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Harnesses vs. Collars: Which Is Best for Your Dog?

Harnesses vs. Collars: Which Is Best for Your Dog?

The timeless debate between collars and harnesses have left many pet owners pondering one question: which is the better option for their furry friend?

In this post, we’ll embark on a journey through the benefits and drawbacks of collars and harnesses, providing you with valuable insights that can assist you in making a well-informed decision tailored to the unique needs of your fur baby! Understanding the disparities between these two accessories isn’t just essential—it profoundly impacts your pet’s experience, along with your shared adventures together, as well!

Dog Collars

In the world of pet ownership—and among the various dog accessories, collars are the most ubiquitous. They are one of the most common dog apparels that pet owners invest in, serving not only as a functional tool, but also as a means of self-expression and a testament to the love and connection that people share with their furry companions.

In terms of functionality, a variety of collar types serve diverse needs and purposes for both pets and their owners. These include: identification and safety—displays an ID tag containing the pet’s name and owner information in case they get lost, control and training—these collars offer a secure attachment point for leashes, allowing for controlled walks or training sessions, tracking and location—some collars provide real-time tracking capabilities, allowing pet owners to monitor their furry friend’s whereabouts, behavior modification—certain collars will employ sounds or vibrations to help deter undesirable behaviors in your pet, and more.

Beyond their pragmatic purposes, collars also serve as fashion statements! They often come in dazzling arrays of colors, patterns, and materials—allowing for pet owners to showcase their fur baby’s personality or match the collar to their own personal style or special occasions.

Prior to purchasing a collar, it is important to consider why you need it and the intended purpose it should fulfill. Selecting the most suitable collar depends on your pet’s individual needs and comfortability.

Types of Collars

Dog collars have undergone a transformative evolution over the years to accommodate various purposes and cater to diverse preferences. Initially designed primarily for control and identification, modern-day dog collars now come with a wide range of styles, functionalities, and materials.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of dog collars below!

Another dog collar, not depicted in the pictures above, that is gaining considerable popularity is the smart collar—a perfect example of remarkable advancements in technology. The availability of features in smart collars depends on the specific type of collar you purchase and the desired function or information you are looking to gather from them. These features may include: GPS technology to track your dog’s location in real-time, the ability to monitor any changes in their health and behavior, and assistance in training your furry friend. Most smart collars are even compatible with smartphone apps, augmenting their utility and enhancing pet owners’ experience!

The evolution of dog collars highlights the importance of considering a dog’s unique individual needs and pet owners’ preferences when it comes to choosing the perfect and ideal collar. It showcases how dog collars have seamlessly merged functionality, style, and innovation—making them a versatile and adaptable tool for canine care and companionship.

Potential Pros and Cons of Dog Collars


Simplicity and Convenience

Collars are easy to wear and are among one of the most readily available dog products. Not to mention, it’s a much faster process to put on than a harness. All you need to do is slip one around your furry friend’s neck, attach a leash, and you’re good to go! Collars are also a convenient way of displaying ID tags and any necessary medical information—such as a rabies vaccination tag. If your fur baby ever gets lost, having their name and your contact information on their collar can be a lifesaver.


Collars are relatively lightweight, which can surely be an advantage for smaller or more delicate pets. Collars might be a more comfortable choice for pets as opposed to a harness, which they may find to be restrictive or uncomfortable.

Easy and Quick Control

Walking your dog on a leash typically requires less physical strength as opposed to a harness, depending on their size. It can give pet owners quick control over their dog’s movements. So if you need to restrain them or guide them away in a hurry, collars allow for swift action. This also makes the use of collars more effective in the processing of training, especially for young pups or a new dog.


Escape Risk

If the collar is too loose, there’s a chance that your furry friend can wiggle free and make a run for it. This is especially true for breeds that have smaller heads, such as Greyhounds.

Not Suitable for All Dogs

If you have a dog that frequently pulls on their leash, it may lead to back pain or harm to their throat. Collars have the potential to exert pressure on delicate regions of their neck, including their thyroid gland and surrounding tissues—therefore, it is crucial to avoid sudden leash pulls or engaging in constant tugging by either you or your dog to prevent any injuries.

