German Shepherd Neck Size: A Complete Guide

Categorized as Appearance and Size
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The German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds globally, prized for its intelligence, loyalty, versatility and protective nature. An essential aspect of caring for a German Shepherd is ensuring they have a properly fitted collar and leash. However, with their large size and muscular necks, determining the right collar size can be tricky.

This comprehensive guide will provide dog owners the information needed to measure their German Shepherd’s neck accurately and select the ideal collar size. We’ll cover measuring techniques, growth charts based on age, optimal collar fit, the best collar types and materials, safety considerations, and tips for keeping your German Shepherd comfortable.

Why German Shepherd Neck Size Matters

A properly fitted collar is vital for any dog, but especially for large, strong breeds like the German Shepherd. Here are some key reasons why your Shepherd’s collar size matters:

  • Safety and security – A loose collar can easily slip off, risking your dog getting lost or injured. A too-tight collar can choke your dog or cause neck abrasions. The right snug fit keeps your dog secure.
  • Comfort – The collar should not rub or constrict your dog’s neck. An improper fit leads to discomfort or injuries. Ensuring the right size prevents chafing or choking.
  • Communication – When fitted and used properly, collars allow you to guide your German Shepherd’s behavior with leash pressure. Clear communication requires a good fit.
  • Identification – Collars display ID and rabies tags that help reunite lost dogs with their owners. A loose collar risks tags falling off.
  • Control – Proper collar sizing gives you the right amount of control over your strong, driven Shepherd during leashed walks. Too loose and they can slip away.

In short, the right collar size keeps your German Shepherd secure, comfortable, and lets you communicate effectively while maintaining control. Now let’s look at how to accurately determine your dog’s neck size.

Measuring Your German Shepherd’s Neck

Measuring your German Shepherd’s neck circumference correctly is crucial for achieving the ideal collar fit. Here are some tips for measuring neck size accurately:

Use a Flexible Tape Measure

Avoid strings, ropes, chains or other objects that can stretch or snag fur. A soft, flexible vinyl or cloth tape measure specifically designed for pets will give the most accurate measurement.

Position at the Widest Point

Measure at the widest part of the neck, just behind the ears and before the shoulders. This maximizes comfort.

Snug Fit

Wrap the tape snugly but not overly tight. It should fit close without compressing the fur and skin. You should be able to slide two fingers between the tape and neck.

Record Several Measurements

German Shepherds have thick fur around their necks. Take three measurements and average them to account for the fur. Repeat periodically as the coat changes.

Proper Posture

Have your dog stand squarely with their head up. Keeping the neck extended straight will result in the most accurate sizing.

Treats Help!

Use treats to gain your dog’s cooperation and distract them from fussing while measuring. This gets the best results.

Follow these tips while your Shepherd is calm and relaxed to get a precise neck measurement. Now let’s look at typical German Shepherd neck sizes.

German Shepherd Neck Size by Age

A German Shepherd’s neck girth will vary substantially based on their age and rate of growth. Here are the typical neck size ranges:

AgeNeck Size Range
8 weeks8 – 10 inches
3 months10 – 13 inches
6 months13 – 18 inches
1 year16 – 22 inches
Adult18 – 26 inches

These growth charts provide a good guideline, but remember that neck circumference can vary based on the individual dog’s genetics, nutrition, and gender.

Male German Shepherds generally reach the larger end of the ranges due to their muscular builds and thicker fur around the neck. Bitches typically remain at the lower end of the spectrum.

The best approach is to measure your own German Shepherd’s neck regularly as they grow and choose a collar size accordingly.

What Is the Ideal German Shepherd Collar Fit?

You want your German Shepherd’s collar to be snug enough to prevent slipping off, but loose enough to avoid choking or constricting your dog’s airway and blood flow.

Here are the signs of a properly fitted collar:

  • You can slip two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.
  • The collar does not constrict your dog’s neck when they pull against it.
  • Your dog seems comfortable and relaxed when wearing the collar.
  • Your dog cannot easily back out of the collar if it gets hooked.
  • You can see a space of about an inch when the collar is fastened.
  • You can hear a jangling sound as your dog moves around with ID tags.

A proper fit allows you to maintain control without your Shepherd gasping or gagging as they strain against the leash. Continuously monitor collar tightness as your dog’s neck size evolves.

Now let’s explore the collar options that work best for German Shepherds.

Collar Types for German Shepherds

With their large, muscular necks and tendency to pull strongly on leash, German Shepherds perform best with certain collar types designed for control and safety. Here are top options:

Martingale Collars

These collars tighten slightly if your dog tries to back out of it, without constricting like a choke collar. The limited snugging action also provides you more control over leash pulling. Make sure to adjust the tightening limit to avoid excessive constriction.

Padded Leather Collars

Leather distributes pressure more evenly and the padding protects your Shepherd’s neck. Softer padded leather is more comfortable than nylon or chain options. Ensure proper fit to prevent choking.

Limited-Slip Collars

These feature rings or attachments that tighten the collar slightly when your dog pulls, applying gentle pressure to distract them from lunging or jumping. Proper training is required.

Head Collars

For German Shepherds that persistently pull hard during leashed walks, a head collar that fastens around the muzzle can provide significant control without choking. Take the time to accustom your dog to wearing one.

