You may have seen Whippets wearing what looks to be an entirely different type of collar than those some other dogs wear. They’re often much wider than traditional dog collars and there’s a reason for this: Whippets NEED special collars that provide a fit that’s suitable for sighthound breeds specifically.
In this post I’m going to explain the reason why Whippets need special collars and I’ll also give you some options if you’re looking for a collar for your Whippet.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Whippets Need Special Collars
- The Best Collar for Whippets
- Fishtail Whippet Collars
- Martingale Whippet Collars
- Harnesses for Whippets
- Why I Prefer Fishtail Collars?
Why Do Whippets Need Special Collars?
If you’re like me you’ll love the Whippet physique. For me it’s the most noble and elegant physique in the canine kingdom.
Whippets have a narrow muscular body, deep chest and an abdomen that tucks up into their loin area. They also have long elegant necks that complete an overall appearance of grace and regality.
However, the long elegant necks mean that, as with all sighthounds, Whippets need special care when it comes to collars.
Ask any Whippet owner and they’ll tell you there are times when a Whippet simply must be kept on a lead.
There are just too many tempting distractions that can trigger a Whippet into sighthound mode and get it into trouble.
Since Whippets are prone to react when something fast catches their eye, a collar and lead will be the only thing that stops them from bolting. This instinct to chase can be extremely dangerous for Whippets, especially if you’re near traffic.
Want to know more about Whippets? Check out my Whippet dog breed information page to find out everything about this lovely creature!
All dogs need collars and leads to prevent them from suddenly running off. This is especially necessary for Whippets and other members of the sighthound family.
However, traditional dog collars pose a real problem for Whippets. Given the Whippet tendency to chase anything apparently chase-worthy, the long neck that gives a Whippet the look I adore require special restraint.
If a Whippet suddenly lurches forwards to chase something, as they are wont to do, a traditional narrow dog collar can injure a Whippet’s neck and throat area.
Furthermore, narrow collars tend to rub the neck in specific areas, especially if they are under pressure from a Whippet trying to pull away.
Over time, consistent rubbing in the same small area can wear down the fur on a Whippet’s neck causing bald patches.
The Best Collar For Whippets
The best collars for Whippets tend to have a very special shape that’s different from traditional thinner collars that are suitable for many other dog breeds.
We’ve used two types of Whippet collars for our dog Misty:
- Leather fishtail collars.
- Martingale collars.
Fishtail Whippet Collars
Fishtail collars are wider in the mid-part with both ends thinning away towards the buckle. The wider mid-part is often padded on the inside for comfort and the lead attaches to the buckle area. This means the wider part of the collar sits on your Whippet’s throat.
The benefits of this wider part of the collar for your Whippet are that it dissipates pressure across the throat area so the collar doesn’t:
- Injure the windpipe.
- Cut of the blood supply.
- Impede breathing.
- Damage your Whippet’s fur and skin.
Whippets are categorised as medium sized dogs… but they’re strong. When a Whippet pulls at the lead you can feel their strength.
It’s no surprise to imagine they could really hurt themselves if they suddenly lurched and weren’t wearing a special Whippet friendly collar.
Martingale Whippet Collars
Martingale collars are also specifically designed for Whippets and other sighthounds to prevent injury to the throat.
They’ve been gaining popularity in recent times because of a clever design feature that only tightens if your Whippet strains against the lead.
Martingale Whippet collars have two connecting loops, one larger than the other, that work together if a Whippet tries to run after something.
The Trendy Whippet Martingale Collars for Whippets on Amazon
The larger loop is in contact with the Whippets neck. It’s wide and so it dissipates pressure.
The smaller loop is used to attach the lead. Any tension created when your Whippet pulls causes the smaller loop to tighten on the thereby creating a closer fit.
Since Whippets have very narrow heads, they can escape from fishtail collars if they pull backwards on them. Martingale collars make this practically impossible since they tighten under tension.
The tightening is not enough to hurt your Whippet but it makes it more difficult for them to free themselves when on the lead.
Martingale Whippet collars… what are they & how do they work?
What About Harnesses Instead of Collars for Whippets?
I’ll be honest, we’ve never used a harness for our Whippet… we’ve always used Fishtail or Martingale Whippet collars. However I have been recommended harnesses by other Whippet owners I’ve met.
