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How To Choose The Right Electric Dog Fence Wire

Save 10% On All eXtreme™ brand 14 gauge 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.

20 gauge manufacturers grade wire

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.

You can find manufacturer grade petsafe in-ground wire in our store.





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 neutral dog fence cable


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.

Comment / Questions about Choose The Right Dog Fence Wire

January 04, 2015

There seems to be some debate about whether stranded or solid core wire is better. I am located in Northern Illinois and we are subject to temperature extremes, below zero in the winter and above 90 in the summer. I need to cover about 1 acre and the wire will cross my asphalt drive way and a sidewalk in a 2" deep crack/channel with caulk/coating over the top to protect to protect and keep the wire in place. In my application do you recommend stranded or solid?


Hi, there certainly is debate on which is better solid or stranded. Both solid and stranded work equally well. Many people prefer solid core wire better because of the perception of superior signal conduction, since the electric dog fences use magnetics as opposed to electrical current the use of solid or stranded is not important as it would be if dependent on conductivity. Stranded core wire is definitely much easier to install and generally work with, hence the reason most professional dog fence installers like to use stranded wire. Solid core wire is one piece of wire so it can be much stiffer than stranded wire. One notable advantage to solid core wire over stranded wire is breaks can be much easier to locate and are usually a clean break compared to a potential partial break where one or two stands are still hanging on making it almost impossible to find a break, while this is true, the heavier gauge wires with a thicker jacketing are much less likely to break so would be less of a consideration. 

Jeff Shoemaker
February 04, 2015

Will any 14 g wire work, such as thhn?


Any wire will work to complete the system and get it working. While THHN will work we generally recommend against it for various reasons. The main one being the nylon coating used on this wire has proven to not hold up very well to direct weather conditions. You can plan on having to repair wire breaks within a few years and completely replace at least twice within a dog's lifetime. We have found that the polyethylene coating used in tracer wire (30 to 45 mils) to be far more durable and save you the time, money and frustration of constant maintenance. We have also created our eXtreme wire with 60 mils of coating for added protection of your investment and many years of worry free operation.

March 24, 2015

Hi! I have about 600 feet of stranded 14g wire on an Innotek Ultrasmart system. The only time I can get the collar to beep is if I set the yard size to LARGE and the field size to MAX. Even then, however, I have to get within 1-2 inches of the wire to make it beep.

I have tested the wire for continuity and it checks out with a continuity meter and an ohm meter.

Two more pieced of information may help you:

1. I have 20 guage solid twisted wire going from the transmitter to the perimeter wire. The twisted wire is probably 40-50 feet long.

2. My wire was cut in several places and yet the Innotek never indicated the cut (with the blinking light). I thought that was why the unit was not working with the collar so I tested it with a meter. Once I fixed all breaks and the continuity meter reads "OK", I figured it would work. However, as noted above, now it only beeps if within 1-2 inches of the wire.



Hey there Dan i'll be glad to help! Seems like you've done all the preventative maintenance needed. What i'd suggest after all these steps is replacing your 14 gauge stranded wire to 14 gauge solid core! Don't get me wrong both perform the same only down side to stranded is that over time if their are breaks in certain areas of your line its makes it more difficult to find the actual break in your line. With this happening you'll notice on certain days or just in certain areas you'll have stronger signal then in other areas. Other then that always when checking signal strength remember to keep the collar down to where your pet would be! Hoping i could be of some type of assistance if you continue to have any issues please feel free to give us a call at 800.396.5517

March 23, 2015

Will #14 wire work in pvc conduit? I hate the thought of having to replace the wire. Do it once and forget it.



Yes, this will work fine. The radio frequency will pass through PVC and will not hinder the functionality of the system. The PVC will protect the wire for many years to come.

April 06, 2015

Do I have to use copper line or will another metal work.


Other metals may be conductive enough to carry the radio signal through your boundary loop, but you may get sub-par performance and premature corrosion.
Your best bet is using a copper core wire rated for direct ground burial and coated with a protective polyethylene jacket.

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