Dog Collar vs Harness – The Full Comparison Guide

dog collar vs harness

Many owners wonder which is better in the question of harness vs dog collar. These leash attachments offer their own benefits and drawbacks for both dogs and their owners.

Here, we’re going to compare dog collar vs harness so that you have all of the information you need to decide which collar is best for your dog’s breed. You’d know which is best for small dogs and large dogs.

What is a Dog Collar?

A dog collar fits around a dog’s neck and is used to attach a leash and ID tag. Most commonly, it is a flat collar made of leather or nylon with a clasp or buckle closure. It lies snugly against the dog’s neck.

Dog collars are a popular choice when walking a dog. Various designs are available, with some meant to constrict or cause discomfort if the dog pulls.

However, positive reinforcement is a better option for training and we don’t recommend using dog collars that can cause discomfort. “Dog pulls” should be avoided.

elastic dog leash

What is a Dog Harness?

A dog harness is a type of wearable equipment for dogs, fitting around their torso with straps behind the front legs. It is known to offer better control, so you can avoid neck injuries.

It distributes tension to the chest, unlike a collar which wraps around the dog’s neck. Small dogs and dogs prone to tracheal collapse, like French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, should use a harness.

A dog harness is a type of collar designed to put no strain on the neck while walking your pet. Dog harnesses wrap around the dog’s chest for safety and comfort. So, they’re best for walking dogs.

Read About Best Puppy Collar to Get For Any Breed

dog front hook harness

Dog harnesses on a dog’s chest, shoulders and upper back, dispersing energy across a larger area than just the neck. Harnesses are often used for brachycephalic breeds such as French Bulldogs and Pugs, which are prone to breathing difficulties.

This helps keep them comfortable and safe. This is in contrast to dog collars which only go around the dog’s neck.

By wearing a harness, pressure is spread out over the dog’s chest more evenly. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure the dog harnesses fit your dog’s chest properly.

Dog Collar vs Harness – Different Types of Dog Collars

There are several styles of collars from which dog owners can choose. Each serves a different function, from specialized training to everyday wear.

Standard Flat Collar

Regal Dog Products Custom Fit Large Black Waterproof Collar with High Strength Buckle and Heavy Duty Ring – Adjustable -Proof, Waterproof Training Collar for Medium and Big Dogs
  • Adjustable / Custom Fit: This handmade dog collar fits small, medium, large, and big dogs. Our dog collars for small dogs are ranging from 12"...
  • Virtually Indestructible: Black waterproof dog collar which will never absorb moisture and dirt. Our durable dog collars are -resistant which is...
  • Doggone Durable: Poorly made dog collars often break the first time your pooch lunges for a squirrel, but this thick durable dog collar is...

A flat collar is the most common everyday style that you see on most household pets. They’re usually a durable material such as leather or nylon in a single strap that lays flat across the throat. You can find all sorts of colors and designs with flat collars to suit both you and your pup’s personalities.

A flat collar should have a loop to attach a tag containing information such as your address and phone number in case your pooch gets lost. It’s best to use a metal tag, though durable plastic or laminated ID works as well.

Rolled Collars

Rolled collars are a great option for pet owners to better control their dog breeds. It is designed with a loop which helps the pet’s ID tag not get caught in its fur. This type of collar also gives owners more control when walking their canine companions.

It is most suitable for dogs with short necks, such as the brachycephalic breed, French Bulldogs and Pugs.

biothane material

Slip Collars (Choke Collars)

A dog’s collar is an important tool for every dog owner. Choke collars, also known as slip collars, can be used as a training tool to help reduce pulling on the leash and correct other behavioral issues.

However, too much pressure can cause neck injuries such as tracheal collapse in your furry friend, causing trouble breathing. Therefore, it is important to use a choke collar responsibly and take measures to reduce the pulling, without putting too much strain on your dog’s head.

Dog owners should be aware of the potential risks of using a choke collar if not used appropriately, as it can lead to serious injuries for your pup.

With proper leash training techniques and awareness of safety, a choke collar can be a useful tool to help manage and train your pup without causing harm.

