Dog Harness vs. Collar – Detailed Pros & Cons Comparison

Dog Harness vs. Collar

About the Author: Nettie Finley, the Professional Dog Trainer at MyPetDoggie. Specializing in behavior rehabilitation, Nettie leads our team with her effective training techniques. As a certified canine behaviorist, she brings transformative change to challenging behavior cases. Her experience and expertise elevate our content, providing practical, insightful training advice for our readers. Also, she loves her Cavapoo!

One thing about dogs that remains unchanged is their love for going outdoors. Be it a simple walk in the neighborhood or an adventurous trip to the mountains, they are always in the mood.

To ensure that they get to have their maximum amount of fun, it’s important to stay geared up and ready for going. Having equipment helps a lot and having a proper harness or collar is the right way to start. 

However, there are a few things between dog harness vs. collar that make them different from each other. Both are important accessories for your dog but, which one is better? Let’s dig in and find out!

Dog Harness vs. Collar

Dog harness provides even distribution of pressure across the dog’s body, reducing the risk of injury or strain on the neck or throat. Dog collars are designed for presenting identification, quick walks with leash on, or outings but they are not reliable for long walks due to chances of causing throat injury.

6 Pros of Harness

There are so many, but the most important ones are:

Step-In Harness (1)
A dog shows his smile when he wears a harness

Reduced Strain on Neck and Throat:

Unlike normally used collars, harnesses help reduce strain on the neck and throat by distributing the pulling pressure across the dog’s body evenly. This is especially beneficial for dogs with respiratory issues and neck injuries. 

Control and Safety:

Harnesses provide better control over dogs than traditional collars. Having control over their movements makes it easier to guide them during walks. Harnesses also prevent accidental slipping or escaping, giving you peace of mind during walking. 

No-Pull Features:

A lot of harnesses come with no-pull features, such as front-clip or back-clip attachments. These features discourage pulling behavior by distracting and redirecting the dog’s attention and providing better control over their movements. This feature also helps dogs learn walking manners which is an important part of their behavior. 

Comfort and Support:

Harnesses are designed specifically to distribute pressure evenly across the dog’s body, providing added comfort and support during walks. This is particularly beneficial for dogs with sensitive necks or those prone to pulling.


Harnesses come in multiple styles, including step-in, overhead, and vest harnesses, offering versatility to fit different dog breeds and sizes. They can also be used for activities like hiking or jogging, giving additional support and control.

Escape Prevention:

For dogs who are prone to slipping out of collars, harnesses offer a more secure fit. The design and adjustable straps make it really hard for dogs to get free, making sure that they stay safely by your side.

While both, dog harnesses and dog collars offer their own benefits, harnesses offer several advantages. Consider contacting a professional to decide what is a better option for your canine companion! 

Harnesses have a handful of benefits, but let’s flip the coin and explore the drawbacks that they bring along. 

6 Cons of Dog Harnesses

There are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of. 

Cons of Dog Harnesses (1)
A dog wearing a dog harness indoor

Learning Curve:

Switching from a collar to a harness may require you to train your dog to accept it. It might take time for them to get used to the new sensation and walking with a harness. It happens because of the different shape and size of the harness as compared to a dog collar. Harnesses are more of an accessory that has a complicated design. 

Chafing and Rubbing:

Incorrectly fitted harnesses or ones made from low-quality materials can cause chafing and rubbing, causing discomfort and potential skin irritations for your dog. This makes it important to ensure that you put on the harness on your dog with utter care and while considering their reaction.

Size and Fit:

Finding the right size and fit for your dog can be a hard task. Ill-fitting harnesses may restrict their range of movement or cause discomfort, making it essential to measure your dog accurately and choose the right size otherwise your dog will hate it forever. The right dog accessories will only ensure that you have a happy dog and an awesome walking experience.

Cost and Quality:

High-quality harnesses can be too expensive, especially if you are looking for specific features like reflective material or padding. Cheaper options may overlook comfort and durability. 

Limited Range of Motion:

Some harness designs restrict a dog’s natural and individual range of motion, potentially hindering their movement during their favorite activities like running or playing. It’s important to choose a harness that allows your dog to move freely and feel comfortable.

Style and Fashion:

While this may not be a concern for every dog owner, some of them like to dress their pets in stylish accessories. Harnesses, especially those with limited design and color options, may not always align with your wanted aesthetic.

Remember, each dog has their unique and individual needs. What may seem amazing to another dog might not interest your pet, so it’s highly recommended to consider consulting a veterinarian or a professional to help you decide whether or not a harness should be your priority. 

Now let’s switch gears and dig into the pros of dog collars. Unlike harnesses, dog collars offer a decent and convenient way to control your dog during walks and outings.

6 Pros of Dog Collars:

After harnesses, let’s pitch in and unleash the benefits of dog collars, one by one. As they are not behind either in advantages: 

Citronella collar side effects
A dog shows his pros after wearing a dog collar

Simplicity and Convenience:

One of the key benefits of dog collars is their simplicity and ease of use. With a collar around their neck, you can easily just attach a leash and get going. A dog collar provides you with control and guidance during walks or outdoor adventures that you need. Collars help you in regular walks where you only need to make up your mind and leave, that’s how easy they are to use! 

