For dog owners, collars, harnesses and leashes are all necessary items. But it’s the fact that dog people treat their pooches as furry kids that drives this category in a fashionable direction.
According to Angela Wharton, Petmate’s product manager for collars, leashes and containment, “while pet parents also want fashionable collars and leashes for their large dogs, safety and functionality will always be the top priority for bigger breeds.”
“However, small dogs are growing in popularity and at 51 percent, have the highest rate of ownership in households,” she said.
“With small dogs, one of the trends that we are seeing is the use of embellishments and alternative, fun materials for collars and leashes,” Wharton said.
According to Wharton, the popularity of harnesses is growing in part due to their greater safety for dogs that pull on their leashes.
“Collars and leashes are made for each other, but when you have a ‘puller,’ your best bet is a harness or your pet may suffer from continued stress that can result in a collapsed trachea,” Wharton said.
“Overall, roughly 41 percent of pet parents own a harness,” she added. “The interest in and use of harnesses has increased 35 percent over the last two years and this can be traced back to primary use by small dogs. This also relates to the fact that small dogs are growing in popularity.”
Recently, Coastal Pet Products conducted an in-store consumer research project and discovered that consumers’ main concerns are durability, comfort and safety. The research conducted by Vox Capio also indicated that consumers want reflective properties “built in” to the collar, such as reflective stitching and patterns.
“Our Pet Attire Pro and Lazer Brite lines offer bright, sporty colors and are currently trending in retail,” said Angela Ramsay, assistant merchandising manager at Coastal. “Because of growing concerns about comfort and safety, we have found mesh harnesses to be hugely popular.”
“We’ve determined that harnesses perform better when they’re a focal point [in dispays],” Ramsay added. “Color-blocking can also be aesthetically appealing.”
Over recent years, dog owners have come to enjoy a wide range of materials for both collars and leashes. A push for the use of more eco-friendly materials has brought hemp and bamboo into the spotlight, but now there are such accessories manufactured from cork, too.
Pelcor’s new collection of collars and leashes for dogs is imported from Portugal where the company is headquartered.
“The collection was inspired by my Portuguese water dog, Corky,” said Sandra Correia, founder of Pelcor. “We use a fine-quality cork skin made from the regenerating bark of the cork oak tree grown in sustainable cork oak forests in southern Portugal. We find it to be the ideal material because it’s smooth and lightweight while being very strong and durable. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic and stain-resistant.”
Pelcor offers collars in five sizes, along with a 46-inch leash and a choice of four colors. Because cork is waterproof, the collars and leashes are easy to maintain.
Kinn, Inc., has introduced a line of synthetic fleece-lined collars and leashes with a fleece-lined handle called Healthier Pet.
“The idea behind the fleece liner on the Koala Plush-Comfort Collar is to help prevent neck skin irritations, allergic reactions, infections and injuries,” said Kinn’s founder and CEO, Alex McKinnon.
“The Kangaroo Plush-Comfort Leash has a fleece-lined handle designed to act as a shock absorber when there is pulling on the leash by the dog on the other end,” McKinnon said. “We designed the products with input from veterinarians.”
The company’s products are designed in California. They have sub-assembly operations in China and final assembly, packaging and quality control back in Southern California at OPARC, a non-profit organization staffed by people with disabilities—a fact that has become an indirect selling point for the company.