Is it a legal requirement? Why do some dogs wear collars at all times and others don't?

Q: I pick-up with a very experienced dog person who has a team of dogs under immaculate control. None of them wear a collar. I thought dogs were obliged to by law. I asked him about it and he said that a collar could injure his dogs and he wasn’t ever going to put one on them when they were working. Is he breaking the law? Do dogs have to wear collars at all times?

A :No he isn’t and he is being very sensible. It is true that The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires every dog while “on a highway or in a place of public resort to wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it” (including the postcode).

A £5000 fine

The penalty for failure to put a collar on your dog, in adherence to the law above, is a fine of up to £5,000. Any dog that is found without such a collar may be seized and treated as a stray under Section 149 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

However there are exceptions. The law does not apply to any pack of hounds, any dog while being used for the following: sporting purposes; the capture or destruction of vermin; the driving or tending of cattle or sheep, official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Customs and Excise or the police force for any area; emergency rescue work, or any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Sporting purposes would include shooting, beating, picking-up and gundog training, but obviously not travelling to or from any such activity.

No collars for dogs whilst working

Your friend is absolutely right to remove his dogs’ collars whilst they are working. It is too easy for a dog to get caught in cover or the collar to snag on a submerged root when retrieving from water, with fatal consequences. Sensibly the law recognises this.