Dog tags may not seem like a sexy subject to dog owners but they are a crucial accessory for your dog. If your dog ever becomes lost, a tag can make the difference between being reunited with your best friend and losing him entirely.
Types of Dog Tags
There are many types of tags available for your dog and your choice depends on your dog. According to pet care expert Morgan Weber of Lucky Pup Adventures, "It is smart to consider your dog's activity level and play style when choosing the type of tag for your dog's collar. If a dog wears a collar throughout the day, it is a good idea to look into an identification tag that slips flat onto their collar. This will help prevent the tags from getting caught on kennels, furniture, or other household hazards."
Metal Dog Tags
The cheapest and easiest dog tag option is to buy metal tags at your local pet store. Most large pet stores like PetSmart and Petco, as well as some smaller independent shops, have tag kiosks in store. You can purchase a tag and then use a code provided to you on your receipt to activate the kiosk and type your information in to have the tags engraved while you wait a few minutes.
- These tags are a good option because they're quick and easy to get and come in many different colors and shapes such as bones, hydrants, circles and hearts.
- Some styles even come with bling on them like tiny rhinestones. These tags usually run about $5 to $15.
- The downside to these tags is that there usually is not a wide selection if you want something truly standout for your dog.
- Depending on the type of metal, these tags may not last as long as you'd like and can break. Aluminum is the weakest option with stainless steel or brass lasting longer.
- You may not have as much room on these tags as you like to include all your desired information, although you can always buy two tags for your dog's collar to fit everything in.
- Some dog owners do not like the jangling sound these tags make and they can be noisy when your dog is running about. One way to handle this is to get a pet tag silencer which is a small bag that holds your tags together so they don't make noise.
Slide on Tags
If you don't like the idea of loose tags making noise as they hang from your dog's collar, a slide on tag is a good option. These also work well for dogs that engage in a lot of heavy activity where the tags may get pulled off and broken, such as running through the woods hunting, splashing about in a lake or competition dogs who don't need to be distracted. Slide on tags are flat metal strips that you run a collar through so they sit neatly on top of the collar. Rivet tags are similar in design but are attached with rivets rather than holes for the collar to slide through. These tags can be inexpensive with a price range around $5 to $15 but they usually require you to order them online or via the mail so they're not a good choice if you need a tag right away.
Digital Dog Tags
Just like everything else, dog identification has gone digital, too! An example is the PetHub tag which is worn on a dog's collar, just like a metal tag, but can include much more information that is accessed via a QR code on the tag. Any smartphone can read this QR code and get detailed information on your dog including names, numbers, medical info, and whatever else you would like to include about your dog.
- These tags usually need to be ordered online and you will have to create a profile of your pet on the tag manufacturer's website.
- You will also need to make sure you update the contact information on the site if you move.
- Tags can run as low as $10 up to $25.
- The tags come in many colors and shapes so you have the option of not only having a very effective tag but a stylish one as well.
- As with the slide on tags, these tags take time to be ordered so you should have a backup plan in place until you receive the tags.
- Some manufacturers like PetHub also include a subscription recovery service you can pay extra for that sends out alerts to shelters and vets when your pet is reported lost.
This is an interesting concept that works well for people who want to include a lot of information on their dog's tag. It is basically a small tube that can be opened and information place inside on a small, rolled-up slip of paper. This is a nice option for people who have a dog with medical issues that they want to include, or if you're traveling, you might want to include information on their veterinarian, current shots, country of origin and more.
- These tags sell for about $6.
- The downside is they're made of aluminum so if you have an active dog there's a chance of them eventually breaking and falling off.
- Although the tube is sealed, if your dog gets wets there's a chance the it may not be 100% waterproof and the written information inside could get damaged.
These are another option that can work well for any dog but especially ones that are traveling with their owners. They look like a driver's license and are made of sturdy, quiet plastic. These tags can include more information on them and their bright colors stand out making them easy to see if your dog gets lost. Although you need to order these online, they can be printed in 24 hours and shipped out to you immediately. These tags sell for about $20 plus shipping.
