What’s A Prong Collar? (Solved & Explained!)

Prong collars, or pinch collars as they are sometimes called, are bizarre-looking devices that appear like something out of a horror film. They are chain-based collars with several prongs pointing inward. When not in use, the prongs just rest around your dog’s fur; when you provide a reprimand, the collar tightens, forcing the prongs to press or pinch into the dog’s neck. 

Patented in the late 1800s by Herm Sprenger, the prong collar has ancient roots that can be traced back to Roman times. Modern prong collars have been successfully used as training devices since gaining popularity in the mid-1950s.  

Continue reading to learn more about the different types of prong collars, when you should choose to use one, and the safety precautions you should take when using them with your dog. 

Types of Prong Collars 

There are several different types of prong collars on the market today that all function relatively the same as one another. However, depending on your dog’s size and breed, you may want to choose a traditional chain collar or something a little more fitting. 

Plastic Pinch Collars 

Plastic pinch collars function the same way as a traditional prong collar, except instead of chain links it features plastic links. The links have ‘teeth’ on the inside and the collar is designed to squeeze or pinch the dog’s neck instead of applying pressure.  

Plastic pinch collars are great for dogs who need extra correction and when worn onlookers cannot see that it is a pinch collar.  

Metal Chain Prong Collars 

The prong collar that is formed on a metal chain link collar is the most popular and most recognizable prong collar you can find today. The collar is designed to slip over the dog’s head and when the dog pulls on the lead, the prongs apply pressure around the dog’s neck.  

Dogs find this pressure not desirable and stop pulling the lead. Once the pulling is stopped, the collar relaxes around the dog and the corrective action is stopped. The links in the metal chain collars are meant to be removable and adjustable to ensure a perfect fit. 

Should I Use a Prong Collar? 

If you are wondering if you should use a prong collar, the answer will depend on your dog and your comfort level. Certain types of sizes and breeds cannot wear prong collars.  

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Dog breeds such as Chihuahua, Maltese, and other toy breeds, should not use a prong collar. These tiny dog breeds have sensitive necks and prong collars could cause severe injuries to the dog. 

Other dog breeds like Greyhounds, Whippets, and Saluki’s have larger necks than they have heads. This could lead to an improper fitting of the prong collar. If you have a dolichocephalic breed of dog, opt for a slip collar or martingale collar. This will provide the control you need for walks while properly fitting the oddly shaped dog. 

The other important consideration you should factor in when deciding to use a prong collar is your own comfort level. It is crucial before using a prong collar to learn how to properly fit it on your dog, signs to watch for if your dog goes into distress and your own confidence in using it on walks.  

You may want to sign up for a training class where you can learn tips and tricks to using prong collars. These classes are useful in learning what to do and what not to do while building your confidence with your dog. 

Precautions for Using Prong Collars 

When you are frustrated with your dog, never use a prong collar as a form of punishment. Not only is it harsh, but it is also extremely detrimental to your efforts. Prong collars are used for giving corrections and keeping your dog in the proper stance. Make sure that both you and your dog are in neutral positions before using a prong or pinch collar. 

Never allow your dog to pull on its chain. This can result in catastrophic injuries such as tracheal injury, strained muscles, and even cervical trauma. Some dogs may put enough pressure on their eyes to cause them to bulge. Do not use a prong or pinch collar if your dog is continually yanking on the leash. If you are experiencing this, try switching to an anti-pull harness and work on your dog’s leash manners. 

Another precaution you must always take when using prong or pinch collars is to never leave your dog unattended. Not only does this apply to prong collars, but also slip and martingale collars as well. Dogs that are left unattended have a tendency to get bored and get into trouble. This could include getting caught up and seriously injuring themselves while wearing these types of collars. 

You should never use prong or pinch collars on dogs under 1 year of age. Puppies are notoriously terrible at their listening skills and using a prong or pinch collar could injure them. Proper training and care should be given to puppies so that they can learn to understand commands and follow them accordingly. 

Are Prong Collars Cruel? 

There is much debate across a wide variety of animal behavior experts, veterinarians, and pet owners if the use of prong or pinch collars is cruel. The answer to this will depend heavily on who you ask. However, prong collars when used properly are an excellent training tool and are not cruel to the dog. 

The truth is that, when properly fitted, the prong collar is designed to be the most compassionate approach to training and not damage your dog. Because most people have never witnessed a prong or pinch collar being used properly in dog training, it is easy for many to say that they are cruel. 

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Will Prong Collars Make My Dog Aggressive? 

No. Using a prong collar correctly in training will not make a dog aggressive. This is a common misconception that started circulating around groups of people unfamiliar with dog training methods. Like most training methods its success will depend on the dog and the trainer. Some dogs take to training differently and develop preferences. Using a prong collar is one of many preferences.