Identification and Tags:

Ensuring the safety of your beloved pet, collars come with the feature of having space for identification tags. By using that identification tag space, putting up their name, and completing with your contact information, you increase the chances of an easy reunion if your pet ever goes missing. This is a simple but effective step that provides peace of mind and acts as a safety net for your dog.

Freedom of Movement:

Dog collars offer a greater sense of freedom and mobility for your four-legged companion. Collars allow for a natural range of motion, enabling dogs to move comfortably without any restrictions. This freedom of movement is particularly an advantage during playtime, training periods, or when engaging in any activities that require legerity and flexibility.

Training and Communication:

Dog collars play an essential role in training and communication between you and your dog. With the leash attached to the collar, you can effectively guide and teach your dog various instructions, propping up positive behavior. Collars provide a clearer and direct line of communication which makes it easy to make dogs understand their boundaries and ensure obedience. 

Grooming Access:

Maintaining your dog’s hygiene is way easier with collars. You can get your dog groomed easily without having to open a bunch of buckles and straps like with a harness. Collars allow easy access to the neck area. This accessibility makes grooming tasks like removing ticks, getting rid of extra fur, bathing, and brushing more effective and convenient. This ensures that your dog stays clean and comfortable. 


One of the great benefits of a dog collar is its affordability. Compared to other pet accessories like harnesses and GPS trackers, collars are normally pocket-friendly. You can get your hands on a high-quality and well-designed collar at a suitable price, allowing you to choose what fits your dog best without having to compromise on its looks. 

But wait, before you make your final decision, let’s take a closer look at the potential drawbacks of using dog collars. 

6 Cons of Dog Collars

If not used properly, there are drawbacks too.

cons of Dog Collars (1)
A dog gets irritated after wearing a dog collar

Strain on Neck and Throat:

One of the most important concerns with dog collars is the strain they can produce on a dog’s neck and throat. Constant pulling or jerking on the collar can lead to discomfort, neck strain, and even potential damage to the fragile skin in the neck area.

Risk of Injury:

Another disadvantage of a dog collar is the risk of injury. Dogs who are prone to pulling excessively or sudden movements while wearing a collar can put themselves at high risk of neck injuries, such as sprains or even tracheal collapse. This is especially true for dogs who already suffer from neck or respiratory issues.

Limited Control:

While collars help in providing a high level of control, they may not be as useful as other options, such as a harness. Dogs with strong pulling tendencies may find it easier to slip out of a collar, overlooking their safety and potentially causing accidents or lost pets.

Restricted Breathing for Brachycephalic Breeds:

Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs or Pugs, already have a compromised breathing system due to their small noses. For these breeds, wearing a collar can further hinder their already limited airflow, possibly making breathing difficulties worse and causing unnecessary pain. 

Fur Matting and Hair Loss:

The constant friction and force from the collar can lead to tangled, matted, and even broken hair, requiring more grooming efforts and potentially causing unnecessary discomfort for our furry friends. The use of collars almost makes it inevitable to have good quality hair fur for dogs. Regular combing and untangling are required. 

Skin Irritation and Damage:

Another important factor is the possibility of skin irritation and damage. Some dogs may end up developing allergic reactions or sensitivity to the materials used in collars, leading to red marks, itching, or even sores. In addition to that, constant rubbing or chafing from the collar can cause skin irritations and discomfort. 

Now that we have discussed the downside of collars, let’s turn our attention to the world of harnesses that offer a safer and more comfortable option for our beloved pets. 

6 Types of Dog Harnesses

When it comes to walking our pet dogs, harnesses are an essential piece of equipment that is used popularly.

How to put on a dog harness of d
A dog wearing a dog harness when he goes for a walk

However, harnesses are available in different types to decide from. Let’s dive into some popular types of harnesses. 

Standard Back-Clip Harness:

This type of harness has a single connecting point on the back, making it easier to put on and fit. It distributes the pulling force evenly across the chest, reducing strain on the neck.

Front-Clip Harness:

With the attachment point on the front, this harness helps discourage the pulling behavior by redirecting your dog’s attention towards you or wherever you want it. It offers better support, and control and encourages them to walk by your side.

No-Pull Harness:

This type of harness is designed particularly to change the walking patterns of your dog if they are prone to pulling. This harness helps discourage the pulling behavior by gently redirecting the dog’s mobility and limiting its range of movement. It provides a more comfortable and effective walking control. 

Step-In Harness:

This particular type of harness is an easy-to-use kind. Step-In Harness is super convenient as your dog only has to step into its loops and then you pull it up like a pair of jeans. It’s especially great for dogs who do not like to wear accessories that go over their heads. 

Vest Harness:

A vest harness wraps around your dog’s chest and back. It provides additional support and security, making it specifically designed for dogs with certain medical conditions or those who need extra stability. This type of harness provides more coverage and support.

Tactical Harness:

The tactical harnesses come with multiple attachment points. They are sturdy and suitable for outdoor activities, training, and carrying equipment. This type of harness is designed specifically for working dogs.  

