Wire Gauge Options

Should I install 20 gauge, 18 gauge, 16 gauge, or 14 gauge wire? What gauge of wire comes with the fence system? How do I upgrade the wire? If I upgrade the wire, does it upgrade the wire that comes with the dog fence?

All wire on Dog Fence DIY is rated for direct burial and expected to last 10+ years. Our rolls of wire come in 500 spools only. Most dog fence systems come with 500 feet of 20 gauge wire. When you upgrade your wire, it upgrades the wire that comes with the fence to the gauge of choice. Also, when adding additional wire, make sure all the wire you order is the same gauge. Mixing the gauges can create boundary loop problems.

Standard Grade
20 and 18 gauge is a standard grade wire. It is very thin and susceptible to breaks due to tree roots and the ground moving through the seasons. We recommend 20 and 18 gauge for installs up to 500 feet which is the equivalent of 1/3 of an acre. Also, if you plan to attach the wire to a physical fence or run it through PVC, 20 and 18 gauge will work great.

Professional Grade
16 and 14 gauge wire is an industrial strength, professional grade wire. It is made to last and is rarely snapped due to tree roots and the ground shifting. 14 gauge is highly recommended for any in-ground installations of 500 feet or more. 16 and 14 gauge is a great investment of your time and money that would otherwise be spent painstakingly looking for wire breaks on the 20 and 18 gauge wire installations.

How to Upgrade Wire
You can easily upgrade the wire on any dog fence system. Just use the Upgrade Wire drop down box on each product’s page (Inside the store) to upgrade the wire in the box to the gauge of choice. The options are found inside the blue box in the center of the page. Inside this box, you can add additional boundary wire kits by gauge using the Extra Boundary Wire Kits drop down box. And if you need more than that, or would like to manually add wire, flags, and splices to your order, just go to Wire to add exactly what you need.

Feel free to check out the PetSafe Ultrasmart product page to get familiar with what these upgrade options look like.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

ED September 29, 2015 at 9:24 pm

I was concerned about the same problem with moles, and I’ve heard they will chew through the wires. I thought about inserting the wire through pvc pipe, but having nearly an acre that I wish to do, that could be costly! What about wrapping the wire with a metallic tape? That wouldn’t be cheap, but probably cheaper than pvc pipe.

Getting rid of moles isn’t easy, unless you spend lots of money. Advice anyone for Tad and me?

ADMIN – Hi Ed. WOW! Holy Moley! Sounds to me like pest control may be your best option. You could run your wire through a garden hose to add extra protection but do not use metallic tape. This may create an amplified signal and an unintended correction to the dogs collar.

Jeff June 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I am planning on purchasing the Sportdog system and have a few questions about wire. I plan on using 14 AWG solid core that I already have. once the loop is created is it possible to twist the 14g solid from the loop to the controller or will I have to purchase additional 14g stranded wire to do this? I appreciate it. Thanks!

ADMIN – Hi Jeff,

The solid core and stranded core wire can be used interchangeably. Twisting together two 14 gauge solid wires will lead to signal cancellation in that section and the creation of a non-correcting section of wire (just the same as if you used stranded wire.)

The only difference is that the solid wire can be harder to twist.

Brent Ellis February 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

Is your wire solid core or stranded wire? Is one better than the other? Also can you run stranded with solid core wire provided they are the same gauge wire?

I plan on ordering today the Dogtek EF-6000 from your site but I’m trying to figure my best wire options for 5 acres wooded area. Thanks much. Brent

ADMIN – Hi Brent,

The 18 and 20 gauge wire is solid, the 16 and 14 gauge wire is stranded.

The issue of which is better is a source of constant debate in the dog fence community. The solid wire is more corrosion resistant if you get a nick in the wire insulation, but it is also more brittle and prone to getting breaks from repeated bending. The stranded wire is more prone to corrosion but is more resilient. Short story, both work well and there is not a huge difference between them.

Gary February 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

Hi, I have your UltraSmart IUC 5100 system and an 8 year old yellow lab. We’ve had the system for several years and sometimes my dog is willing to “take the hit” if she wants to get something on the other side of the boundary. Is there anything I can do to minimize/stop this behavior?

ADMIN – Hi Gary,

Watch the dog when they go through and observe their reaction when they cross. If there is no reaction, it is likely they are not getting the correction. This is either because the collar is not working (test using the supplied testing tool and going through the boundary) or that the collar is not contacting the dog’s neck (use the collar-test mode on the Ultrasmart collar to check fit).

If the dog is reacting, but still going through it means they are getting the correction and ignoring it. If that happens, you will want to turn up the correction level and increase the boundary width to at least 5 feet on either side of the wire.

For a lab, the correction on the 5100 on the higher levels is likely to be more than sufficient, the explanation is former explanation – that the dog is not getting the correction – is the most likely explanation.

Brian June 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

At an old house I installed an innotek fence and had some wire left over. I about to install a new petsafe system in a new home. The new yard is slightly larger and I may need some extra wire. Is it ok to mix and match the innotek and petsafe wires in the same system? they are both 20 gauge.

