Why do dogs have to wear collars?

Did you know that, by law, dogs have to wear collars? They must also be microchipped. We’ve teamed up with Our Family Dog to learn more about why this is necessary and to find out what your legal responsibilities are as a dog owner.



What does the law say about...dogs and collars?

Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales must wear a collar and identity tag in a public place. Fines of up to £5000 can be imposed if your dog is not wearing a collar and ID tag.

The same applies in Northern Ireland, although the legislation is different. This is covered by the Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

There are some exemptions for working dogs but all pet dogs must wear a collar and identify tag in public.


What does the law say about...microchipping?

Since April 2106, the law requires all dogs to be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old.

This means that puppies must have been microchipped by the breeder before being sold. If your dog hasn’t been microchipped, it is your responsibility to get this done or you could face a £500 fine.


What is microchipping?

Microchipping a dog is a quick and simple procedure that places a tiny computer chip under the dog’s skin, usually at the back of a dog’s neck. The chip contains a unique code that links to a database where your contact details are held. It is your responsibility to make sure that your contact details are kept up to date. When you buy or adopt a dog you will be given some paperwork with details about your dog’s microchip registration. Your dog will be registered with one of the following databases:


Read more about what paperwork you should get when buying a puppy, which includes the details of their microchip registration.


Why is it necessary for dogs to wear a collar and be microchipped?

Put simply, it’s so the owner of a dog can easily be traced in the event that they become separated from you. It also means that the owner of a dog that attacks someone, or another animal, can be traced. Read more about your legal responsibility to control your dog in public and around livestock.

As well as it being a legal requirement, it also offers you peace of mind that your dog can easily be reunited with you. A heartbreaking 300,000 dogs get lost, stolen or become strays in the UK every year. Making sure that your contact details on your dog’s ID tag can be easily read, and your microchip details are up to date, is the best way to ensure they are reunited with you should they go missing.



Does my dog still need to wear a collar and tag if they have been microchipped?

Yes. A dog’s owner can be quickly identified and contacted from the information displayed on the tag. A microchip is a permanent form of identification - for example, if a dog is stolen and their collar and ID tag is removed, the microchip will hold the details of the registered owner. This is why it’s really important that you inform the microchipping database of any changes to your contact details.



What information should I put on my dog’s tag?

Legally, your dog’s ID tag must display your name and address, including postcode. A contact number is advisable (and a back up contact number just in case you can’t be reached) but optional.



Should I put my dog's name on his tag?

It is not a legal requirement to have your dog’s name on the tag. Some people choose not to put their dog's name on the tag as they do not want potential thieves knowing their dog’s name. The choice is yours. For more information, read this article.



Where can I get a dog identification tag?

You can shop for engraved pet tags at most high street pet shops or key cutters, like Timpson’s. You can also find unique and colourful pet tags on Etsy, Pawesome Pet Tags and other independent online pet tag sellers.



Which dog tags are the best?

There is so much variety out there nowadays for dog tags, with many companies branching out from traditionally engraved ones, and using a printing technique. Whether you prefer engraved metal dog tags or bright printed dog tags, you must make sure the tag is durable and strong and won’t snap off. You must also make sure that the information on your dog’s tag is readable. Click here for a checklist on what to keep an eye out for when choosing your next dog tag.


To summarise:

  • Your dog is legally required to wear a collar and ID tag when in public, and be microchipped.

  • Your dog’s identity tag must display your name and address, including postcode. A contact number is optional but advisable.

  • It is your responsibility to keep your dog’s microchip record up to date with your correct contact details.

  • Choose an ID tag for your dog which is strong and durable, and make sure the information can be read clearly.


Pawesome Pet Tags are a family run business specialising dog ID tags with fun designs, which are made using a printing method that is scratch and chip resistant and doesn’t fade. They have a bright funny range of durable dog tags so you can pick one that suits your dogs unique personality.



Click here to visit the shop. Sign up to their newsletter to receive 5% off your first order.

Why do I need a dog tag?

Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales must wear a collar and identity tag in a public place.

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What information should I put on my dog tag?

By law, your dog tag should display the owner's name, 1st line of the address, postcode and telephone number (advisable).