The 5 Best Dog Martingale Collars for Escape Artist Pups

A martingale collar can prevent dogs from backing out of their collar and getting loose, giving owners of new rescues, fosters, and nervous dogs extra peace of mind.

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If you’ve ever had a dog slip their collar and run off into the sunset, a martingale collar might be a good pick for your four-legged escape artist. When I first adopted my rescue dog, Miso, she panicked at pretty much everything: loud noises, bikes, and men walking by us on the sidewalk among other things. Miso was originally from a shelter in Kentucky and was transported to a rescue in New York City where I adopted her, so the new environment was extremely loud and scary for her.

Because she was so nervous, I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t back out of her collar if something scared her. She had absolutely no recall and was so easily frightened that she was a flight risk. From the day that she came home, I made sure that she wore a martingale collar, also known as a limited-slip collar, as a safety precaution.

What is a Martingale Collar?

Martingale collars look similar to standard flat collars with the addition of a small section that tightens when pulled. Unlike a slip lead or slip collar, martingale collars only tighten a fixed amount—usually a few inches. These kinds of collars are good options for dogs who might be considered flight risks or those who are gifted at getting out of their collars.

“A martingale collar can add an extra safety component over a standard collar,” says Emily Martin, owner and trainer at Pawsitively Pets, located in Denver, CO.  “Often rescues will use martingale collars when working with new dogs to add a layer of safety and prevent collar slipping.”

While martingale collars can be used with an added level of safety in mind, they aren’t a magic tool. “These collars aren’t 100% non-slip proof,” says Martin. “There are always a few Houdini dogs out there that can more or less get out of anything.”

If you and your dog could benefit from the added safety factor of a martingale collar, read on for the best ones WDJ has hands-on tested.

Traits We Want in a Martingale Collar

With any dog product, fit is an important factor. Similar to flat collars, you should follow the two-finger rule when sizing a martingale collar. That means that when properly sized, you should be able to fit two fingers underneath the collar, but that it shouldn’t be able to slip over the dog’s head. With that being said, collars that have a wide variety of available sizes were prioritized — especially for martingale collars that can’t be adjusted or need to be pulled over dogs’ heads.

Durability and comfort are both paramount for dog collars, so we looked for high-quality materials that were flexible and soft enough for comfortable wear, but durable enough not to take damage in day-to-day testing. We thoroughly tested the material, closures, and attachment points of each collar on our list for flaws over multiple weeks.

We also evaluated how easy or difficult each martingale collar was to put on, take off, and adjust. Because martingale collars tighten when pulled on, they can pose a safety risk to dogs when left on them while they’re alone. This makes easy removal even more important, so pet parents are encouraged to remove collars when they’re done walking their dog. Buckle martingales were the winner in these tests — not only are they easier for humans to put on and take off their dogs, but they’re also good for dogs who are head-shy.

Best Martingale Collars

WDJ RatingProduct and MakerPriceSizes and ColorsNotes
4 PawsRuffwear Web Reaction martingale dog collar with buckle.$2011 - 14 Inches
14 - 17 Inches
17 - 20 Inches
20 - 23 Inches

3 colors
(Basalt Gray, River Rock Green, Blue Pool)
An easy on/off buckle, durable fabric, reflective stitching, and a strong leash attachment point make the Ruffwear Web Reaction collar the best martingale collar for most dogs. The martingale section on this collar is just big enough for safety — it offers enough cinching that a dog can’t back out of it but doesn’t go overboard.
2 PawsRuffwear Chain Reaction martingale dog collar$2511 - 14 Inches
14 - 17 Inches
17 - 20 Inches
20 - 23 Inches
23 - 26 Inches

3 colors
(Basalt Gray, River Rock Green, Blue Pool)
Though the chain on this collar gives more room when loose and less room when tightened than other collars we tested, we found that the chain is mostly unnecessary. The materials here feel very heavy duty, but the chain tangled in long double coats during testing.
3 PawsNon-stop Dogwear Rock Collar 3.0$33Xxsmall
(27 - 32 cm)

Xsmall
(31 - 36 cm)

Small
(35 - 40 cm)

Medium
(39 - 45 cm)

Large
(44 - 50 cm)

XL
(48 - 55 cm)

XXL
(53 - 60 cm)

XXXL
(58 - 65 cm)

1 Color
(Black)
This design is light and breathable, yet durable. Though it doesn’t have a buckle and can’t be adjusted, it comes in eight different sizes making it suitable for most dogs. The HexVent mesh fabric is ventilated for hot summer days, and it dries incredibly quickly if your dog takes a dip in a lake or stream. It’s easy to put on and take off if measured properly, and during testing, it did not cause matted hair or chafing.
2.5 Paws2 Hounds Buckle Martingale Collar (Cherry Blossoms)$16⅝”, 1”, 1.5”
Small
(10 - 14 Inches)

⅝”, 1”, 1.5”
Medium
(14-18 inches)

⅝”, 1”, 1.5”
Large
(16-20 inches)

⅝”, 1”, 1.5” XL
(20-26)

⅝”, 1”, 1.5” XXL
(26-34 inches)

200+ colors, patterns, and fabrics
This is a good choice for dogs who fit squarely within the size ranges, but we had some qualms about the width offered in the size small collar, since it seemed a tad too thin. The material is softer than the 2Hounds Nylon option, and feels less durable than the Ruffwear Web Reaction, but it makes up for this flaw in solid hardware and a nearly overwhelming selection of design choices.
3 Paws2 Hounds Nylon Martingale collar$10 - $13⅝” 1” XSmall
(7-11 inches)

