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How To Choose The Right Electric Dog Fence Wire

Common Dog Fence Wire Gauges

Electric dog fences are most commonly designed with 20-gauge (thinnest), 18-gauge, 16-gauge, or 14-gauge (thickest) wire. 20-gauge wire is what you will find in most pre-packaged do-it-yourself fencing kits. Most professionally installed systems use the more substantial 14 or 16 gauge wire. Whether you’ re replacing a section of your existing fence or wiring your yard from scratch, you can easily find a relatively inexpensive and compatible wire for your project. Regardless of gauge, you should choose only a stranded or solid insulated wire rated for burial preferably polyethylene or plastic coated works best. You can find various gauges and lengths of Invisible Fence wire® compatible wire here.

Signal Transmission

The gauge you use for your electric dog fence wire will have very little impact on the way the wire transmits the signal unless you are using a system at or near its maximum rated capacity. In this case, a thicker wire may help to increase the range you can achieve with the system. For example, you may be able to stretch a 20-acre system to enclose 22 acres with the use of thicker wire. If you are replacing a section of wire in your existing dog fence it’s a good idea to match the gauge of the new wire to that of the existing wire. This ensures that your signal will be consistent throughout the fence wire. Mixing wires of different gauges can cause problems with your transmission including inconsistent signals and even a false wire break alarm.


Some people prefer a thicker wire such as 14 or 16 Gauge for outdoor electric dog fence applications because they feel that it will be more durable and prevent wire breaks. Most professional installers like Invisible Fence® and DogWatch® also feel that this is necessary for long term durability. The difference in durability between a 20 gauge and a 14 gauge is substantial. Most manufacturers of pet fence systems package their systems with low quality 20 gauge wire. This keeps the shipping costs and initial purchase price of the dog fences much lower than they would be if they included the heavier professional grade of dog fence wire. The lower quality wire initially saves you a small amount of money, but in most cases you will pay for this initial savings in long term maintenance and time consuming repairs over the life of your fence as thinner wire is more prone to corrosion and breakage.

While wire gauge is an important factor, pet fence wire coating thickness and chemical compound is even more important. There are two types of chemical compounds, vinyl coated wire and polyethylene plastic coated wire. The pros use either a 14 or 16-gauge wire with a 45 mL thickness coating. The coating gives the interior copper a solid, waterproof layer of protection making it much more durable than the 20-gauge manufacturer vinyl coating that is not waterproof. While either type of wire will work for your initial installation, the main difference is how many times you will have to repair or replace your dog fence wire over the years.

Manufacturer Grade Wire

This is the wire included in all self-install kits. Regardless of gauge, this wire is of medium quality, lighter weight and keeps shipping and initial costs down. This wire will work but does not hold up to the elements as well as a professional grade wire. The vinyl wire coating is prone to cracks and over time exposes the copper leaving the wire susceptible to damage. This can cause issues that impact the functionality of your dog fence system. Since finding, digging up, and repairing wire breaks can be a tedious job at best, many people prefer to upgrade to a pro-grade wire from the start.

Professional Grade Wire

The initial cost of professional grade wire is certainly more than manufacturer grade wire. However, there are many benefits to choosing pro-grade wire for your dog fence. Professional grade dog fence wire holds up better to freezing conditions, sunlight exposure, contraction and expansion of the ground, water exposure and general wear and tear. The long term savings in time and replacement if you are planning on staying in your home for at least 4-5 years makes the heavier duty pro-grade wire a much better investment.

Look for Professional Grade Dog Fence Wire in our store.


The main advantage of a thinner wire such as 20-gauge is work-ability. Thinner wire is more flexible and easier to work with. This is an important factor to consider, especially if you plan to make your own twisted wire sections or if you are laying your wire in a challenging configuration. Because of its flexibility, it’s much easier to twist and lay a thinner wire. Thicker gauges are stiffer, so while they may be more durable, they can be more difficult to work with.

Twisted Wire

Used to connect your perimeter wire to the transmitter box and also to connect internal ‘no-go’ zones to the rest of the perimeter without creating a boundary line (so basically anywhere the wire should not trigger the collar to issue a correction). Ready made pre-twisted wire is available and the best choice if you need a long length but you can also make your own. When twisting dog fence wire, you should aim for at least one twist for every inch of wire. Since twisting the wire will shorten the overall length you’ll want to start with a piece that is about four times as long as you need the finished twisted piece to be. Fold the wire in half, secure the looped end to fixed point and then twist (to do it by hand) or tighten the two free ends in the grasp of an electric drill for quicker results. When the wire is twisted, just cut the looped end freeing it from whatever you attach it to.

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