When it comes to walking your dog, is a collar or harness the better choice? The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think.

Harness vs Collar: Which is the Better Choice for Walking Your Dog?

As a dog owner, you want the best for your furry friend, and when it comes to walking your dog, choosing the right equipment is essential. But is it better to walk a dog with a harness or collar? This seemingly simple question can be quite polarizing among dog owners. In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of both options, discuss breed-specific considerations, and provide expert advice to help you make the best decision for your canine companion.

Dog collar vs harness

Key Takeaways

  • Collars offer convenience and ID tags, but can cause neck injuries or worsen existing medical conditions.
  • Harnesses provide control, reduce pulling, and promote positive walking behaviors. They may encourage pulling or chafe fur.
  • Expert advice is recommended when selecting a harnesses/collar to consider breed specific needs & proper fitting/training methods.

Understanding Dog Collars

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
Black pug with orange dog collar

The primary purpose of dog collars is to provide control and ownership, with a strap and metal fastener or hook to secure them around the dog’s neck. There are various types of dog collars available, including:

While collars can be convenient for quick outings or brief strolls, many people prefer harnesses for walking dogs as they do not exert pressure on the neck.

Size and fit should be a priority when choosing a dog collar to avoid putting excessive pressure on the dog’s chest. Dog collars can also be used for:

  • Training purposes
  • Helping your dog overcome obstacles
  • Guiding them
  • Securing their attention if they have a limited attention span

Irresponsible use of a collar could lead to discomfort or injury, caution is advised.

Advantages of Using a Dog Collar

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
Golden lab with leash and collar walking

Dog collars offer several benefits, such as the ability to attach ID tags and rabies tags, providing enhanced control for trained dogs, and being suitable for a large dog breeds. The primary advantage of using a collar over a harness lies in its convenience. It requires less physical exertion than a harness, but one of the cons of dog collars is that they can cause discomfort or injury if the dog pulls too much.

An identification tag with your contact information can be attached to the collar, which is especially important for small dogs that can easily get lost. Potential risks such as neck injuries and worsening existing health conditions should be taken into account when using dog collars.

Disadvantages of Using a Dog Collar

The use of dog collars comes with potential risks, including:

  • Neck injuries
  • Worsening existing medical conditions
  • Escape issues
  • Unsuitability for certain breeds and pullers

Excessive pulling may reduce airflow into the dog or cause pressure on the pet’s vertebrae, resulting in pain and discomfort. Toy breeds and brachycephalic breeds should abstain from using collars due to potential harm, especially considering the vulnerability of a dog’s chest area.

When using a collar on a dog, there is a risk of causing back pain or damage to the throat, particularly if the dog pulls a lot while walking or the dog collar is too tight. Weighing the pros and cons of dog collars is a crucial step in making a decision for your pet.

Exploring Dog Harnesses

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
Two dogs wearing a harness and leash

Dog harnesses come in various types, such as back-clip, front-clip, and no-pull harnesses. Originally used for working dogs to assist in pulling sleds or performing other tasks, harnesses fit around the chest and are designed to evenly distribute the force when pulled. In deciding if a harness is necessary, especially for dogs that pull or have health issues, evaluating your dog’s individual needs is fundamental.

A no-pull harness is designed to reduce pulling by causing the dog to turn back towards the owner when they pull. These dog harnesses also give the handler better control especially with large dogs. Given the variety of harnesses available, understanding their specific purposes and benefits for different breeds and situations is key to making an informed decision.

Tactical dog harnesses, crucial in military operations, offer durability and control to handle demanding conditions. Made from robust materials, these harnesses are designed for extreme resilience. They feature modular designs, often incorporating MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment), allowing for attachment of additional gear such as pouches or specialized equipment. These harnesses prioritize canine safety and comfort, ensuring effective mission contribution.

Benefits of Using a Dog Harness

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
Blue dog harness with leash on black working dog

Using a dog harness can provide the following benefits:

  • Improved control
  • Reduced pulling
  • Even pressure distribution
  • Increased security

Harnesses are particularly beneficial for a dog’s neck, especially for those with neck problems or restricted airways, as they do not put pressure on the neck, thus avoiding potential discomfort during the first few harness walks.

So, a harness can also promote positive walking behaviors from an early age and provide increased control over the dog, especially for certain dog breeds more prone to neck or back issues.

Some dog owners might opt for a collar or a harness, while others may choose both a collar and a harness, contingent on the situation, after weighing the pros and cons of each. As a dog owner, it’s important to make the best choice for your pet’s comfort and safety.

