Collar Or Harness? Here's How To Tell Which Is Best For Your Companion.

When it comes to our beloved canines, we all want to make sure we are doing what's best for their health and happiness.

Deciding on the smartest choice product to use when walking our dogs surely has to be easy, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, in today's world this is no longer the case. As the canine community expands, so does the abundance of wearable options and new-to-market trends. 

It can easily become overwhelming & time consuming to research and sift through article after article of collar vs. harness pros and cons. But the truth of the matter is, it doesn't have to be. 

We have compiled a straightforward guide to understanding which wearable is best for your dog. A collar or a harness? Spoiler alert, the answer is both. 

Scroll to the bottom for the quick reference guide, or continue reading for a more in-depth analysis (and adorable dog photos).  

All dogs should wear a collar but at the same time, most dogs should be walked in a harness. With the only caveat being, if your dog is already exceptionally trained on the leash, sticking with the collar-only option is just fine. 

Why both?

Collars are typically the best option for identifying your pet and attaching visible ID tags (if your dog manages to get off their leash or escape your home, not everyone will be willing to take a dog to the vet check for a micro-chip). 
This is why it is recommended that dogs wear collars with identifying tags at all times

 dog in collar

With that said, when it comes to taking your dog out for some exercise, a harness should be considered in addition to the collar. This is because when attaching a leash directly to a collar, your canine is more prone to pulling and potentially injuring their neck, thyroid, or spine, especially over time.

Smaller dogs in general are more fragile and are prone to collapsing tracheas from the pressure of them pulling when being walked in a collar only.  

Some dog breeds known as the "flat-faced" breeds (pugs & bull dogs for instance), are pre-dispositioned to respiratory problems, therefore it's important to limit the amount of stressed caused to their neck area. 

pug in harness

The harness provides exceptional benefits to the dog walking experience. Since they fasten around a larger portion of your canines body, they are able to distribute any force exerted by the leash across this larger area instead of being focused solely on the neck. 

Harnesses are known to reduce pulling, providing you with the control you need when exercising with your companion. If you are ever in the situation where your pup is trying to jump on someone, this extra control allows you to pull the dog back without injuring their neck. 

A correctly fitted and breathable harness is comfortable for your dog to wear on excursions however, due to it's placement under your dogs arms and belly, it is not recommended to be kept on your dog for extended periods of time as it can start to cause discomfort. 

When it comes to long-haired dogs, harnesses can tangle hair and cause matting so be sure to have a brush handy after use. 

golden retriever harness

Keep in mind that it may take some time to get your dog used to wearing a harness, so be patient and use positive reinforcement with treats to help get them accustomed to wearing their new gear. 

Quick Reference Guide: 

  • All dogs should wear a collar with identification tags at all times (even when also wearing a harness)
  • When roaming indoors or around owners property (not on a leash), a dog collar-only approach is completely acceptable
  • When on a leash, most dogs should be wearing both a collar AND harness with the leash attached to the harness
  • Dogs that are exceptionally trained on the leash are the exception to the above rule - they are the best candidates for collar-only leash exercise
  • Harnesses should be considered in all other leash exercise scenarios (especially for small breeds and flat-faced breeds) so long as they are properly fitted to your canine