Ruffwear Chain Reaction Martingale Collar

Price: $24.95

Sizing and colors: Small (11-14″ neck) through Large (20-26″ neck) in red, orange, gray and blue

This review is light on photos because I no longer have this collar; unfortunately it was too heavy for a dog of Robin’s size and didn’t solve our fur breakage problem. Read about our holy grail collar and the fur breakage story here. However, if you’re specifically looking for a chain martingale (which can be a great training aid due to the audible cue as the links tighten), or your dog is a little heftier and can handle the weight, Ruffwear’s collar is a durable and stylish option.

A couple months into having Robin, I was looking to replace his basic collar with a martingale to reduce fur breakage around his neck, since martingales fit more loosely than a standard collar until tension is applied. I had just happily purchased a Ruffwear pack, so I decided to get an orange Ruffwear Chain Reaction collar in size small (11-14″ neck).

Design: 5/5

The collar is constructed of an adjustable length of sturdy reflective nylon webbing, attached to a chrome-plated steel chain. It has a sewn-on rubber logo patch and a tag holder with a silicone hanging tag silencer. There’s a “live” ring for the leash on the chain section, but also an additional aluminum connection point located on the webbing, which is “dead” (tension will not tighten the chain). Overall, this size collar is fairly heavy at 3.2 ounces. As with all current Ruffwear products, its features are streamlined so there’s no quick release, and (depending on the desired size once on) it may need to be adjusted larger to fit over the head.

Fit: 4/5

The collar fit a little bigger than I thought it should; although Robin never got out of it, when testing it I could juuuust barely pull it over his head when adjusted as small as it would go. This may not be a problem for other dogs; Robin has a fairly slim head and was right at the bottom of the size range with an 11.25″ – 11.5″ neck (now grown to around 12″). For others in this situation, I did determine that the collar’s adjustability range could be extended by removing the sewn-on rubber tag holder and sewing it back on elsewhere, although I didn’t try it. The collar looked good on him, despite the relatively wide 1″ width, and Robin didn’t seem bothered by the weight.

Function: 3/5

Though the overall weight wasn’t an issue when Robin was standing still, once he was moving the chain would settle to the front and pull the martingale closed, totally negating the larger-collar benefits I’d hoped to experience. Because the collar was adjusted as small as it could go, there was a greater proportion of chain to exposed webbing compared to a medium or larger adjustment, so I think this would be less of a problem on a larger neck size. Because the chain hung to the front, every time the leash tugged on the collar it would twist around to the back, sawing at his neck fur. The sturdy webbing combined with this action quickly caused a new ring of breakage around his neck.

IMG_20141110_191342Build Quality: 5/5

Like every Ruffwear product we’ve tried, this collar is built to last. The webbing is stiff and a bit rough compared to standard nylon pet store collars, but it’s the type of webbing that doesn’t snag on velcro. All of the seams are thorough and tight, and the plastic buckle is sturdy and smooth. The likeliest failure would be the plastic slider allowing the collar to get large enough to slip off, but it’s difficult to slide and the strap keeper also keeps a strong grip on the strap. I would not worry even if using this collar on a big, strong dog.

I really like the tag silencer and the tag holder is stitched on well, but this is definitely the weakest point of the collar. The tags are only attached by a loop of webbing stitched to the surface of the collar, so I would probably attach the critical tags to the aluminum “dead” ring to be safe.

Overall: 4.5/5

While this collar didn’t work for us, I think it’s a well-designed, durable collar and I would consider trying one for a larger dog with a smooth coat. Although the collar technically fits Robin’s neck size, I’d like to see Ruffwear market it for larger necks instead, or replace the chain with a lighter gauge and slightly reduce the ratio of chain to webbing so that the chain doesn’t overwhelm when the collar is adjusted to the small end of the range.

It’s important to note that martingales shouldn’t be used unsupervised (at home or off-leash). Because they can snag on a branch or knob and tighten, they can be dangerous for your dog.

Best for: Supervised use on larger dogs with smooth or tough coats, especially for audible leash corrections.

Not ideal for: Small necks, delicate fur, and unsupervised use.


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