Drawbacks of Using a Dog Harness

While harnesses offer numerous benefits, there are some challenges to consider. Attaining a suitable fit for a dog harness is significant, as an ill-fitting harness can lead to the dog escaping if it is too loose or experiencing discomfort if it is too tight. While it can be challenging to attach identification tags to a harness, some designs include an additional ring for this purpose or can be paired with a separate identification collar.

Back-clip harnesses may encourage pulling, posing a challenge for dogs that already have a tendency to pull. While there are benefits to using dog harnesses, it’s important to consider the cons of dog harnesses as well. These may include chafing or fur tangling, thus monitoring your dog’s comfort and well-being while they are wearing a harness becomes paramount.

Harness or Collar for Puppy Training?

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
Puppy dog wearing a dog collar

When it comes to puppy training, it is advised to start leash training with a harness to:

  • Avoid tracheal damage
  • Foster positive walking habits from the outset
  • Reduce the risk of tracheal damage
  • Promote positive walking behaviors from an early age
  • Provide increased control over the dog, especially for certain dog breeds more prone to neck or back issues.

The use of a collar for puppy training may result in tracheal damage, discomfort, and challenges in controlling the dog. In selecting a harness or collar for training, factoring in the individual needs, size, age, and behavior of your puppy is vital.

Breed-Specific Considerations

When deciding between a harness or collar for walking your dog, breed-specific considerations should be taken into account. Toy breeds and flat-faced breeds should not use collars, as they can put too much pressure on the dog’s chest and neck area. Certain breeds, such as toy breeds, long-bodied breeds, and those with neck or back issues, may benefit more from using a harness than a collar.

Siberian huskies, which are bred to pull, may be more likely to pull when using a back-clip harness. Accounting for the specific needs of different dog breeds is an important consideration when deciding between a collar and a harness.

Do dogs need to wear harnesses or collars? Is it bad for them to always walk with leashes?
LifestyleLineup’s answer: Ah, the great collar versus harness debate! The answer really comes down to your dog’s behavior, breed, and health. Collars are simple, convenient, and perfect for dogs who don’t pull on their leash or have respiratory issues. But if your dog is a natural-born explorer…
Do dogs need to wear harnesses or collars? Is it bad for them to always walk with leashes?

Expert Opinions & Consultations

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
Veterinarian tending to a white schnauzer

Consulting experts is invaluable when choosing between a harness and a collar for your dog, their expertise and familiarity can provide beneficial advice and guidance. It is advised to consult with veterinarians, pet helplines, or dog trainers to ascertain the optimal choice for your individual dog’s needs and health considerations, especially if you frequently walk dogs in busy or challenging environments.

Experienced professionals can provide insight into your dog’s individual needs, size, age, and behavior to suggest the best option. They can also provide direction on proper fitting, training methods, and potential pros and cons of each option, facilitating a smooth transition during the initial harness walks.


In conclusion, the choice between a dog collar and a harness ultimately depends on your dog’s individual needs, breed, and walking habits. By examining the advantages and disadvantages of each option, considering breed-specific factors, and consulting with experts, you can make the best decision for your dog’s well-being and ensure a happy, healthy walking experience for both you and your furry friend.

Is It Better to Walk a Dog with a Harness or Collar?
German Shepard running on beach with pink harness

Frequently Asked Questions

Do vets recommend collars or harnesses?

Vets recommend harnesses over collars because they don’t put pressure on the neck and are better suited for dogs who suffer from cervical neck pain, as well as those with breathing issues.

They also distribute the pull force across a larger area of the dog’s body.

Do dogs pull more with a harness?

Harnesses can be effective in training dogs not to pull, as part of a method which encourages good behavior.

Are harnesses good for dog walking?

Harnesses are the better choice for dog walking due to their improved control, pressure distribution across the body and less strain on the neck in comparison to collars. They can also help reduce back pain, as well as being far less likely to cause throat injuries if your dog pulls hard.

What are the main differences between dog collars and harnesses?

Dog collars fit around the neck and provide a place to attach tags, while harnesses go around the chest for improved control and reduced pulling.

How can one train their dog not to pull while being walked with a harness or collar and leash combination?
LifestyleLineup’s answer: Ah, the age-old struggle of the leash tug-of-war! Fear not, here’s your game plan: 1. Start Inside: Begin leash training indoors, where there are fewer distractions. Let your dog get used to the feeling of wearing a harness or collar.2. Treats, Please: Reward your dog…
How can one train their dog not to pull while being walked with a harness or collar and leash combination?

Thanks for Reading!


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