Deciding what’s best for your pup isn’t always easy – and that includes their neck accessories. Some dog owners love the more traditional collar, whereas others are big fans of a harness. When it comes to a dog collar or a harness for your dog, the breed, size, purpose, and age can all play a role in your decision.
Here are the pros and cons of both, so you can get what’s best for you and your dog!
Dog collar vs harness
Pros of a collar
Dog collars are the most common accessory to use when walking dogs – and with good reason. More than anything, they’re just so easy to use. They reduce the time needed to leave the house and you avoid the faff of putting on a harness. All you have to do is attach the leash. Simple.
Some owners say that collars are more comfortable for their dogs too. The sensation, especially for older dogs who aren’t used to it, of having their torso in a harness can be pretty uncomfortable. A collar allows them to feel a little ‘freer’ whilst actually being under your control.
While you’re cooking, suddenly, your dog looks at you. You want to give them a little treat but wonder if they can eat the food you are holding in your hand.
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Cons of a collar
There are no strict rules as to whether a dog harness or collar is better. But one thing most professionals agree on is that a collar can be particularly negative for certain breeds of dogs. Dogs that have breathing problems, such as Pugs, find it even harder to breathe with extra pressure on their necks. This can cause them to cough, vomit, or even do long-term damage. Excess neck pressure can also cause their eyes to bulge and increase the likelihood of eye problems.
Even though it can create extra neck pressure, collars sometimes actually promote pulling. When a dog pulls on a collar, they’re still moving forward, meaning that if they pull they go in the direction they want to. A front fastening harness, however, doesn’t allow this. It trains them not to pull.
For pups that have a particularly slim head or a slightly larger neck (think Pugs and Whippets), it’s quite easy for them to slip their collar off. For these breeds, harnesses are definitely ideal as it stops them from being able to run away.
Pros of a harness
When thinking about the pros and cons of a dog collar vs a harness, more and more dog owners are choosing harnesses. They’re a great way of training your pup and you have greater control over them. It’s important to teach your pups not to jump or pull on the leash, something that’s much easier to do with a harness. For bigger breeds, it’s also easier to control them when they’re wearing one.
A harness really reduces the pressure on your dog’s neck and joints, especially when they pull. But it’s not all about them! Harnesses also reduce the strain on your arm and joints too. The dog is able to pull less, meaning you need to pull back less too.
Because a harness doesn’t attach to their neck, there’s also less chance that your dog can get tangled up in the leash and risk strangulation.
If you’re thinking about whether you should use a collar or a harness for a puppy, most agree that harnesses are better. Their smaller necks can be more susceptible to injury with a collar and they respond better to being trained on a harness. When they’re older, it’s possible to put them in a collar as they’ll have learned with the harness not to pull.
Cons of a harness
Simply – getting all the limbs into it. And, to be honest, that isn’t even that bad, but it’s not as easy as your dog just having a collar on. It takes a little practice.
Whilst a front clipping harness tends to reduce pulling, a back clipping one works in a similar way to a collar. It can even encourage your dog to pull.
Whichever you choose for your pup it’s important to think about your dog and which would suit them best. The key is making sure you teach them from an early age not to pull on the leash so that whichever you use, the risk of injury to them is reduced.
With a harness or a collar, it’s really crucial that your dog is always wearing identification tags – even in the backyard. You never know what could scare your pup and cause them to run. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!