending on your pup. This may sound like a lot but keep in mind that the standard time for starting to use a collar for a lab puppy is 10+ weeks or two and a half months.
At that point, your puppy’s neck will have started to getting quick thick. Add the fact that the collar should be fairly loose and shouldn’t be too constricting on either the pup’s skin or its fur.
If you want your lab puppy’s first collar to last for a bit longer, it’s worth it to get a collar that’s a few extra inches long (5-10 cm) and can be resized.
How Often Are You Supposed To Get A New Collar For A Lab Puppy?
Every pup grows up at its own tempo. However, the rule of thumb is that you should check your lab puppy’s collar every couple of weeks. If it has started to get too constricting at that point – either loosen it up if possible or get a new collar. If you get a collar with a lot of resizing leeway, it can last you a few months.
How Can You Figure Out If Your Lab’s Collar Fits?
A dog’s collar shouldn’t be skin-tight and shouldn’t press the dog’s hair too much around the neck. This is very easy to judge if you just stick a couple of fingers under the collar. As it is on the dog’s neck, see how many fingers you can comfortably fit inside the collar. 2-3 fingers are the norm – any more and the collar is too loose, and less and it’s too tight.
The risk of keeping an overly loose collar on your dog should be clear – the dog will be able to back out of the collar. Some dogs don’t do that a lot even if the collar is loose. Many others, however, including a lot of labs, love to back out of their collars whenever possible.
Adult Labrador Neck Size
So, what size collar will your lab puppy end up wearing when it grows up? This will also depend but the average range for an adult lab’s neck circumference is about 17 to 20 inches (43 to 50 cm). So, add about an inch more for convenience’s sake and this should be what you need.
However, keep in mind that there’s no guessing just how thick your dog’s neck is going to be ahead of time. If your puppy is smaller than average it may grow into a smaller-than-average adult lab or it may just be a slow grower. That’s why it’s always smart to get a collar that has several different size options. Any standard leather/fabric collar with a buckle should allow for that.
Different Types Of Dog Collars For Labs
The main (non-cosmetic) differences between dog collars are in the materials and the fastening mechanism. For the latter, we’d really recommend standard buckles – they are sturdy, durable, classic, safe, and easy to use. Plus, they always allow for multiple different size settings.
As for materials, these are the basics:
- Metal – a lot of people love metal, especially for mid-sized to large breeds like Labradors. We’re not fans of metal collars, however, as they are heavy, constricting, and they can cause skin irritations.
- Leather – this is the classic choice for dog collars. Leather is comfortable in a lot of ways and situations and it’s pretty durable. Its main drawback is that it can get stinky over time. This is especially true if your dog loves to swim and Labrador retrievers are a water dog breed.
- Fabric – that’s another popular option. Fabric collars can come in a lot of different designs and compositions. Some of the more colorful ones are especially fun for puppies. Fabric’s big plus over leather is that it’s washable.
- Synthetic polyurethane-type materials – these intuitively put off some people but are an excellent choice. They have all the positives of fabric and leather and lack the “bad smell” drawback.
Are Training Collars A Good Idea?
Training collars used to be very popular at one point for both puppies and adult dogs. These collars take many different forms – they can be pronged, pinching, and electro-shock collars. Their idea is simple – teach your dog not to pull on its leash with the negative reinforcements of the collar.
Training collars have been falling out of favor, however, for a couple of different reasons:
- They cause pain – even if it’s just a little – and a lot of dog owners don’t like that
- Negative reinforcement dog training is becoming widely decried as ineffective and cruel
- These types of collars have been found to often lead to increased risk of fear and aggression
- Training collars don’t work with all dogs as the lab’s enthusiasm can get him to overpower the pain
Collar, Harness, Or Both?
Dog harnesses today are viewed as a better and safer alternative to training collars. These are used mostly for training and for adult dogs, however. When we’re talking about what size collar for lab puppy you should choose, we’re usually talking about standard name & ID collars. You should start using those as soon as your pup is big enough.
As for training – that’s a separate issue but we’re definitely recommending a harness together with the collar instead of a dedicated training collar.
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