Dog Collar or Harness: Which is Better for Your Pooch?

Dog Collar or Harness: Which is Better for Your Pooch?

Which is better, a dog collar or a harness? A lot of people are concerned about this question, and at its core, it comes down to which makes a dog safer and more comfortable in different scenarios. It only takes a little thought to figure out whether a dog collar or a dog harness is better for your dog. Let’s take a closer look at dog harnesses and collars before you buy.

Why choose? Well, whether you’re strolling through the park or navigating the urban jungle, the right choice can make all the difference to your dog’s comfort and safety. Collars are great for quick walks and ID tags, but harnesses offer superior control and can protect your dog’s neck from injury. Let’s leash up and dig deeper into which option suits your pup best.

Curious yet? Stick with me as we unleash the facts and chew over some real pet parent conundrums.

Why Might a Collar Be a Good Fit for My Dog?

Collars are the classic choice for most dog owners. They’re simple, convenient, and ideal for dogs that don’t pull much during walks. A collar holds ID tags, license tags, and rabies tags which are essential if your furry escape artist decides to take a solo adventure.

However, it’s not just about hanging IDs or looking fashionable. Collars can be a good fit for well-trained dogs that walk calmly on a leash. They provide less strain on your hands and give your dog a sense of freedom without compromising on safety, provided they’re used correctly.

But remember, not all collars are created equal. The materials, from nylon to leather, play a crucial role in your dog’s comfort. Always check for any signs of irritation around your dog’s neck and ensure the collar is snug, yet comfortable, with enough space to fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.

Harness: Could It Be the Better Choice?

When it comes to harnesses, think of them as a cozy backpack for your pup. A harness distributes pressure more evenly around your dog’s body, which can prevent injuries associated with pulling and tugging—a common scenario for the enthusiastic sniffers and squirrel chasers.

Harnesses come in various styles—some with back clips, others with front clips, and even dual-clip options for the undecided. Each type serves a different purpose: back-clip harnesses are great for calm walkers, front-clip harnesses offer more control over pullers, and dual-clip harnesses provide the best of both worlds.

As an expert in pet product design, I’ve seen firsthand how a well-fitted harness can change a dog’s walking dynamics, improving their posture and walking habits. Plus, for the fashion-forward pet, harnesses offer ample space for custom designs and patterns, turning every walk into a runway show.

What Are the Situational Best Uses for Dog Collar and Harness?

Choosing between a collar and a harness often comes down to specific situations. For example, if you’re heading out for a quick bathroom break, a collar might be all you need. But if you’re planning a day out at a busy festival or a bustling market, a harness would provide better control and security.

Training is another crucial aspect. Many trainers recommend harnesses for teaching puppies not to pull, as they provide gentle guidance without risking harm to the pup’s developing neck and spine. On the other hand, for a dog show, a collar might be more appropriate to keep the focus on the dog’s appearance and poise.

Dog harnesses and collars serve different purposes and suit various scenarios based on the needs and behaviors of the dog. Here’s how you might decide between using a harness or a collar:

Best Use Scenarios for Dog Harnesses

  1. For Dogs That Pull: Harnesses are ideal for dogs that tend to pull during walks, as they distribute pressure more evenly across the body instead of the neck, reducing the risk of choking or injury.
  2. For Training: Harnesses can be beneficial for training puppies and adult dogs alike, as they offer better control during training sessions without causing discomfort or strain on the neck.
  3. For Active Dogs: If you engage in active pursuits like hiking or jogging with your dog, a harness provides secure attachment and better control without restricting the dog’s movement.
  4. For Small Breeds: Small dogs benefit from harnesses because they are susceptible to injuries from collars that put pressure on their small necks.
  5. For Dogs with Respiratory or Tracheal Issues: Harnesses are recommended for breeds prone to respiratory or tracheal issues, like pugs or bulldogs, as they avoid pressure on the throat.

Best Use Scenarios for Dog Collars

  1. For Identification: Collars are essential for holding ID tags, which are vital for identification and safety if a dog gets lost. They can carry essential information like contact details and proof of vaccinations.
  2. For Well-Behaved Dogs: If your dog walks calmly without pulling or attempting to escape, a collar might be sufficient for walks in the neighborhood or other low-stress environments.
  3. For Minimal Restraint: When dogs just need a simple means of attachment for a leash during quick bathroom breaks or in controlled areas, a basic collar is adequate and comfortable.
  4. For Dogs Uncomfortable with Harnesses: Some dogs may not like the feeling of a harness or have unique body shapes that make fitting a harness difficult. For these dogs, a collar can be a simpler and more comfortable choice.
  5. For Training Specific Commands: Some training scenarios, such as teaching heel, may benefit from the use of a collar because it allows for gentle corrections via slight tugs on the leash, which can be more directly felt.

Ultimately, whether a harness or a collar is the best choice depends on your dog’s individual needs, behavior, health considerations, and the activities you undertake together. In many cases, dog owners might find that having both a collar (for ID and quick outings) and a harness (for extended walks or specific training) is the most versatile and safe approach.

