Ordering a custom product can seem overwhelming, we know; but don't worry, we are here to help.
Here is a general "cheat sheet" which will answer commonly asked questions and walk you through the ordering process. Please read this entire document as we do not accept returns/exchanges on our leather goods due to their customized and time-intensive nature. Our goal is to have well-educated and happy customers that not only feel comfortable with the ordering process, but can also find a deeper appreciation for the high quality and customized nature of our leather goods. Should you find yourself still having questions at the end of this FAQ, feel free to reach out to us prior to placing your order so we can help, as making adjustments post-purchase can easily become confusing and at risk for miscommunication or error on custom goods.
Selecting your leather is more than just choosing a color. We have spent what most would consider an inordinate amount of time testing different leather types from various tanneries over the years. Every leather type will feel different in hand, have different characteristics and age differently than the other. We would love to share some of this information with you so you can make the best choice possible for you and your pet's lifestyle.
GENERAL LEATHER INFORMATION:
Sloppy Chops Co. only uses full-grain leather for our collars and leashes. Full grain refers to a hide whose top layer (the strongest part of the hide) has not been altered. Other types of leather are top grain (the top layer/strongest part of the hide has been sanded down), corrected grain, and and genuine leather (usually the scrap bits).
The leather we use is drum dyed, meaning the color is infused during the tanning process and not hand-dyed in our shop. We prefer drum dyed leather because it is less apt to bleed than hand-dyed leather -- however, it is important to note that all leather, regardless of the tannery and finishing process, can bleed color unless it is left in its natural state. Bleeding of color is usually not a concern nor noticeable aside from on lighter colored dogs and/or when it gets wet. Personally, we have not experienced bleeding of colors on any of our testers, but just know it is not unexpected if it does occur.
Leather comes in different weights and grades. The higher the weight, the thicker the leather. The weight of the leather we offer varies and will be listed in Our Leather section.
Being a natural material, each hide of leather is unique and will possess different characteristics and natural markings, even if it is from the same manufacturer and created via the same tanning process. Therefore, variances in the uniformity of the material is a natural expression of leather's unique character and should be anticipated.
We offer three different types of leather in the shop: Latigo, Vegetable Tanned, English Bridle (yes, technically English Bridle is vegetable tanned, but don't worry, we will elaborate on why below).
Vegetable tanning refers to the use of tree-based tannins in the tanning process. The vegetable tanning process takes one to three months to complete vs. one to three days needed for chrome tanning. Due to the longer production time, it is a more expensive leather compared to chrome-tanned leathers. While veg tanning is accepted to be more ecological than chrome tanning, we cannot with integrity assert any tanning/manufacturing process as wholly 'environmentally friendly'.
Veg tanning encompasses a very broad arena, as there are many different ways to veg tan a hide that will yield different finished results. In fact, English Bridle leather (see below) is a type of veg tanned leather. We cannot cover all of the different aspects, but in general, veg tanned leather is viewed as a more "artisan" leather. We have opted to put it into its own category separate from the Latigo and English Bridle because, after much trial and error, we have found a particular tannery of which we have become very fond. When we refer to “veg tanned” leather for our products, know that we will be referring -- quite specifically -- to the stock we carry from this tannery (see photo above). This tannery 'hot stuffs' their veg tanned leather, meaning it is infused with oils and fats to increase its durability. Its oil/fat content is technically not as high as English Bridle or Latigo, but we have found it to be a superior leather for abrasion resistance and overall character.
Due to this leather being hot stuffed, it can handle freshwater exposure for shorter periods with proper aftercare. For the sake of longevity of the product, I wouldn't recommend it being submerged for longer periods or regular water exposure -- Biothane is recommended for such activities for its peace of mind.
English bridle leather is a type of vegetable tanned leather that is then hot-stuffed with oils and waxes. English Bridle is smooth, flexible yet durable. Beautifully crafted with an even surface, the grain-side finish on English Bridle is usually more uniform in appearance and generally doesn’t show as many characteristics of the hide as other types of leather. However, being that it does have a more refined finish, scratches that occur with wear can seem more apparent than with other leather options.
