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Dog tag necklaces are stylish, expressive, versatile and the dog tag necklace meaning varies by the wearer. Whether you’re buying one for yourself or for a loved one, they’re a natural match for personal style, whoever you are. Granted, they don’t go so well with a tux, but dressed down they add a touch of flair. On a night out with an open-necked shirt or a good T-shirt, dog tags are part conversation piece, part style statement, and fully true to you.

Dog tag necklaces have been about personalization from their earliest origins. They exist to tell your bare essentials to anyone who needs to know.

This is why dog tags are so popular. They’re a marker for the path into communication. When you need a way to commemorate a special person or event, dog tags are a perfect choice. A little less subtle than a ring or bracelet, without being too much.

If this is a little new for you, don’t worry I’ve done the work for you. Here are my top recommendations for adding dog tags to a man’s wardrobe, together with all the background information you need to make the right choice.

What Is a Dog Tag Necklace?

The archetypal dog tag is two small plaques or plates of metal strung on a mid-length ball chain (the kind of chain you’re used to seeing on bell-pulls, keychains, or luggage tags). It’s traditionally a white metal, often stainless steel. It’s designed to be serviceable, utilitarian, and rugged. 

Men wearing dog tags have roots in the United States armed forces and have come to symbolize the strength of connections that are formed through shared experience. So it makes sense that a dog tag necklace would show this more clearly than many other accessories could. It’s a way to wear your story on your chest with strength and restraint.


Military Dog Tags: the History

Why do soldiers wear dog tags? The history of dog tag design in the military began in 1906, the US army began using small metal plates around soldiers’ necks to give vital information. Initially the tags included name, service number, blood type, and basic medical history for first-response on the battlefield. They often also indicate the soldier’s religious preference. The history of military dog tags’ information means you can wear a modern dog tag to share what is important to you. While your friends may not need to know your blood type, dog tags are perfect for sharing intimate knowledge that defines you!


Can civilians wear dog tags? Plenty of people whose family members have served in the military keep, and even wear, their loved one’s dog tags as a reminder of the person they’ve lost. Some ex-service members continue to wear their tags after they get home, as an expression of who they are and what they’ve been through.

Over time, dog tags found in second-hand shops,  along with ex-army shirts and combat boots, became a fashion staple in youth culture. Soon, musicians were wearing, selling, and giving away gold dog tags with diamante edging. We might think that this detracts from the meaning of dog tag necklaces, but there’s a subtle way to tap into the authentic value of guys wearing dog tags and dog tags for men.

Dog tag necklaces can be straightforward, bold and distinctive, solid and sensible or quietly stylish. They can be whatever you are, and match whatever message you need them to give.

Dog Tags Are Still Trending Today

Dog tags are a modern, stylish jewelry option for men and there is no instruction for how you are supposed to wear dog tags for fashion. There are multiple takes on the classic tag that is still trending and popular today.

Dog tag necklaces have caught on because they closely match what most men are looking for: durable, versatile pieces that quietly define their style rather than overwhelming it.

I’ve never seen dog tags at a wedding, but outside of formal occasions they’re perfectly appropriate. I’ve seen them worn with board shorts at the beach and to dinner with friends. Nights out can really showcase this style; a blazer over a shirt or over a plain white T is classic.

How To Wear Dog Tags


You may wonder how to properly wear dog tags as an accessory or with different styles. Dog tags are unique to the individual so I can’t tell you exactly how to wear yours or the best or proper way to wear dog tags for you. But I can tell you what normally looks good. These are just my suggestions but I’ve found many of them to be a good rule of thumb.

Style your tags by matching them to your own wardrobe. Do you often wear T-shirts, or are button-up shirts a more common feature in your closet? Dog tags were designed to be level with a shirt pocket, so they’re easy to find.  That said, a dog tag necklace can be worn a little longer or shorter. A longer chain looks great with a T-shirt and a shorter chain makes your jewelry visible with only 1 or 2 buttons open at the neck.

If you’re wearing a shirt with a collar, you can leave it open to show off your tags, or if you have a couple of buttons open you could still wear the longer chain. It’ll look like you just threw it over your head on the way out; keys, wallet, dog tags.