For everyday use, martingale, padded leather, or limited-slip collars are good options. Head collars are for special training needs. Now let’s discuss optimal collar materials.

Collar Materials for German Shepherds

Collars come in a variety of materials, with some better suited for a breed as active and muscular as the German Shepherd. Here are top options:


Nylon collars provide excellent durability and weather resistance without absorbing odors or mildew. They easily adjust to the ideal snug fit. Use thicker nylon for extra strength. Look for reinforced attachment points.


Top grain, high quality leather distributes pressure gently over your Shepherd’s neck. It conforms to the neck’s shape and is very strong. Leather does require more cleaning and maintenance compared to nylon.


This synthetic webbing has leather-like properties but doesn’t crack or fade like real leather. It stands up to water, dirt, and your dog’s neck oils. Biothane is durable and easy to clean.

Avoid chain slip collars or chokes unless trained properly in their use – they can damage your Shepherd’s neck. Now let’s talk safety.

Collar Safety Tips for German Shepherds

Since German Shepherds are so strong and energetic, collar safety is paramount. Here are tips:

  • Check your Shepherd’s neck daily for signs of chafing or injury from the collar. Switch to a softer style if needed.
  • Ensure your collar has a functional quick-release clasp in case it gets hooked on something hazardous. Test it regularly.
  • Never leave a training collar on an unsupervised German Shepherd, especially prong or electronic collars. Use only for training sessions.
  • Make sure contact points on prong, slip, or martingale collars are blunted to prevent fur damage or abrasions.
  • Check that your Shepherd cannot slip out of their collar by backing up. This should trigger the tightening feature on martingales and slip collars.
  • Consider a GPS tracking collar like the Fi collar if your Shepherd ever runs off-leash or may get lost.
  • Rotate between two collars daily to allow your Shepherd’s fur and skin a chance to recover.

Proper collar selection, snug fit, and regular safety checks will keep your German Shepherd secure and comfortable!

Tips for German Shepherd Comfort

Here are some additional tips for optimizing your German Shepherd’s collar comfort:

  • Gradually increase collar tightness over 7-10 days for puppies to allow them to acclimate.
  • Ensure your Shepherd’s collar is loose enough to allow panting without choking. Two fingers of space is ideal.
  • Choose wide collars over thin bands to better distribute pressure and avoid irritating fur. 1-2 inches is optimal.
  • Select smooth collar finishes and round edges to prevent abrasions from friction.
  • Check for hair loss or neck calluses – signs of collar irritation. Switch to a softer style if present.
  • Clean leather or nylon collars regularly to prevent odor buildup and skin irritation.
  • Shave thick neck fur to prevent matting and allow better collar contact with your Shepherd’s skin.

Prioritizing your German Shepherd’s comfort encourages cooperation with leash training. With the right collar fit, you’ll both enjoy walks more!

Finding the Perfect German Shepherd Collar

With their large size, muscular necks, and energetic temperament, selecting the ideal collar for a German Shepherd involves some key considerations:

  • Carefully measure your Shepherd’s neck circumference and recheck size regularly as they grow.
  • Ensure at least a finger’s width of space between collar and neck for comfort.
  • Choose durable nylon or leather to withstand your dog’s strength.
  • Seek out martingales, limited-slip, or padded leather collars for control.
  • Prioritize adjustable straps and quick-release clasps for safety.
  • Ask your veterinarian for advice if your Shepherd has neck injuries or other issues.
  • Work slowly when introducing new collar styles to avoid overwhelming anxious dogs.
  • Make sure your Shepherd’s ID and rabies tags are always attached.

With the proper collar size and style, your German Shepherd will stay comfortable, secure, and ready for adventure! Just remember to reconfirm that perfect fit regularly as your dog’s neck evolves.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age can German Shepherd puppies start wearing collars?

Veterinarians typically recommend waiting until 8-12 weeks of age to begin very short duration collar use to avoid injuring the puppy’s throat while it is still developing. Gradually increase collar wear time over the first few months.

How often should I check my German Shepherd’s collar fit?

Especially during their rapid 6-12 month growth phase, check collar fit weekly. Take into account seasonal coat changes too. For adults, check monthly that their collar is not too tight or loose.

My German Shepherd keeps breaking their collars – what am I doing wrong?

Your Shepherd likely needs a collar made of more heavy duty materials. Try thicker nylon or leather, use reinforced attachment points, and examine their neck closely to ensure the collar isn’t causing injuries leading to breakage.

Can I leave a prong collar on my German Shepherd when not training?

Veterinarians strongly advise removing prong, choke, or electronic collars after training sessions. These collars risk injury if caught on objects during unsupervised wear. Use regular collars for non-training times.

Why does my German Shepherd resist wearing a collar?

Gradually introduce collar wearing from a very young age. Ensure proper fit to avoid discomfort. Rule out skin irritation. Loosen the collar during the intro period, and positively reinforce wearing collars with treats. If resistance persists, consult a trainer.


A properly fitted collar is essential for keeping your German Shepherd comfortable, secure, and under your control during leashed activities. Take the time to accurately measure your dog’s neck size and make collar adjustments as they grow.

Choose a durable, control-focused style like a martingale or padded leather collar. Prioritize your Shepherd’s safety with quick-release clasps and supervision during wear. With a little training and the right collar, you and your German Shepherd will enjoy many happy adventures together!

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.