Latigo leather is combination-tanned, meaning first it’s chrome-tanned and then vegetable-tanned. The leather is then hot-stuffed with a good amount of waxes and oils, making it quite durable. It’s a lengthy process and drives up cost, making it one of the most expensive types of cow hide leather. Because of the chrome tanning process involved, it is also worth noting that Latigo leather is not considered as environmentally friendly as strictly vegetable tanned leather.
Due to the increased amount of waxes and oils used on the leather, Latigo does better with water exposure than most other types of leathers; for this reason it’s pretty popular amongst dogs and horses. You might see some people saying their dogs “swim and dock dive in their leather collars and they’ve held up great!”. This is very likely Latigo leather. With that being said, we still advocate for minimizing regular and prolonged water exposure to give your gear the greatest natural life. For consistent or prolonged water exposure (especially salt water), we recommend our Biothane products.
- Black and Brown (Latigo) -- Our high-quality, 9-11oz Latigo leather is truly something special. Its supple-yet-sturdy nature make it a luxurious addition to any project, while its tendency to break in gracefully over time only adds to its charm. Our Brown Latigo is limited in stock, however, as we've begun to phase it out of our product line and replace it with our premier Brown English Bridle leather.
ENGLISH BRIDLEOur English Bridle leather is sourced from two different tanneries, granting you access to two distinct options:
- Chestnut, English Tan, Teal, Berry, Pink, and Grey (English Bridle) varieties boast a 9-10oz construction with a firmly textured feel. This leather is a worthy investment, gradually softening with use and eventually yielding a supple result that can't be beat.
- Olive, Eggplant, and Navy Blue (English Bridle) leather is 8-10oz and quickly breaks in to a buttery softness with use and conditioning, making its end result the most supple of our leathers. Due to its softness, these leathers are not suited for rugged treatment.
- Distressed Brown, Golden, Grey, Oxblood, Matte Black (Veg Tanned) -- This high-quality, hot-stuffed veg tanned leather is full of character. All of its colors (aside from the Matte Black) feature what is known as "pull up"; when the leather is bent or stretched the oils are displaced and create variations in its hues. Over time, the leather develops a rich patina, providing a slightly rustic and distressed look.
Our Limited Edition notes are periodically updated to keep our customers aware of current stock, however, we cannot always guarantee their availability in all sizes or that these colors will be restocked in the future.
We try to ensure that all pictures are as accurate as possible, but please understand that there may be color variations from screen-to-screen. Leather colors will also naturally change over time and with conditioning and use.
Please visit our How To Measure page for Buckle Collars for instructions on measuring. Take your time and measure thrice, order once. If you have any questions prior to ordering, please contact us as we are happy to look at photos, offer suggestions, and generally assist as best we can.
It is good to be aware that not all collars will always fit exactly the same. There can be several factors that affect a collar's fit such as style, width and overall design. As such, we recommend following each individual collar maker's provided measuring instructions, as what you wear in one collar maker's brand may not always exactly translate to another's.
All of our leather goods are customized based upon the measured neck size. Unless otherwise instructed, the measured neck size provided when placing your order will be the middle hole position on your collar. To provide wiggle room on either side, your collar will have 5 holes total, with:
- ¾-inch hole spacing for necks 15 inches and over
- ⅝-inch hole spacing for necks 12.01-14.99 inches
- ½-inch hole spacing for necks 0-12 inches
If you would prefer a different hole spacing interval on your collar, you can request a change in the Special Instructions box on the product listing page. The wider the hole spacing, the less stress there will be on the collar to distort and stretch the holes, so if you have a strong dog that pulls, selecting 1/2-inch hole spacing is not recommended.
