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Dog Collar vs. Harness: Which Is Better?

Both dog collars and harnesses can be advantageous depending on the type of activity you are doing with your pet.

December 2, 2022 4 min read
Dog Collar vs. Harness: Which Is Better?

Take a stroll through any pet supply store and you’ll come across dozens of dog collars, harnesses, and other gear designed to help walk and train your dog safely. If you’re new to dog ownership, you may be wondering which type of gear is best for your pet. The answer is, it depends! The type of dog gear you’ll need will be based on what type of activity you are doing with your dog. Learn more about each option and the pros and cons of each.

What Is a Dog Collar?

A dog collar is a piece of material that contains a snap mechanism or buckle that closes the collar around the neck, a ring for attaching identification tags, and a leash. Dog collars are considered essential for keeping your pet safe while out of the home.

There are many aspects to consider when shopping for a dog collar, such as size. The collar should fit snug around your pet’s neck but remain loose enough that you can slip a finger between your dog’s neck and the collar. You’ll also find collars in a variety of materials with the most common being nylon; however, you can also find leather, rubber, and silicone collars.

There are several styles of dog collars to choose from, including:

1. Flat Collar

This is a standard style of dog collar that lies flat against the neck. This type of collar is best suited for well-trained dogs that do not pull while walking.

2. Slip Collar

Commonly called a choke chain collar, a slip collar is designed to tighten around the animal’s neck as the leash is pulled.

3. Martingale Collar

Also referred to as a limited-slip collar, a martingale collar contains aspects of both flat collars and slip collars, giving you greater control over your pet without causing choking.

4. Prong Collar

Prong or “pinch” collars are made of metal and contain prongs that dig into the neck while taut. This type of collar is controversial as it can harm the animal if misused.

5. E-Collar

An e-collar is a type of “shock collar” that delivers an electric pulse through metal contact points located on the inside of the collar. Like prong collars, there is a lot of debate about the safety and efficiency of these collars.

Pros and Cons of Dog Collars

Pros:

  • They are Convenient – Standard collars are often more convenient than harnesses as they can be left on your pet all the time, compared to harnesses which are typically put on and taken off when going outdoors. It is also easier to put on a collar compared to a harness.
  • They Hold Dog Tags – Most collars come equipped with a metal ring that allows you to attach your pet’s ID tag and rabies tag with ease. An ID tag can come in handy if your dog should ever become lost or stolen as it contains the animal’s name and your contact information.
  • There are Many Types – Depending on what kind of activity you are doing, you’ll find collars that can help give you more control over your dog. For example, many pet owners prefer slip collars when their dog constantly squeezes out of flat collars.

Cons:

  • Fit Can be a Problem – Some dogs will wiggle out of their collar if it is too loose or if they have smaller necks. If a collar is too tight, it could be painful for the dog. Dogs that pull while walking may cause injury to the vertebrae or trachea in the neck.
  • Not Suitable for All Breeds – Collars should not be used on certain breeds, such as toy breeds and brachycephalic breeds. They are also not safe for dogs with certain medical conditions, such as neck injuries or glaucoma.

What Is a Dog Harness?

A harness is a popular type of pet accessory worn on a dog’s torso. Snaps or buckles are typically used to secure the harness around the animal’s shoulders and chest. Instead of pulling on the dog’s neck during walks, the harness creates an even distribution of pressure across the dog’s chest, upper back, and shoulders.

Harnesses can give pet owners greater control over their dogs. The use of a harness can also be beneficial during training sessions, because it helps discourage unnecessary pulling. Harnesses can be found in a range of styles and materials. Carefully review your options to ensure you pick a style suitable for your dog’s size and body type.

Pros and Cons of Dog Harnesses

Pros:

  • They Reduce Pulling – Harnesses evenly cover the dog’s shoulders, upper back, and chest which helps disperse pressure over a large area. This provides greater control while reducing the risk of injury to your pet.
  • They Are More Comfortable – Most dogs find harnesses to be more comfortable than collars. Since they do not put pressure on the neck, they are an ideal option for certain dog breeds with neck problems.
  • They Are More Secure – Harnesses can be more secure than collars since they are more difficult to wiggle out of. Keeping your dog securely attached to a harness can help reduce the chance of an accident.

Cons:

  • They are Less Convenient – Putting on a harness is a lot trickier than simply snapping on a collar, and can take considerably more time to put on and take off.
  • They Can Be Hot – If you live somewhere that experiences high temperatures, your dog may be uncomfortable wearing a harness for an extended period of time.

Choosing the Best Collar or Harness for Your Dog

Whether you choose a collar or harness will depend on your dog’s age, health, breed, and personal preferences. To keep your dog as safe and healthy as possible, we recommend consulting with your vet to determine which type of pet gear is best for your dog.

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