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Pro and Cons Of Harnesses vs Collars: Which Is Best For Your Dog?

The variety of fashionable safety gear for dogs today has exploded and many pet owners are excited to accessorize their faithful companions with safety in mind. Daily walks are a prime bonding activity between pet parent and pooch and when thinking about securing your walking companion, choosing between a harness and a collar can be confusing for even the most seasoned dog owners. While collars have always been the staple item for pet safety, harnesses have become increasingly popular in recent years. Both collars and harnesses have pros and cons to them; what you choose is up to the needs of you and your dog.

THE PROS OF DOG COLLARS

Collars Are More Convenient Than Harnesses

Collars are convenient because they can be left on your dog at all times so you don’t have to worry when they need to be taken on and off. Harnesses on the other hand, should only be worn for walks and other activities because they can be uncomfortable if they are left on too long. Collars are much easier to put on your dog as well, especially those that are wiggly or resistant. You can quickly buckle or snap a collar on and you’re all set!

Collars Ensure That ID Tags Always Stay On

To keep your pet safe and sound at home, dogs should always have their updated ID tags on them in case they get lost. Microchips are the best form of identification but they need to be paired with proper ID tags. Since collars are left on all the time, your mind can be at ease knowing your dog will always have identification in the worst case scenario. While collars and harnesses both have the metal ring for ID tags, it is more common to keep them attached to a collar rather than a harness.

Collars Have a Wider Variety of Options

Since collars have been the top choice for so long, there is a wide selection of styles to choose from. When training your dog, there are several options depending on the type and level of training you need. For example, flat traditional collars are great for easy going dogs that know how to walk on a leash without pulling. Martingale collars, or limited slip collars, are a better collar option for dogs who can easily slip out of flat collars. In addition to style, collars often come in many colors and patterns to make a statement or for any occasion.

THE CONS OF DOG COLLARS

Collars Can Cause Injury from Pulling

The biggest disadvantage of dog collars is that they can easily cause injury if the dog pulls too much or too aggressively. A dog that pulls while wearing a collar can end up injuring their neck or even cutting off their airflow. This is especially true for collars that use negative reinforcement tactics, like prong or choke collars. These specific types of painful collars are thought to be a good option for training a strong dog who likes to pull, but they can cause nerve damage and even blood vessel damage in the eyes due to the constant pressure the collar induces. Additionally, prong or choke collars can inflict damage to the esophagus, larynx, and trachea. Even traditional collars run the risk of these consequences if they are not worn properly. If your dog is prone to pulling on a leash, it’s better to avoid a collar altogether and stick with a harness.

Sizing Can Be Difficult with Collars

Most collars run in a limited number of standard sizes - small, medium, large, and sometimes extra large or extra small. If your dog is between these sizes, it can be difficult to find a perfect fit, even if the collar is adjustable. If a dog collar is too loose, it could easily slip off letting a dog escape. In contrast, a dog collar that is too tight can cause pain and discomfort. Additionally, if you have a puppy, sizing can change dramatically over a short period of time resulting in wasted money and extra collars laying around that can’t be used.

Collars Aren’t Good for Every Dog Breed

Most dog breeds are able to wear a collar with no issue. Although, there are some breeds that should stay away from them due to medical concerns and size, especially breeds that are prone to breathing issues or have more fragile necks. If this advice is not followed, some breeds could suffer from a collapsed trachea and other respiratory problems. For example, flat faced breeds like pugs are prone to breathing complications and breeds with sensitive and long bodies like corgis are prone to spinal discomfort. These breeds include but are not limited to:

  • Pugs

  • Maltese

  • Yorkshire Terrier

  • Chinese Crested

  • Italian Greyhound

  • Chihuahua

  • Bulldogs

  • French Bulldogs

THE PROS OF DOG HARNESSES

Even though harnesses are not as fashionable as collars, they are quickly becoming more popular as safer alternatives to collars. Harnesses, both back and front attaching, offer many benefits compared to collars.

Harness Help To Reduce Pulling

Harnesses are safe for all dogs to use as they cover the chest, shoulder, and upper back. By avoiding the neck, there is a reduced risk of injury. Harnesses help with leash training large dogs because they pull on the entire body instead of just the neck. Additionally, harnesses are ideal for puppies learning to walk on a leash because they allow the owner to have more control.

Harness Can Be More Comfortable

Harnesses can be much more comfortable to wear than a collar around the neck, especially for certain breeds. A collar can feel restricting for more anxious dogs, while a harness can feel more soothing and secure. Look for ones that are made with breathable materials to help regulate airflow for your dog like our Soft Adjustable Dog Harness!
“We gave the harnesses to friends of ours and they enjoy walking the pups on the harnesses instead of collars. They are lightweight and the dogs don’t scratch at them. I’d say that is a plus!”- Verified Buyer

Harnesses Provide More Security

Wearing a harness means your dog is more secure than with a collar because they fasten around your dog's whole body, instead of just the neck. It’s harder to escape from a harness since they can’t easily slip out of them if fitted properly.

THE CONS OF A DOG HARNESS

While dog harnesses are often considered a much safer option to dog collars, there are a few cons to choosing a harness over a collar:

Dog Harnesses Are Less Convenient Than Collars

Harnesses can be exhausting to put on your dog with several buckles and clasps to navigate. Also, some more advanced harnesses can be confusing to latch together correctly. If you have a more wiggly pooch, putting each leg and the head through can become a wrestling match. If you need to get out the door quickly, harnesses can become a roadblock compared to a traditional dog collar.

Sizing Can Also Be Difficult with Harnesses

Just like with traditional dog collars, harnesses can be uncomfortable if you don’t find the right fit. If the harness is too loose, a dog can wiggle out of it with some effort and it can cause discomfort. If the harness is too tight, it can be painful and cause sores on the dog due to rubbing, especially if they wear it for long periods of time. Make sure to measure correctly and try on more than one size and style when buying a harness so that your dog is comfortable and secured.

IS A COLLAR OR HARNESS RIGHT FOR YOUR DOG?

The choice between a collar or harness for your dog can be confusing but every dog and owner are different and have different needs.

Harnesses are a great choice for almost all breeds of dogs, including ones with smaller necks or breathing issues like our 
Soft Adjustable Dog Harness. They are safer than traditional collars and help protect your dog from injury if they tend to pull too hard. However, they are sometimes harder to get on and off quickly and often difficult to size properly. On the other hand, traditional dog collars are an everyday use option when fitted correctly. Since they are able to easily hold an ID tag, collars help make sure your dog is never lost without identification.

When choosing either a collar or a harness, or even both, it’s important to keep in mind your dog’s personality and comfort. Those who pull on a leash might be better off with a harness, while more feisty dogs might find collars easier to put on when heading out to the park. With either choice, make sure the collar or harness is fitted properly and is comfortable for your dog to wear for all your adventures together.

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