Martingale Collar

PetSafe Martingale Collar with Quick Snap Buckle, 1" Large, Red
  • QUICK-SNAP BUCKLE: Easily take this collar on and off of your dog
  • MARTINGALE COLLAR: Safer and more secure than prong collars, this collar tightens when your dog pulls and loosens when he stops pulling to help...
  • SAFE AND SECURE: The Martingale collars have a secure fit to help prevent dogs from escaping or backing out of the collar

Martingale collars also work to discourage pulling by tightening around a dog’s neck when they lunge. This type of collar can increase the risk of serious injuries during walks and works best with well-trained dogs. Unlike choke chains, a Martingale collar will feature a safety stopper to ensure it doesn’t grow too tight.

Prong Collars

Herm Sprenger Ultra-Plus Prong Dog Training Collar, Chrome, 3.25 mm x 20" Neck Size; 22" Chain Length
  • Features solid fastener plate, providing a more secure connection
  • To adjust size, add or remove individual links
  • Country Of Origin: Germany, Item Package Weight: 0.55

Though somewhat controversial, prong collars get widespread use for training purposes. It sits so that metal prongs dig into a dog’s neck when pulling against the lead, discouraging the behavior. Prongs must fit properly around your dog’s neck to avoid any accidental injuries.

Head Collar

PetSafe Gentle Leader No-Pull Dog Headcollar - The Ultimate Solution to Pulling - Redirects Your Dog's Pulling For Easier Walks - Helps You Regain Control - Medium , Black
  • MOST EFFECTIVE NO-PULL SOLUTION: Designed by a veterinary behaviorist, the Gentle Leader Headcollar is the most effective no-pull solution to...
  • INTERRUPTS YOUR DOG’S INSTINCT TO PULL: Recommended by vets to interrupt your dog’s natural instinct to pull against pressure
  • COMFORTABLE DESIGN: Designed with minimal straps to keep your dog cool and made with durable nylon and a padded neoprene nose loop for ultimate...

A head collar looks somewhat similar to the reins of a horse. It slips over the head and fastens around the snout for a snug fit.

This type of collar helps prevent snapping while also giving owners more control over direction during walks. However, this type of collar can also increase the risk of stress-related injuries around the neck.

Smart Collar

Dr.Trainer B1Pro Dog Bark Collar with APP & Watch Control, Anti Barking Training Collar Smart Progressive Mode with Barking Report, Stop Barking Collar for Small Medium Large Dogs (No Shock)
  • 【Smartphone APP & Watch Control, Free From Remote】The B1Pro Bark Collar can directly set the level of Sound & Vibration & Anti-Trigger...
  • 【Two Training Modes with Custom Sound】This shockless bark collar is designed for no-pain correction with enhanced Vibration + Custom Sound...
  • 【Intelligent Progressive Correction & Barking Report】The B1Pro dog training collar can be tailored for your dog's needs, you can adjust Each...

One of the newest additions to the lineup of collar styles is the smart collar. This type of restraint system features the latest technology to keep your pooch safe and comfortable. It may boast features such as GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, training assistance, and more.

heavy duty harness for dogs

Dog Collar vs Harness – Different Types of Harnesses

Harness styles differ primarily in the location of the leash clip, which affects the level of control an owner has over their dog’s motion.

Harnesses for dogs distribute force exerted on the leash across a larger area of the dog’s body rather than around the neck. They’re popular for puppies and large or hard to control dogs that pull on walks. This ensures the dog’s body is evenly dispersed with pressure.

Back-Clip Harness

PetSafe Sure-Fit Dog Harness- Training Aid- Tactical Design Prevents Pressure on Throat- 2 Quick-Snap Buckles Simplify Slipping On & Off- 5 Adjustment Points Maximize Comfort & Fit- Black- Small
  • MAXIMUM ADJUSTABILITY: Designed with 5 points of adjustment for a precision fit on any dog
  • COMFORT: The center strap places pressure on your pet's chest, rather than at the base of the throat
  • SAFETY: Durable nylon straps and reinforced steel O-ring for reliable restraint in any situation

This style of harness is the most common and the most versatile. It features a clip on the back, most often a D-ring, where owners can attach a leash. While this type of harness is widely available and easy to use, it doesn’t work to discourage leash tugging.

