The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Shock Collar for Large Dogs

March 18, 2024

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Getting the best shock collar for your big furry friend can make all the difference in effective, humane, and safe training. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know.

What Exactly is a Shock Collar?

A shock collar, also known as an e-collar or remote training collar, is a collar that delivers stimulation to a dog’s neck to reinforce training. The stimulations provided are:

  • Static Shock – A mild electrical pulse to get the dog’s attention
  • Vibration – A strong buzzing sensation
  • Tone – An audible beep or sound

Shock collars should never be used as punishment, but as communication tools to reinforce commands. While most commonly used on large dogs, shock collars can also be effective for training small breeds when used properly.

Are Shock Collars Safe for Large Dogs?

Are Shock Collars Safe For Large Dogs

When used correctly under the guidance of a professional trainer, shock collars can be safe for large dogs. The key things to ensure safety are:

  • Choosing a collar designed specifically for large dogs
  • Adjusting stimulation levels appropriately for your dog’s temperament
  • Using the lowest effective stimulation level
  • Avoiding excessive or prolonged stimulation
  • Monitoring your dog closely for signs of distress

Work closely with your vet and trainer to determine if a shock collar is right for your pooch. For a comparison of two of the top e-collar brands, check out our Dogtra vs Educator guide.

Shock Collar Uses for Large Dogs

The most common reasons people use shock collars for big dogs are:

  • Stopping excessive barking
  • Improving recall/preventing running off
  • Correcting behaviors like jumping or bolting
  • Establishing boundaries with underground fences

They should never be used for aggressive behaviors. Always combine with positive reinforcement training for best results. If an underground fence is part of your containment plan, read our PetSafe vs Extreme Dog Fence comparison.

How to Choose the Best Shock Collar for Large Dogs

Picking the right shock collar is crucial – an ill-fitted or overly-strong collar can do more harm than good. Here’s what to look for:

Adjustable Stimulation Levels

  • At least 15+ levels of static shock
  • Multiple levels of vibration/tone
  • Separate control of each stimulation type

This allows you to find the lowest effective level for your dog. The Dr. Trainer Dog Collar is a popular model with a wide range of stimulation options.

Proper Fit

  • Designed specifically for large dog breeds
  • Fully adjustable for neck sizes over 22 inches
  • Snug but not constricting

Ensures stimulation contacts skin properly and prevents irritation. For breed-specific collar recommendations, see our guide on the best collars for Rottweilers.

Training Features

  • At least 500 yard range
  • Waterproof for versatility
  • Rechargeable battery for longevity
  • Easy-to-use settings

Keeps you connected over long distances and outdoor terrain. Hunting dogs in particular can benefit from waterproof, long-range shock collars – our roundup of the best GPS collars for hunting dogs has some great options.

Safety Features

  • Built-in safety shut-off after prolonged use
  • Indicators if stimulation is too high
  • Quick release latch

Safeguards against overuse and monitors dog’s response.

Reviews: Best Shock Collars for Large Dogs

After extensive testing and research, we recommend these top-rated shock collars for big pups:

1. Educator ET-800

Educator Et 800

With best-in-class precision, range and customization, the ET-800 takes the top spot.

Key Features:

  • 100 stimulation levels
  • 1 mile range
  • Separate “boost” button
  • Fully waterproof
  • 2 dog capacity


  • Unparalleled precision for finding effective stimulation level
  • Can fine-tune to your dog’s temperament
  • Excellent for stubborn or demanding training situations


  • Expensive
  • Bulky transmitter
Shop Educator ET-800 on Amazon

2. SportDOG 425X

Sportdog 425x

For an easier to use, versatile pick, the SportDOG 425X hits the mark.

Key Features:

  • 500 yard range
  • 18 levels each for: tone, vibration, static
  • 500 yard range
  • Waterproof 25ft


  • Intuitive, user-friendly design
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Rugged and waterproof


  • Fewer stimulation customization options
Shop SportDOG 425X on Amazon

3. PetSafe Elite Little Dog

Petsafe Elite Little Dog Citronella Anti Bark Collar

An affordable way to train small pups with big attitudes!

Key Features:

  • 15 stimulation levels
  • 300 yard range
  • Tone + vibration options
  • Water resistant receiver collar
  • Small “little dog” size


  • Budget-friendly price
  • Good functionality for basic training
  • Compact receiver size for little dogs


  • Shorter range than premium models
  • Not as durable or weatherproof
Shop PetSafe Elite Little Dog on Amazon

Shock Collar Training Guide

While shock collars can be useful tools, they must be paired with proper training technique to be safe and effective. Here are some best practices:

  • Always start with positive reinforcement and redirection
  • Only use stimulation as last resort for serious behaviors
  • Keep sessions short, 5-10 mins max
  • Carefully observe dog’s reaction for signs of stress
  • Use intermittent, not continuous stimulation
  • End each session on a positive note with rewards

For an alternative to traditional containment methods, the AWEEC Wireless Dog Fence is an innovative system worth considering.

Key Takeaways on Shock Collars for Large Dogs

  • Shock collars can aid training but require very careful and correct use to be safe and avoid cruelty. Always work with a professional trainer when using one.
  • Choose a collar specifically designed for big dogs with size, power and safety features to match their needs.
  • Follow best practices around limited, humane use of stimulation. Rely more heavily on positive reinforcement and clear communication.
  • Pick a collar with sufficient levels to find your dog’s personal sweet spot – the lowest effective level of stimulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a shock collar be used for bark control in big dogs?

A: Yes, several collars provide dedicated anti-bark settings with automatic stimulation to curb excessive barking. Always combine with training.

Q: Will a shock collar hurt my dog or damage their skin?

A: Used properly, shock collars cause temporary discomfort, not pain or damage. Ensure proper tightness, stimulation levels and limits on use. Monitor skin closely.

Q: How old should my dog be before using a shock collar?

A: Experts recommend waiting until 6 months minimum. Puppies under this age are still developing mentally, emotionally and physically.

Q: Should I get professional guidance on shock collar use?

A: Professional guidance is strongly recommended. Improper use can worsen behaviors or cause psychological distress. Let an experienced trainer evaluate your dog and oversee introduction of the collar.

Q: What precautions should I take with shock collars?

A: Key precautions include properly fitting the collar, frequently assessing stimulation level suitability, placing transmitters out of kids’ reach, enforcing stimulation limits, supervising use, and pairing with positive reinforcement.

The Final Word

Shock collars are controversial, with many opposing their use altogether. But with sufficient precautions and professional oversight, they can be suitable tools for addressing serious behavior issues in especially demanding situations. Just be sure to emphasize positive training methods first and view shock as an absolute last resort.