Robin’s an Honest Hound Ambassador, so they sent over this collar and the Sherman Buckle collar in Teal for us to test.
Price: $30.00 (currently on sale!)
Sizing and colors: custom sized to your dog’s neck in wine, teal and brown.
The Honest Hound is a newer dog gear company that currently makes two lines of collars- the Axel Martingale and the Sherman Buckle. We received both, custom sized to Robin’s measurements, but because the webbing was wider than the collar I measured with, the buckle collar fit a bit tightly on Robin’s neck. With his fluffy ruff, he tends to look silly in tight-fitting collars, so we gave that one away to a follower. Because we never really tested that collar, this review will focus on the martingale, but check out Jamie and Xena’s review of the Sherman here.
For other small dog owners trying to decide which style to choose: the martingale feels significantly lighter than the buckle collar. The chain is surprisingly lightweight, while the buckle on the Sherman is much heavier than it looks.
I was a little worried about how the martingale would work for Robin, because we’ve tried a chain martingale before (the Ruffwear Chain Reaction) and it sliced up his neck hair. Oddly, although I remember that collar being very heavy, Ruffwear states that the size Small weighed 3.2oz and Robin’s 12″ Honest Hound collar weighs in at a similar 3.12oz. However, while there’s definitely some heft to the chain (and a lighter chain could probably be used for the small neck sizes), the webbing section of this collar has more structure than the uncoated webbing of the Chain Reaction, so it springs back into shape and carries the weight of the chain well. I also think there’s a smaller proportion of chain to webbing on the Honest Hound collar because it’s custom fit, which gives it more structure and somewhat less of a choke action.
The collar is made of a continuous loop of chain attached to a non-adjustable piece of biothane-coated webbing, folded over and riveted down with Honest Hound-logoed hardware. The lack of adjustability reduces bulk, but makes the collar a little less versatile for sharing or use on growing dogs. Make sure you measure carefully!
The biothane webbing is springy and very flexible, lightly textured to be a little bit grippy. It’s easy to clean and so far, stain proof after several mud baths! I’d prefer to see a brighter color selection but the teal works for Robin.
I measured Robin’s size using an existing collar, set to the smallest size that would reasonably slip off his head (off is harder than on, since going against the ears creates extra bulk) and the martingale came out perfect. It’s not big enough that he could take it off himself, but it comes off without too much difficulty.
I do find the width a little overkill in combination with a harness or pack, but it’s fine on its own (and preferable to a narrow collar since it distributes any pressure more evenly over the neck- I’ve started using it as his daily collar for that reason). Surprisingly, though the coated webbing is very thick, it doesn’t feel bulky- its flexibility makes it lay nicely on the neck. I really like this because I’ve handled some other waterproof collars in store that feel stiff and plasticky. With that said, I think Robin’s probably about the smallest dog that should be wearing this width and weight of collar, so hopefully The Honest Hound will come out with a lighter version in the future.
Before we tried the Axel, Robin wore his fur-saving tubular nylon collar almost exclusively, so I was a little worried we’d experience damage to his breakage-prone neck fur. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened. The biothane coating rounds the edges of the webbing and despite frequent wear, his ruff looks fine.
One thing that drives me insane is the jingle of tags against the chain. It’s probably a standard issue with chain collars, though I wonder if adding an extra D ring and a silencer disc would reduce the contact a bit. As a result, Robin doesn’t generally wear tags with this collar, which is not ideal. I’d also like to see reflectivity in future models- it’s an important safety feature that some other waterproof collar manufacturers have managed to incorporate.
As always, because martingale collars tighten, avoid using a martingale on an unsupervised dog and be vigilant while your dog is off-leash. If fitted properly, there isn’t much slack in the chain, so I don’t worry too much about Robin snagging himself on something.
Build quality: 4.5/5
After our first trip to the water, a freshwater lake in Ventura County, the chain looked like it had a thin layer of tarnish. I reported our results to The Honest Hound, and apparently they’d never seen anything like that. Over time though, the chain restored itself to shiny and it hasn’t happened again. The collar currently looks like new except for a layer of dirt!
The whole thing is ruggedly built; the webbing doesn’t seem likely to dry out and crack, and the likeliest failure points- the two rivets that attach the webbing to the rings- are firmly in place.
This is a durable, sleek collar that looks good on and off the trail. It cleans up easily, and the surprisingly flexible webbing fits comfortably even on small dogs. Measure carefully with a collar of similar width since it’s not adjustable, but if your collar doesn’t fit quite right, I bet The Honest Hound will take care of you.
Best for: Anything- city wear, trail wear, adventure wear, getting dirty.
Not ideal for: Growing dogs, dogs much smaller than Robin, unsupervised use.