A dog might wear several different identifying dog tags.

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Dog Tags & Charms

A dog tag is a small flat tag worn on collars or harnesses by dogs, usually with identifying information such as the owner's telephone number so that the owner can be notified if the dog is lost. more...

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Dog tags were traditionally worn on a chain, rope, or collar around the dog's neck. The resemblance of human identification tags to this method of display led to them also being called dog tags; see dog tag (identifier). Some dogs wear harnesses instead of collars, so tags might be attached there instead. Most humane societies and rescue organizations recommend that dog tags be on a buckle-type collar rather than on a slip collar, because the former remains more securely fastened around a dog's neck when slipping through a fence or being held by a stranger.

Identifying information

Identifying information might include:

  • The dog's dog license number and contact information for the licensing organization
  • Dog's name
  • Owner's phone number, address, or both
  • An identifying number for the dog with a phone number for a lost-pet registry
  • Information about the dog's critical medical issues or rabies vaccinations
  • A notice that a reward will be paid for the return of the lost dog; this might encourage people to make an extra effort to return a stray dog
  • For fun, the dog's titles, or information about the dog's behavior, such as the Canine Good Citizen tag

Some organizations recommend not putting a dog's name on a tag because, in an ownership dispute over a stray dog, the original owner could use the dog's name to demonstrate that the dog recognizes the name and therefore has an association with that owner. Others believe that a lost dog might feel more comfortable if strangers call it by its own name.


Tags are made of many different materials. Metal tags usually have the information embossed or etched onto the surface, and might also have electronic chips embedded. Plastic chips can be etched or printed, come in many colors, and are often highly reflective to make the dog more visible if it gets loose and runs into the street after dark.


Dog tags on a collar are easiest to use for random people who find a dog wandering loose.

Although dog tags can help to return a stray or lost dog to its owners, they are unreliable as a sole source of identification for several reasons. The owner might move or change phone numbers and forget to update the tags. Dogs often leave their collars behind when escaping from a yard, particularly when squeezing through or under a fence. Some owners don't want their dogs wearing collars unsupervised, and unsupervised dogs are more likely to be able to escape from a yard. Well-intentioned rescuers might remove the dog's collar and tags to be able to read the phone number, and the dog might disappear again.

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