Dog Harness Vs. Dog Collar: Which one is best for your dog?

Dog Harness Vs. Dog Collar: Which one is best for your dog?

From the perspective of comfort and safety, dog harnesses are better. They distribute pressure more evenly around the body, reducing stress on the neck and back. From a training and control standpoint, collars are more suitable because they allow for more precise control over the dog’s head and direction. However, for general control and safety, especially in high-traffic areas or where dogs may make sudden movements, a dog harness can provide more security and gentle restraint.

Let’s explore the age-old topic of which is best for your dog, dog harness or dog collar, before you buy a dog collar or dog harness?

What are the pros and cons of dog collars?

Collars are the classic choice. They’re like the denim jeans of the dog accessory world: simple, effective, and they get the job done. Most dogs wear a collar that holds their ID tags information. It’s like their very own wallet!

However, when it comes to walking or training, pulling on a collar can be tough on a dog’s throat, especially for breeds prone to breathing problems or those with delicate tracheas. Imagine wearing a tight tie all day and someone yanking on it—doesn’t sound pleasant, right?


  • Simplicity and Convenience: Collars are generally easier to put on and take off compared to harnesses. They are good for quick trips outside.
  • ID and License Attachment: It’s straightforward to attach identification tags and licenses to a collar, which is essential in case the dog gets lost.
  • Training: Some types of training collars are designed to aid in behavioral training, such as teaching a dog not to pull on the leash.


  • Potential for Neck Injury: Pulling on a collar can lead to neck strain or injury, especially in breeds susceptible to conditions like collapsed trachea or those with delicate neck structures.
  • Less Control: Particularly with strong or large dogs, a collar provides less control over the animal than a harness, which can be a downside in busy or potentially dangerous environments.

Which dogs should not wear dog collars?

While collars are a common and often essential accessory for dogs, there are specific cases where wearing a collar might not be the best choice for certain dogs. Here are types of dogs and conditions where a harness might be more appropriate than a collar:

  1. Dogs with Respiratory Issues: Dogs that have respiratory problems, particularly brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses, like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers), can be further compromised by the pressure a collar places on the throat.
  2. Dogs with Tracheal Collapse: Small breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas are prone to tracheal collapse, a condition where the tracheal rings begin to collapse, and wearing a collar can exacerbate this problem if the dog pulls on the leash.
  3. Dogs with Neck Injuries or Spinal Problems: Dogs that have had neck injuries or issues with their cervical spine should avoid collars because pulling on a collar can worsen these conditions.
  4. Puppies in the Early Stages of Training: Puppies are still learning how to walk on a leash, and using a collar can cause neck strain or lead to improper training habits like pulling. A harness is often a safer option during their formative training period.
  5. Dogs That Pull Excessively: For dogs that have not yet mastered leash manners, a harness can provide better control and reduce the risk of injury from pulling hard against a collar.
  6. Senior Dogs with Vulnerabilities: Older dogs, especially those with arthritis or joint issues, might be more susceptible to injuries from collars due to sudden movements or persistent pulling.

When do I need to wear a dog collar?

There are always times when you need to wear a dog collar to keep your dog safe!

  1. Identification: A collar is a convenient place to hang ID tags and licenses, which are essential in case your dog gets lost. It’s advisable for dogs to wear a collar with identification whenever they are outdoors, even in a fenced yard, as unexpected escapes can happen.
  2. Quick Outings and Bathroom Breaks: For brief outings like bathroom breaks or quick trips outside, a simple collar is usually sufficient, especially if your dog is well-behaved and the area is secure.
  3. Training: Some training methods involve specific types of collars (like slip collars, martingale collars, or electronic collars) designed to aid in behavioral correction. These should be used under the guidance of a professional trainer and only during training sessions to ensure they are used safely and effectively.
  4. Home Wear: Many dogs wear collars at all times when at home. This ensures that they always have identification on them, which can be particularly important in emergency situations, such as a natural disaster where a dog might escape or need to be quickly evacuated.
  5. During Walks: If your dog walks calmly without pulling and there are no health concerns like those related to the neck or trachea, a collar can be used for walks. However, if your dog tends to pull or has any medical issues that might be exacerbated by a collar, a harness might be a better choice.

What kind of dogs do the different collars suit?

Many people will struggle with what kind of collar they should choose for their fur child and often fail to choose the right dog collar. Listed below are some common dog collars:

Flat Collars

  • Suitable For: Almost all dogs, including puppies. This is the most common type of collar used for everyday wear.
  • Characteristics: These collars are typically made of leather or nylon and are adjustable with a buckle or a quick-release snap. They’re good for holding ID tags and for dogs that do not have issues with pulling.
  • Best For: Dogs that are well-behaved on walks, dogs in low-risk situations for slipping out of a collar, and for constant wear around the house.
Neoprene Dog Collar

Martingale Collars

  • Suitable For: Dogs prone to slipping out of their collars, such as Greyhounds, Whippets, and other breeds with slim heads and wider necks.
  • Characteristics: These collars are designed to tighten slightly when a dog pulls on a leash but have a built-in stop to prevent complete closure around the neck.
  • Best For: Training and walking, providing safety and control without the choking effect of a slip collar.
Martingale Dog Collar

Head Collars

  • Suitable For: Dogs that pull excessively or are difficult to control, including larger breeds or strong, energetic dogs.
  • Characteristics: These collars fit around the dog’s muzzle and back of the head. They work by directing the dog’s head towards you, making it easier to guide the dog during walks.
  • Best For: Training sessions to discourage pulling and for managing aggressive behaviors during walks. They require acclimation, as some dogs may find them uncomfortable initially.

