If you didn’t think dog identification tags were important, maybe these stats would shake you up a bit. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 1 out of every 3 pets gets missing somehow in their lifetime. That is, they either get stolen or get lost.
2.5 million stray dogs are housed in shelters every year and of these 2.5 million, only about 26% ever get returned to their real owners. The rest never do. And at the end of the day, they have to be euthanized.
These are sad statistics.
There has to be some form of action taken to guard against such unfortunate occurrences happening to our pets. Thankfully, some of these actions can be as simple as getting our dogs an identification tag.
What Are Dog Identification Tags?
Dog identification tags are metal plates containing specific information for the identification of a pup. Usually, dog identification tags contain information about a pup’s owner and how they can be contacted. This makes it easy for a lost pet to be returned.
There are some places in the world where you’re actually required by law to get your pup a dog identification tag.
Some Legal Requirements For Dog Identification Tags Globally
There are different legal requirements as pertains dog identification tags around the world. As expected, these requirements vary from place to place.
If you’ve just gotten a pup or you’re thinking of adopting one, then you need to consider this issue carefully. You need to be conversant with what local authorities stipulate as a requirement for using dog identification tags in your area.
Below, we list out some general guidelines for certain countries. It might vary from state to state though…
The United Kingdom: It is mandatory for a dog owner to put some form of identification on his dog in the United Kingdom. Dog identification tags in the United Kingdom should contain the name/number of the dog owner’s house as well as its postal code.
The United States: The United States is somewhat stricter in that you must have your dog licensed. The evidence of licensing your dog will be an identification tag containing all the contact details of his owner.
Canada: Canada is similar to the United States in its legal requirements. First, you’ll need to obtain a license, after which you are to obtain a tag for your dog’s collar. This tag, of course, will contain all the necessary details of the license holder.
Australia: Australia places a demand on dog parents to license your dog at a local council once he is more than 3 months old. The local council will issue you a license and this license must be affixed to be collar and worn by your dog.
If the owner decides, they can decide to get a tag to go with the license or he could choose to go with a microchip instead. The council registration though is sacrosanct and must be completed.
Why Dog Identification Tags Are So Important
If we’re being honest, it’s not like the police would come and round you up for walking your dog without a collar on the streets. It’s highly unlikely. In fact, studies show that only about 3 out of every 10 dog owners actually give their dogs identification tags.
But then again, some places are just extra and you could be very heftily fined if you do not get your pup an identification tag. Some could even go to the extent of confiscating your pet.
Besides this, there are other benefits that come with getting your dog an identification tag. Some of them include…
- Dog identification tags help people to instantly identify your dog should he get lost.
- Dog identification tags are also way easier to use than microchips since anyone can read it without technology.
- Again, dog identification tags are quite cheap, readily available, and can easily be customized.
- Finally, dog identification tags still provide the easiest and fastest way to identify and return a lost pet.
However, dog identification tags do not come without their drawbacks. But do their benefits outweigh their drawbacks? We’ll let you be the judge of that. So, let’s quickly look into the drawbacks of dog ID tags.
Drawbacks Of Dog Identification Tags
- Dog identification tags can quickly become safety risks. For instance, if they get caught or hooked while your pup is running or playing, things could escalate pretty quickly from there.
- It is also possible that your dog’s ID tag could get detached and then get lost. If that happens, the purpose of the tag becomes defeated – the reason most opt for microchips. But are microchipped the ultimate solution? We’ll get to that soon.
- Dog ID tags, especially when they are more than one, can get noisy. You know… when metal jangles on metal and all. It could also get pretty annoying.
Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Well, as for us, we think that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. And you can also tackle some of these issues quite easily.
For instance, let’s handle the safety risk part of dog ID tags. You could decide to engrave your contact information on your metal plate and place it flat on his collar. Or you could just get a personalized collar from the get-go.
And this solves not one but three problems. One, you’ll no longer have to put up with jingly jangly metal. Also, such tags cannot get detached and lost because you’d have to remove the collar completely to get the tag off.