If you have an active dog and worry about the tags falling off, another nice option is to get a collar that has the tag information embroidered into it, or embossed on a buckle that's part of the collar. An example of an embroidered collar is from GoTags which will put your dog's name and your phone number in brightly colored, large embroidered letters and numbers on the collar. It's information that's definitely going to be hard to miss!
- In fact one benefit of these collars is if you have a shy dog that a rescuer can't get close enough to to grab, they can still see the dog's name and your number and can call you to let you know where your dog is.
- These collars do need to be ordered and take some time to get to you so you'll need to have some ID for your dog in the meantime.
- They retail for around $19 and come in four sizes and five collar colors.
Buckle Tag Collars
Unlike the embroidered collar, the buckle tag collar has the information traditionally found on an ID tag engraved onto the buckle. This means it's a permanently part of the collar so there's much less risk of the tags flying off or breaking. It's also quiet since there's no tags to make any sounds. Hipidog makes a personalized buckle tag collar that sells for around $18 with 20 different fun designs to choose from.
Fashionable ID Tags
If you want something truly out of the ordinary, don't feel like you have to settle for the run of the mill dog tags with hearts and bones. You can find artisanal dog tags on Etsy that feature unique shapes, designs, colors and materials. Hand stamped tags with designs are popular on copper, brass and steel. You can also find tags with unusual shapes such as a stamped copper bar that can list contact information on all four sides. Don't feel stuck using tried and true designs if you want to express you and your dog's personality while keeping him or her safe!
Information Every Dog Tag Needs
At a minimum, your dog tags should include the following information:
- Your dog's name.
- Your phone number (ideally two numbers if you have an alternate and there's room). Also make sure you include your area code with your number.
After this the information you choose to include can vary and will depend on how much room there is on the tag. Some helpful items to include could be:
- Your email address
- Your home address with street and city, or just the city if you're not comfortable placing your detailed street information
- A message such as "I'm microchipped!" or "I have diabetes" or "I'm deaf! These types of messages can give the person who finds your dog valuable information to help them care for your dog until you are reunited.
- You might even want to make a second tag that includes the name of your microchip company, their phone number and your dog's microchip ID number.
- Your name, if you're comfortable having it on the tag
- Some dog owners include information about a reward to incentivize people to reunite them with their dog.
- Another option if there's room is to include a personal message such as "Please call my mother, she'll be so worried!" This can help humanize you to the person who found your dog and encourage them to contact you.
Should You Include Your Dog's Name?
Some dog owners believe you shouldn't put your dog's name on the tag as this means any random stranger can learn your dog's name and get them to come with them, even if they may have bad intentions in mind for your dog. On the other hand, if your dog is frightened and stressed, which is likely, having a stranger say their name can make them feel better hearing something familiar. It can also help the kind-hearted stranger to get your dog to come to them if your dog is shyer and anxious. Ultimately the decision to include their name is up to you.
Microchipping and Dog Tags
Microchipping is an excellent option and every dog should ideally have one. This still does not negate the need to have a tag however. There are several good reasons to have both a tag and a microchip:
- Not everyone who finds your dog will be a "dog person" and aware that microchips exist.
- They may also not be near a shelter or vet where they can get the chipped scanned.
- If your dog wandered off a few streets away from you and is found, having a tag that can be quickly read can get your dog back to you faster. Says Weber, "Microchips can only be read by a special machine. If your dog gets out and a passerby finds them, they will be happy to have your phone number on that collar. It can make the difference between finding a lost pet within minutes and within days."
- If you've moved, it is not unusual for dog owners to forget to update their microchip information unlike with dog tags that are visible to you every day.
Make Sure Your Dog Has Tags
The ASPCA reports that in many communities the return-to-owner rate for lost dogs is around 10 to 30 percent only! Having tags can greatly increase your chances of your pet coming home and staying safe. There are so many tag options to choose from that you should be able to find one that works well for you and your pet. Just make sure you keep them up to date and check them regularly for wear and tear.