Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Brief History of Dog Collars

Dog collars showed up with the first dog.  In fact, the essential difference between a wolf and a dog may not be any genetic distinction, but simply a collar.  Take a new-born wolf pup and remove him from his litter and put on a collar, and you have a dog who is owned, and which the owner-handler has at least some control over.

Ancient Egyptian dogs collars appear to have been fabric or very thin leather, and were tied on in a ribbon-like fashion.  The metal buckle had not yet been invented.

By the time the Greek and Roman states showed up, metal work and mechanics had improved, and the buckle and hook-fastened flat collar has appeared, as well as the slip-chain collar, and the spiked dog collar for combat and wolf protection.

Leather, cloth and rope were the most common materials for early dogs collars but, because these materials wear out, rot, and disintegrate, most of the very old dog collars that are still extent are metal.

Dog collars of old were used as they are today:  to keep dogs tied up outside of buildings, to make sure dogs followed when traveling or hunting, as an aid to training, and to to aid in the return of a lost dog. 

In addition during the era prior to rabies, dog collars were an important sign that a dog was owned.  The fancier the collar, the greater the likely penalty if a dog was killed during a routine roundup of stray and feral dogs. 

As the status of dogs rose and they became consumer items, more and more dog collars were fitted with small locks. Possession of the key signaled ownership, and also helped reduce the chance of opportunistic dog theft.

By the Victorian era, as "ancient" breeds were created overnight by get-rich-quick dog dealers, an ancillary business rose up; that of making and selling fancy dog collars. 

These fancy dog collars might be worked leather with brass studs and a brass name plate, or they might be crafted from pure silver with jewels and even gold inlays.  Whatever you wanted could be bought from itinerant dog collar vendors, such as the man pictured at right.

The very best dog collars ever created are those we commonly find in pet stores today -- adjustable nylon collars with solid snap tags. 

These collars are easily adjusted, do not wear out, are very low-cost and, when combined with a slide tag, will get your dog returned to you quickly.

* * * *

A final note:  Never let your dog outside without a collar and tag on.  Never, ever, ever.  Not for a second. Not if your yard is fenced.  Never. 

More dogs are lost and killed because their idiot owners failed to follow this rule than for any other reason.  There is no excuse for a dog not having a collar on 100% of the time unless it is inside and in a crate.  If your dog is outside and in a crate (such as at a dog show or field trial) it needs to have a collar and tag on.  If it is being shipped in a crate, it needs a dog collar with tag on.  If you are just walking your dog to the mailbox at the end of driveway, your dog needs to have a collar and tag on.  Always.  No excuses.  Your dog should not die because you are a lazy idiot.

At one time, this was the most famous terrier in the world!


Meghan said...

My dogs used to wear collars 100% of the time. Until the day I had one get his bottom jaw under another dog's collar and the other dog flipped. She was gasping for breath and he was in a panic. Luckily this happened in my living room. If it had happened when they were out in the yard, I believe she would have died. We were able to get them untagled and all collars came off that day.

My dogs are microchipped and wear a collar with tags if we are going out to the paved road. Maybe it is dumb luck or maybe I am just good at not losing my dogs. I don't know but I feel it is the lesser of two evils.


PBurns said...

Do you actually know how to put on a dog collar?

I am serious, because if a collar is put on right, there is no way another dog can get its jaw under to the point of getting stuck. I have Jack Russell terriers and they play hard. Never had a problem, but that's because my collars are not loose. A collar is not supposed to be so loose that a dog can slip a jaw underneath it.

I have owned dogs for 50 years and never had the problem you describe. Ditto for dogs caught in brush, etc. -- it has never happened, and my dogs spend a LOT of time (almost 100 percent of their time) in field, forest and forested yard.

As for microchips, they should be considered useless.

Your dog will NOT be picked up by a close-by neighbor without a collar, and WILL be left to roam and get hit by a car.

If someone does pick up your dog, they may decide it is a stray and just keep the dog (that happens all the time).

If your dog goes to the local shelter, you are now dependent on them having a working microchip reader that can read your chip, and you are also dependent on the minimum-wage idiot working the scanner finding that chip which may have migrated down the leg. Shelter workers miss chips all the time, and dogs die every day as a consequence.

You are also dependent on the chip registry record being right. Is it? Was that the address and phone where your lived 5 years ago, but that's not your current address or phone number? Again, that happens ALL the time.

Here are the REAL numbers to think through: I have NEVER met anyone who has not had a dog get out of a fenced yard (open gate, hole under fence, broken slat, open door), and I have NEVER met anyone who knew how to put on a dog collar get in the situation you describe.

The relative risks here do not even graph. Your choice puts your dogs life at risk because you do not know how to put on a dog collar. Learn how to do that and put on a damn dog collar!


Meagan said...

