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March 15, 2024

What are the Benefits of Using a Dog Harness vs. a Collar?

Deciding whether a dog harness vs a collar is the better option for your dog.

For anyone who owns or cares for dogs, regular walks are more than just a necessary routine—they can serve as adventures that strengthen the special human-canine bond. While traditional collars and leashes have long been the standard option for securing dogs on walks, many experts and dog owners are increasingly considering the advantages of using a harness instead.

Here are a few key benefits of opting for a dog harness rather than a collar:

  • Enhanced Safety and Comfort. Unlike collars, which apply pressure to the dog’s neck and throat, properly fitted harnesses will distribute force evenly across the chest and back, thereby minimizing the risk of injuries such as tracheal damage, throat irritation, and neck strain. This is particularly beneficial for dogs that have a tendency to pull or lunge, as well as smaller breeds with delicate neck structures. With greater comfort and safety for your pup, walks can remain a joy rather than a risk.
  • Respiratory Health. Many dogs—especially brachycephalic breeds with flat faces like bulldogs and pugs—may experience breathing difficulties when walking with a collar. When the dog pulls against the collar, it can constrict their windpipe, leading to respiratory distress. Harnesses, on the other hand, circumvent this problem by avoiding pressure on the neck, thereby protecting your dog’s airways and keeping them safe and healthy.
  • Reduced Risk of Escape. Properly fitted harnesses are generally more difficult for dogs to slip out of than collars. This can enhance safety by reducing the risk that your dog will escape and encounter dangerous situations, such as running into traffic or getting lost.
  • Better Support. Harnesses alleviate pressure from a dog’s back and neck and provide more support than collars. Therefore, they are the recommended option for dogs that may be at risk for spinal problems (including long-bodied breeds like dachshunds), as well as those with orthopedic disease.

Determining If a Harness is Right for Your Dog

While harnesses provide a safer, more comfortable option for many dogs, collars also offer some benefits to keep in mind. For example:

  • Collars tend to be more convenient when it comes to attaching your dog’s identification tags.
  • Collars may give you better control and require you to exert less strength when walking your dog, so they may be preferable for owners who have a difficult time controlling their dogs.
  • Harnesses can be more difficult to put on and take off, so collars may be better for dog owners with physical limitations.

Choosing a Dog Harness

If you are considering purchasing a harness, one of the most important steps is to measure your dog accurately to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. In addition, be aware of the different types of harnesses available on the market, including: back-clip harnesses, which are a particularly popular choice for small dogs; front-clip harnesses; no-pull harnesses, which apply pressure to the dog’s chest rather than their neck to discourage pulling; and head halters, which allow the most control over your dog and may work well for large dogs that tend to pull.

While the decision to use a harness rather than a collar is ultimately a matter of personal preference and determining what works best for your dog’s unique needs, harnesses are becoming increasingly popular due to the enhanced comfort, safety, and potential health benefits they can offer. Be sure to consult a veterinarian for personalized advice, and follow our blog for more pet care tips and insights!