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 Are collars or harnesses better for dogs

Harness vs. Collar:  Are collars or harnesses better for dogs?

When it comes to the great debate of dog harnesses versus collars, I’m not here to tiptoe around the topic with a lukewarm take. The truth is, the choice between a harness and a collar for your furry friend isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. It’s a nuanced decision that depends on a variety of factors including your dog’s size, breed, behavior, and health conditions. Having navigated this decision-making process with my own dogs, from the sprightly Jack Russell to the stoic Great Dane, I’ve amassed a wealth of personal experiences that, when combined with expert insights, paint a comprehensive picture of which option might be best for your pup.

Learn about Harnesses vs. Collars for Dogs

  • Harnesses provide more control and reduce strain on the neck.
  • Collars are suitable for well-behaved dogs with no pulling issues.
  • Choose based on your dog’s behavior and needs.

The Pros and Cons of Dog Harnesses


Harnesses are a game-changer for many dog owners. They distribute pressure evenly across the chest and back, minimizing strain on the neck. This is particularly beneficial for breeds prone to tracheal collapse, such as Pomeranians, or for dogs with a penchant for pulling. Moreover, harnesses offer enhanced control, which is invaluable in busy streets or crowded places. My experience with a harness on my exuberant Labrador during our park visits transformed our outings from a tug-of-war to enjoyable strolls.

Insider Tip: Opt for a no-pull harness design if you’re aiming to curb your dog’s enthusiasm for lunging at every squirrel in sight.


However, harnesses are not without their drawbacks. Some dogs might find a harness cumbersome or uncomfortable, especially if they’re not used to wearing one. Additionally, improper fitting can lead to chafing or restricted movement, which underscores the importance of choosing the right size and style. There’s also a learning curve for putting on some types of harnesses, which can be a minor inconvenience.

The Pros and Cons of Dog Collars

Collars, the traditional choice for many dog owners, have their own set of advantages. They’re generally easier to put on and take off and are great for dogs who dislike the feeling of a harness. Collars also allow for easy attachment of ID tags and leashes, which is essential for quick bathroom breaks or impromptu walks. My first dog, a calm and collected Beagle, always wore a collar with no issues whatsoever.

However, collars can be problematic for dogs that pull on the leash or have respiratory issues. The pressure exerted on the neck can lead to coughing, gagging, or even long-term damage in severe cases. Additionally, collars can slip off, particularly if not correctly fitted, posing a risk for dogs who might attempt to escape or get lost.

Which Is Best for Your Dog?

Deciding whether a harness or collar is best for your dog hinges on understanding your dog’s specific needs, behavior, and health. For instance, if your dog is a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed), like a Bulldog or Pug, a harness is likely a safer option due to their susceptibility to breathing difficulties. On the other hand, a well-behaved dog that walks calmly by your side might do just fine with a collar.

How to Choose the Right Dog Harness

Choosing the right dog harness involves more than picking the cutest design or color. Consider the following aspects: – Fit and Adjustability: Ensure the harness fits snugly without restricting movement or causing discomfort. Look for adjustable straps to achieve a perfect fit. – Material: Breathable, lightweight materials are ideal, especially for active dogs or those living in warmer climates. – Type: No-pull harnesses are designed to discourage pulling, making them a good choice for enthusiastic walkers For detailed guidance, visit our comprehensive guide at /research/top-paw-dog-harness/.

How to Choose the Right Dog Collar

When selecting a dog collar, keep these factors in mind:
Size and Fit: The collar should fit snugly, allowing you to slip two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck comfortably.
Material: Durable materials like leather or high-quality nylon ensure longevity and comfort.
Purpose: Reflect on your needsdo you require a training collar, or is a standard collar sufficient?

Our guide to choosing the right dog collar provides more insights at /health-and-fitness/guide-to-choosing-right-dog-collar/.

Real-Life Example: Choosing the Right Dog Harness

Personal Experience with Harnesses

Growing up with an energetic Labrador named Max, I struggled to control him during walks using a traditional collar. Max would pull incessantly, making our walks more of a tug-of-war than an enjoyable experience. After seeking advice from a dog trainer, I decided to try a harness instead.

Benefits of Switching to a Harness

The harness significantly reduced Max’s pulling, making our walks more pleasant for both of us. With the front clip harness, I could easily redirect his attention back to me whenever he tried to lunge after squirrels or other dogs. This not only improved our walks but also strengthened our bond.


Based on my experience, I found that switching to a harness was the best decision for Max and me. It provided better control, reduced pulling, and made our walks more enjoyable. If you’re facing similar challenges with your dog, consider trying out different harness options to find the one that suits your furry friend best.

The Bottom Line

The harness versus collar debate doesn’t have a clear-cut winner. Both options have their merits and demerits, and the best choice ultimately depends on your dog’s individual needs. Personally, I’ve found that using botha collar for quick outings and identification, and a harness for walks and adventuresoffers a balanced approach that caters to my dogs’ safety and comfort.

Remember, whether you opt for a harness or collar, the key lies in proper fitting, regular checks for wear and tear, and attentive observation of how your dog responds to their gear. With patience and care, you’ll find the perfect solution that ensures both you and your furry friend enjoy many happy, safe walks together.

Q & A

Who benefits more from using a harness instead of a collar for dogs?

Dogs who tend to pull on walks benefit more from using a harness.

What are the advantages of using a collar over a harness for dogs?

Collars are great for attaching ID tags and are more comfortable for some dogs.

How can I transition my dog from a collar to a harness?

Gradually introduce the harness to your dog and use positive reinforcement.

What if my dog doesn’t like wearing a harness?

Start by letting your dog get used to the harness at home before walks.

Why do some pet owners prefer harnesses over collars for their dogs?

Harnesses distribute pressure more evenly and offer better control.

How do I know if a collar or harness is the best choice for my dog?

Consider your dog’s size, behavior, and comfort when deciding between a collar or harness.


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