⅝”, 1” Small
(10-14 inches)

⅝”, 1” Medium
(14-18 inches)

1” Large
(16-20 inches)

1” XL
(20-26)

1” XXL
(26-34 inches)

200+ colors, patterns, and fabrics
The budget pick of the bunch, the 2 Hounds Nylon Martingale collars come in an impressive array of colors, sizes, thicknesses, and more. The normal martingale version needs to be slipped over the head and is the cheapest option (starting at just $10). This is a no-frills type of collar, with durable metal hardware, some adjustability, and a classic thick nylon material. If a buckle is non-negotiable, you can upgrade all of the 2Hounds nylon options to buckle collars for a few dollars more

WDJ’s Top Pick

Ruffwear's Martingale Collar is our top pick
Caption: WDJ tested out five dog martingale collars with Ruffwear’s Web Reaction coming out on top. Credit: Jae Thomas

The best martingale collar we tested was the Web Reaction collar from Ruffwear. It features Ruffwear’s signature durable nylon material, a heavy-duty metal V-ring as a leash attachment point, and has added reflective webbing that makes your pup more visible at night and on busy roads. It also features a plastic side buckle that makes putting it on and taking it off easy, quick, and safe.

In addition to durable construction, we liked the amount of cinch this collar offered in comparison to other options. The collar gets around 2.5 inches tighter when pulled than when it’s loose. We found that this was just the right amount to keep the collar on our dogs and prevent them from backing out of it, but it didn’t choke them or cause any discomfort when sized properly. It comes in sizes ranging from 11 inches up to 26 inches, and is best for medium sized dogs or larger, since it only comes in 0.75-inch and 1-inch widths. Smaller, lighter dogs who need a thinner collar should opt for the similar (but thinner) 2Hounds Buckle Martingale, or the 2Hounds Nylon Martingale for extended small dog sizing if you don’t require a buckle closure.

Runners Up

As a budget pick, we like the 2Hounds Nylon Martingale Collar. Its durable construction almost seems too good to be true considering the low price (ranging from $10-$13 depending on size). It has thick metal hardware including a large D-ring for attaching a leash. The normal martingale version needs to be slipper over the head since it doesn’t have a buckle for easy on/off. This makes correct sizing more important than your average collar, and may not be the best pick for head-shy dogs. It comes in nearly 20 different colors and has the largest size range of all the collars we tested, from 7 inches up to 34 inches, with two different widths. The one potential downside of this collar is that the martingale section is quite large, meaning that it tightens quite a bit more than other options on this list when a dog pulls, so it may not be the best pick for dogs who are sensitive to leash and collar pressure.

We also liked the Rock Collar 3.0 from Non-stop Dogwear, but at $33, it’s best for specific use cases. We’d choose this collar for dogs who need performance in all weather. The Rock 3.0 collar dries incredibly quickly — ideal for pups who like to swim, or sport dogs who may be running in rain, sleet, or snow. The thickness of this collar was preferable to others we tested, since it seemed to distribute light pulling force more evenly around the dog’s neck than thinner options.

There wasn’t quite the ideal size for our medium 45 pound tester dogs in the non-nylon Buckle Martingale Collar from 2Hounds, but it could be a good pick for dogs whose measurements are right in the middle of the size ranges. Our dogs required a size small for the circumference of the collar, but 2Hounds unfortunately only makes small collars in ⅝ inch thickness — which felt too thin for a medium sized breed. The material is much softer and more flexible than the 2Hounds Nylon option, but it also feels less durable than all of the other collars we tested. If you’re looking for a large variety of designs and patterns, this is the collar to get — searching “buckle martingale collar” at 2Hounds yields nearly nine full pages of different colors, patterns and fabric options.

Though we loved its all-webbing counterpart, the Ruffwear Chain Reaction collar felt like overkill. If you have an incredibly strong dog that warrants a thick metal chain collar, a martingale might not be the best tool to use anyway. You’d likely be better off with a different tool while teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash, or with the Ruffwear Web Reaction collar if a martingale is on your must-have list.

Are Martingale Collars Good for Dogs who Pull?

Martin says that while martingales are sometimes used to teach leash pressure, that this isn’t always the best method. “Personally, as a positive reinforcement-based trainer I do not incorporate martingales in my training plans,” she says. “Some dogs can be very sensitive to pressure that is applied when the collar tightens. I do not use slip collars or martingales unless it is for a safety reason.”

Martingale collars (or any collar, for that matter) aren’t the tool of choice for intense pullers. “When using flat collars, martingale, or slip collars if forceful or constant pressure is applied there is the risk of trachea damage,” says Martin.

A martingale collar will likely not help with your dog pulling on walks. “While many types of collars and harnesses can help decrease the amount a dog pulls, the only true fix is implementing a training program to teach them to walk nicely,” says Martin. “I’ve seen way too many dogs learn how to pull through all sorts of collars/gear and end up choking themselves out on walks.”

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Jae Thomas is an e-commerce journalist, editor, and dog trainer based in Colorado. She graduated from the New York University journalism program in 2020, and has written commerce content for publications like Mashable, Apartment Therapy, Bon Appetít, and CNN. Jae has tested hundreds of dog products, and isn’t afraid to say what is or isn’t worth a reader’s time and money. Jae shares her life with mixed breed Muddy Paws Rescue alum, Miso, and Rough Collie, Dashi. Jae competes in various dog sports with her pups, and lives for clicker training, free shaping, and desensitization. She is also a member of the Collie Club of America and has an interest in the health and versatility of Collies.