Dog Identification

A black dachshund with a red collar on standing in a field
Cover Dog Entry | Winslow

The best way to ensure a lost dog makes it home is to have a system of identification for them already in place. Whether relying on one or multiple strategies, we recommend every dog owner implement at least one ID option to help safeguard your dog against loss or theft and to improve your odds of being reunited. 

Two Labrador Retrievers sitting in a field of grass

The Personalized Dog Collar: Their Fastest Route Home

A brown dog wearing a shotgun collar looking up at its person

Whether you choose an easy-care washable nylon dog collar or a handsome leather one, personalizing it is the simplest and most immediate strategy to identify your pup.

  • Make sure their collar fits: It should be snug, but not tight, allowing you to slide two side-by-side fingers under it. Plus, the right fit makes your dog’s collar less likely to catch dangerously on something.
  • Keep it on: A personalized collar only works if your pup is wearing it.
  • Stay vigilant: Monitor their collar for wear and tear and fit and adjust or replace it as needed. Remember to get your dog a new collar if your contact information changes.

Quick tip: Choose carefully what appears on your dog’s collar and tags to make sure you’re not giving out information you’d prefer to keep private. Some dog owners choose not to add their dog’s name, opting for a phone number or other form of contact instead.

A black dog sitting wearing a red collar with an ID tag

Dog ID Tags: The Best Backup Plan

A small brown dog holding a ball in its mouth standing on the beach wearing a collar with an ID tag

There is no such thing as too much dog identification—a redundant system is a great strategy, so don’t be afraid of repeating the same information that’s on their collar on the tags. Plus, ID tags can give you some flexibility that a personalized collar can’t—with more room for multiple phone numbers or tags, it can improve the chances of being reunited.

  • Make sure your dog’s up-to-date rabies tag is on their collar: In a pinch, it can be used to identify them since the tag number is linked to your name and contact information in a local registry.
  • Add a microchip tag: If your dog is microchipped, it should wear a tag identifying the microchipping company’s name and phone number as a backup.
  • Add urgency: A “needs daily meds” message engraved on your dog’s ID tag lends a sense of urgency that may reunite them with you more quickly.

Quick tip: Check your dog’s ID tags for wear and tear regularly, replacing them when they become illegible.

Two wheaten terriers running through a field of barley

Microchipping: The High-Tech Dog ID

A dog sitting in the middle of a winding road that goes through woods

Think of the implanted microchip as the backup plan to the backup plan. When all else fails—if your dog loses his tags and collar—the chip is their last best hope to return safely home to you. Permanent, virtually painless, and super effective, we highly recommend microchipping in addition to other ID strategies.


How it works:

  • About the size of a grain of rice, the minuscule chip is injected by a veterinarian under the skin between the dog’s shoulder blades.
  • A scanner passed over the microchip reads its unique code, linking the dog to corresponding contact information in a database.

Quick tip: Make sure you keep your contact information up to date with your dog’s microchip company.

A black dog laying on an Orvis Dog bed in a bedroom floor

There’s No Place Like Home

A yellow lab puppy asleep on a bed inside a home

From easy-to-read collars, ID tags, and microchipping, there’s an ID system to suit every dog and its owner. In the event your dog gets lost, having an ID system (or three!) in place can help get them home safely, sooner.

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