Breakaway vs Non-Breakaway Collars

by Alex Harmon

Breakaway vs. Non-Breakaway Buckles:
What's The Difference?

If you’ve ever purchased a collar from Made By Cleo, you’ve likely noticed that you’re given the option to choose the buckle type before adding a collar to your cart – either Breakaway or Non-Breakaway. It’s likely that many of you may have never had to choose the buckle type when buying from a pet store, since they often separate cat and dog products and indirectly make this decision for you. But it’s not always as simple as cat vs. dog. This article should ideally explain the differences between the two types of buckles and help you make the most informed decision for your pet.

Breakaway / Safety Buckles

Let’s start with breakaway buckles, since that’s the default option for the collars on our website. You may have seen breakaway collars referred to as "safety" or "quick release" collars, since they are specifically designed to automatically open / unclasp when pulled or tugged on with a sufficient amount of force. This feature is designed to prevent injury or strangulation of pets if the collar gets caught on something, like a tree branch, fence (or in the jaws of another animal). Naturally, this is a bigger concern for outdoor cats who like to climb or are extra adventurous, but breakaway buckles can even protect indoor kitties who may jump on ledges or shelving. Although safety is the obvious priority when choosing this type of closure for your pet's collar, the obvious drawback to this format is that there is inherently a greater risk of your pet losing his or her collar if it's a breakaway style. If you choose one of the cat collar sizes (Kitten, Adult Cat, XL Cat), the buckle type will default to breakaway unless you manually choose a Non-Breakaway option thereafter.

Note: The visual appearance of breakaway buckle closures can vary quite a lot depending on the brand of collar you are looking at. Some styles are rounded, while others may look more boxy, similar to standard dog collar / non-breakaway buckles. If ever in doubt, take a look at the internal prongs to see if they are rounded or sharp, and do a quick 'pull' test to see if the collar stays closed or pops open when you tug hard on both ends of the clasp.

Non-breakaway Buckles

Non-breakaway buckles are designed to stay closed when pulled, regardless of the force applied. These are intended for pets who are walked on leashes or harnesses – usually dogs. Still, some cat owners prefer to purchase non-breakaway buckles if their cats have a tendency to lose their collars often. Note: In regards to choosing this style of buckle for cats, it's important to underscore the importance of carefully considering the level of risk, in terms of how likely your cat is to get into an unsafe, life-threatening situation when unsupervised. This type of buckle is NOT recommended for very young cats or ones that are inexperienced in an outdoor environment or have a tendency to get in 'adventurous / mischievous' situations indoors.

Non-breakaway buckles will be the default option when you choose a dog size collar on our website, though you can manually change it to breakaway. We also offer metal buckle upgrades in gold or silver for non-breakaway buckles only, if you’d prefer a more premium look and feel.

To recap, here’s a chart that should run down the advantages of each type of buckle so that you can make the right decision for your pet’s collar.

Regardless of the type of buckle clasp you choose for your pet collars — we recommend always adding a pet ID to the collar, either as a hanging tag or a flat, noiseless slide tag. Having a pet ID tag on the collar helps identify your animal in the event that they are lost or get out of the house unexpectedly. Click here to see what ID tag options are available

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Sizing & Hardware Options

Standard Collar Sizes (listed in inches)

The numbers listed below represent the shortest & longest adjustable length range for the neck size options we offer. We strongly recommend measuring your pet's neck before ordering, if this is your first time. Tip: A simple piece of string or ribbon (or equivalent flexible household item) can be used to assess the collar length your pet needs -- then measure the amount of string you used, laid out flat alongside a straight ruler. Often, customers may not realize their pet is smaller (or larger) than average prior to measuring!

If your pet is in-between sizes, select the closest size from the dropdown menu, but be sure to provide your pet's exact neck size measurements in the "Special Instructions" message box (on the Cart page before checkout) so that our seamstresses can make any necessary custom sizing adjustments to ensure an optimal fit for your pet. We'll take care of it as long as you give us the measurements!

Kitten 6-10" (inches) Fits small cats
Adult Cat 8-13" (inches) Fits average-sized & larger cats
XL Cat 12-16" (inches) Fits extra large, big cats
Tiny Dog 6-10" (inches) Fits very small pups (measure to be sure)
Mini Dog 8-13" (inches) Fits Chihuahuas, Yorkies, toy breeds
Small Dog 12-16" (inches) Fits Beagles, Jack Russell Terriers, Pugs

A Note About Adding "Slide" Tags to Collars: If ordering a personalized slide tag name plate to be put on your collar, the length of the tag will reduce the maximum length of the collar by 1.5 inches. If your pet's neck size is very close to the maximum of a certain size range and you plan to get a slide tag with the collar - to avoid any fit issues, we recommend ordering the next size up, or adding a note in the "Order Notes" box (located on the Cart page before checkout) to let us know your pet's exact neck size so our studio can make any necessary adjustments as needed.


Collar Terminology & Options

"Size" refers to the collar's adjustable length (in inches).Note: The standard width of our collars is 1/2", regardless of the size option / length you select. To see a quick demo on how to adjust the size of your pet collar and achieve an optimal fit, watch the video below.


"Buckle Type" refers to the black or white standard plastic side-release clasp shown in all collar product photos in our store. On every collar product page, you will be given the option to select whether you prefer a "Breakaway" or "Non-Breakaway" plastic buckle clasp. Both types look the same as what you see in the photos — the difference has to do with the internal pronged mechanism, which makes them function differently. See the illustration below to compare the visual differences. Please Note: The details regarding the differences shown below will apply whether it's pertaining to a white or black buckle clasp:

The functional differences are as follows:

"Hardware" accent color refers to the various standard metal components that are part of the pet collar— i.e. the collar length adjuster, the round split ring for cat collars (or D-ring for dog collars), and the included removable bell. Note: The hardware color choices do NOT apply to the plastic buckle clasp - the buckle will always be plastic (unless you specifically order a metal buckle upgrade to go with your collar).