Is it better to walk a dog with a harness or a collar?

Is it better to walk a dog with a harness or a collar?

Dog harness, or collar? Whether you’re shopping for a new puppy or replacing a worn and tired one for your older dog, it’s important to get it right. On the market is a huge range of dog collars and harnesses, each suited for different breeds, sizes and scenarios. We all know how much our canine pals relish their daily walks, so digging into the pros and cons of dog collars versus harnesses is essential before you buy. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and your choice can significantly impact your dog’s behaviour and the quality of your walks.

Poochy people, let's take a closer look at the dog harness vs collar debate and help you make an informed decision for your furry friend’s wellbeing. 

What are the pros and cons of a dog harness?

Dog collars have been around for aeons — and so have dog harnesses. Initially, harnesses were placed on working service dogs for pulling sledges, or heavy equipment in both world wars. Harnesses wrap around the dog’s chest, which distributes pressure across the upper body rather than the neck like collars do. For dogs with certain medical conditions or those that pull on their lead, dog harnesses are a sensible choice. Bear in mind that some dogs will need some training to adapt to a harness if they’re used to walking with a collar and lead combo. 

Coming up, we’ll investigate some distinct pros and cons of using a dog harness on your walks:

Pros: why is a dog harness better than a collar?

✅Pressure is distributed evenly across your dog’s body, over the chest, shoulders and upper back. Compared to a collar, dog harnesses prevent injuries to the dog’s neck and trachea

✅Dog harnesses provide more control than collars 

✅Some harnesses have the option of back or front-lead attachments. Attaching the lead to the front reduces pulling during walks

✅ Because a harness wraps around your dog’s chest and front legs, it’s harder for the dog to slip it off and become loose

✅ For young puppies, a dog harness is a comfortable way to introduce them to walking on a lead

✅ Harnesses reduce back pain in older dogs

✅ Using a harness lowers the risk of the dog’s lead tangling under their legs

Hooked on harnesses? Head over to our site and check our extensive range of dog harnesses >

Cons: potential disadvantages of a dog harness

❌ Tight, ill-fitting harnesses can be painful and restrict your dog’s movement. Equally, loose-fitting harnesses can be slipped out of easily

❌ Heavyweight and fleece-lined dog harnesses can make your dog uncomfortable in hot weather 

❌ Putting on dog harnesses and taking them off between walks can sometimes feel like a hassle 

❌ Some harnesses don’t have places to attach ID tags 

What are the pros and cons of a dog collar?

The humble dog collar has been a staple accessory for thousands of years. Dog collars could be made out of anything — all that’s required is a strap for the neck with a fastener for a lead. Today, collars are still around in all shapes and sizes, providing a convenient place to attach ID tags and doggy poo bags. But, how suitable are they for walks and your dog’s general comfort? Let’s find out. 

Pros: is it good for a dog to wear a collar?

✅Highly customisable, dog collars come in a wide range of materials, colours and sizes to suit your preferences and ensure a proper fit

✅ Collars are the more inexpensive option

✅ Easy to put on and take off and your dog can wear their collar all the time

✅  Attach ID and rabies tags easily to dog collars for identification and other useful walking accessories

✅  In the UK, it is a legal requirement for dogs to wear a collar displaying their ID tag - even if they are also wearing a harness

Cons: what is a potential disadvantage of a dog collar? 

❌ Tight collars can cause your dog discomfort and pain 

❌ A loose collar can cause your dog to slip out easily and escape 

❌ Collars can damage the necks, spines and backs of dogs who pull on their lead, if the lead is attached to the collar instead of to a harness

TOP TIP: If your dog breed has a neck as thick as their head (brachycephalic breeds) then slipping out of a collar may be easily done. Take extra care when using collars on toy dog breeds and brachycephalic breeds like Boxers, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Pugs, Toy Poodles, Maltese, Italian Greyhounds, Chinese Crested dogs, and Chihuahuas, and ideally, use them in tandem with a harness so that your dog’s lead can be attached to the harness rather than the collar.

Types of dog collars & harnesses

Understanding the different options of dog collars and harnesses available is key to ensuring your dog’s safety, comfort and style. We’ll doggy-dive into designs, purposes and the suitability of various dog harnesses and collars here for a range of breeds and behaviours.

Types of dog harnesses:

  • Back-clip harness: Ideal for small dogs, a back-clip harness prevents throat damage and the lead tangling under your dog’s legs, offering more control than a collar but requiring more handler strength. Attach long lines to the harness for safety and added freedom of movement
  • Front-clip harness: Similar to a back-clip harness but the lead is attached at the front, the front-clip harness provides leverage against pulling by redirecting the dog
  • No-pull harness: Designed for dogs that pull on the lead, it applies pressure to the chest to discourage pulling behaviour

For more on the different types of dog harnesses, read our other recent post.

Types of dog collars:

  • Flat collar: The most common and basic dog collar, ideal for clipping on ID and rabies tags. Suitable for dogs that do not slip out of collars easily.
  • Martingale collar: A collar that tightens with lead tension but only to a set extent, preventing throat damage. Best for dogs that tend to slip out of their collars easily.
  • Rolled collar: Usually made of rolled leather, suitable for dogs with sensitive skin or those with wrinkles and rolls like pugs and bulldogs. It is not recommended for dogs that pull excessively on walks.

Browse our range of super stylish dog collars for your pup.

Dog collar or harness: which is better?

Deciding whether to attach your lead to a collar or harness for your dog walks depends on various factors including breed, health, and behaviour. In general, collars are ideal for less active or older dogs and working breeds that require less restriction, while harnesses offer more control for excitable or smaller dogs, as well as brachycephalic breeds. But, that’s if you need to choose between the two, which you don’t!

 It's beneficial to familiarise dogs with both, so they can wear a collar for their ID tag and a harness for their lead.Using a collar for identification and a harness for lead attachment offers the best of both worlds, and ensures you don’t run the risk of a fine. Remember that when transitioning an older dog or puppy to a harness, patience and positive reinforcement with treats can ease the adjustment.

Looking for a long-term harness investment? Check out our funky, adjustable dog harnesses for all different shapes and sizes.

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