ADMIN – Hi Brian,

At an old house I installed an innotek fence and had some wire left over. I about to install a new petsafe system in a new home. The new yard is slightly larger and I may need some extra wire. Is it ok to mix and match the innotek and petsafe wires in the same system? they are both 20 gauge.

Kevin April 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Great info on the site, thanks!
Do you have experience with/think it is reasonable to use an electric fence only when we leave home?
We live in a rural area with about 15 acres, surrounded by water on three sides. The 2 dogs (lab mix) usually have the run of the place. However, they tend to roam if we are not around and we have just moved here a couple months ago. I don’t want to upset our neighbors (though quite a distance away). One possibility was to put the collars on and use a system only when we leave. The other was to setup a large perimeter and keep it on.
Thanks again.

ADMIN – Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the feedback! I’d recommend the second option you mentioned. Once you go through the training and your dogs are contained you want to keep it that way. If you remove their collars and let them roam through the boundary, they will typically get confused later when they have their collars off.

Doug December 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I’m planning on purchasing the stubborn dog fence, because i have a Golden Retriever and a Pomeranian, i was told the PetSafe Little Dog collar will work with this system also, i was first looking at the Sportdog, but was told no other collars will work, besides the Sportdog collar, is this true?

Also by looking at sportdog and stubborn dog collars the look the same except the colors, are these 2 collars the same and is one smaller than the other. Also on the SportDog I see where you can connect it to a ground rod , to protect against lightning strikes, can you also do the same with the stubborn dog or do i need to buy the surge protector?….thanks Doug

My tenants next door moved out after having Invisible Fence installed, they left the wire in the ground so i pulled up about 500 ft of it, i used wire strippers to check the gauge of the wire and its 16 ga solid core wire, i need about a thousand feet of wire to complete the area i was wanting to enclose , I’m going to get the stubborn dog system witch only comes with 500 ft of 20 ga, can i splice the 16 gauge with the 20 gauge stubborn dog comes with?
thanks Doug

ADMIN – Hi Doug,

The SportDog Collar work with the PetSafe Deluxe, PetSafe Little Dog, and PetSafe Stubborn systems and vice-versa, so your plan to combine the SportDog and PetSafe collars will work fine. One thing to note is that the SportDog collar does not work with the PetSafe Indoor zones.

The PetSafe Stubborn collar is similar to the SportDog SDF-100A collars but there are differences, most importantly that the SportDog does not work with the PetSafe indoor zones, but the PetSafe Stubborn does. The base stations are also significantly different, for example the PetSafe Stubborn does not have a grounding terminal which means that you need to use the Lightning Protection Module if lightning strikes are a concern. (note that a power strip surge protector will not work, it protects against power surges coming in through your electrical system, not power surges coming in through the boundary wire)

You want to avoid mixing wire gauges that are very different, such as 20 gauge and 16 gauge. The reason is that the thicker gauge will transmit a wider boundary field around it that the thinner wire. This means that you will have inconsistent field widths in your system, which may create difficulties depending on your layout.

Tina Lainhart August 12, 2010 at 7:02 am

How much wire would we need if we want to do about 1 and 1/4 acres

ADMIN – Hi Tina,

You’d need 1,500 feet of wire to cover 1 and 1/4 acres. Keep in mind that most systems come with 500 feet of wire.


Laura Johnson April 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Can you mix 20 gauge wire with 18 gauge wire in the same system or does it all have to be the same gauge?

ADMIN – Hi Laura,

You want to avoid mixing very different gauges of wire, because the sections with thicker wires will produce a wider boundary signal than the sections with thinner wire.

You can mix 20 gauge and 18 gauge and the system will work fine, but be aware that the boundary will be wider in the 18 gauge sections than in the 20 gauge sections.

Nicole November 15, 2009 at 9:22 am

If you choose to use the 18 gauge wire, you have to use it throughout the entire system, correct? So if the original kit comes with 20 gauge, and you order extra wire at 18 gauge, then won’t those two different size gauges be incompatible? You stated you can “upgrade” most kits to 18 gauge…does this mean that you would take out the 20 gauge that comes with the original kit, and replace it with 18 gauge? Thanks for your help.

ADMIN – Hi Nicole,

You can mix and match different guages of wire, but try and keep the guages close. The reason we avoid mixing very different gauges is that the fence will be a little wider in sections with a thicker wire, and a little narrower in sections with thinner wire.

We do upgrade the wire in the kit, so if you get an 18 guage wire upgrade all the wire your receive will be 18 gauge.

Tad October 27, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I unfortunately have a bad case of moles in my back yard. Have you run across any problems with the moles chewing through the buried wire? Will constant mole activity disrupt the buried wire? I know strange question.

ADMIN – Hi Tad,

Moles, gophers, etc do not usually cause problems with the wire, (I suppose because wire is not particularly tasty). However, we do hear of the ocassional case where the mole will chomp right through. We don’t have any great solutions for that problem – maybe someone has a solution?

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