Since Whippets will pull on any lead, some people don’t like the idea of any collar against their Whippet’s neck. I understand this since even Whippet-specific collars create resistance and pressure against the throat.
Advocates of Whippet harnesses have told me that they stop their dogs pulling entirely. That said I have seen with my own eyes the comical spectacle of a Whippet and it’s owner locked in a strange dance where the Whippet is trying to escape the restriction of a harness!
It was a dance without rhythm!
Although Whippet harnesses do prevent stress against the neck and throat, I understand they have to be fitted correctly as they can slip around a Whippet’s body and make things a little awkward.
I’ve also heard of some Whippets escaping from them too.
Find out more about Whippet harnesses and collars.
Why I Prefer Fishtail Whippet Collars
Since Whippets require special collars we’ve tended to use fishtail collars most often.
I find them very easy to buckle and unbuckle and they also look nice. We currently use a leather fishtail collar with soft padding on the inside to make it as comfortable as possible for our Whippet.
Do you like this photo? We’ve got lots more like this on our Instagram page!
Our Whippet Misty still pulls at the lead since it’s very difficult to stop the impulse to go after things that catch her attention, even though we’ve tried to train this out of her.
We’ve learned that a bag of treats is the best way to draw our Whippet’s attention if she’s tempted to lurch: in fact this is one of the best ways to train a Whippet to heel.
We feel the fishtail Whippet collar and bag of treats tends to reduce our dog’s urges to flee as they encourage her to focus on us an what’s in our pocket!
Whippets need special collars because they have long and narrow necks. Traditional thin dog collars can irritate their necks or cause physical damage because Whippets can suddenly decide to chase things.
A thinner dog collar results in pressure in a concentrated area of your Whippet’s neck… and since Whippets tend to lurch when in chase mode, they can hurt themselves when they’re on the lead.
We’ve tried Martingale collars and fishtail collars for our Whippet and our preference has been wide fishtail collars worn high up the neck.
What are your thoughts on why Whippets need special collars? I’d love for you to share your experiences so please leave a comment below.
Great article thank you! I have purchased a Ruffwear webmaster for our 4 month whippet. Maybe a little extreme but she managed to back out of her harness on a busy road last week… I’m very nervous walking her now. We have tried the martingale too but I felt she twisted and pulled so much it left her neck a bit raw. I was careful to ensure it was fitted properly. We have also invested in some loose lead training which seems to be going well although a few bumps in the road to work on
Hi Joanne. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I think it boils down to the individual dog and the owner. For us, a fishtail collar works well… but it suits the life we have. We don’t do too much road walking and Misty mostly walks from our house to the car. We then drive her to the place we walk her. I think if you walk Whippets often in the street, then a harness probably is the safest bet, because as you point out they can’t escape from them and they don’t rub against the neck.
Catherine M says
Re: Placement of collar – when a lead is taken off, the narrow part does tend to go to the front, as it is the bit with the collar tag and D ring on. How bizarre to call someone a ‘novice’ because the collar has naturally slipped round!
I agree with harnesses though… our Lurcher had to wear a harness after neck surgery to remove impacted plant matter in her salivary gland, and she didn’t like it.
Harnesses these days seem very ‘fashionable’, but very experienced Whippet people advise against them as they can interfere with their shoulders.
A leather fishtail collar kept well oiled lasts a lifetime. Our beloved dogs’ collars and leads wore to a beautiful silky smoothness after years of use in all weathers, and regular oiling.
Have a young pup now, and she too needs a tiny fishtail collar, but they outgrow them so fast when small!
As you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of fishtail collars like you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment here… it’s great when people share their experiences and preferences!
Mary Bailey says
It might be a good idea to show the collar the correct way round the wide part protects the throat, and novice owners insist on having them on like the one in the picture.
Hello Mary… thanks for your comment.
The photo of the collar in the photo is not the act of a novice and the position of the collar is only relevant when the lead is connected. This is a photo of my Whippet Misty, and as you can see, she was off the leash at the time.
When the fishtail collar is not connected to a leash, it often turns the “wrong” way with the thinner part directly touching the throat. However, when the leash is connected, the wider part that protects sits naturally on the throat whenever your dog walks ahead of you.
It’s simply not possible to dictate the position of a fishtail collar on the throat when off the leash. If where the collar sits when off the leash really troubles you, the only way to manage this would be to remove the collar as well.