I have worked in daycare a where I saw this happen 5+ times. Each time the dogs collar was way too loose. Luckily plastic snap collars are required so they were easily un clipped before the dog choked. I would also never leave dogs alone outside to play but again that is a personal choice. Like it has been said, if the collar is on correctly this won't happen.
Also many people don't even know what a microchip is. So if a kind person can actually grab your un collared dog they may never take it to a vet to be checked.
I also know a lady who kept a dog she found with no collar and she had no idea what a chip was until I told her. She assumed the dog was mistreated cause it was thin (cause lost dogs are eating somehow on their own??) and still has the dog today. I doubt the dog was dumped and probably has a broken hearted owner somewhere. Not everyone is kind enough to go searching for rightful owners.

Meghan said...

I actually have a task on my calendar to review my microchip registry records annually. The first thing they do at my vet after getting a weight is to check the chip. Every single time we walk in the door. One chip did migrate and it has been replaced.

If I somehow managed to escape my dogs oversight and they turned up at the closest neighbor's 1/4+ mile away overland, they would probably do what people out here do when they see a stray dog; check with the dog lady.

And if a stranger happened by and thought they would be taking one my dogs away with them, well, my money would be on the dog and they probably better just move along.

I did have a dog end up on the wrong side of the gate by mistake once as he flailing about at The Governor's return. It was ok since that section of yard is double fenced as is required by my kennel license. And I was home! If I am not home, my dogs are securely contained in the house.

I do not tend to misplace things that are valuable to me. I lost my wallet once but I have never ever lost a dog in 25+ years of adult ownership. I cannot say the same for collar mishaps. Again, YMMV.

geonni banner said...

I'm a believer in "all collared, all the time." With one exception - a dog in a crate with a collar that has a metal buckle or a dangle tag. Dogs, like horses, can get very panicky and stupid if they get hung up someplace. There have been more than a few instances when dogs strangled under these conditions. I had it happen with a crated rescue dog. Fortunately I was right there and had a pocket knife on me.

In a crate a dog should be collarless or wear a collar that will break away if they get hung up.

My dog always has a collar with a Boomerang tag on it, but I still like the tattoo for reliable ID. People take collars off, and in many states a dog with an ID tattoo cannot (legally) be sold to a research institution.

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
No dog overnights at our house without one of our collars. Last year our town street dog got hit by a car (broken pelvis) so we took her in, cleaned her up and did a little training. She was a peach - mixed shepherd - but 9 years old so we were delighted when a dogless 60ish couple adopted her. I told them to send my collar back when they had one of their own. Two weks later I get a call from Alexandria (3hrs away) "We have your dog?"
"What dog?"
"Your nice brown dog."
"We don't own a brown dog."
Turned out, the rescues new owners had taken the dog with them to visit friends, left the house, dog dug her way out of the back yard and oops. Well, it took some trouble finding the new owners cell etc but thanks to the wrong collar (with name & ph#) they were reunited.
They never did send our collar back.
Donald McCaig

Seahorse said...

You really should have warned you'd be displaying "collar porn". If I had unlimited disposable income, I'd own a few of these beauties. Some beautiful work, and although I own one modest old collar with matching leash and padlock, I never knew it was the key that proved ownership.


Cairenn said...

hello, I love all the pictures of the collars, many of them I have never seen before. I would love to know the sources of several of them.

I have a strong interest in medieval dog collars, several of those look like they are the right time period.

I would be willing to give you my email if you would prefer that.

Thanks a lot,

Kitt Shattuck said...

I have been looking up information on my new Anatolian Shepherd rescue, a giant protective flock guardian from ancient Turkey. It mentioned that they wore spiked collars to protect against predators and look more intimidating (like Myles needs it, he's only two years old and already weighing in around a hundred pounds...). I just had to look up these dogs in their ancient spiked collars, and stumbled upon your site, and boy am I glad I did! Not only did I get great information to further my dog training studies, but a history lesson, and a resource for dog training! (Not sure how similar terriers and anatolians are, but some of it has to correspond!)

As for the collar issue, I have collars on my dogs at all times. I put collars on my indoor cats when we leave the house, like for the vets, being catsit at my mothers, or moving home. It's just too dangerous. My rescue still has his foster home's tags on him, even though she's 700 miles away, because she knows my phone number. It's just way too dangerous of an alternative! People think: no collar = no home. In my opinion, collars should be buckles or secure ties and not snaps, and they should fit around the TOP of the dog's neck (near the ears and jaw) snug enough that you can play two fingers in under them, but not much else. Otherwise, you can fit things like branches (my mother's poor dog, hanging from a low tree somehow), or another dog's lower jaw. Collars are not decorative necklaces, they are for training and safety!

PBurns said...

Have I got the person for you! See these >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2016/05/extraordinary-dog-collars-for.html

Highly recommended by a friend, Yilmaz Askan is said to be the real deal. They certainly look the part. He makes all kinds.