We do try to keep the tail on the collar as short as possible to underscore the customized nature of our collars and minimize a long collar tail sticking out. This may mean that if your collar is being worn on the largest hole the tail may not fully fit under the strapkeeper and will be secured by the buckle instead. The actual length of the tail will vary slightly depending upon the width/taper of the collar selected.
Our leather collars are available in the following widths:
One of the beauties of leather is that you may opt to leave it at the originally selected width or you may opt to have your collar tapered at the buckle. Tapering is a great option if you would like a wider collar but your dog prefers hardware with less heft. Opting for a wider collar with a taper is a great option for many dogs, especially those with long, slim necks, or those with lots of fluff that struggle to have collar seen. Below is an example of two 1.5"-width collars; the one on the left is tapered to 1" and the one on the left is not tapered:
If your dog is a heavy puller, we recommend going with as wide of a collar as comfortable for your dog and minimizing the taper. Selecting a taper that is too extreme for a dog's size and strength (such as 1.5-inch to ¾-inch) can result in decreased strength of the collar and stretching.
*If you are looking for a dog collar that is ½-inch width (or tapered to such at the buckle) OR a 2-inch wide collar without a taper, please contact us as we may be able to accommodate your request.
SELECTING A LEASH WIDTH
- 3/8"-width leashes are typically used as a lightweight finishing/precision obedience/conformation leash. This width is not recommended for any size of dog that pulls/lunges.
- 1/2"-width is our most popular leash width and is considered our "Goldilocks" size. Lightweight and works for small, medium and large dogs; however, this width is not recommended for strong dogs that pull/lunge.
- 5/8"-width is a good, sturdy option for medium and large dogs that fits well in-hand.
Depending on their design, most embellished leather collars are available as a single or double layer. We will help break this down for you and provide examples of options available below. And don't worry, our product listings will have intuitive dropdown menus and offer layer options based upon what is available for each individual design.
A single layer collar is exactly what it sounds like -- one layer of leather. This is a traditional design and probably what you think of when imagining a collar. If your collar has embellishments, they will be set into the leather and the prongs holding them in place will be visible on the underside of s single layer collar. If you have a dog that doesn't like to carry around any extra bulk on their collar (usually quite small dogs), the single layer option may be your best bet. If your dog has a sensitive neck, you worry about hair possibly catching on the backside of an embellished collar OR you wish a design had a little more width to it, a double layer collar will likely be the best option.
A double layer leather collar is constructed similarly to a single layer, however embellishments will be set into a top layer design panel, which is then riveted onto your collar. A double layer design will provide a smooth leather backing which lays against your pet's neck, eliminating risk of hair catching or possible irritation caused by underside of the embellishments.
We do have a few different design options for double layer leather collars:
DOUBLE LAYER | SAME WIDTH AS PANEL
The design panel and the collar are the same width. Looks similar to that of a single layer collar, but protects the neck from embellishment prongs on the backside of the collar.
DOUBLE LAYER | 1/4" WIDER THAN PANEL
The collar will be 1/4" wider than the design panel. A classy upgrade that gives the collar a little more character as well as width.
DOUBLE LAYER WITH EMBELLISHED BORDER UPGRADE | 1/2" WIDER THAN PANEL
The collar will be 1/2" wider than the design panel and include an embellished border of your choice. The exception to this rule is the Pyramid border which will make the collar 3/4" wider than the design panel. The addition of a Border Option can completely change the feel of a collar, taking it from "Ooh, how pretty" to a truly customized piece that possess much more character. It is important to note with this option that the collar's embellishments will be set on the design panel, border embellishments will be set into the collar's base layer and therefore visible on the collar's underside.
Please visit our blog on Hardware, which discusses the pros and cons of different metal types/finishes.
All of our brass hardware is solid brass.
Wherever possible, we utilize stainless steel for our "Silver" hardware option. If this option is chosen, your collar's hardware will be stainless steel, except for the following instances in which it is solid brass with nickel or chrome plating (which appears silver in color):
- Metal strapkeepers
- Chicago Screws and Rivets
- Embellishments (rimsets, spots, pyramids, etc.)
