White Pine Fur-Saving Collar

Price: $7.95 to $13.95

Sizing and colors: multiple sizes from 6″ to 30″ neck, in most colors

Although Robin is honestly rarely on a leash, I consider his collar and tags to be a critical safety tool and he never leaves the house without at least one collar on – typically two.¬†His off-leash reliability flies out the window when he’s left with unfamiliar people, and his tags saved the day a year ago when¬†he jumped a relative’s five foot fence to follow us to lunch.¬†However, my insistence on 24/7 collar wear caused a ring of broken fur around his neck until we discovered¬†tubular nylon.

In the beginning, Robin was skittish and fast enough that we considered him a big flight risk. For walks, we doubled up with a harness and a collar. Unfortunately, his coat started to break underneath the harness neckline, and the collar started to damage his neck hair. To allow for a looser-fitting collar, I decided to get a martingale, which tightens only when tension is applied. We first tried a Ruffwear Chain Reaction collar (review), which ended up being too heavy for Robin.

While researching hair breakage, I happened upon White Pine collars, which are silky tubular nylon¬†slip collars designed¬†for show Samoyeds. I bought Robin a flame orange “Soft Slip” size “Mini” in medium for 8-13 inch necks. The sizing isn’t very intuitive, so just find your preferred width and then pick the right size out of that category.

Design: 4/5

The collar is made of a single piece of solid colored tubular nylon, sewn with a sturdy x at either end, with two black steel D rings and a metal slider buckle. Looks-wise, it’s bare bones¬†– a simple webbed collar with visible stitching and visible raw edges. The slip design, however, is great- unlike a martingale, which has a completely separate loop of chain or webbing attached through the D rings, this collar is all one piece, with one¬†end formed into a loop¬†through the other D ring. This creates a collar that lies flatter than a webbing martingale, and is also less likely to catch¬†on knobs or branches. It’s not obviously a martingale style until you pull on the D ring.

The real star of the show, though, is the tubular nylon the collar is constructed of. Unlike flat woven nylon, tubular nylon doesn’t have an edge, so it’s smooth all the way around. Because the collar is designed for show dogs, the cut ends are sewn to the outside to further protect the coat. The half-inch width is typically partially hidden under Robin’s coat, so the raw edges aren’t visible when it’s on. Unfortunately, it’s not at all reflective, although I did add some minimal¬†reflectivity by sewing some loose stitches with a reflective thread.

2014-12-13
Robin in his brand-new White Pine collar with an aluminum tag, right after we got it.

Fit: 5/5

Robin’s collar is extended almost all the way out because he’s close to the top of the size range, and the length of the slip is a fairly small proportion of the whole collar. It’s adjusted to easily slip over his head when untightened, but even so, it won’t pass his ears when there’s tension on his leash. When it’s fully tightened, I can fit all four of my fingers between the collar and his neck, which is perfect for us since I’m using it as an easy on/off solution, not as a training aid. If¬†I wanted a¬†longer slip section for a stronger correction or because Robin had a larger head to neck ratio, I would guess that¬†the next size up for 10-16″ necks would have different proportions. Trainers that use¬†martingales usually recommend that the collar fit closely¬†against the neck¬†when completely tightened, but I wouldn’t recommend that type of fit for unsupervised or off-leash use.

I¬†love that the collar tends to hide mostly under his fur, and being loose-fitting it doesn’t create a big bump in his neck fur the way that tighter collars do.

Function: 5/5

Whenever I have to use a backup buckle collar because I’ve left this one in my other bag¬†or forgotten it at home, I get annoyed with the fiddliness of the buckle and the way the collar bunches up Robin’s hair. This collar is perfect. The slip action works quickly and smoothly when tension is applied, but relaxes just as quickly when tension is released and the weight of the leash clasp doesn’t pull it closed.

Although it’s probably not advisable, I do occasionally leave this collar on Robin¬†when he’s home alone, and it’s nearly always on him when he’s off leash. It’s never snagged on anything due to the flat loop design, and it’s loose enough that Robin can scratch under it when he gets itchy. When I do take it off, it packs very small and it’s lightweight. Despite the metal hardware, we’ve made it through airport security four times with this collar without setting off the metal detector.

Even more importantly, as soon as we switched to this collar, his hair grew back and hasn’t shown any damage since.

Build quality: 4.5/5

I try not to do decimals in these category ratings, but I couldn’t bring myself to drop this one down to a four. The webbing is similar in softness to a standard pet store collar, so it snags easily on velcro jacket closures. However, after the initial snagging it doesn’t seem to get any worse, unlike standard collars that seem to get raggier and raggier over time. And despite¬†some surface fuzzies, the snags didn’t affect the integrity of the collar at all. The webbing surface under the loose threads looks pretty much perfect.

The stitching is super durable and so tight that it’s below the surface of the collar, so it’s not likely to snag on anything. The two metal D rings and the slider buckle have lost a lot of their black coating, but are going as strong as ever. Despite¬†the surface level wear, from couple feet¬†away it looks pretty much new.¬†It might outlast Robin.

DSC_0948
Robin modeling his White Pine collar, Boomerang tag, and Amsteel tag holder (more below)

Overall: 4.6/5

This collar is perfect enough that I bought a second one just in case they go out of business. I love having a fiddle-free collar that can just be slipped over his head but tightens just enough when the leash is tugged. Even if Robin’s hair wasn’t delicate, I’d probably choose this collar, but the tubular nylon and fur-saving design make this collar indispensable for us.

Best for:¬†Any dog of any size with any hair type that’s suited to wear a collar. Especially good for delicate and long fur. Lightweight collar is also good for traveling, and packs small and light.

Not ideal for: Heavy pullers (since collars can damage the trachea), unsupervised wear.

Since we typically remove this collar inside the house, Robin also wears an Amsteel tag holder 24/7 so that he has tags on for potty breaks. Learn how to make your own here.

Tags:¬†Robin has an assortment of tags- standard stainless, standard aluminum, the fantastically cheap aluminum the city license tags come on, and my favorite, a beautiful stainless slider tag we got from Boomerang Tags. Because of the design, the slider doesn’t stay¬†on his tag holder, so it lives on his White Pine collar and his tag holder sports a small round stainless tag. I balked at spending the money on the Boomerang tag, which¬†much more expensive than all of the others, but once it arrived I forgot about the price. It’s leaps and bounds above all the other tags. The tiny engraving is so much darker and more readable than any other tag I’ve seen, and after six months of wear it looks brand new without a single scratch.¬†The slider style is secure and much quieter than a hanging tag.¬†For this tag, we chose to engrave our two phone numbers and Robin’s email address, which forwards to our emails and autoreplies our current travel information to anyone who might find him. I figure this should cover all of our bases for the next ten or so years of his life!

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