I’m fortunate enough to live a minutes walk from the beach and you might say it’s my husky Dakota’s playground. She is a big fan of the water, especially during this hot Summer we’re having in the UK. But every time she decides to jump in to the sea, I have to shower her down and also wash her collars and harnesses, I don’t imagine the seawater does them much good. So I wanted to find a collar that could withstand the our lifestyle.
I researched the various brands and collars and eventually decided upon the Ruffwear Headwater collar, on paper it’s perfect. It ticks all the boxes including waterproof, which was the main feature I wanted.
The Headwater collar is the creation of a brand called Ruffwear, whose harnesses are rather popular among husky owners. The collar comes in a choice of 4 colors: Orange Sunset, Obsidian Black, Red Currant and Fern Green, and two sizes: Medium – 14-20 in (36-51 cm) and Large – 20-26 in (51-66 cm). I opted for the Red Currant in a medium.
Headwater Collar Claims / Features
- Sinkproof (is that a word?)
- Low-light visibility from the reflective trim
- Single-piece, anodized aluminum V-ring provides a secure leash attachment point
- Silicone tag silencer to keep dog tags quiet
Design and Quality
I was pleasantly surprised that the color matched that shown on the website perfectly, a nice, vibrant red. Everything from the collar itself to the buckle and v-ring all feel of reasonable quality, pretty much what you’d expect from a collar costing $29.95 in the US or £29.99 in the UK.
The collar is indeed waterproof, each and every component of the collar is waterproof and easy to wash, it floats and has an awesome reflective trim right around the circumference. There are some neat little touches such as the tag silencer, a small disc of rubber that prevents the dog tag from jingling. The headwater lives up to all of its claims with the exception of flexible, it’s actually extremely rigid, which brings me on to the bad…
I wish we didn’t have to come to the bad, because unfortunately it’s a real deal breaker. The collar is extraordinarily rigid. As soon as I took it out of the packaging, I noticed the collar looked almost square. The photo on the Ruffwear website (fig. 1.1) shows a nice, rounded collar, but as you’ll see in the second photo (fig 1.2) it’s actually more of an oblong with very squared edges.
[column size=”1/2″]Fig. 1.2[/column]
I thought perhaps it would be ok once I put the collar on my dog, but that wasn’t the case. It doesn’t contour the neck at all, it just sits there awkwardly and doesn’t look at all comfortable. You can see from the picture below that it’s not sitting as you’d expect a collar to sit.
The issue isn’t only the material the collar is made with though. The male part of the buckle is also an issue. The way the collar is threaded through the buckle, means that rather than being able to contour the neck, it instead goes off at a right-angle, see below pictures.
Although not specifically regarding the quality, it’s worth mentioning that we paid £29.99 for the Headwater collar, which isn’t cheap by any means and considering the collar only costs $29.95 in the US, that’s a considerable difference in price. A quick currency conversion shows that the UK version is a whopping $52, nearing double the price of the US version.
Unfortunately due to the stiffness and rigidity of the collar, we were not able to continue using the product. It’s important that your dog is comfortable during walks and I’m not personally convinced this will be comfortable for most dogs to wear and it just doesn’t look right either.
On paper this was the perfect beach collar, but in practice I believe Ruffwear have unfortunately made a bad design decision with the material they used for the collar. I’m surprised this downfall slipped past their quality tests.
I’ve shot a quick video that demonstrates the good and bad aspects of the headwater collar. Hopefully the video demonstrates the issue with rigidity much better than the photos.
Several people have commented indicating that the collar just needs a little time to loosen up. If I can get the collar to loosen up, I will update my review. Though I don’t think something like a collar should require a breaking in period.