Dog Collar vs Harness – The Full Comparison Guide

dog collar vs harness

When it’s time to take your dog outside for some exercise, you must use a proper restraint system to keep everybody safe. However, many owners wonder which is better in the question of harness vs dog collar. Each offers its 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 four-legged friend. 

Dog Collar vs Harness – Different Types of 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 Black Large Waterproof Dog Collar with High Strength Buckle and Heavy Duty Ring – Adjustable Odor-Proof, Waterproof Training Collar
  • 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 odor-resistant which...
  • 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. 

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 Collar

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 Headcollar, No-Pull Dog Collar, Perfect for Leash & Harness Training, Stops Pets from Pulling and Choking on Walks, Medium, Black
  • VET RECOMMENDED AND TRAINER DESIGNED: This headcollar instinctively redirects your dog’s tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on...
  • TEACHES BETTER LEASH MANNERS: Gently and safely helps you control unwanted leash behaviors like pulling, lunging and jumping for even the most...
  • NO MORE COUGHING AND CHOKING: A padded neoprene nose loop puts pressure on the back of the neck instead of your dog’s throat, which prevents...

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)
622 Reviews
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...
  • 🐾【Intelligent Progressive Correction & Barking Report】The B1Pro dog training collar can be tailored for your dog's needs, you can adjust...

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. 

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. 

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 Dog Harness - No Pull Solution for Dogs - Reflective Dog Harness - Front D-Ring Clip Helps Stop Pulling - Comfortable Padded Straps - Top Handle Enhances Control - Teal - Medium
  • 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 by Best Pet Supplies -Dual-ATTACHMENT No-Pull Adjustable Harness with 3M Reflective Technology, (Turquoise, Small)
  • NO MORE PULLING: Designed to discourage pulling by distributing safe, even pressure around the chest, the Voyager no pull harness makes every...
  • ENJOY MORE CONTROL: We’ve fitted our anti-pull dog harness with dual leash attachment points and a sturdy back handle; this makes it a great...
  • EXTRA PADDING; EXTRA COMFORT: Your pup will love the highly elastic foam lining that minimizes pressure and the breathable mesh design that...

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
  • ATTENTION: Sizing does NOT directly correspond to your pet's breed or weight. Please MEASURE your pet by printing out our Size Guide which has a...
  • ALL WEATHER MESH: Made with a soft, breathable air mesh, this lightweight pet harness is perfect for walks all year round.
  • REFLECTIVE BANDS: Two reflective bands on the sides of this harness enhance your pet’s visibility for those early morning and late evening...

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 Car Harness Seat Belt Set, Dog Vest Harness for Car Adjustable Mesh Breathable & Vehicle Safety Seatbelt Tether with Elastic Bungee for Small Medium Large Size 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. 

Dog Collar vs Harness – Pros and Cons of Collars

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 Collar vs Harness – Pros and Cons of Harnesses

When it comes to harness vs collar, most breeds fare better with a harness. Unlike a collar, a harness 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 greater control over where your dog walks, whether you’re out at the dog park or walking down a busy street. You won’t have to worry as much about potentially dangerous escape attempts. 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. With a harness, however, they won’t get the same reward. Instead, they’ll feel forced to stop as you redirect them, eventually learning that pulling doesn’t pay. 

Dog Collar vs Harness – The Bottom Line

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. 

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