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As a pooch parent, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the endless harness and collar choices on the market. You’re not alone! Many dog owners face the same dilemma. So, where do you start, and which option of harness vs. collar is best for you and your beloved furry friend? From dog breeds to training routines and health concerns, you have lots to think about. Keep reading to discover the pros and cons of each choice to understand which is best for you!

Pros of Dog Harnesses


Dog harnesses may boost comfort for your dog. Choose from various harnesses to suit nearly any requirement. If your pup suffers from back pain, there are specially designed harnesses to help. Harnesses also distribute tension during walks, preventing discomfort or injury to the throat.

Escape Prevention

Breeds like greyhounds, salukis, and whippets have slender heads prone to slipping right out of collars, making them perfect candidates for harnesses. When you put them on properly, harnesses create a snug, secure fit, making your dog less likely to slip out.

Keeps the Leash Above Your Dog’s Legs

Use a harness to avoid the endless entanglement of the leash under and between your dog’s legs. Clipping the leash on top of the harness keeps it clear of those furry, fast-moving feet. Less risk of entanglement also leads to less risk of tripping or injury.

Discourages Pulling

Clip your leash on the front of a harness (on the chest) to prevent pulling. If you lack the physical strength to pull back your dog, this may be necessary for safety. Front-clip or no-pull harnesses help discourage pulling, making walks more enjoyable for you and your pup.

Cons of Dog Harnesses

Tricky to Put On

Ask yourself if you’ll be able to successfully and safely put a harness on your dog. Some dogs and puppies seem to turn to Jell-O when it’s time to wear a harness. This challenge can make it inconvenient or even exasperating to get your furry friend walk-ready.

Risk of Discomfort

Harnesses might be less comfortable for pooches than collars. If you apply the harness too tightly, it may cause pain. Does your dog have injuries or sensitivities around his chest or back? Is he nervous or skittish having something wrapped around his body? If so, avoid harnesses. Also, unless you specifically use a cooling harness or vest, harnesses can contribute to overheating on hot days.

Less Compatible with Long Fur

Long-haired dogs risk getting scraggly, tangled hair if they wear harnesses every day. It may not be noticeable at first, but chest hair may get matted, leading to extra grooming sessions. Vest-style harnesses are the best bet for long-haired dogs, but you may need to experiment depending on your canine’s breed and fur type.

List of various types of harnesses

Back-clip harness/Step-in harness

One of the most common types of harnesses is a back-clip or step-in harness. These are ideal for dogs who already walk quite well on a leash. The back-clip harness, or step-in harness as it is sometimes referred to, is great for dogs who typically walk nicely on the leash but may sometimes pull or lunge when they get excited.

By attaching the leash to the D-ring clip on the back of their harness, we can help prevent neck damage and trauma that can be caused by collars.

Front clip harness

Front clip harnesses are typically some of the best harnesses to use for dogs that love to pull. Front clip harnesses have a D-ring clip on the front of the chest where the leash can be connected.

With the leash connected to the front of their chest, if the dog pulls ahead of you, the leash will go off to the side instead of straight back. If you then apply just a little bit of pressure, it will encourage your dog to fall back to your side.

Head halter harness

While these aren't necessarily true harnesses, head halter harnesses can still be a wonderful tool for those working on correcting pulling behavior with their dog.Most types of head halter harnesses typically consist of a loop that fits over the dog's nose and another loop that fits behind the dog's ears. The leash is attached to a ring on the bottom of the nose loop. This allows the owner to have directional control and prevents the dog from pulling.

Dual clip harness

Much like it sounds, a dual clip harness offers the best of both worlds, with a D-ring attachment on both the front chest and on top of the back of the harness. This allows you to clip the leash wherever you prefer! If your dog is a heavy puller, clip the leash to the front chest. As your dog starts to improve and not pull so much, you can then graduate them to having the leash clipped on the back D-ring!

