What Gauge is Invisible Fence Wire? – What Works BEST

Wrapping a given area in wiring, either above or below ground, is not difficult, but there are a host of considerations a homeowner should factor into their buying equation. 

One of these considerations might include, “what gauge is invisible fence wire?”

In general, 14-gauge wiring is used for fencing, though its broad appeal may not be applicable to your specific needs.

As a pet owner, it’s vital to understand the various benefits and drawbacks of different wire types.

What Does “Gauge” Refer to When Discussing Wiring?

gauge refers to the diameter of a wire
When discussing wiring, “gauge” refers to the diameter of a wire.

An Invisible Fence is normally 14 gauge, but 16, 18, and 20 gauge do exist, among others.

The term “gauge” in this case refers to the size of the wire, and specifically, its diameter.

Diameter matters in electrical wiring in part because the width of the wire determines how much current can flow through it. 

This, in turn, can have an effect on whatever device is being powered through it.

The wider the wire, the more current it can carry at once.

Keep in mind that wiring gauges are determined via a contradictory numbering system – the larger the number, the thinner the gauge.

For example, 28-gauge wiring has a diameter of just over 0.37mm, while 10-gauge wiring has a width of 3.2mm. 

14-gauge is most often sought by professional electric dog fence installers because its size is conducive to efficient operation in several ways.

For starters, 14-gauge wiring has a high current flow, which helps prevent melting and other forms of damage. 

Additionally, the jacket, or outer protective casing of wire, is thick on the 14-gauge, ensuring greater protection from external damage, or internal danger.

Read More: How to Find a Break in Underground Dog Fence. Here’s how to locate and fix damage to your wiring in just a few simple steps!

16 Gauge Dog Fence Wire

Many do-it-yourself kits on the market will include wiring of a significantly thinner gauge. 

This wiring, though notably cheaper in most cases, will generally be of lesser quality, and less permanent as a result of its inherent structural weaknesses.

Alternatively, while thicker gauges of wire might last longer, they will also come with drawbacks. 

One drawback is that above-ground fences with larger gauges have more voltage going through them, which could shock an animal unnecessarily.

This may be valuable to a home or pet owner looking to keep large herd animals, like cattle, within boundaries via an above-ground fence.

Likewise, above-ground electric fences are also a great solution for someone seeking to keep big predatory animals outside the boundaries.

Invisible fences pose no danger, but because the function of the fence does not rely on direct energy fed to the animal, using a larger gauge is simply wasteful. 

Can You Use 12 Gauge Wire for Invisible Dog Fence?

 Invisible Dog Fence
You can use 12 gauge wire for invisible fences, but it’s not the most recommended option.

In most other circumstances, it is recommended to stay close to 14 gauge for above-ground fences to find a balance between moderate volts and sharp jolts. 

Invisible fences can be thinner. Though, while they are not likely to be in contact with anything but the ground, the smaller the width, the easier it is to break.

Due to the thickness of a 14-gauge wire, it is not necessary to use a 12-gauge wire for an invisible dog fence.

Here is a video showing a simple installation method, and some methods to avoid breakage: 

What Other Materials Can a Fence Wire Utilize?

Fence Wire Utilize
You can use any metal material as long as it is conductive.

There are a variety of conductive metal wires on the market, and each possesses its own upsides and downsides.

  • Steel wiring is noted for its durability and ability to convey charge over long distances effectively. However, its initial cost can be prohibitive. 
  • Aluminum wiring is long-lasting and conducts a stronger charge overall. However, it has a tendency to fluctuate, creating annoying and even hazardous conditions. 
  • Polywire consists of thin metal wires and polymer filaments, noted for their strength and visibility for above-ground fences. But the metal strands are susceptible to breakage, interrupting the charge. 
  • Copper wiring is the most commonly utilized wire material due to its durability and charge conveyance. Unfortunately, its potential to oxidize can lead to damage if not properly maintained.

Can You Use Any Wire for Underground Dog Fences?

Underground Dog
Can You Use Any Wire for Underground Dog Fences?

Certain considerations have various applicability depending on whether the wire will be buried beneath the ground or suspended above the ground via infrastructure.


For instance, polywire, being largely composed of polymers, will typically be very visible. 

This is helpful in situations where a bright wire would be useful, such as when denoting property lines for animals and other humans, or when a tertiary source of protection would be valuable. 

However, if a homeowner plans on burying dog fence wire, and simply using it to keep dogs contained, visibility would be less important. 

That said, the bright colors of the polymer might come in handy if the underground wire needs to be dug up for any reason.

Aluminum Wire

Depending on their depth and above-ground cues, wires might be difficult to locate

Similarly, the flexing in aluminum wire mentioned earlier (referred to as cold creep) occurs when the wire carries an intermittent charge.

When electricity flows, it expands. When the flow stops, it contracts

This means that over time, the wire might degrade to the point where it does not function any longer.

At that point, it is possible that it could even cause a fire or electrical hazard if the flexing allows electricity to discharge into the protective jacket. 

However, different types of energy sources might minimize this danger.

For instance, some sources send intermittently spaced charges through the wire as a pulse, which would be exceedingly detrimental to an aluminum connection. 

A constant energy presence would greatly reduce the cycles of swelling and contracting that could eventually lead to broken wires and their undesirable consequences. 

Steel Wire

The expensive strength of steel wiring is generally useful for maintaining wiring integrity and reducing the cost and time spent keeping a fence in working order.

The high connectivity of steel is also highly valuable. 

In terms of underground fences, the relative strength of the charge matters far less than it would with above-ground physical barriers.

Underground fences are designed to send a simple signal to a collar, which then does the actual deterrence, rather than the fence itself. 

This means you might find it more useful to utilize a thinner, less conductive wire, which would save money, without necessarily cutting corners.


Invisible fences, though designed for function and simplicity, feature a number of options so as to ensure that your purposes are served most appropriately.

Though 14-gauge copper wiring is used most generally, your needs might vary.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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