If your dog is a toy or brachycephalic breed, they might be more vulnerable to tracheal injuries or discomfort caused by pressure on the neck—making harnesses a more suitable choice.

Breathing or Health Issues

Ensure the collar fits your dog properly—this is highly important! Collars that are not fitted correctly (are too tight) or the use of corrective collars, such as choke or prong collars, can potentially restrict their airflow and cause respiratory problems. This is particularly concerning for dogs with small snouts, such as pugs or bulldogs. It can also lead to pain, chafing, discomfort, skin irritation, and other injuries around their neck.

Can Exacerbate Existing Medical Conditions

The use of collars can make existing health issues in some dogs worse, causing discomfort. Try to avoid using it with dogs that have medical issues such as glaucoma, spinal problems, neck injuries, or a proptosed eye.

Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses are another important accessory in the world of pet ownership. Representing a shift from the traditional use of collars for leash attachment and identification, they help to provide more support for your dog’s body, allowing for more guided and controlled walks without any discomfort or pain. As opposed to wrapping around your dog’s neck, harnesses are constructed to encircle and strap around your pet’s torso and back—ensuring a snug and secure fit and a great alternative to collars!

Harnesses are available in different types of styles, materials, and setups. However, despite the many variations, the essential and fundamental purpose of these canine contraptions remains clear— to evenly distribute any force or tension applied to the leash across a broader area of your dog’s body. This not only prevents the concentration of pressure in a small and vulnerable area around the neck—especially when they pull, but it also helps to provide a safer and more comfortable walking experience for you and your fur baby.

Dog harnesses have gained immense popularity for a compelling number of reasons and have come to be valued not only for their practical use, but also for their potential to enhance the quality of life for both dogs and their pet parents! As a significant advancement in pet care, they cater to the comfort, safety, and training needs of dogs and owners. Their thoughtful design and versatility make them indispensable tools for responsible pet ownership and ensures that outdoor activities are safe, enjoyable, and stress-free for your beloved furry companion—and yourself!

Types of Harnesses

Every harness is different and is designed for specific purposes, needs, and activities. These diverse options cater to everything from everyday walks to specialized activities like hiking, running, skijoring, water sports, tracking, and even therapy work. Whether you have a small pup, a powerful puller, or a furry companion that has unique requirements, there’s a harness designed to suit your specific situation!

Let’s explore some of the most prevalent types of dog harnesses below!

Other types of harnesses include no-pull harness—has a front attachment point and is designed to help pet owners reduce pulling behavior during walks, service dog harness—specifically designed for services dogs and often includes patches that indicate their role and pockets for carrying items, tactical or working dog harness—suited for working dogs, such as military or police dogs and are often equipped with MOLLE webbing for gear attachment, and mesh or soft harness—these are made from lightweight and breathable material, are gentle on the skin of small dogs, and are chosen for their comfort, especially in hot weather.

Potential Pros and Cons of Dog Harnesses


No Pressure on the Neck

Because harnesses distribute pressure more evenly across your dog’s body, there is no pressure being concentrated around their neck. This helps to prevent many medical conditions—especially in breeds prone to neck issues, such as a collapsed trachea, restricted airways, and other neck injuries. It also helps to relieve any back pain. Using a harness can provide a safe and more comfortable experience for your pet. With a well-fitted harness, the leash is also less likely to get stuck under their legs during walks.


Unlike collars, which can exert undue pressure on a dog’s neck, harnesses are engineered with the natural anatomy of dogs in mind, ensuring that pressure is distributed evenly across the chest, shoulders, and back—areas adept at efficiently absorbing and handling force. This design significantly minimizes the risk of injury or choking hazards for dogs who are prone to pulling on leashes. Harnesses not only enhance the safety of dogs, particularly those that are prone to tracheal issues or learning to walk on a leash, but it also prioritizes their overall well-being.


Harnesses offer better control over your pet, particularly if they are dogs who are strong pullers or have a tendency to lunge. Harnesses with a front attachment point can redirect your pet’s attention back to you when they pull, which can also make training easier. This control can be especially valuable during walks in busy areas such as roadsides, in crowds, or when encountering other dogs.

