Dogs are legally required to wear a dog tag with two pieces of information: the owner's name and address. However, we also recommend four additional pieces of information to help a lost dog be quickly reunited with its owner and potentially deter thieves: 2 phone numbers and the phrases, "Microchipped" and "Neutered".
The Ideal UK Dog Tag
The right information on a dog tag can accomplish three objectives: satisfy legal requirements, help to deter thieves and assist in getting a lost dog back home quickly.
|What to Put on a Dog Tag||Reason|
|Your surname||Required by law|
|House number and street name||Required by law^|
|Post code||Required by law|
|Phone Number 1||To quickly reunite you and your dog|
|Phone Number 2||To quickly reunite you and your dog|
|"Microchipped"||To quickly reunite you and your dog and to deter thieves|
|"Neutured"||To deter thieves|
^Note: Some local dog wardens accept the house number/name without requiring the street name, which can save room on a dog tag.
What's Required by Law for a Dog Tag in the UK
According to the Control of Dogs Order 1992, while in public a dog is required 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. There are exceptions such as guide dogs or dogs tending sheep, but most dogs will need to follow the rules. Failing to comply can lead to a fine of £5,000 if persecuted—granted this is quite unusual!
Recommended Additional Information for a Dog Tag
In addition to the information required by law, we recommend including other information to both help a good Good Samaritan reunite you and your beloved pet and also to deter thieves.
For instance, include two phone numbers on a dog tag. When a dog is lost it's critical to reach an owner right away. It'd be one thing if a lost dog was watched over by a loving person until the owner could be reached—but it's possible whoever finds your dog isn't interested in caring for it (even temporarily) or perhaps your dog runs away from this stranger—not everyone walks around with a dog lead to hand. If you can't be reached on the first number, it's important to have a back up number, such as a work number, home number, a partner's mobile or some other emergency contact.
We also recommend including the phrase, "Microchipped" on a dog tag to potentially deter a thief. A dog thief looking to resell your dog on the Internet may be put off if they know your dog is microchipped, because the contact details of the real owner stay with the dog and are stored in one of the UK's microchip databases. Microchips can be scanned at a vet, plus some people buy a microchip scanner to check a dog before they buy, and changing details on a microchip is not possible if the real owner objects (a reason to make sure your contact details are up to date in the microchip database!). A thief would rather steal a dog without a microchip than with one.
Although it is now required by law that all dogs over 8 weeks of age are microchipped and microchipping only costs around £15, not all dogs have a microchip. Make it clear that your dog does.
Finally, including the phrase "Neutured" on your dog's tag (if they are neutured) can help deter a thief who either wants a dog for fighting or breeding.
Don't Include your Pet's Name
Do not include your dog's name on their tag to help deter thieves. First of all, your dog might be more willing to go with a stranger who knows their name. Second, by knowing a dog's name (and the dog responding to his name) a thief will appear to be the owner, giving them credibility with potential buyers.
A Dog Tag to Deter Thieves
Depending on why a dog thief is stealing a dog, it's possible that small details on a tag could be a deterrent. For instance:
- Include "Neutured": May deter a thief looking for a male dog for fighting or a female for breeding
- Include "Microchipped": May deter a thief looking for a dog to resell, as the microchip can disclose the real owner to a buyer
- Don't include the dog's name: As discussed above, avoid providing your dog's name to deter thieves hoping to resell your dog
Other Things to Consider When Buying a Dog Tag
When looking for the best dog tag, look for one with capacity for 6 to 7 lines to accommodate all of the information you need. Ideally, the tag can be engraved on both the front and back—by spreading out the information on two sides, the text will be less cramped and the font should be bigger and easier to read. Also consider the size and shape of a tag, to be sure the text is easily readable. And finally, if your dog is a swimmer then stainless steel might wear better.
While a dog tag is required by law, it can also help you be reunited with your beloved whether you're close to home or you've travelled far away, for instance by taking a train trip with your dog.