Dog tags

The realization is nearly enough to stop your heart: your dog is missing. Someone left a door open, your dog dug a hole under the fence, or the roofer forgot to close the gate. Whatever the reason, it’s not an unusual occurrence.

You can prepare for this frightening possibility by getting an ID tag engraved with your contact information. Many local laws require that dogs wear ID tags, so you might need one to be in compliance.

What information do you put on the tag?

The only information that absolutely needs to be on the tag is a phone number and your dog’s name. Beyond that, the choices are endless and may include:

  • Complete address
  • City and state but no street address
  • Cell phone number
  • Landline number
  • Whether there’s a reward offered for your dog’s return

You can list whatever makes sense for your situation–just make sure it’s enough for someone to be able to reach you.

Where to get a tag

You can mail-order tags at pet supply stores or vet offices. Or buy personalized ones at engraving booths–look for them in pet supply stores or at pet shows and competitions.

What to look for in a dog tag


You have plenty of options while shopping for tags.

  • Material: Most are made of stainless steel, brass, aluminum, or brightly colored plastic.
  • Shapes: They come in basic shapes, such as ovals and rectangles, and whimsical ones, such as dog faces or bones.
  • Noseprint: Your dog’s noseprint can be imprinted on the tag.
  • Decorations: You can doll up your baby’s tag with rhinestones, enamel, semiprecious stones, and so on. Or get a tag with an embossed shape on one side (you could have a teddy bear on one side for your 100-pound Bear). Check advertisements in dog magazines for the fancy stuff.
  • Custom works of art: If you’re willing to spend the extra money, you can buy custom hand-engraved tags or unique pieces of art. Some of these cost a few hundred dollars.
  • Slide-on tag: This tag slides over the collar and has no connectors that can break loose.
  • Electronic tags: These contain detailed contact and medical information.
  • Lost pet recovery service: Some companies sell you their 800 number to list on your dog’s tag, instead of your own personal information. Anyone who finds your lost pup will get any necessary medical information about your dog when they call the number; meanwhile the company contacts you regarding your pet’s whereabouts.


Tags typically range in size from approximately three-quarters of an inch to two inches wide. They have to be large enough for someone to be able to read them, and sized for your dog. Yorkies shouldn’t have to drag around two-inch tags.


It’s a good idea to check your dog’s tags about once a year to make sure that the connector’s still secure. The tag can’t help Lassie come home unless it stays on her collar. Also check for legibility in case the engraving has worn down so much it can’t be read.

Products that complement your dog tag

Collars can be embroidered with your dog’s name and your phone number in case the tag becomes disconnected from the collar. It’s easier to read the larger lettering on a collar than the tiny print on the tag located right below the teeth of a nervous dog.

For a high-tech option, try Zoombak’s Advanced GPS Dog Locator. Once the unit is attached to your dog’s collar, you’ll be able to use GPS technology to track your dog’s location and movements from your computer or mobile phone. If he or she gets lost or is stolen, you’ll be able to to easily track your dog down–assuming the collar is still around their neck!

What’s your favorite type of ID tag to use? What do you think of the new high-tech options? Post a comment and let us know.