Woofstar Article

Half check collars


Many people believe half check collars are just a "training aid". There are many benefits in using half check collars, not related to the original purpose these collars were created for.

There are many names people use for these collars, half check, semi slip, martingale...

Half check collars are a type of a dog collar where the collar tightens up to a limit when pressure is added.  We often hear people say half check collars are cruel. This is simply not true, there are many benefits in using a half check collar. 

A CORRECTLY sized half check collar is sized so that at it's smallest fits snuggly around the neck but does not strangle the dog.  A half check collar can be a very cheap life insurance and  a life saver.

It is also very easy to put on and take off a half check collar, no need to fiddle the buckle or trying to find the right hole in a collar whilst the dog attempts to bounce around excitedly ready for a walk.

Correctly sized half check collar will prevent the dog backing out of his/hers collar. A many a dog would not be lost had they worn a half check collar as one of the most common reasons for a missing dog is a slipped collar/harness (yes, dogs can slip out many of the harness types around)!

A Dog that is usually well-behaved and has an excellent recall can at the moment of panic, back up, slip their collar and run as fast as they can.

Especially youngsters go through periods when the silliest of things can spook them and the last thing you want is them running away as this could cause lasting mental damage (or physical if you are very unlucky). Many dogs also go missing and are never found when they have got away from the owner.

Half check collars are also great for dogs that have a lot of hair or heavy manes as the collar will lay looser when there is no pressure/lead attached to it. This means there will be less of a "collar mark" left on to the coat and the half check collar often sits better on the neck.

Below is a story from our own lives. It is also a reason we promote use of half check collars:

On a dark November night in 2008 Sasha, a 15 month old Leonberger got excited of seeing a another dog and slipped out of her collar.
She decided it was more fun to run and jump around than return to us. As a consequence, she was hit by a car. She was rushed to the vets and they took some xrays and it was confirmed she had a broken pelvis.

Next few days were awful as we were waiting to see if she had some other internal damage - Luckily this was not the case.
The vet said she was lucky to get away with just a broken pelvis, considering how hard she was hit for her pelvis to break (big dog, big bones).

If you look at the first xray (taken on the night it all happened) you can see how out of place Sasha’s pelvis was and we were definitely not going to leave her pelvis like that! She was in huge pain and had morphine injections every few hours, she used all of the vets morphine stock in few days!

The vet operated her pelvis and got her hips in line again.The second xray shows Sasha's pelvis after the operation. Great job if you ask us! 
I also have very important message: If you are reading this and have been thinking of insuring your dog, do it now!
We never thought this would happen to us but it did and the insurance really helped, not having to worry about costs as everything else is quite enough to cause few grey hairs.
I would have not wanted to be in a situation of not getting Sasha the best care available because I can not afford it.
All this cutting edge technology and operations did come at hefty price, running at nearly £7000 when physiotherapy and hydrotheraphy were completed.

Also, if you are ever in a position we were in, do not lose hope!
When we saw the first xrays, first thing that crossed my mind was that we will have to let Sasha go and become an angel-dog!
Our vet must have seen my face as he quickly said this is not it; The damage looks awful but it is actually one of those fractures that heals well and the dogs usually have totally normal life after they have recovered.

Now we are in 2016 Sasha is 8.5 years old lady and the leader of the pack here (we now have 5 Leonbergers in total). 
She gets a bit stiff at the back end at times but many Leonbergers her age without her history do too. We love her to bits and I am so happy we decided to go ahead and give her a chance of living her life.
We have a selection of half check collars at www.woofstar.co.uk and are looking to add some more styles in to our selection very soon.







Thinking of having a puppy join your family this summer?

NOW is the time to start your research and find a good breeder.

Owning a dog is a long term commitment, so make sure you have researched different breeds and breed traits.

Selecting the right breed for your lifestyle ensures happy life for all. If you are looking for a mixed breed, research all breeds involved in the mix, your puppy could inherit traits from any of the breeds involved, in any combination. Don't allow yourself to believe that mixed breed puppies only inherit the good traits: Imagine the hyperactivity of a border collie with the weight of a newfoundland!

It is also worth noting many breeders of the fancy mixes breed purely for money&puppy farmers are exploiting the popularity of some mixes, so do your research extremely carefully if you are looking a Labradoodle/Cockapoo etc popular mix.


1. NEVER buy from a pet shop

These puppies come from puppy farms, never from a good breeder. The parents aren't treated as anything other than breeding machines. These puppies usually come with both health and behavioural issues.

Do not support this trade


2. Do not buy from a licenced breeder that has multiple litters of different popular breeds (and their mixes) for sale at the same time.

This too is a puppy farm on a smaller scale; dogs bred in masses purely to sell. These puppies are often under socialised and no support is offered after money changes hands. Many of these breeders do not health test & cut corners to save money.

Do not support this trade


3. Do not buy an imported puppy

These puppies too are farmed. No caring breeder will send their puppies to a different country to sell and not know who will have them. No puppy should travel across Europe in a van packed full of puppies. Many do not make the trip and die on the way. These puppies, like other farmed puppies often have health/temperament issues. There is absolutely no after sale support.
A lot of the import paper work is fraudulent and the puppy carries the risk of spreading rabies to other animals.

Do not support this trade


All of the above "establishments" will sell to anybody, no questions asked.

These are the breeders whose puppies are the main reason for over flowing rescues as they wash their hands of the puppy once it leaves them and often sell to unsuitable homes.