Front-Clip Harness

PetSafe 3 in 1 No-Pull Dog Harness - Walk, Train or Travel - Helps Prevent Pets from Pulling on Walks - Seatbelt Loop Doubles as Quick Access Handle - Reflective Accents - Medium, Teal
  • STOPS PULLING: Safely controls light to moderate pulling by resting across your dog’s chest instead of his throat
  • CONTROL IN THE CAR: Keep your furry friend safe in your car, truck or SUV; use the gray seat belt loop on your harness or the adjustable car...
  • GREAT FOR RUNNING: The back attachment makes this the perfect harness for running or jogging with your dog; reflective nylon gives visibility in...

A front-clip harness allows a leash to clip to a dog’s breastbone area, giving owners more control over motion during walks.

This type of harness helps to prevent pulling in overeager dogs by redirecting movement without straining the neck. However, keep in mind that it’s easy for both dogs and owners to get tangled with this harness style.

Dual-Clip Harness

Voyager Dog Harness Dual Leash Attachment No-Pull Control Adjustable Soft but Strong Pet Harness for Medium and Large Dogs with 3M Reflective Technology - Turquoise, S (Chest: 16 - 20")
  • No more pulling or choking - This Large vest harness is designed to discourage pulling by distributing save, even pressure around the chest,...
  • Enjoy More Control - We've fitted our control harness with a front and a back leash clip rings plus a sturdy back handle; this makes the harness...
  • Extra Padding; Extra Comfort - Your pup will love the highly elastic foam lining that minimizes pressure and the heavy duty oxford fabric which...

This style offers the best of both worlds, with clips on both the back and front of the unit. While this style might be a little more pricey than the alternatives, it offers plenty of versatility for owners with multiple dogs or during training.

Step-In Harness

Voyager Step-In Air Dog Harness - All Weather Mesh Step in Vest Harness for Small and Medium Dogs by Best Pet Supplies - Black, M
  • Our Voyager Step-In Air harness helps remove pressure around the chest and helps prevent stress and strain on your pet’s neck.
  • Made with soft, breathable air mesh that’s paw-fect in any weather!
  • Reflective bands that helps your pet’s visibility during early morning and late evening strolls.

It can be challenging to wrestle an unwilling dog into a harness system, especially styles that go on over the head.

A step-in harness allows your dog to have more control over the situation when you attach their restraints. Lay the harness on the floor, allow your dog to step up to the appropriate position, then attach and tighten all necessary straps.

Travel or Safety Harness

SlowTon Dog Seat Belt Car Harness Set - Adjustable Dog Seatbelt with Carabiner for Most Cars, Breathable Dog Vest Harness Padded with Car Safety Leash for Small Medium Large Dogs Puppy Cats(Red M)
  • New Match and Well Made --- Breathable Mesh Chest Vest Harness Strap: it’s made of the double mesh fabric with the flannelette edge, attached...
  • Suitable and Humanized Design --- Breathable mesh chest vest harness would relieve the pressure. It is adjustable depending on how much lead way...
  • Keeping Safe and Comfortable --- The harness wraps around dog’s body and neck which could be instead of a collar. The straps tighten up...

If you frequently travel with your dog, a safety harness lets you keep them securely in place until it’s safe to move. Most travel harnesses are compatible with car seats and seatbelts for easy restraint when driving. What’s more, many models double as a standard walking harness when you aren’t traveling.

leather spiked dog collars

Dog Collars Pros and Cons

Collars have long been the restraint of choice for pet owners. With a dog collar vs harness, it takes just seconds to slip it on, attach to a lead, and head out the door for a walk.

Collars are easily visible, and most allow you to include important contact information on the tag. Wearing a collar throughout the day helps to ensure that your dog won’t get lost, even if they get loose during the day.

While a collar makes a good ID tag most of the time, it may not be the best choice when heading out for a walk. Even the best-trained dogs will sometimes pull on their lead, which in turn tightens their collar around their neck.

