When you spot a Whippet out for a stroll with his owner or dashing by at the local dog park, you can’t help but be impressed by the streamlined shape and refined appearance of the breed. These dogs are natural sprinters.
They can effortlessly reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Perhaps even more impressive is the gentle, affectionate temperament that the breed is famous for.
Similar in appearance to a Greyhound, though much smaller, the Whippet has a deep chest, beautifully arched neck, slender head, and tiny waist. When first encountering this amazing breed, many people are inquisitive.
But one of the most frequently asked questions is about those fancy collars gracing their neck.
Why do Whippets have special collars? The Whippet’s head is narrower than the neck so ordinary collars can easily slip off. Special Whippet collars enhance the elegant neck, are more secure, gentler, and less likely to injure the neck and throat or to damage the coat leaving a bald spot.
Everything about Whippets is special, so it really isn’t surprising that their collars are too. Let’s look at the various collars typically worn by Whippets and the purposes that they serve.
What Types of Collars Are Best?
Ordinary collars just don’t work well with Whippets. Their narrow heads make slipping out of collars seem like child’s play. Those graceful necks aren’t protected by thick coats, underlying fat, or tough skin. They are, in fact, quite delicate and easily damaged.
There are several collars that will work for Whippets, each with unique advantages and functions. Let’s take a look at the different types frequently used with Whippets.
Collars for Walking
There are two main kinds of collars commonly used in conjunction with leashes. Both are designed to keep the Whippet safe and secure, but should only be used when walking.
Neither is easily removed by the dog and should the collar become hung on something, the dog is unable to free himself. Always remove these collars after a walk.
Sighthound collars are very popular among Whippet owners for the way they embellish the elegantly arched neck and provide protection for the delicate throat. These collars have been around a long time and can even be seen in ancient artwork featuring sighthounds.
Sighthound collars are wider than most collars and taper down to narrower ends. When the dog is off-leash, the wide portion sits on the back of the dog’s neck. When the leash is attached, the wide part is worn in the front to evenly disperse pressure across the neck.
Advantages of sighthound collars include:
- They are very difficult for a dog to slip off.
- They don’t damage the coat and cause hairless patches as regular collars can.
- They are gentle and don’t place too much pressure on the delicate neck.
Typically made of leather, sighthound collars come in regular and padded versions and assorted styles and colors to choose from. They should be worn high on the neck – just below the ears and snugly adjusted.
A martingale collar is comprised of two loops – one small loop attached to the D-rings of the larger one. The larger loop is placed around the neck and the leash is attached to the small loop. When the dog pulls, the larger loop is tightened, discouraging the behavior.
In addition to preventing escape, the martingale collar has several advantages:
- They are much gentler than choke collars but just as effective when training.
- They are easy to put on and take off.
- They provide even pressure over a large surface area to allow for greater control without choking.
Martingale collars come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and widths. Here is one that is 1 ½ inches wide and comes in ten different patterns.
Regal Hound Designs has a huge assortment of collars, in various patterns, and even carries hard-to-find 2″ wide collars. Here’s their entire selection on Amazon.
Collars for Identification and Handling
Rolled leather collars (like these) are quite comfortable for Whippets to wear all day, every day. They tend not to damage the coat and look lovely on those long Whippet necks.
These collars are a great combination of comfort, style, and durability – perfect for everyday use.
Break-away collars (like these), also called quick-release collars, are designed to pull apart when pressure is applied to prevent a disastrous outcome should the collar become stuck on something.
Though some owners complain that these collars break apart too easily and are often lost in the yard or around the house, many take comfort knowing that their dog can extract himself from a dangerous situation.
Why Do Some Whippets Wear Two Collars?
If you’ve ever seen a Whippet out for a walk proudly sporting not one but two collars, your curiosity was most likely piqued. Why two collars? Is it a fashion thing? An indecisive owner? What’s the reason?
Well, many owners prefer to keep one comfortable collar on their Whippet at all times to hold any identification tags and to serve as a handle to quickly grab hold of the dog should the need arise.
The second, more secure collar is only worn when walking to prevent the possibility of escape and to provide assistance with pulling issues.
Having identification tags on their Whippet at all times brings many owners peace of mind. Should their dog ever dart out through an open door or yank the leash out of a relaxed hand to pursue a yummy looking squirrel, whoever finds the lost dog will be able to contact the owners right away.
Some owners, however, prefer to remove the ID collars at nighttime after the Whippet’s last potty break for two reasons: so the jingling of the tags doesn’t disturb anyone’s sleep and to allow the Whippet to sleep in perfect comfort without any obstruction around the neck.
Those who crate their dog at night also often remove the collar to prevent accidental choking. Others never use an ID collar except when leaving the house, and still, others choose to have their dog microchipped or tattooed (yes, a real tattoo) with identification information and forego the ID collar entirely.
The decision of how and when to provide your Whippet with identification is purely a personal one and ultimately comes down to what works best for you and your dog.
Can Whippets Wear a Harness?
Perhaps the idea of a collar that puts pressure on your Whippet’s neck doesn’t appeal to you. Maybe your Whippet has a particularly sensitive neck which is easily irritated.
Does your Whippet have a knack for escaping most collars? If you are considering a harness, here are 2 warnings from many owners…
- Some owners routinely use a harness when walking their Whippet with no issues at all. They claim that a correctly sized and adjusted harness helps stop pulling and is more comfortable for their dogs.
- Many other Whippet owners, however, say that harnesses are a bad idea and are easily escaped from. They also complain that harnesses tend to not stay centered on the dog’s chest and slip to one side causing irritation.
You’ll have to decide for yourself if using a harness is worth the possible risk. If you do try one, practice in a fenced area first, preferably one with scampering squirrels or other temptations, to see how your dog responds.
If your Whippet is not the next great Houdini, then a sturdy, securely fastened Ruffwear no-pull dog harness or something similar may work for you. Any no-pull harness must fit properly and be snugly adjusted. This can not be overemphasized!
Perhaps the best harness choice is a ‘web-master harness’ (see it on Amazon). This harness has an additional strap that fits behind the dog’s rib cage and securely tightens around the waist. Designed specifically for sighthounds like the Whippet, it’s fully adjustable and comes highly recommended.
As an added precaution when using any harness, we advise either using two leashes, one clipped to the harness and the other clipped to a secure collar or using a leash with two clips like a Halti Double Ended Lead.
You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of your precious Whippet!
What Actual Owners Are Saying About Whippet Collars and Harnesses…
“We use a martingale collar which we hook up to the leash, and a second regular collar (like the one in your picture) that has the tag on it in case the dogs do manage to wiggle out of their martingale collars.”
“This harness is amazing. It has a third strap to go behind their deep chest so they can’t tuck their heads and back out. It’s also made really well. No fraying or stitching coming undone and I’ve had it for two years.”
“My whippets use Cody’s Creations (Etsy) and she does amazing work!”
“Sighthound Squad, also on Etsy. We have a Martingale slip collar and a regular collar for our whippet puppy. They are lovely, durable, and get tons of compliments. We even ordered our first when she was still a puppy. They’ve made enough collars that they could predict her future measurements and it works great, she’s a year old now.”