- Lightweight Silver Bolt Snap
We utilize two different styles of buckles on our collars depending upon buckle size and/or neck size:
|Example of a single bar buckle. This style is utilized on our 1/2", 3/4" and 1" buckles for most neck sizes.
|Example of a roller buckle. These are used on our buckles 1.25" and greater. We also utilize these buckles on our 3/4" and 1" buckles for neck sizes less than or equal to 14 inches, as they have a smaller profile for more petite necks.
You may select either a leather or a metal strapkeeper for your collar. This part is pretty self-explanatory and based on personal aesthetic preference. Cat Collars or any collar tapered to 1/2-inch at the buckle will not have strapkeepers.
Dog collars for necks less than or equal to 12" will have a "stacked" strapkeeper and d-ring, meaning that there will not be a chicago screw separating them, as shown in the photo at the top of the page. This is to help maximize the design area for smaller necks.
When designing your collar, the option is present for collars edges to be beveled and burnished or painted. Both of these options will help to seal the cut edges of the leather and helps it retain its natural oils and also creates a waterproof barrier so the leather won’t absorb moisture.
When leather is burnished, the edges are sealed by applying friction. The heat from the burnishing tool compresses the fibers of the leather together. We have a laborious ten-step burnishing process that is completed with the application of a homemade paraffin and beeswax mixture to help further repel water.
The option is also available to have your edges painted to infuse your collar with a bit more color or personality. Our edge paint is a high quality, waterproof, nontoxic, water-based acrylic leather paint. The edge painting process takes at least 36 hours to complete and involves several steps of hand-sanding and painting for a smooth and waterproof finish.
Over time, either edge finishing process will naturally age and show signs of wear. Our painted edges resist scuffs and dings and is durable, but if you want to keep the finish as close to it was when it arrived, monitoring your dogs activities to avoid rough wear while wearing the collar is recommended.
We offer hand-stamped personalization on both our collars and leashes. At this time, we are only accepting personalization with a 12 character maximum and we cannot stamp multiple names and numbers on a single item. Personalization on collars will be centered on the rear of the collar, opposite the buckle. Personalization on leashes will be at the hardware/"dog" end of the leash.
We are also very happy to offer Rivet-on Tags which can hold several lines of information and may be applied to our collars.
Leather needs regular care and conditioning to keep it looking its best. This means you should invest in a good quality saddle soap and also leather conditioner. We highly recommend Aussie's, Passier Lederbalsam or Bick4 leather conditioner and Fiebing's Saddle Soap. Combination cleaners/conditioners are not recommended.
If your collar gets dirty, you can gently clean it with a damp soft cloth and saddle soap. If your collar gets wet, rinse it with fresh water, buckle the collar to help it maintain its shape, and allow it to naturally dry out of direct sunlight. Once completely dry, lightly condition with the recommended leather conditioners above.
Depending on the dryness or humidity in your climate, application of a leather conditioner a couple of times a year as a part of regular maintenance will keep your leather goods soft and supple.
When conditioning your leather goods, a little goes a long way. Leather can only absorb so much conditioner before it becomes saturated. Over-conditioning of your leather can cause breakdown of the leather fibers and affect the longevity of the product, as well as issues such as leather spew. For this reason, if you are performing the recommended and usual maintenance of your leather goods, the use of heavy duty conditioners such as mink and neatsfoot oil is likely unwarranted.
Leather will naturally darken over time with use with exposure to your pet's natural oils and environmental exposures. The use of most leather conditioners will also contribute to the darkening of your leather. If you want to avoid leather darkening due to conditioner use, Bick4 leather conditioner is the recommended option.
Naturally, leather will stretch a bit with time and use, especially if it's getting wet. Minimize water exposure to help reduce the amount of stretching that will occur.