Tactical Collars

  • Suitable For: Working dogs, military dogs, or dogs involved in outdoor and rugged activities.
  • Characteristics: Made from durable materials like reinforced nylon, these collars often include handles for control and attachment points for gear like lights and ID patches.
  • Best For: Dogs engaged in tactical work or intensive training environments, and for owners who need extra control and durability.

Why might a harness be the better option?

Harnesses, on the other hand, are like a well-fitted backpack. They distribute any tension across the broader area of a dog’s chest and back, which reduces strain on their neck. This setup is not just comfortable; it makes pulling less appealing and provides better control over your dog—perfect for those who are more enthusiastic on their leashed adventures.

Plus, harnesses can be a fashion statement. We offer a range of customizable options that can match your dog’s personality or even your own outfit! For those who love a good style guide, check out our harness designs at customizable dog harnesses.

What are the pros and cons of dog harnesses?


  • Better Control: Harnesses offer better control over your dog, which is particularly useful for training or managing large dogs or those that tend to pull.
  • Reduced Risk of Neck Injury: Harnesses distribute pressure across a larger area of the body, reducing strain on the neck and back, which is safer for the dog’s throat and spine.
  • Variety of Styles: There are many types of harnesses tailored for different needs, such as no-pull harnesses for training or padded harnesses for extra comfort.


  • More Complex to Fit: Harnesses can be more complicated to put on correctly, especially for dogs that are not used to wearing them or are particularly squirmy.
  • Can Cause Chafing: If not fitted properly, a harness can rub and cause chafing, particularly around the armpits.
  • Overheating: Some harnesses are bulkier and cover more of the dog’s body, which could lead to overheating in warm weather.

Which dogs should wear dog harnesses?

  1. Puppies and Young Dogs: Harnesses are often recommended for puppies as they are less likely to cause injury if the puppy pulls or jumps.
  2. Dogs Prone to Pulling: For dogs that tend to pull on the leash during walks, a harness can provide better control and reduce the risk of neck injury.
  3. Small Breeds: Small dogs and breeds with delicate throats, like Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers, benefit from harnesses to prevent injuries like collapsed trachea or breathing issues.
  4. Brachycephalic Breeds: Dogs with short snouts (such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers) often have respiratory issues, so a harness is preferable to avoid additional stress on their throat and neck.
  5. Dogs with Back or Neck Problems: A harness is a good choice for dogs with a history of back or neck problems, as it distributes pressure away from these sensitive areas.
  6. Active Dogs in Rigorous Activities: For activities that involve a lot of movement or pulling, such as hiking or jogging, a harness can provide better control and distribute forces more evenly across the body.

What kind of dogs do the different harnesses suit?

Choosing the right type of harness for your dog depends on various factors such as the dog’s size, breed, behavior, and the specific activities you plan to do together. Here are some common types of dog harnesses and which dogs they might be best suited for:

Back-Clip Harness

  • Best For: Dogs that are gentle walkers and don’t pull much. This type of harness is simple to use and comfortable for the dog.
  • Suitable Breeds: Most small to medium breeds, and well-trained larger dogs.

Front-Clip Harness

  • Best For: Dogs that tend to pull or need training to walk nicely on a leash. The front clip allows the owner to steer the dog by redirecting their movement.
  • Suitable Breeds: Stronger breeds or any dogs that are not yet leash-trained, such as Labradors, Huskies, and pull-prone breeds.

Dual-Clip Harness

  • Best For: Owners who want versatility. These harnesses offer both front and back clips, allowing for different training techniques or adjustments based on the situation.
  • Suitable Breeds: All breeds, particularly beneficial for training purposes and transitioning from pulling behavior.

Step-In Harness

  • Best For: Dogs that dislike having harnesses pulled over their heads, or for owners looking for an easy-to-put-on solution.
  • Suitable Breeds: Small to medium breeds, such as Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, and older dogs.
No Pull Dog Harness

Tightening or No-Pull Harness

  • Best For: Dogs that continue to pull despite training. These harnesses tighten slightly when the dog pulls, which can discourage the behavior.
  • Suitable Breeds: Stubborn pullers of any size, though they should be used cautiously to ensure they do not cause discomfort.

Padded Harness

  • Best For: Dogs with sensitive skin or those who require extra comfort due to age or health conditions. Also good for active dogs involved in rigorous activities.
  • Suitable Breeds: Thin-skinned or hairless breeds, senior dogs, service dogs.

Tactical Harness

  • Best For: Working dogs that need to carry gear or be handled manually. Often used by military or police dogs.
  • Suitable Breeds: Large, strong breeds involved in active duty or intense training scenarios, such as German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois.
Tactical Dog Harness

Pulling Harness

  • Best For: Dogs engaged in pulling sports like sledding or skijoring. These are specifically designed to distribute the load evenly across the dog’s body.
  • Suitable Breeds: Northern breeds like the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and other large breeds trained for pulling activities.

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.


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.

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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.

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