Leather Dog Collars vs. MicroFiber and Synthetic: How To Choose The Right One

How To Choose The Right Dog Collar: leather dog collar, rubber dog collar, weatherproof dog collar, collar and leash set, matching collar, easy-to-clean collar, martingale collar, puppy collar, dog park

Dog collars of all shapes and sizes are on the market today, with dozens of styles and looks to pick from. Collar material may be one of the most important things to take into consideration when choosing your pup’s collar

We’re going to take a look at the old-school, traditional material, leather, as well as some of the more up-to-date materials available, like microfibers and other synthetic options. There are a ton to choose from, so we narrowed it down to the few that we liked the most! If you’re looking for a new collar and you’re not sure what material to get, check out our guide!

Leather Collars

Leather is one of the oldest materials known to man and used in a wide array of applications, from boots to clothing and even in dog collars! Because it’s made of natural materials, leather is good for the environment and might be great for your dog, too. Leather can be a great choice for dog collars for a variety of reasons but has its disadvantages as well.

Pros of Leather Collars

  • Leather collars are made of natural materials.
  • These collars are very durable and can last a lifetime if maintained.
  • They’re great for pups with sensitive skin, as the material doesn’t flare up allergies or other skin issues.
  • Softens with age and becomes more conformed to your dog’s neck over time.

Cons of Leather Collars

  • Typically, leather collars have a higher price tag.
  • Require maintenance more often than other collars to help them remain waterproof.
  • Can become smelly over time.
  • Might be considered a chew toy to your pup rather than a collar.

Leather collars have a pretty balanced list of pros and cons, but one of the largest cons is certainly the maintenance aspect. If not well maintained, then the other pros don’t really come into play. Maintenance for leather collars is essential if you want them to remain durable and comfortable for your pup as time goes on. Take into consideration the following care tips before buying a leather collar.

The biggest pros to these collars would have to be their minimal environmental impact and the way they interact with your pooch’s skin. They’re fantastic for dogs with sensitive skin and allergies, and they help to avoid any problems that other collars may cause.

Leather Collar Maintenance

Follow these instructions for keeping a leather collar clean and in good condition!

  1. Remove any dirt or grime with a damp cloth or very gently with a stiff-bristled brush and mild soap.
  2. If soap was used, use another damp cloth to remove any soap residue from the collar.
  3. Buff the collar with a soft, dry cloth.
  4. Apply a leather conditioner, such as an oil or cream specifically designed for leather.
  5. Remove any excess conditioner with a new soft cloth.
  6. Buff until shiny and smooth, with no oily residue left behind.

This process is done on an as-needed basis and can drastically change depending on your dog’s routines and activities!

Microfiber and Synthetic Collars

Microfiber and synthetic collars are the most popular collars on the market and make up most of what you’ll see in the pet supplies aisle at any big box store. Microfiber and synthetic collars can be made from a variety of materials but are most often made from nylon. Here’s a list of potential materials you may see listed for synthetic dog collars:

  • Nylon - versatile and easy to clean, available in the most options
  • Neoprene - waterproof, soft woven rubber
  • Biothane - waterproof synthetic collar covered in polyurethane or polyvinyl
  • Polyester - similar to nylon but less appropriate for dogs with sensitive skin

All of these materials are similar and lend themselves to similar advantages and disadvantages from one another. While some may have better applications for wetter activities, none are truly too heavily affected by water like a leather collar can be.

Pros of Microfiber and Synthetic Collars

  • Easy to clean and typically won’t retain smells.
  • Cheaper price tag with the most options available.
  • Generally, fairly waterproof or water-resistant. For materials that aren’t waterproof, they are not affected negatively by water.
  • Easy to adjust and fit to your pup with many options on how to adjust.

Cons of Microfiber and Synthetic Collars

  • Less durable than leather collars, prone to fraying or tears.
  • Can cause reactions in pups who have sensitive skin and can even be a primary allergen of your dog.
  • If material holds water, then it can cause chafing around your dog’s neck.
  • Often come with plastic buckles, which are prone to breaking over time.

The biggest advantages that microfiber and synthetic collars have are their price tag and the options that are available. For considerably less than what a leather collar costs, you can typically get any color or style that you’d like, and they’re much easier to clean. 

The biggest con to these collars is their durability. This is not to say that all of these collars are fragile or weak, but many can be. The possibility of fraying can lead to total failure of the collar if it’s not coated in biothane. The plastic buckles that are common on most of these collars are prone to breaking as they age. Some models come with metal buckles and hardware, which is preferable.

Microfiber and Synthetic Collar Maintenance

Check out our steps to cleaning a microfiber or synthetic collar below!

  1. Fill a sink, or a large bowl, with hot water.
  2. Mix in soap made for sensitive skin or your pet’s shampoo.
  3. Soak the collar in this mix for about 15 minutes.
  4. Using a soft bristle brush, scrub the collar until clean!
  5. Rinse the collar with hot water until all soap residue has been removed.
  6. Wring out extra water, then lay flat to air dry.

Following these simple steps can keep your dog’s collar clean in between extra grimy play sessions! Because it requires no special cleaners or conditioners, a collar made of these materials is much easier to maintain. Additionally, if you’re using a collar coated in polyurethane or polyvinyl, cleaning is even easier! No soaking required.

The Importance of Maintenance

While two care guides have been included for both leather collars and those made of microfiber or other synthetic materials, maintenance is much more important than just keeping the collar clean and odor-free. A dirty collar can have larger consequences than just appearance and smell.

Dirty collars can contain germs and bacteria that, at a minimum, can cause irritation. At their worst, these germs or bacteria can cause infection, leading to larger health problems for your pups. Keep this in mind when it comes to your material selection. Biothane collars have less of a chance of carrying these threats, as they are coated in a non-porous material that doesn’t allow for buildup.

So How Do I Choose?

When picking a collar material, it’s imperative to keep in mind the specific needs of your pet. The behavior and the habits of your pet will make an impact on the choice you make. Ask yourself these questions when considering a collar material:

  • Does my pup have a skin allergy or any skin sensitivities? If so, you may be better off choosing the leather collar, as they’re the easiest on your pooch’s skin.
  • How dirty does my dog get? If they enjoy rolling around in the mud or playing rough with other pups, you may want to get a microfiber or synthetic collar for easy maintenance.
  • Does your dog enjoy swimming? It’s probably important to get a waterproof collar if that’s the case since leather won’t do well, and a regular microfiber collar may cause chafing if soaked. 
  • When it comes to maintenance, is something more involved okay, or do you need something easier? If you’re alright with intense upkeep, a leather collar may be okay. If you want the easy cleaning route, go microfiber or synthetic without a doubt.

So Many Collars to Choose From

With all the options on the market, you may be a bit overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a new collar. With what you’ve learned using this article, you can consider yourself prepared to choose your pup’s new collar, as well as any other pet accessories that are made of similar materials. All collars have their advantages and disadvantages; it really comes down to your needs and your pup’s needs.

As with anything, take your time and find what works best for you and your dog! Find your pup’s forever collar, and be sure to keep it clean!


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Leather Vs. Nylon Dog Collars | The Nest 
Nylon: A Revolution in Textiles | Science History