Boxers do best with collars that are:
- made from natural fibers
- gentle on the neck
For Boxers that are pulling on the leash or engaging in nuisance barking, you might be tempted to resort to training collars.
Chokers, prong collars and shock collars are considered “aversive” or punitive methods, generally not appropriate for Boxers.
Far from being short cuts to good behavior, aversive collars can create new behavior issues and anxieties in a Boxer.
And they usually don’t work as well as reward-based training.
Plain Collars for Boxers
Go for collars made out of soft, supple and ideally natural material that won’t chafe or cause irritation.
Canvas or cotton are good options.
Boxers’ ultra short, tight-fitting coats offer very little padding between the collar and the skin, which can be quite delicate.
Keep an eye out for any redness caused by the collar rubbing.
Be aware that collars, and their tags, can easily get accidentally hitched and strangle an unattended Boxer.
There have been cases of dogs being injured and dying after their collars became caught:
- in between decking boards
- in an air conditioner vent
- in the bars of a crate
Boxers will panic if they become caught, further twisting and tightening the noose around their neck.
Don’t risk it.
Always take off your Boxer’s collar when he’s at home, particularly when he’s home alone.
This goes for both inside the house and when securely contained in the back yard.
You can lessen the risk somewhat by avoiding tags altogether.
One alternative is a collar that prints your phone number directly on the fabric of the collar itself.
Slip Chain Or Choke Collars For Boxers
Slip chains have largely gone out of favor because of the damage they can do to dogs.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, chokers should never be used.
PETA says choke collars have been associated with injuries including:
- spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis
- crushing of the trachea with partial or complete asphyxiation
- crushing and/or fracture of the bones in the larynx
- dislocated neck bones
- bruising of the esophagus
- bruising and damage to the skin and tissues in the neck
- brain damage and prolapsed eyes caused by sharp increases in pressure in the head
Even used properly, chokers are a harsher method than you want to use for a Boxer, as they do involve a level of physical punishment.
Boxers generally learn more effectively through incentives and positive reinforcement.
See also: How To Stop A Boxer Pulling On The Leash
The big downside of choker chains is right there in the name — they work by constricting around the neck when the dog pulls, or when you give a correction.
The idea is that this tightening on the neck provides an aversive stimulus that the dog dislikes enough to stop pulling.
If using a choker chain, make sure that the chain runs from the point of connection with the leash around the back of the neck first, not directly under the throat.
This at least avoids the pressure being applied directly to the throat.
Prong Collars For Boxers
Prong collars are a step further down the punitive route.
Made of a series of interconnected metal spikes, they look like instruments of torture.
When the dog pulls they don’t just tighten on the neck, they poke into the flesh.
These collars are objectionable enough that PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) has put out a statement opposing their use.
The metal spikes of prong collars pinch the skin around dogs’ necks when they pull and can scratch or puncture them. Over time, this can cause dogs to develop scar tissue (which has no feeling) and/or build up a tolerance to the painful pinching sensation and thus continue to pull, making walks even more difficult. Dogs may interpret the tightening of a choke or prong collar around their neck as a stranglehold (which it is, after all!) and become fearful or even aggressive.
Martingale Collars For Boxers
Martingale collars are a cross between an ordinary collar and a choke chain.
Most of the collar is normal, a fabric band.
But a section of it is made from chain, so that when the dog pulls, the collar tightens unpleasantly on the neck.
They are gentler than a full choker because the section around the throat is not chain but fabric … but they’re still not ideal.
Shock Collars For Boxers
These are not necessarily as bad as they sound, but certainly not the most suitable approach for a Boxer.
Sometimes called anti-barking collars or electronic collars, these devices deliver an electric shock to your dog’s neck when he barks.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers anti-bark collars punishment devices.
The ASPCA warns that most dogs become “collar-wise”, refraining from barking while collared but reverting to the behavior at other times.
This is because anti-bark collars punish your dog but don’t help him learn an alternate behavior.
According to the BCSPCA, British Columbia’s animal cruelty watchdog, the shock can cause psychological distress including phobias and high levels of stress and can even cause unhealthy increases in heart rate and burns to the skin.
The BCSPCA says, “Use of shock collars can habituate your pet to pain and cause increases in aggression and fear-based behaviors.
“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s position statement on training strongly discourages aversive training methods.”
In sensitive dogs like Boxers, punishment tends be a particularly counterproductive way to train and can cause agitation and exacerbate anxiety.
You will have much more success with reward-based training that creates an incentive for your Boxer to perform the desired behavior.
If you would hesitate at the thought of managing your child this way, electric shocks are probably not the kindest way to deal with your Boxer.
A less painful alternative are collars that spray citronella in your dogs face when they bark, but these are also not ideal and some dogs may suffer a reaction to the oil.
There are less harsh ways to address nuisance barking, which is rare in Boxers and usually caused by factors like not enough exercise or mental stimulation.
Harnesses For Boxers
The best collar for a Boxer may be no collar at all.
Body harnesses avoid exerting force on the neck, which can be considerable given how hard some Boxers pull.
A front-attaching harness can give you a lot more control as you’re working on teaching your Boxer to loose-leash walk.
Tags with identification details can be just as easily attached to a harness as a collar.
Head Harnesses For Boxers
Head harnesses like the Gentle Leader are sometimes used for extreme pullers.
However, an improperly fitted head harness can do your Boxer a lot of damage.
Make sure you follow the directions carefully or get help putting the head harness on for the first time and adjusting its fit.
If you’re considering a head harness, make sure the design of your particular brand sits right on a Boxer’s short muzzle.
The best collar for your Boxer is a soft, fabric collar that comes off when he’s at home, so as to avoid snagging on things.
Avoid aversive collars like choke chains, prong and shock collars.
Consider a head harness only if you know how to correctly fit and use it, otherwise you can injure your dog.
In fact, the safest and most effective collar for your Boxer may well be … a front-attaching chest harness.
What are the dangers of using choke and prong collars? PETA
5 Reasons not to use a shock collar, BCSPCA
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