When To Use Dog Identification Tags
Your dog should always have his collar with his tag on at all times. So many dog parents make the grave mistake of using them on their dogs only when they take them for walks. This isn’t a smart move.
No one is ever prepared for when a pet gets missing. Without a dog ID tag on, you could be caught unawares and your dog might have wandered too far away.
Now, one more piece of advice, it’s better to get your pooch a couple of ID tags rather than just one. This way, if anything happens, you’ll still be ready with another one just in case.
Information To Be Included In Dog Identification Tags
This is perhaps the most common (and most misunderstood) aspect of getting your dog a doggy ID tag. Many dog owners do not know what exactly should be included in a dog identification tag. But thankfully, we can help you out with that.
First thing you need to know is that you don’t have all the space in the world so, you need to keep it to the basics. The average dog ID tag only has room for about 2 to 4 lines of text at the most.
Here are some ideas though:
- The name of your dog.
- A couple of your phone numbers (one is okay, two is great).
- Any other personal message you like. “Call my dad” or something along that line works fine.
- Also, if your pet has medical issues or behavioral issues, you might want to add that bit of information to the tag.
About Contact Information On Dog Identification Tags
There must be a reachable phone number on your dog’s ID tag. Something people can definitely reach you on if he gets lost.
You can choose to leave your work number, your home number, or your mobile number. Any one of these is fine so far you can always be reached on it.
Aside from your primary number, if you have space for a secondary number, that’s super. Please include it as well.
Also, please don’t forget to put down your area code. And for travelers, be sure to include your country code as well.
Alternate Numbers On Dog Identification Tags
Should you or should you not? Of course, you should! Doing that more than increases your dog’s chances of getting found.
You could include the number of other people you know and trust whom you feel your pup would be safe with. And people who’d readily do what it takes to get your pooch back to you. Here are a few ideas:
- Your veterinary doctor.
- Your groomer.
- A boarding facility – preferably one you both frequent and consequently trust.
- A dog sitter or a dog trainer you trust.
But please, make sure that you inform whomever you settle for before them as your alternative contact. You know, it’s just proper manners and all.
Should You Include Your Name On Your Dog’s ID Tag?
Well, it’s not super compulsory. If there’s space for that after including the most relevant information, then fine. If not, then don’t bother about it. It falls really low in the hierarchy of things dog identification tags should contain.
Should You Include Your Address On Your Dog’s ID Tag?
You might not need to include your full address on the tag but then you need to put some form of a location. You could decide to just stick to your city or area.
Adding your address is a very touchy subject understandably because many people are skeptical about having such private information so publicly displayed.
So, you could just stick to something more general like the city or the area in which you live.
If My Dog Has A Microchip, Should I Include That Information On His Doggy ID Tag?
It’s very important to add that bit of information to your dog’s tag. It is very advantageous, even if it’s two words like “I’m microchipped”.
Some of the benefits include:
- There’s no other way for a finder to know whether or not your dog is microchipped or not. With such prompts, the finder, if he has a scanner can know to scan your pooch.
- Microchips do tend to move around from their initial site of injection, and people know this. So, if your pooch is scanned and nothing appears, the prompt on his tag would encourage the finder to go on searching.
- Animal shelters or vet offices that scan microchipped dogs would ensure that your pup is only returned to his rightful owner. In situations like these, whoever is coming to pick up your dog must present credentials which would be verified before the pup is handed over.
- There are miscreants around and some of them kidnap dogs to sell them off elsewhere. But then with a microchip, your ownership of your dog is completely irrefutable. With this information boldly brandished on your pup’s tag that he is microchipped, it could help to deter miscreants from him.
Is It Compulsory To Include Medical Information On Dog Identification Tags?
Some dogs go through certain medical conditions that mandate them to take some form of medication regularly. This schedule might be critical to keeping the dog alive or managing the condition.