Escape Prevention

Some pets are masters at slipping out of their collars, especially if they are anxious or determined to dash to freedom. A harness will prevent that from happening as they have a secure fit around your pet’s body and offer more safety and security.


The versatility of harnesses extends beyond just walks—encompassing a wide range of physical activities. They also prove to be suitable for hiking, jogging, biking, swimming, and even serve as safety restraints for car travel.



In contrast to easily slip-on collars, harnesses might require a bit more time to take off and put on. Additionally, some harnesses lack an attachment point for an ID tag, which can be inconvenient. In such situations, you can check if the harness includes an extra ring for attaching tags or consider having your furry friend wear a collar and harness at the same time.

Size and Fit

It is crucial to ensure the right size and fit of a harness for your dog. One that is ill-fitting holds the potential of allowing your dog to wiggling free, while an overly snug one might result in pain or chafing due to tightness. Dogs with long fur also face the risk of getting entangled in their harnesses as well. With harnesses coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, finding the perfect fit can sometimes be a challenge.

Not to mention, if your pet has never worn a harness before, it might take some time for them to get used to the feeling of having something strapped around their body. A harness can be uncomfortable for your dog and some don’t really like to wear it. Always test before use!

Heat Retention

Some harnesses—particularly those with thick padding or additional layers of material, straps, etc.—can lead to increased heat retention around your dog’s body. As a result, they may find wearing a harness to be unpleasant and uncomfortable. It is important to select a harness crafted from breathable materials or explore alternatives such as a lightweight collar to ensure your dog’s comfort.

Required Strength

Using a dog harness can demand more physical strength to control or walk your dog (as opposed to a plain old leash and collar), especially if they are big in size and weight compared to you. Many harnesses feature a D-ring leash attachment on the back, potentially enabling dogs to pull you, rather than you taking the lead and maintaining control—the opposite of what you want.

Making the Right Choice

Having discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both collars and harnesses, the decision-making stage is all yours. The big question remains: Collars or Harnesses—what’s your verdict?

Truth is, there is no magical one-size-fits-all answer when choosing between collars and harnesses for your furry best friend! Every pet and their owner is different, therefore it is crucial to weigh your choices thoughtfully in order to select the best option that is tailored to meet their specific needs.

To determine which one is right for your pet, consider the following factors:

Pet’s Size and Breed

The size and breed of your pet matters! Small dogs, especially toy breeds (ex. a Chihuahua), tend to have smaller and delicate necks and tracheas. Using a collar on them would most likely put excessive strain and pressure on these areas, leading to discomfort or injury—especially if they are the type to pull on their leash. Brachycephalic breeds—pets with flat faces, like pugs—should also avoid collars as it can impede their breathing and potentially cause respiratory distress. Harnesses would be a better and comfortable choice for them as it helps to distribute pressure more evenly across the chest and back, rather than just focusing on sensitive neck areas.

Health Considerations

Any pre-existing medical condition your pet may have should influence your decision! For instance, if they have a history of neck injuries or tracheal problems, a harness is potentially a safer and more beneficial choice to go with to avoid further strain on the neck.

Behavior and Training Needs

How does your dog behave on walks? Are they well-behaved? Do they get excited or tend to pull and lunge? If you have an energetic dog or if your pet needs training to curb undesirable behavior, a harness might be an excellent choice for enhanced control and to safeguard them from potential injuries. On the other hand, collars may be suitable for dogs that are calm and easy-going.

Comfort and Acclimation

Consider your pet’s comfort and how easily they can become accustomed to wearing either a collar or a harness. For some pets, it may take time for them to get used to wearing a harness, while others might prefer the familiarity that collars provide.

Ultimately, any decision you make concerning your beloved pet should always have their best interest at the forefront. Keep in mind that responsible use and proper fit are paramount to guaranteeing their well-being—regardless of whether you choose a harness or collar. Always consult a qualified veterinarian or specialized dog trainer for personalized guidance if you have any inquiries. Their expertise can assist you in making informed decisions that contribute to your pet’s overall health, happiness, and security!

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