The legal requirements of a dog collar

Posted by Albert. October 5th 2013.

Dog collars are a common sight when you see dogs in public, but why are they really worn? A dog collar is more than just a decoration. When it comes to taking your dog out in public, it’s a legal requirement.

As such, it helps to know why this is, as well as what exactly is required from a dog collar to meet the legal standards. The vast majority of this is outlined in the Control of Dogs Order 1992 but the information presented here should break this down into the important relevant sections.

You should also be aware that these laws apply when the dog is out in public, such as along a highway or public property. When inside the grounds of your home, for instance, these laws do not apply.

The Legal Requirements of a Dog Collar - A French Bulldog Wearing a Collar


First of all, a dog collar needs identification. In accordance with the Control of Dogs Order 1992, this needs to include the name and address of the dog’s owner. This should be on the collar somewhere, preferably in the form of an inscription or on an attached plate.

The reason for this is simple. If your dog gets lost, a collar helps identify the owner when it is found. This helps when you consider the vast amount of dogs in the country and also saves police and animal services time when it comes to returning the dog to its home.

Your telephone number is not required by law but is nonetheless recommended. This is an easier way for the police to contact you and return your dog in such a situation.

Of course, this law also means that, should you move, the collar will need updating. An outdated address is of no use to anyone and does not fulfil the requirements of the 1992 Order.

Be aware of this as dog wardens have the power to enforce this law – if your dog is found without a collar you can receive a fine up to £5,000 for the offence.


While not directly stated in the Control of Dogs Order 1992, there are other laws and regulations that require owners to keep control of their dogs.

Dog Control Orders (DCO) for example, can be used by local authorities to require you to have your dog on a lead – which typically requires a collar.

Similarly, if your dog is uncontrolled it may scare or terrorise other people. In extreme cases this could warrant investigation into the potential dangerous nature of the dog.

In short, having a collar (with a lead) also helps comply with other laws and regulations. As with the 1992 order, you can face a fine for breaking a DCO.

In this case, there is a £50 fine on the spot with further costs of up to £1,000 if it reaches court.

The Legal Requirements of a Dog Collar - A Jack Russel Dog with a lead



Finally, there are a few exemptions to these rules. When it comes to the Control of Dogs Order 1992, the following circumstances allow for exemptions, as quoted from the order:

  • Any pack of hounds
  • Any dog while being used for sporting purposes
  • Any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin
  • Any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep
  • Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Her Majesty’s Customers and Excise or the police force for any area
  • Any dog while being used in emergency rescue work
  • Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

You should note that when it says “while being used” this refers to the specific times the dog is active in these events. Before and after this period, the dogs will require to be collared and, if there is a relevant DCO in the area, on a lead.

In other cases, such as pack hounds and guide dogs, there will be other relevant specifications for the dog which you may need to look into.

This overview should hopefully highlight the important areas when it comes to dog collars and the law, but the simple explanation is the easiest: it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re out in public ensure your dog has a collar with the correct identification to protect yourself, the dog and those around you.

Back to blog