Now, when you include that information about your dog’s medical need on his tag it could save you a whole lot of heartbreak.
When a finder meets your lost dog and sees such on his tag, they realize how doubly important it is to reunite you with your dog immediately. This would encourage the finder to do everything within their power to get the dog back to you as soon as possible.
In other cases, the finder might even help to take your dog to the vet so he can get the necessary medical attention he needs.
Now that we have settled all that and, hopefully, convinced you why you need a doggy ID tag, we can move on. It’s time to check out the very different types of dog tags.
Different Types Of Dog Identification Tags
There are all kinds of dog identification tags. We are about to look into about 9 of them. It’s going to be a long ride. So, fasten your seat belt.
Aluminum Dog Identification Tags
Aluminum dog tags are pretty common dog tags especially because they are quite affordable. They engrave pretty easily and you can find them in all kinds of colors and shapes. Usually, aluminum tags are attached to your dog’s collar using a split ring.
From round to rectangular, to odd shapes like bones, paws, and houses, there are all kinds of shapes to pick from when it comes to aluminum dog tags.
Or if you like it, there are military style tags, as well as rhinestone-studded ones if you fancy that kind of life.
As for the size of the tags, most of them are large enough to accommodate three lines of text – four being the absolute max.
Aluminum tags are great, however, they might not be an ideal choice for dogs that are outdoorsy or very active. Sometimes, the text could tarnish after a while, rubbing the information engraved on the tag off.
If you’re getting an aluminum dog ID tag, limit it to indoor use or maybe use as a backup or a temporary tag.
Stainless Steel Dog Identification Tags
Just like aluminum dog tags, stainless steel dog tags are of different sizes and shapes. Stainless steel is great for dogs that are very active.
They don’t rust or tarnish no matter how much they get exposed to the elements. So, whether you’re out in the sun, walking in the rain or even when your dog drools, stainless steel tags remain intact.
But bear this in mind, stainless steel, pretty much like every other metal tag will jingle and jangle. Some dog owners like that because it allows them to keep tabs on their dogs. For others, it’s just plain annoying.
So, factor this in when getting such dog tags.
To keep the sound of jangling metal down, you can get a neoprene pouch known as a tag silencer. It will help to bring the sound of jangling metal down.
Service And Emotional Support Dog Tags
The United States Dog Registry registers and licenses service dogs. These dogs also get special dog tags different from those of regular dogs.
Always keep a spare support dog tag too just in case the original one given to your dog gets lost. You can easily find one on various ecommerce platforms. And you can always engrave them with relevant information on the back part of the tag.
Portable Dog Identification Tags
Portable dog tags are also known as barrel dog tags. They are shaped like a barrel and made of metal. Normally, you’re supposed to roll a strip of paper containing all the relevant information and then insert in the tube.
Such tags are best for traveling dogs. It works because the paper can contain as much information as you deem necessary.
Also, as you travel from place to place, you can adjust the information on the paper inserted to fit your new location.
The information you might want to add could include international phone codes, the address of your hotel.
Slide-On Dog Identification Tags
Slide-on tags can be made of stainless steel or aluminum and they are designed to be slid into your dog’s collar. You can also find them in noiseless versions too, if the sound annoys you.
Slide-on dog tags hardly get missing since they are made to placed inside your dog’s collar. Also, because they don’t hang down, all the information engraved on them can hardly fade off. Plus, they won’t constitute any safety risk for your pooch at all.
But bear in mind that slide-on dog tags won’t fit into adjustable dog collars. They only work with single-thickness collars. Also, they don’t work with clip collars, they’d only work with buckled collars.
Finally, slide-on dog tags are actually quite affordable.
Now, you can decide to go for an embroidered collar instead. These collars will usually contain all your relevant information clearly embroidered directly on to the collar.
With this collar, your information is clearly visible, and a surefire way to make sure that no information gets lost.
Now, embroidered collars have this limitation which is that you have limited space to put in all the information you want. More than ever, you’d have to stick to the very basics on this one.