Please note the above types of sellers know many people would not buy a puppy if they knew the origins of the puppy.
Therefore these people are using seemingly normal families to sell their puppies. The story you will hear is that of a lovely family who have a female dog that they decided to breed once, reality is you are buying a puppy farmed puppy without knowing it.
Never buy a puppy without seeing it's mother with the puppies- accept no excuses. It is important to see the mother as you want to see the temperament of the female. NERVOUS MOTHER will make NERVOUS PUPPIES.
Only buy a puppy if you are happy with the temperament of the mother. Check the dog introduced as mother is indeed a female and is lactating (you will be able to easily notice this with most breeds if you look under their tummy).
Breeder should also be happy for you to meet all of the puppies, not just the one being sold to you and ideally will show you around the premises where the puppies sleep and play.

You should always travel to see your prospective puppy in its home environment. Never meet 'halfway' at a motorway service station or in a pub car park. If you are not happy about any aspect when you visit a breeder then walk away. Buying a puppy to "save it from the situation" will only support the breeder to continue breeding more puppies.

Why should my puppy be Registered, I only want a pet?

If buying a pure bred puppy, ALWAYS buy a puppy that is Kennel club registered.
Be aware that Kennel Club registration is not a guarantee of quality nor that the breeder is reputable. Although good breeders always register their litters with the Kennel Club. the KC will accept registrations from puppy farmers and commercial dog breeders. Do your research on the breeder.

All of the other registration bodies in UK are not official bodies with proper records and are used by puppy farmers - Stay clear of any puppy registered with any other body than the kennel club. This kind of registration means nothing, the breeder can make up the pedigree as these bodies hold no records and are not registered bodies. It is often done as a ploy in order to pull the wool over unsuspecting buyers eyes & sell puppies as "registered/pedigree/with papers".

Registering a puppy with Kennel club costs £16 (February 2016) so it is a very minor cost in the scheme of things!
The breeder is not saving you money by not registering (neither should they be asking more money for registration papers) There are numerous reasons why someone is unable to register a litter of puppies, all raise alarm bells:
It is likely the mother of the litter may be too young, too old, had too many litters, or be endorsed not for breeding for health reasons or the parents are too closely related.
Do not support this kind of breeding by buying an unregistered puppy.

Why should my puppy's parents be health tested?

Find out what health tests are required for the breed(s) and do not settle for a puppy whose parents have not been tested.
For information regarding the appropriate health tests contact the Kennel Club or the relevant breed club. It is important to note that "Vet checked" does NOT mean health tested.

Health tests for animals in breeding are performed by specialized vets. They test for conditions like hip dysplasia and eye testing for conditions like Cataract &Glaucoma all breeds and cross breeds are equally susceptible, very few breeds require no health tests.

Even if you are looking for a loved family pet, it is important to buy from health tested parents as otherwise you risk serious heart ache.
Buying from health tested parents does not guarantee a healthy dog (genes and inheritance of many conditions is not quite that simple) but it shows the breeders commitment in trying their best to breed healthy dogs and maximises the chance that the puppies will not suffer from these conditions. Some diseases can be totally avoided by genetic testing of both parents. There are no excuses for any breeder to not to do the health testing, do not accept any reasoning for why these have not been done.
The most common reasons are "I have never had that issue in my lines" or "these are not showdogs" or "I was only breeding one litter" or "I'm not a professional breeder".
Walk away if both parents have not been health tested or if you cannot see the certificates.
"Hybrid vigour" is also largely a myth and a sales plot. Just because parents of the puppy are of different breeds, this does not mean the resulting puppy will be any healthier than a pure bred puppy. If parents carry any illnesses, the puppy can inherit it as simple as that and often, the multiple breeds within the crossbreed can pass on the multiple different diseases involved within each breed.
A good breeder will :

  • A good breeder will be involved and very knowledgeable of the breed they have. They will also be happy to discuss the good and bad sides of the breed and it's suitability for your family.
  • A good breeder will be contactable for any questions or moral support and reassurance for the dogs entire life. They will also provide you with diet sheet and guidance when you pick up your puppy. You are often invited to meet them before puppies are born and get to visit the puppy whilst it is growing up at the breeders.
  • A good breeder will take back a puppy or aid in the responsible rehoming of a pup that cannot be kept by the original family, at ANY point of the dogs life.
  • A good breeder will begin the basics of socialisation to household life, people, other animals and also the beginnings of training.
  • A good breeder will ask you questions about your family and lifestyle, do not be offended by this. If you haven't left the breeders house feeling as though you have been interrogated, you probably haven't been with a good breeder. All the breeder wants is a good suitable home for their puppy. They genuinely care.

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is: there is usually a good reason to avoid that "Bargain". Often wellbred puppies are not much more expensive than the mass produced ones, at least not when you consider the vet expenses and heartache that can come with a badly bred puppy.

It costs a lot of money to raise a litter correctly, costs going to thousands of pounds with health testing, stud fees, travel to most suitable male, feeding and care for the litter.

The after sales support you will get from a good breeder alone is worth a lot more than the price difference between a bargain-puppy and a bred with care-puppy.

Good luck with your research.


    Please share what you have just learned!

    It will be your neighbours and relatives, people who "only want a family pet"  who will unknowingly support this trade.

    The only way to stop bad breeding practices and suffering that comes with it is for such puppies not to sell&make money for the seller.

    Please be smart and do not support bad breeding practises by buying a puppy from a litter that has not had 100% care and thought put in to it.