Dog Tag History: Evolution, Buying Tips


Dog tags are an accessory that now is very commonly worn by the male gender as a fashion statement. While the dog tags look chic and have a high aesthetic value in elevating your basic outfits, do you know that these oval-shaped disks have a history even older than your parent’s existence? 

What is used as a fashion statement now used to be a symbol of recognition for wars? If you often wear a dog tag or are intrigued to buy one, here we have the history of dog tags and some buying tips that will make it look more appealing in your eyes.

History associated with dog tags:

The history of dog tags goes back to the Civil War. When the war broke out, it was meant to bring many casualties, and hence soldiers used dog tags as identification labels if they died on the battlefield.

The dog tags were not an official government order because the war department had declined the approach towards the dog tags initiative when they were asked to take it under consideration. So, some soldiers wore the dog tags on their own to be identified if they died. 

However, the dog tags back then weren’t the same as we see today. While we are accustomed to a more prim and proper form of long chains and encryptions, back then, soldiers used new coins, old coins, pieces of wood and carved their name or symbol on them.

Soldiers with the money bought dog tags from non-government sellers which had proper encryptions of their name, while those low on cash would also write on their clothing or pin paper tags. After the war, nearly 40 percent of bodies of the Union War members who did not wear any tags were not identified. The bodies were then buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery, among which 13’000 have been marked as unidentified to date. 

After the war, it was evident that identification was an essential aspect in battle and hence, began the journey to make identification tags an official war element. The Spanish-American war was when the identification tags became part of the service member’s uniforms when they went on war. The labels were stamped with the soldiers’ names, their regiment or company, and the rank they held.


The dog tags have evolved in various forms and aren’t restricted to just military purposes now. People wear tags with their medical conditions; if they get into an emergency condition, paramedics can read the condition on their tag when no family is around. 

Dog tags were worn by humans initially, and though we don’t know why it is called a dog tag, people started taking the name literally. Nowadays, even dogs are seen wearing dog tags in their color, with their name, owner’s name, address, and contact information.

Though they are unisex, dog tags are worn mainly by men in the fashion world. The tags can contain your name, a favorite quote, or anything customizable you want. However, buying the perfect tags is a task, and you should have the basics in mind to buy a great tag.

If you have been planning to buy one, here are some great buying tips for you.

Some Buying Tips:

Similar to buying gold jewelry, buying dog tags requires some knowledge too. Hence if you are planning to buy some tags, here are some points you should keep in mind before putting your money in one:

●    Material: 

Dog tags are available in various materials, and you can pick the one which suits your style and money. Starting with Aluminum, which is the most common in dog tags, it is available in many shapes and sizes. They are easily customizable and relatively cheaper on the pocket. 

However, if you are looking for a dog tag that will last you long and are ready to put in some money, the stainless steel will work best. Moreover, unique materials, like acrylics and brass and gold dog tag chain are also available. So choose a material which fits you well.

●    Size:

Similar to how the length of your chain is essential, the width of your dog tag is important too. Dog tags come in various sizes and widths, and you choose the one you are comfortable with. Big dog tags can be a nuisance to carry and may put off your overall look, while smaller ones may start looking like pendants. Hence, choosing the one in the middle is always a great option. However, in the end, it matters what your preference is and what encryptions you are deciding on it.

●    Hand or Machine Made:

Dog tags are available with either machine encryptions or engraved with hands. While both are amazing in their way, each of the two exceeds the other in various ways.

Machine-made dog tags are more durable, and their encryptions will last long. While on the other hand, handmade dog tags are made from unique materials like clay, polymers, wood, and sterling. Such material only gives aesthetics when made by hand.

Moreover, hand jewelry has broader flexibility when it comes to customization. Hence, it would help to keep your demands in mind when buying a handmade or a machine-made tag.


What started as a symbol of recognition in wars has become a fashion statement now, and that is evolution by a considerable margin. If you love wearing dog tags, we hope this article provided you with the back history of how these neck chains even came into existence. If you were planning on buying a dog tag for the first team, we hope our buying guide was helpful for you and that you will keep it in mind before making a purchase.

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