You could stick with your number and city.
To make this particular tag more effective, you should try combining this collar with a standard dog ID tag.
But then again, embroidered collars have other limitations that you must seriously consider before you decide on them. First of all, they are quite pricey.
Secondly, if any information on the tag has to change, you’d have to get a whole new one. And these don’t come cheap as we already mentioned.
Handmade Dog Identification Tags
Some people prefer to make their dogs stand out from the crowd and as such shirk the idea of a commercial dog tag. There are lots of handmade dog tags available for sale and they come made of different materials.
Handmade collars can be found made of different materials like wood, leather, clay, and polymer.
Most brands that make handmade dog tags will also help you customize your tag the way you want. Now your dog can look as unique and special as you want him to look.
QR Scan Dog Identification Tags
There are dog identification tags that come with QR codes on the back. Usually, anyone with a scanner on their smartphone would be able to scan the back of the dog tags to get your information to reunite him back with you.
Setting up a QR scan tag is actually quite easy. All you have to do is to register all the necessary details online, and that’s all. Don’t forget to update the information as time passes and information changes.
When you register a dog, he gets a unique online ID profile. This profile will contain all the necessary information about him and your contact information.
Depending on the brand, you might be allowed to list other contact information besides yours. And if your pup goes missing, a smartphone is all that is needed to scan the code and get the information needed to return your puppy back to you.
Plus, you also get email and text alerts with information in the GPS location of your dog and the finder. This can help you cut down the time you’d need to find your puppy to half. Another good thing about them is that they don’t require batteries.
But then, they also have their own drawbacks. They are quite costly. You might not remember to update your information if it changes. Plus, if your finder doesn’t have a smartphone, the dog tag becomes practically useless.
With GPS trackers you can keep tabs on your pooch as he wanders in and out of the house. Usually, GPS trackers work with satellites to find out where your dog is located per time. And then they send this information to your smartphone via an app.
How To Choose The Right Dog Identification Tags
Dog identification tags come in different sizes and shapes. So, it can be really difficult to make a choice on which is best for your dog. So, how do you decide? Here are a few factors to consider…
You know dogs are typically active people. They enjoying playing, running, jumping, rolling around, and all. For this reason, especially if your pooch belongs to any of the active dog breed, you must pick a dog tag made from a durable material.
The rule of thumb is that you should only have to replace your dog tag if the information on it changes. Aside that, you shouldn’t have to for other reasons like a maybe a tarnished tag.
The ideal material a dog identification tag should come in is metal. The most common metal options include brass, steel, and nickel.
Nickel and steel give a nice silvery hue while brass gives a golden hue. So, depending on your preferred color shade, you could choose any one of these metals for your doggy ID tag.
Also, you need to factor in whether or not your dog is allergic to any particular metal. You know that a dog ID tag will always touch your dog’s body, so it’s important that it does not cause any adverse reaction in your dog.
Style is also quite important so you need to think about it. And there are so many kinds of style out there. From the flat disc to the cute dog paws, house or bone.
Another style you could go for is the barrel tube. This one allows you to write your information on a paper and insert it into the barrel. But then again, there’s the chance that the bottom part of the barrel could loosen and get lost.
And it’s not far-fetched too. Dogs like to roll and who’s to say that the barrel cannot twist open while he’s rolling?
Plus, barrel dog tags might not be instantly recognizable as a dog tag except the finder is used to the style. In this case, choosing this style would have defeated the purpose.
But whatever shape you decide to go for, though, ensure that it is safe and comes with blunt edges. Sharp angles and edges could hurt your dog and make him uncomfortable so you should watch out for that.
Now, just before we leave the style department, another thing you might want to consider is the design. Different designs suit different dog personalities.
Now, here’s another factor to consider. You need to get a dog identification tag that is commensurate to your dog in size. Of course small tags for small dogs and large tags for large dogs.
