Dog Collars vs. Harnesses: Which Is Better

Collars vs. harnesses … which is better? It’s a pretty popular question amongst new dog owners and rightfully so. You want to put your fur baby in something that is both reliable and safe. While there are definite pros and cons to each (which I will go over), I would like to take a minute and start off by sharing my story with you.

Growing up, my family dogs always wore fabric collars. Whenever we introduced a new puppy into our home, it was off to PetSmart to pick out the prettiest collar we could find. My mom and I could spend upwards of 30 minutes in the collar aisle just searching for the perfect one. Once I moved into my own place, I immediately got a dog. A house just isn’t a home without a puppy running around! After meeting several different puppies, I finally found “the one.” So naturally, on our way home, we stopped at PetSmart and I bought him a collar. I actually had to get him a cat collar because he was so small!

collars vs harnesses

After my little Diego was big enough to fit into a dog collar, I went crazy. I bought him a blue collar, an orange collar, and a red collar. I wanted him to have a matching collar for each of his outfits. I clearly spoil him. For this reason, I was shocked when another dog mom (who I didn’t know) approached me at the dog park one afternoon and told me I was putting my dog’s health at risk.

“You know you should really switch to a harness,” this random lady told me. “You’re probably choking your dog and hurting his neck with that collar.” 

WHAT?! I was in complete and utter shock. I only ever knew dogs to wear collars… not harnesses. While I was somewhat offended by her comment, it got me thinking. I started realizing that every time Diego tugged on his leash the collar could actually hurt his delicate neck. I mean, there were times where he would pull on the leash and cough. So I did my own research and decided I would make the switch from collar to harness. 

Once I got my second dog, Gigi, I decided to put her in a harness too. For my dogs, I think the harness is better. Nothing ever pulls on their neck and I actually feel like leash training was easier. 

The Dirt On Collars

There are several different types of collars. There are nylon, leather, choke, prong, and shock collars. Let me get one thing out of the way right now – I’m 100 percent against choke, prong, and shock collars. The choke collar is designed to literally choke your dog if they tug on their leash. Similar to a choke collar, the prong collar has large prongs that will dig into a dog’s neck if they tug on the leash. Then there’s the shock collar, which is designed to let the owner shock their dog if they are doing something “wrong.” These collars are dangerous and pose serious dangers to your dog. 

If you are going to get a collar, I would recommend the traditional nylon collar. This type of collar is fully adjustable, which is great for a growing puppy. They’re also easy to slip on and off. Plus, they can hold your dog’s ID, rabies, and license tags. If your dog doesn’t have a tendency to pull on his leash and doesn’t have any trachea or respiratory issues then a collar is just fine. 

The Dirt On Harnesses 

Harnesses are a safe solution for dogs that tend to yank on their leash. If your dog tugs at the leash while wearing a collar they run the risk of tracheal collapse. With a harness, though, there is absolutely no pressure put on your dog’s neck. For this reason, harnesses are also great for training purposes. 

The harness is also suitable for dogs that suffer from trachea or respiratory issues. Breeds with short snouts, such a pugs, benefit from harnesses because of their predisposition to breathing complications.

When it comes to harness shopping, you will have to choose between two common styles: a front attaching harness or a back attaching harness. Rule of thumb, front-attaching harnesses are better for larger breeds and back attaching harnesses are better for small breeds. 

So Which Is Better?

It’s important to note that there is no definite right and wrong when it comes to a traditional nylon collar and harness. Dogs come in different shapes, sizes, and personalities. What works for one dog may not be ideal for another. While I personally prefer harnesses, you must decide which is best for your dog based on their personality and health status.