In small dogs, pulling against a collar can lead to serious medical issues such as a collapsing trachea. It may also lead to spinal or thyroid damage, particularly in larger dogs. Breeds such as pugs or bulldogs may have more difficulty breathing.

dog harness that prevents pulling

Pros and Cons of a Dog Harness

When it comes to harness vs collar, most breeds fare better with a harness. Unlike a collar, a harness leash attachment disperses pressure across a dog’s entire torso when it pulls against the lead. This design makes your pup less likely to cause damage to the neck during walks and playtime.

Harnesses are ideal for training dogs who aren’t comfortable with a leash yet. Puppies and young dogs won’t get tangled in the lead, reducing the risk of injuries for both you and your four-legged friend.

A harness also gives you better control over where your large dog walks, whether you’re out at the dog park or walking down a busy street. Harnesses make an especially good choice for large or strong dogs that are difficult to control with a simple collar.

Older dogs are sure to appreciate a harness vs collar, as it allows you to offer some assistance during walks. If your pup has trouble standing or lying down due to joint issues, a harness lets you safely help your dog into the right position without causing discomfort.

Regardless of your dog’s preferences and personality, a harness will discourage lead tugging and help to make outdoor time safe and stress-free. When dogs pull on a collar, they continue moving forward, encouraging the habit.

large breed dog harness


What is a No Pull Harness?

A No Pull Harness is a type of dog harness designed to reduce or eliminate excessive pulling when walking a new dog. It has a front clip harnesses that easily slip over the head and onto the torso, thus providing improved control over a pet’s movements without hurting them.

Should You Use Just a Collar for Your Pup?

When it comes to your pup, a collar may not be the best approach. While collars are generally used as an identification and leash attachment device, they can put pressure on the neck of your pup, potentially leading to orthopedic disease or other issues.

Additionally, front clip harnesses may be a better option for controlling strong pullers and helping to keep your pup safe. Front clip harnesses allow you to guide your pup while they’re walking without putting too much pressure on their neck or spine.

They also help to distribute weight more evenly than a collar would, reducing the likelihood of injury. With that said, it’s best to consider carefully whether just a collar is the right choice for your pup.

best large breed dog harness

Which is Better When You Walk Dogs – Harness or Collar?

When it comes to walking a dog, both harnesses and collars have their benefits. Harnesses offer more comfort for the dog by distributing pressure evenly on the chest, instead of around the neck like a collar.

This is especially important in terms of safety as it can prevent choking or other possible injuries that can be caused by pulling too hard on a collar. Additionally, harnesses provide better control than a collar, making it easier to keep the dog in line.

Collars are more compact and lighter than harnesses, making them ideal for hot weather or casual walks.

They are also quicker and easier to put on and take off and can be less expensive than harnesses. Moreover, collars come with the added benefit of being able to attach an ID tag with your contact information.

Collars are relatively inexpensive and can easily slip on and off, but can be less secure if your dog is a strong puller. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which option works best for your pup.

harnesses for big dogs

What is Best for Long Bodied Breeds – Harness or Collar?

When it comes to walking a long-bodied breed such as a dachshund or basset hound, there is no clear cut answer on whether a harness or collar is the best option. The decision should be based on the individual dog and their needs.

Generally speaking, wearing harnesses offers the most control for these breeds since the leash attachment is at the chest, rather than around the neck. This helps to avoid putting strain on the dog’s throat and prevents them from pulling too hard while walking.

Dog Collar vs Harness – Which is Better for Your Dog’s Neck?

If you’re stuck deciding between a dog collar vs harness, you have to consider your dog’s training, their personality, and your lifestyle. In most cases, a harness offers a safer, easier, and more effective way to lead your dog than the average collar.

While a collar works well for identification purposes, a harness is better when it comes to walking and playing. It won’t put as much stress on the neck, reducing the risk of throat and spine-related issues.

Good leash training is essential for a well-behaved dog. No equipment can replace it. Time and effort must be invested to achieve the desired results of loose leash walking. Leash training is key for successful dog ownership.

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