A dachshund and a St. Bernard, for instance, will definitely not wear the same size of tag.
Now, getting a tag for a puppy can be a bit challenging, bearing in mind that the puppy will grow. But tags aren’t so expensive so replacing it for a new one when your puppy reaches adulthood shouldn’t be too much of a deal.
Some cities/states give you a tag when you register your puppy, others don’t. But even if you’re given, don’t feel like you have to use that particular one, cos you don’t. if you don’t like it, feel free to change it to something else.
But then again, there are a few cities where you don’t have that choice. Whatever the case, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get information first before making any decision on getting a new tag.
Secondary Dog Identification – Microchips And Tattoos
Now, there are other ways you can identify your dog besides using tags, we refer to these processes as secondary identification. We refer to them as secondary identification because it is advised that whichever method you choose still be backed up by a dog identification tag.
We repeat it again that a dog identification tag remains the fastest, the most effective, and most reliable way to identify a lost dog.
Secondary dog identification comes in either of two forms – tattoos or microchips.
These two methods are quite effective and have their advantages (and disadvantages as well, of course). And to use either of them you’ll need a database as well as third party access for the information of the dog owner to be retrieved.
However, secondary identification has a major benefit – it’s a permanent way to identify your dog and gives the most concrete proof of your ownership.
Now, let’s look briefly into each of these methods
You probably know a little (or a lot) about microchips from all the sci-fi movies you’ve watched in your lifetime. It’s an implant, usually small as the qualifier “micro” gives away, that can be embedded under a dog’s skin.
The implant is usually done by a vet (make sure it’s a vet that does yours) using a very large needle.
Yeah… that last part should tell you that the procedure is pretty painful though.
Anyway, moving on… the implanted chip usually contains a unique set of numbers which only your dog would bear. When scanned with a scanner, this unique number is displayed and then the owner of the dog can be traced from the information in the database of the chip company.
If your dog is found by a vet, they’d usually scan him without charge.
Upsides Of Microchipping
- The identification is permanent.
- You don’t need to sedate your dog to insert the chip.
Downsides To Microchipping
- You’d need a scanner and database to retrieve the owner’s information. Not everyone has that readily on hand.
- It’s quite expensive both upfront and in the long run since you’ll have to pay for the maintenance of the database.
The tattoo method has been around for a while. Long ago, animal shelters, vet offices, breeders, and rescue groups would use tattoos to track dogs and identify them. However, these days, they are getting less popular.
The main reason for the decline in the use of tattoos is that a dog would have to be under anesthesia for the tattoo procedure to be done. So, these days, many people just opt for the microchip instead.
Usually, when a tattooed animal gets lost and then found, the finder simply traces the tattoo back to the clinic where the tattoo was created. When the finder returns the dog to the clinic, the clinic management can then hand the dog to his owner.
Upsides Of Tattooing
- It’s far less expensive as compared to microchips – inexpensive up front and no maintenance fee involved.
- It offers permanent dog identification.
- It doesn’t need to be read using technology so practically anyone can read it.
Downsides To Tattooing
- It could get hidden by your dog’s hair and then fade overtime which will make it a bit difficult for the tattoo to be read.
- You’d have to sedate your pup to draw on the tattoo.
- Just like a microchip, you’d need a database to trace the owner of the dog.
In all, identifying your dog is super important to keeping your dog safe and protected. And from our article, you’ve been able to find that there are two ways to go about it – dog identification tags or secondary identification.
While each of these methods has its benefits and drawbacks, we mentioned that the dog identification tag remains your best bet for the purpose of IDing your dog.
However, even at that, you know what they say about two heads… so, yes, dog identification tags might be more beneficial but combining them with a microchip is all the more better. This way, you can be sure that if one fails, the other will not.
A missing pet can be very devastating for any pet parent and that’s why we must all stay prepared. Little things like dog identification tags can make all the difference between a lost dog that’s found and one that’s led to a random shelter and finally euthanized.