Pros of Dog Collars

Easy to Put on and Remove

Ease of use tops the list when looking at a dog harness vs. collar. Putting on and taking off a collar is simple and quick. A collar is a convenient solution if your pooch is extra wiggly or sensitive. Most collars have a no-frills buckle, so you and your furry friend can go on walks without a fuss.

Variety of Collars for Every Dog

Collars come in many shapes and sizes. They’re readily available in stores and online in various colors and styles. Flat, rolled, limited-slip, and head collars are just a few options. Smart collars feature GPS-tracking devices for peace of mind. With such a wide range available, you can pick just the right collar for your dog’s needs.

Convenient for ID Tags

Hopefully, you never have to deal with the anxiety of losing your pooch. But if he’s a little escape artist, collars are a great way to ensure he’s easily identifiable. You can conveniently clip rabies and ID tags onto a dog collar. Wearing tags could make all the difference between losing your pup or having him safely returned to you.

Cons of Dog Collars

Uncomfortable for Your Dog

Discomfort is a shared possibility when considering the harness vs. collar debate. Depending on your dog, a collar could be less comfortable. Flat-faced dogs (pugs, bulldogs, etc.) who already have a tough time breathing can be uncomfortable with collars since they may further restrict breathing. Senior or injured dogs may experience pain or discomfort when wearing a collar.

Risk of Escape

A simple loop around your dog’s neck may not be enough to prevent escapes. If your dog is slender or small-headed, collars could put him at risk of wiggling away. Also, if you do not adjust the collar properly, there’s a chance your dog slips out. Be careful to use the following rule: With small dogs, leave enough room to slide one finger under the collar. With big dogs, leave room for two fingers.

Injury Risk

Do you have a heavy puller on your hands? If so, they may pull themselves to injury with a collar. Skin irritation, neck damage, or even strangulation are risks of collars that are too tight. Prong or choke collars are also hazardous to dogs, and dog behaviorists no longer recommend them for regular use.

Is a Harness or Collar Better for Dog Training?

When it comes to leash training, are harnesses better than collars? There are advantages to both options, but generally, you’ll want to use a collar to train your puppy. Use a short leash and plenty of encouragement and treats to positively reinforce your puppy on walks. While harnesses are secure and prevent throat injuries, they’re no substitute for proper dog training.

Which is Better, a Harness or a Collar?

As you can see from our harness vs. collar review, you must think about many factors to make the best choice for you and your dog. So, is a harness better than a collar, or is it the other way around? The answer to which one is best depends on your dog’s breed, behavior, and health condition. If you’re training a puppy, proper training can lead to effective long-term collar use. Collars are comfy, simple choices and are perfect for easily attaching ID tags on your pup.

Standard collars are widely popular thanks to their ease of use and versatility, but they don’t suit all situations. Generally, harnesses are safer and more secure. If preventing escapes is your top priority and your dog is prone to wiggling free, go with a harness. No matter what option you go with, it’s crucial to get the right size for your dog and adjust it properly to prevent injury or escape. Of course, feel free to consult your veterinarian for tailored advice, so you and your pooch have the best walking experience possible.


Is It Easier to Control a Dog With a Harness or a Collar?

Using a collar generally gives you more control over your dog. If your pooch starts pulling, he’ll be restricted by the strain of the collar on his neck. Since a harness distributes tension, pulling may be physically harder to control. Front-clip or no-pull harnesses are an exception, however.

Can a Dog Wear a Harness All the Time, 24/7?

No, dogs should not wear harnesses all day, every day. It can cause fur matting, skin irritation, and discomfort for your pooch. Put on your dog’s harness when needed and remove it when he’s safely inside.

Collar or Harness? What Should You Choose When Taking Your Dog for a Walk?

Use a collar if your dog does not have issues with escaping, throat injuries, or other health and safety concerns. Use a harness if your dog needs extra support and security or is sensitive around the neck area.

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