Dogtag Necklaces

dogtag necklace

Dogtag necklaces, also called dog tag necklaces, are a popular military chick fashion item, especially among teenagers and young adults. Far from being a bland I.D. tag, however, dog tags can be highly personalized and expressive.

History of Dog Tags

Dog tags were first introduced to the United States military in 1906 as a required part of soldiers' uniforms. They were embossed not only with information to aid in identification, but also information for medical treatment and even postmortem services if necessary. Items on the dog tag included name, service number, blood type, and religion. Many foreign militaries also use variations of these types of tags, and even before they became a required part of the uniform many private companies offered soldiers tags they could wear if necessary.

Over time, dog tags became more than just identification accessories, however. They were often given to families in the event of a soldier's death, and many war memorials are regularly decorated with dog tags in memory of fallen soldiers. Duplicate tags are a special connection between couples who must be separated because of military deployments, and many teenagers and young adults are attracted to these highly personalized and instantly recognizable necklaces.

Styles of Dogtag Necklaces

While true military dog tags have exacting requirements about shape, embossed information, and how they are worn, fashionable dog tags can be found in many different variations.

Metal

Gold dog tag on ball chain.

Dog tags come in a variety of different metals, including:

  • Sterling Silver
  • Yellow or White Gold
  • Platinum
  • Aluminum
  • Steel

Precious metals are naturally the most expensive options, while simple aluminum tags are cheap and can be found in many discount stores and kiosk machines. Silicone and plastic tags are also available for individuals who may be sensitive to different metals or who just prefer a non-metal tag.

When choosing a metal, it is important to find a retailer who offers rust-resistant and anti-tarnish coatings to preserve the tag. Because most dogtag necklaces are engraved rather than embossed, tarnish and decay can obscure or destroy the personalization. Anodized metals are another option and are valued for their durability and their ability to hold colors instead of plain engraving.

Shape

The classic elongated rectangle with rounded corners is not the only option for a dog tag, though it is by far the most popular. Different sizes and proportions of tags in this basic shape are available, and other shapes include round, heart, or oval. The shape can further be augmented by a raised or textured edge.

Chain

Dog tags are popularly worn on ball chains - small metal beaded necklaces similar to those used for ceiling fan pulls, key chains, or luggage tags. A more ornate and expensive tag may be worn on a gold or silver chain, however, and some individuals prefer chain link necklaces. Leather or silk cords are another option for suspending dog tags and can be found in a range of colors.

The standard length for I.D. tag necklaces is 18 to 20 inches, which will let them hang low enough to be tucked beneath clothing. This makes dog tags easy to layer, and many individuals wear a pair of tags on the same necklace rather than a single piece.

Engraving

What is engraved on the tags themselves is the most critical part of the personalization. Many different things can be imprinted on dog tags, including:

  • Monograms, names, or initials
  • Team logos or mascots
  • Military or other professional emblems
  • Phrases or favorite sayings
  • Photographs
  • Medical or emergency information
  • Hobby icons or graphics

Because dogtag pendants and necklaces are so customizable, they are often used as fun tokens for youth groups, camps, teams, wedding favors, bridal parties, schools, and business promotional items. A single tag can accommodate up to five or six lines of text averaging 15 characters each depending on its size, and there is no limit to how personalized a tag can be.

Gemstones

Designer dog tags are often found in jewelry boutiques and may be made of precious metals. In addition to the gleam of gold or silver, however, these tags may also incorporate diamonds, rubies, sapphires, or other gemstones. Dog tags are popular as birthstone jewelry as well, making them even more customized for the wearer. Gems may be lined along the edge, scattered throughout the tag, or simply isolated in a corner or other visible spot for a single brilliant sparkle.

Dogtag Accessories

There are several types of accessories that can be used with dogtag necklaces. Keychain rings are popular and allow the necklace to be converted in an instant. Rubber or silicone silencers are also popular for multi-tag necklaces and keep them from jangling. Precious metal tags may require a polishing cloth to keep them looking their best, and different lengths of chain can easily be swapped out to adjust the necklace as needed.

Where to Buy

Basic, cheap dog tags can be found in many places, even automated kiosks, and cost only a few dollars. More expensive designs may be as much as $200 or more depending on their size, intricacy, and materials. Online jewelry stores offering a wide range of dog tags include:

Before purchasing, customers should carefully read all the terms of sale and guarantees as well as verify the personalization - because dog tags are so customized, they cannot usually be returned for a full refund if they don't turn out right.


Dogtag necklaces are a fun type of personalized jewelry that can be used for a number of different purposes. They are quick and easy to customize and come in such a wide array of designs that there is sure to be a tag anyone can identify with.

Dogtag Necklaces