What to put on a dog tag

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Written by Dr Andrew Miller MRCVSDr Andrew Miller MRCVS is an expert veterinary working in the field for over 10 years after graduating from Bristol University. Andy fact checks and writes for Pure Pet Food while also working as a full time veterinarian. - Our editorial process

Plenty of pooches fancy themselves as escape artists, trying to sneak off at any given opportunity for a sniff around. Luckily, if your dog does find themselves out in the big wide world alone, there’s some super advanced technology around to help your four-legged friend make their way back home.

Microchipping, GPS trackers and photo shares on social media urging people to keep an eye out for your dog are all excellent ways to help bring your dog home, but a dog tag on their collar is a simple and effective way of ensuring you’ll be reunited with your pup.

So, why is a dog tag so important to have, and what details must be inscribed onto it? Read on to find out.

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Why are dog tags important?

We know what our dogs are like, they’re curious, inquisitive and adventurous, however, these traits can sometimes get the better of them when they decide to take themselves for a solo stroll. Although our dogs are clever, most aren’t clever enough to find their way home on their own.

Dog tags are simple, cheap and really effective at making sure your pooch will be found safe and sound.

Not only is a dog tag effective, but it’s actually also a legal requirement for your dog to be wearing one in the UK. Under The Control of Dogs Order 1992, every dog in a public place should wear a collar with their owner’s name and address inscribed on a badge attached to it.

Otherwise, you’ll be at risk of a hefty fine and a struggle to find your pooch again if they got lost. Some canines are exempt from this law, such as police dogs, guide dogs and herding dogs, but this only applies when the dog is on the job.

It's also mandatory by law for every dog over the age of 8 weeks old to be microchipped, which is an electronic implant that the vet can scan, and your dog’s identification details will show up. Although this is handy and permanent, it means that whoever finds your dog will have to take them to the vet before they can determine who the owner of this dog is. This leaves you without your dog for that bit longer.

Having clear contact details included on the tag alongside a microchip allows whoever finds your curious canine to quickly get in touch and reunite you with your dog almost instantly. Easy!

A collar and a dog tag also makes your pooch much more approachable to strangers who may find them wandering the streets, indicating that the dog is someone’s beloved pet rather than a stray. This is likely to make people much more inclined to go up to your dog and take action.

What should I put on my dog's tag?

Your house won’t feel like a home without your furry family member there, so you must take all the precautions to keep them safe in case they go missing.

Your name and address

The two essential details required by law to include on your dog’s tag are your name and address.

Phone number

Although this detail isn’t a legal requirement, we strongly advise you to include a contact number on your dog’s tag. A quick phone call is the easiest way for whoever finds your dog to contact you, and it provides you with speedy reassurance that your dog is in safe hands if you receive a phone call before the finder manages to bring your exploring dog to you.

It’s also a good idea to include two different phone numbers in case you don’t pick up the phone initially, especially if you work somewhere where you’re not always able to pick up the phone.

Remember to change your dog’s tag if you move house or change phone numbers, this is very important and is the type of admin work that can easily be forgotten!

Consider including…

‘I’m microchipped’

As we know, it’s the law for puppies over 8 weeks old to be microchipped. Although your phone number will be a much quicker way for whoever finds your pooch to get in touch, if whoever finds your dog knows they’re microchipped, they may be more motivated to take your pup to the vet to get identification if you don’t pick up the phone, or if your contact details and address are outdated.

You must make sure you keep your pup’s microchip details updated along with their tag.

Also, dog theft is unfortunately a real, common thing, so by highlighting that your dog is microchipped, it may deter thieves from taking your dog.

‘I’m spayed/neutered’

Again, this is another sentence that is used to ward off potential dog thieves. Sadly, thieves steal people’s pets to use for breeding and monetary gain, so by stating that your dog would be unable to breed on the tag, it might prompt the thief to stay clear.

Health issues

Stating that your dog has a health issue, or putting that they’re ‘on medication’, it adds a higher sense of urgency to the situation. Whoever finds your dog may decide to take them to the vet straight away to avoid any medical complications in case you don’t pick up the phone straight away.

What not to include on your dog’s tag

Your dog’s name

Even though a little bone shaped dog tag with your pooch’s name inscribed on it may seem like the most obvious, and adorable thing to do when sorting out their tag, we’d advise against it.

As we know, dog theft is rife, and if a thief knows your dog’s name, they can use it to gain their trust. Also, if the thief is attempting to sell the stolen dog to an unsuspecting, innocent buyer, the dog responding to their own name helps the thief to pass off the dog as being their own.

For the majority of people who have good intentions when finding a missing dog, knowing their name can be really useful to help gain the dog’s trust and make them feel safer in the meantime before they’re reunited with their actual owner. However, it’s not worth the risk of having their name on just in case your dog falls into the wrong hands.

If you want your dog’s tag to have some kind of personal element to it, simply for cuteness’s sake, maybe opt for using their initials instead.

How can I prevent my dog from going missing?

Keeping your garden secure is fundamental in keeping your dog safe and sound, especially if you’ve got a dog who likes to dig. Some dogs just don’t stop, they dig, dig, dig until they’ve made a hole under the fence to slip through, and if that sounds like your mischievous mutt, you’ll need to work extra hard to keep everything secure.

On walks, don’t let your dog off the lead until it’s safe to do so, and ensure they’ve got solid, reliable recall skills in case you need to shout them back your way. Nowadays, with dog theft unfortunately being so prevalent across the UK, you should also never leave your dog tied up in public while you nip into the shop.

Some people take extra cautionary measures if their pooch is a well-known escape artist, deciding to attach a GPS tracker to their dog’s collar so they can keep track of them at all times.


Every pooch parent’s worst nightmare is their beloved four-legged friend going missing, so it’s important to take all the measures possible to keep them safe.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to protect your pup and if God forbid they do decide to take themselves for walkies alone, the accurate, up to date information on their ID tag will be enough to help reunite you.