LEATHER FAQ

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.

GENERAL LEATHER INFORMATION AND TYPES

Selecting your leather is more than just choosing a color. We have spent what most would consider an obscene 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 your pets and your 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 depending on the manufacturer, but will be anywhere from 8-11oz. Weights for each leather type we stock in the shop will be listed below. 

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: Vegetable Tanned, English Bridle (yes, technically English Bridle is vegetable tanned, but don't worry, we will elaborate on why below) and Latigo. 

VEGETABLE TANNED (8-9oz)

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. Veg tanned leather is more eco-friendly than chrome tanning, but in good conscience, we do not endorse any tanning/manufacturing process as '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. Most of our veg tanned offerings (with the exception of the Matte Black) also has what is called 'pull-up'. In short, what this means is that as the leather is bent or stretched, it temporarily lightens and displays a beautiful variance in its color as the oil and waxes are displaced. As such, the leather develops a really lovely patina over time as it wears and gives it a slightly rustic appearance.

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 (8-10oz)

English bridle leather is a type of vegetable tanned leather that is then hot-stuffed with oils. 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.

Right off the bat, English Bridle can feel a bit dryer than Latigo or the above Veg Tanned leather, but with use and proper care it breaks in nicely and becomes very supple (I'd argue the softest of the three). Because English Bridle leather is hot stuffed, it can also handle a bit of water exposure, but it won’t be as tolerant as Latigo. Again, regular or prolonged water exposure is not something I would recommend. 

LATIGO (9-11oz)

 

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, it is also worthy to note that Latigo is not 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.

Our Latigo leather is pretty beefy and a good choice for larger dogs or those that pull. Alternatively, smaller animals may find the leather a bit too thick for consistent wear as an everyday collar.

Because of Latigo's durability, this is the leather type we most enjoy for leather leashes. We find it to be the most tolerant to wear, being dragged on the ground and all that comes with heavy use.

SIZING

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 12-14.99 inches
  • ½-inch hole spacing for necks 0-11.99 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.

SELECTING A COLLAR WIDTH/TAPER

Our leather collars are available in the following widths:

  • ½-inch
  • ¾-inch
  • 1-inch
  • 1.25-inch
  • 1.5-inch
  • 2-inch

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

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.

HARDWARE

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.

We utilize stainless steel hardware as our "Silver" hardware option whenever possible. If you select "Silver" hardware, your collar's hardware components will be stainless steel with the following exceptions (they will be solid brass with nickel or chrome plating [silver in color]):

  • 1.25 and 1.5-inch 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 14 inches or less, as they have a smaller profile for more petite necks.

 

STRAPKEEPER

You may select either a leather or a metal strapkeeper for your collar (or forego a strapkeeper entirely for certain widths). 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 10" 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.

EDGES

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.

PERSONALIZATION

We offer hand-stamped personalization on both our collars are 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. 

CARE & MAINTENANCE

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 (up to once a month or so depending on your pet's activities) 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 spewFor 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.

 

THE END ☺ You're now ready to order!