Let’s now shift our attention to the fascinating realm of dog collars. There are so many options to choose from, each with its own unique features and styles. Let’s explore them together!

6 Types of Collars

From flat collars to electronic collars, there is a wide range of options available in collars. You should consider each in detail to choose the best one for your dog. 

Flat Collar:

This is the standard type of collar. It’s simple and convenient, making it easy for daily use. Flat collars are mostly made of nylon or leather materials. 

Martingale Collar:

Also known as a limited-slip collar, this type of collar is designed specially to provide more control and support without choking your dog. It has an extra loop that strengthens and tightens when your dog pulls, preventing you from losing control. 

Prong Collar (Pinch Collar):

This collar has metal prongs that apply force to your dog’s neck when it pulls. For this reason, it’s important to stay cautious while using it and avoid pulling too much. It is recommended to use it under the guidance of a professional trainer. 

Choke Chain Collar:

Just like a prong collar, a choke chain collar tightens around your dog’s neck when it starts pulling. It’s important to use this collar with ultimate care to avoid injury.

Padded Collar:

These types of collars have a layer of soft paddings to provide extra comfort for your dog. This type of collar is great for dogs that have sensitive skin or those who are prone to neck allergies. 

Electronic Collar:

This type of collar is also known as an e-collar or a shock collar. It delivers a mild shock to the dog during training sessions to help dogs become more obedient and understand commands better. Electronic collars are best used with proper guidance under a professional trainer. 

When choosing the right collar, you need to consider your dog’s individual needs. Consider their size and breed to ensure you get your hands on the perfect fit for them.  It’s highly recommended to consult a veterinarian or a professional to help you out with deciding which one is better. 

When You Should Use a Harness? 

If your pet dog tends to pull during walks or has respiratory issues, using a harness is highly suggested. Harnesses are mainly designed to prevent neck strains and provide better control. They distribute pressure across the dog’s body evenly.

This is especially essential for dogs with brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs or Pugs, who may have pre-existing difficulty in breathing. By using a harness, you can make sure that you get a more enjoyable and comfortable walking experience for both you and your pup.

When You Should Use a Collar?

If you are looking for a simple and adjustable option, a collar is a great option for your dog. Collars are perfect for attaching identification tags and can be convenient for dogs who know walking manners.

Just ensure that you choose a collar that fits properly and that it does not cause any discomfort for your canine companion. It’s important to regularly check the adjustments of the collar as your dog grows to ensure their safety and comfort.

Common Question:

Do dogs prefer a harness?

Some dogs may like a harness over a collar, especially if they tend to pull on walks or have neck and respiratory issues. Harnesses provide better grip and distribute pressure more evenly across the chest, which can be a lot more comfortable for dogs. However, in the end, it depends on the dog’s individual preferences and needs.

Can a harness calm a dog?

A harness itself may not help in calming a dog but it can provide better comfort and control over them which can lead to a calmer walking experience. By using a harness, you ensure the utmost safety and comfort of your dog. It provides control over their movements which reduces strain on the dog’s neck and throat. This can result in a more relaxed and fun walking experience for both you and your furry companion.

At what age do you leash train a puppy? 

It is normally suggested to start leash training your pup as soon as they are 8 to 10 weeks of age. However, keep in mind that puppies also have different developmental stages so it’s highly important to start from basic and simpler training sessions. You can gradually increase the duration and complexity of the training session as your puppy grows older and more comfortable with the leash. It is recommended to start training your puppy as soon as possible, to ensure that they are comfortable with it. 

Do vets recommend collars or harnesses?

Veterinarians and professional trainers usually recommend the use of harnesses, especially for dogs that tend to pull or have respiratory issues. Harnesses provide better support, control, and distribute pressure evenly across the chest more effectively, reducing the unwanted force on the neck and throat. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your local veterinarian or a professional trainer to determine the best option for your dog’s specific needs.

Do dogs need both harnesses and collars?

Having both a harness and a collar can be helpful as they both serve different purposes. A collar is generally used for attaching identification tags and can be convenient to use every day. Further, a harness, on the flip side, is particularly useful for dogs that are prone to pulling or have neck and respiratory issues. It is not necessary for every dog to have both the harness and the collar, but it can be beneficial to have a theme for specific situations, such as walks or training sessions.

Can you leave a dog alone with a collar?

It’s normally considered safe to leave a dog alone with its collar as long as it is properly fitted and doesn’t have a risk of getting tangled in objects. However, it is always a good idea to supervise your dog at all times to ensure their safety.

Is a harness more comfortable than a collar?

A harness can be more comfortable than a collar. Harnesses provide better control over dogs and prevent strain on the neck and throat which can cause neck injuries and make respiratory issues worse. However, every dog is different and has their own specific needs and preferences.


There are different types of dog harness vs. collar that you need to consider, each comes with its specific purpose and design to help you with specific tasks. It is important to consider all the types and designs to decide which one is the perfect fit for your dog. 

Ultimately, the decision of whether dog harnesses or dog collars are better depends on your dog’s breed, size, and individual needs. It is best to consult a veterinary professional to make this decision. Generally, dog owners prefer harnesses as they provide the utmost protection, control, and comfort.

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