The history of collars

Most dog owners will purchase a collar for their pet; in fact the law dictates this for the majority of dogs.  For most cat owners the decision is not a clear cut, many cats never wear a collar, cats are perceived to be at more risk of becoming entangled in their collar and there is no requirement in law for them to wear a collar.

Historically collars had four functions:

Dog collars originally provided owners with a means of restraining their canine companions. Collars and leashes can be seen restraining hunting dogs in Egyptian, Greek and Roman art.

Identification of ownership
From the 14th century collars were used as a means to prove ownership of a dog.  A clever solution was to use padlock collars that only owners could remove from their dogs using a key.  This was much more secure than simple collars with tags that could be easily removed and provide us with an indication of the value of dogs at this time.

Taxation and licences
The first dog tax or licensing law dates to Schweinfurt, Germany in 1598.  Licence tags were commonly attached to collars so that wardens could differentiate between strays and pets.

Dogs used in fights or baiting wore collars that were heavily defended with spikes to protect them from having their necks bitten by their adversaries.

Modern collars can perform many functions in addition to restraint and identification including training, health and safety benefits.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 says that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag attached to the collar. The owner’s telephone number is optional but recommended.  It’s probably not a good idea to put a dog’s name on a collar or tag because this assists dog thieves to pass dogs on to unsuspecting new owners because it appears that they know the dog because the dog responds to their name. Flat collars or buckle collars are ideal to carry a dog’s identity tag or plate.

Even dogs that are microchipped need to wear collars with the owner’s details when they are in public places.  If a dog does not wear a collar with identification owners can be fined up to £5,000.

Certain dogs are excused from having to where a collar with a dog tag. They are:

  • Any pack of hounds.
  • Any dog while being used for sporting purposes.
  • Any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin.
  • Any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep.
  • Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise or the police force for any area.
  • Any dog while being used in emergency rescue work.
  • Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

David Chamberlain BVetMed., MRCVS.

Veterinary Consultant to PetSafe®

Ref: The Control of Dogs Order 1992

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