Are There Any Health Implications?

Absolutely! This isn’t just about obedience or aesthetics—it’s about health. Both dog harnesses and dog collars are common tools for managing and training dogs, but they can have different health effects depending on how they are used and the specific needs of each dog. Here’s a breakdown of potential health effects associated with dog harnesses and collars:

Health Effects of Dog Collars

  1. Neck Injury: Collars can put pressure on a dog’s neck, potentially leading to injuries. This is especially true for dogs that pull frequently, which can strain muscles or even damage the trachea or thyroid gland over time.
  2. Choking Hazard: Traditional collars can pose a choking risk if a dog pulls too hard or if the collar gets caught on an external object, like a fence or branch.
  3. Spinal Problems: Sudden jerks on a collar can lead to neck and spinal injuries, particularly in smaller breeds or in dogs predisposed to cervical issues.

Health Effects of Dog Harnesses

  1. Reduced Risk of Neck Injury: Harnesses distribute pressure across a broader area of the dog’s body—across the chest and shoulders—thus reducing the risk of neck injuries and preventing choking.
  2. Potential for Chafing: Poorly fitted harnesses or those made from harsh materials can cause chafing or skin irritation, especially around the chest and under the arms.
  3. Improper Fit Issues: A harness that doesn’t fit properly can lead to posture problems and affect a dog’s gait, potentially causing long-term musculoskeletal issues.

General Considerations

  • Proper Fit: Whether using a collar or a harness, ensuring a proper fit is crucial. Both should be snug enough that they won’t come off, but not so tight as to restrict breathing or movement. You should typically be able to fit two fingers between the collar or harness and your dog’s body.
  • Type and Material: The material of the collar or harness should be smooth and comfortable. Options like padded collars or harnesses can provide extra comfort and prevent irritation.
  • Observation and Adjustment: Regularly check the condition of your dog’s skin around the collar or harness for any signs of irritation or hair loss. Adjust the fit as needed, or switch products if problems persist.
  • Training: Teach your dog not to pull on the leash. This reduces the risk associated with both collars and harnesses and makes walks more enjoyable for both of you.

In summary, both dog collars and harnesses can have health implications, and choosing between them should involve considering your dog’s size, breed, behavior, and any existing health issues. Using these tools correctly and monitoring their impact on your dog’s health are key steps to ensuring their well-being.

How Do I Choose What’s Best for My Dog?

To decide, consider your dog’s behavior, size, and the specific circumstances in which they’ll be wearing the device. Observe how your dog walks, how much they pull, and any health concerns they might have. When in doubt, consult your vet or a professional dog trainer.


Whether you choose a collar or a harness, the comfort and safety of your pet should always be the top priority. Each dog is unique, and their needs can change, so stay flexible and observant to their reactions during walks.

QQPETS is the leading wholesale dog harness manufacturer of adjustable harnesses for dogs and other items that people may use when walking their dogs. Our goal is to make dog walking easy for pet owners by providing valuable accessories. We offer a variety of customization services including custom logos, custom graphics, custom products and more. If you want to start your dog products business, check out our website and contact us today.

FAQ about dog harness and dog collar

Is a Dog Collar Better Than a Harness?


  • Pros: Great for dogs that do not pull, suitable for holding ID tags, generally lightweight and simple to use.
  • Cons: Can pose a risk of neck injury for dogs that pull strongly or suddenly, may exacerbate issues in breeds prone to respiratory or tracheal problems.


  • Pros: Better for controlling pulling, safer for dogs with respiratory or tracheal issues, distributes pressure across the chest and shoulders rather than the neck.
  • Cons: Can be more cumbersome to put on, some dogs may need time to get used to wearing one.

Should I Get My Dog a Harness or Neck Collar?

  • General Recommendation: For most dogs, especially those that pull, are training, or have any neck sensitivities, a harness is often a safer and more comfortable choice. It allows better control over your dog’s movement without the associated risk of neck strain or injury.

Should I Get a Collar or Harness for My Mastiff?

  • Considering the Breed: Mastiffs are large, powerful dogs and can pull quite hard. Due to their size and strength, a harness is generally recommended over a collar. Harnesses will provide you with better control and reduce the risk of neck injury, which is especially important given the substantial force a Mastiff can exert.

Should a Dog Pull a Harness or Collar?

  • Best Practice: It’s best for a dog to pull against a harness rather than a collar. Pulling on a collar can lead to neck strain, potential injuries, and other health concerns, whereas a harness distributes the force of the pull across a broader area of the dog’s body, minimizing the risk of harm and increasing comfort.

Article by

Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

Get More Industry News!


Kyra Luo

Product Design Manager

Kyra is the Product Design Manager at QQPETS, where her expertise in developing high-quality, customized pet products and keen insight into market trends has helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, save money, and satisfy consumer needs.

Get the week's best marketing content

Get Free Rendering

We use advanced encryption and security measures to ensure that your uploaded files are transmitted and ordered with maximum protection and privacy.