Why is a standard dog collar and lead not suitable?
Our gorgeous Greys, and indeed many sighthounds require a specially designed greyhound collar and lead to protect their necks and throats when out on walks. These breeds hunt prey using sight, being able to see the tiniest of movements over vast landscapes. They can become quite animated and lunge on their leads when seeing any small animals moving at speed in the distance. This is their natural instinct and they will, more often than not, want to give chase.
My grey is now quite a mature gentleman - into double digits at the ripe old age of 10 - but if something catches his attention, I’m still regularly feeling my arm being ripped from its socket and am grateful for the well-fitted collar and lead.
Additional consideration has gone into these collars and leads to prevent any permanent damage or pain to a greyhound, which standard dog collars and leads simply cannot provide. It is an essential part of the greyhound tool kit.
Why do they need they need such unique collars?
The iconic appearance of the Greyhound, with their long narrow heads, flat back ears and strong muscular necks, leads to the requirement for these specially designed collars. Interestingly, the aerodynamic skull which contributes greatly to their swift acceleration is often smaller than their powerful necks.
The head does widen between the ears but generally, it is either the same width or smaller. Greyhound collars are intentionally wider than traditional dog collars to stop a greyhound from shaking them loose to take off at 45mph.
The classic bridle design collar, mainly used on outdoor walks, have an extremely wide centre, narrowing at the ends where the fasteners are found. Some have buckle fasteners, some may use the quick release sliding clip and others use metal rings and chains. The lead is then attached to fastening loops provided.
This is a static fitting; if the dog suddenly lunges forward the wide, often padded middle will prevent any undue ligature pressure to the oesophagus and possible neck lesions.
The Martindale style collar, which many owners use for everyday indoor use, has a one width circumference. The two loop mechanism was created with sighthounds in mind. The larger loop fits around the dog's neck with the second loop actually connecting the ends of the larger loop. It is this smaller second loop where a lead is fastened to. This design allows for a gentle tightening to be applied to the collar; the larger loop, when the dog applies tension on the lead by pulling.
With both of these great styles, owners will find that they are in control at all times and safe in the knowledge that their beloved pet pooch is not in danger of harming themselves.
Owners - be warned though, nothing can prevent the full force of the second fasted land mammal on earth from time to time. It is worth owners recognising the signals and digging their heels in.
Having a collar fitted correctly is important
All collars and leads need to be worn correctly for the safety features to work with the greatest emphasis. The bridle collars should fasten slightly below the ears with a snug fit to the neck but still allow for a two finger gap between collar and skin. The widened middle section should sit front and centre across the Greyhound's throat and remain in place throughout the walk.
At first, owners can often feel it looks awkward and stiff but good quality sighthound collars are comfortable as well as protective.
If a greyhound is not content, an owner will soon know about it. They are famously stubborn and will refuse to budge until their Walker has adjusted whatever is making them uncomfortable.
Martindale collars, as often used continually, are generally a much looser fit. This allows for a Greyhound to sleep, eat and sleep some more, comfortably; unimpeded by a tight binding around their neck.
The added benefit to the two looping design means this collar continues to be a controller of behaviour when at home. By holding onto the smaller loop the mechanism works the same as if they were on the lead. When excited and pulling to get the attention from new arrivals or on seeing an abandoned plate of food, gentle pressure is applied and they settle down.
Sighthound collars and leads also take into consideration other parts of the animal. Greyhounds, in particular, have delicate skin and seem to pick up allergies quickly. A simple sprung wiry thread causing a poking or rubbing irritant could create a bigger sore in no time at all. Materials are selected carefully for this reason.
Their thin coats are prone to balding, this is especially evident in newly retired racers. Collars are designed with comfort and lightness in mind. Soft edging and airy fabrics are used to avoid loss of fur when continual worn.
Owners should be sure to take their time when choosing collars and leads for their dear doggies. Whether it is decided to have either a bridle style collar or a Martindale collar (or like me a selection of both), there is a huge range of options.
I recommend experimenting with different collars. There really is an unlimited amount of choice for greyhound collars and leads on the market today. Neon colours, traditional leathers and assorted patterns are all up for grabs so any greyhound can become the fashion envy of their street and strut their stuff on every walk!