Choosing dog tags is very personal. Men tend to wear less jewelry than women and we’ll normally wear just one or two items as part of our routine look, rather than selecting for the occasion. A lot of men who do wear dog tags wear theirs every day. Of course, some of us feel comfortable wearing a little more jewelry and dog tags, particularly on a longer chain, will go just fine with another chain or necklace that is important to you.

We’ve touched on clothing choices but it’s important to consider your skin tone as well for how to wear dog tag necklaces. Most metal tags will go with nearly any shirt or t-shirt combination, but some might suit your complexion better than others. 

If you’re buying for someone else, check for allergies. Some people get negative reactions from wearing sterling silver and might prefer a different metal. If you’re unsure, try matching the metal with the jewelry they already wear. Personally, I choose to produce jewelry in precious and non-precious metals. Each has their place. Personalized tags in non-precious metals can look and feel great. ‘Luxury pewter’ sounds incongruous but hand-made pewter pieces can feel brilliant with the right finish.

Wearing a Dog tag is the Perfect Way to Share What Inspires You 

For those of you who have a clear understanding of your passion and want to wear it proudly, I’ve created several options.

Here’s the tricky bit. It’s not always easy to view your personality from the outside or even to talk about the kind of man you really are. We’ve already looked at how dog tags are good for expressing your personality and opening up. But how do you match your jewelry to the essence of what shapes and drives you? We’re all individuals, but breaking things down into basic types will help you get closer to what’s right for you. Personalization of your dog tags will do the rest.

If your passion is your family, the Take Risk dog tag necklace is for you. The Live Brave dog tag is for those of you who are striking out and know that you need to stay strong. Both tags communicate a willingness to strive for personal strength. The Shaper Guitar pick tag is more about celebrating creativity, and the Prevail Cross tag is for men who find wisdom, strength, and refuge in God. All of these dog tag necklaces are a daily reminder to continue to grow and thrive.

I love to think of the perfectly-matched tags becoming almost a part of the wearer. To make sure you make the right choice, I’ve put together a little more information on the different pieces.



The Take Risk dog tag necklace shows that you’re committed to doing whatever it takes to be the man your family needs you to be. The gentle aging effect on the lead-free pewter reflects your years of experience and commitment.  In times of great stress and difficulty, as well as ease and comfort, we all can use a reminder of who we are and what we stand for. You know that you need to be strong for your loved ones and make the hard decisions when necessary. That message is clear on these tags.



The Live Brave dog tag necklace is for those of you who are stepping out into the world. Whether this is a new experience for you or the next part of your journey, this tag will remind you to take the harder path if it guides you to the right destination. Maybe you’ve had some setbacks but you always persevere. The patinated pewter gives it a cool vintage look, so it’ll feel like you’ve always had it. 



Another pendant with a cool patina is the Shaper’s Guitar Pick dog tag necklace. Its antiqued sterling silver finish gives it a personal touch. If your plan is to join the tradition of shaping the world through music and song, the Guitar Pick tag sings that loud and clear. Its smooth surface is slightly beveled just like a real pick and it can be hand-stamped with a personal inspirational message. I’ve stamped favorite bands, musicians and musical quotes, but also messages of love and support for budding artists.



As Martin Luther said, ‘Music is the art of the prophets and the gift of God.’ That’s a connection I’m always happy to help someone celebrate, although I feel that the tag with the clearest message might be the Prevail sterling silver dog tag necklace. It carries a clear message of trust in God and a commitment to love and learning. The Prevail Cross dog tag is for men with a quiet passion for great personal accomplishment. Its simple but bold shape in clean sterling silver lets the message shine through; a daily reminder of your resilience through challenges and obstacles, and where that strength lies.

Find Your Ideal Dog Tag Necklace at Stephen David Leonard 

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone special in your life, I believe you can find your ideal dog tag necklace at Stephen David Leonard

A dog tag from my range enables you to show your personality and provide an opportunity to express your passion. Personalization means you can choose how much to reveal and how much to allow others to uncover for themselves. Whether you want to speak directly to faith, or to aspects of your faith that inspire you to achieve and grow, my dog tag necklaces are a proud way to open yourself up to communicating.

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