Dog Collar or Harness: Which is Better & Why

Over the last few years, dog harnesses have become the top choice for pet owners and trainers when leash training dogs. A Harness disperses pressure throughout the dog’s chest and body, unlike traditional dog collars that place 100% of the pressure around the neck. The risk of injury or damage to the neck and trachea is eliminated when you choose a harness.

People always ask which is better, a dog collar or harness, so let’s find out.

Dog collars are easy to put on, take off, and adjust and have a metal ring for an ID tag which can be extremely useful should your dog get lost. Dog collars are also very inexpensive and they come in many different styles such as; leather, nylon, and patterned fabrics that can be stylish and unique.

Dog harnesses slide over the head and tighten around your dog’s body, or you will have to place your dog’s legs through the holes, they are quick to get on and off, but it can sometimes be tricky to get the right fit, especially for odd-shaped dogs like Greyhounds and French Bulldogs with their deep chests.

Below we will look at collar vs harness – the pros and cons of both and how to use them to full effect.

Using a Dog Harness

A harness is an excellent option for training dogs to walk on their leash. People are becoming aware of the dangers for an older dog or one with an orthopaedic disease by using specific collars. There are many benefits to using a dog harness at the dog park or hiking with your best friend.

Pros of wearing harnesses

One of the biggest benefits you get from using a harness is that it does not damage their windpipe or cause neck injuries when they pull on their leash. The trachea is essentially crushed by too much pressure; this is extremely dangerous, especially if you own a brachycephalic breed with breathing problems such as bulldogs.

Harnesses also allow for much more control for the dog owner. A big problem with regular collars is that they give you very little control over your dog. This can be a real nuisance when you walk dogs or are training them to do anything.

On the other hand, harnesses give you better control because they are closer to a dog’s centre of gravity.

Front clip harnesses discourage pulling; using the front leash attachments will steer your dog towards you when they lurch forward to reduce pulling; your canine companion may not like the first few harness walks, but they’ll soon get used to it.

A harness can also prevent your pooch from escaping if your dog slips its collar. It’s much harder for dogs to escape from a dog harness than collars; you can even buy escape-proof designs for those dogs that can wriggle their way out of anything.

Cons of a body harness

Dog harnesses are often used to help train your pet, but you should be cautious about using them. Using a harness can actually cause more problems than it solves, upsetting your pet’s natural gait. It can also cause chafing and even make some breeds pull more. Here are some of the downsides of using a dog harness:

Chafing

Chafing is typically caused by friction and sweat between the skin and its surrounding surface. harnesses, especially the cheaper ones, are often made from nylon webbing, which is known to cause chafing

Natural Gait

Using a harness that is too low at the front can upset your dog’s natural gait and restrict their movement. If not addressed, this can cause unnecessary strain on the leg joints and spine but can be easily solved by choosing a well-fitting dog harness.

Can Cause Pulling

One of the biggest problems with harnesses is that they can make pulling worse. A dog will pull to get to where he is going quicker, whether towards a specific area or another dog.

They have no incentive to stop pulling when wearing a harness unless it has a front leash attachment. So a harness for breeds like Huskies instead of better control feeds their natural instinct to surge forward.

Not All Dogs Like Them

Lastly, some dogs, especially small dogs, do not like harnesses at all and will do everything they can to avoid wearing one of them, some can be tricky to fit and adjust, and other harnesses can be very restricting for your dog. If you have mastered loose leash, walking with your pup a collar may be a better option.

Now that we know about some great benefits let’s take a look at which dogs benefit most from using a harness

  • Pugs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Bulldogs
  • Toy Breeds
  • Great Danes
  • Pekingese
  • Daschsunds

Using Dog Collars

Collars are the simplest and most common way to attach a leash and have proven safe when used correctly.

Pros of flat collars

If your four-legged friend is trained to walk on a loose leash and never pulls a collar is quite safe to use. It’s essential to use a flat collar (a buckle with two D-rings) since choke chains and prong collars can cause a lot of damage to the trachea and are cruel.

Another benefit is the number of colours and styles they come in, so you can even match them to your dog’s leash or outfit and change them up every day, Not to mention that big-name brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have come out with stylish dog collars for pampered pooches.

A dog collar also comes with a loop for an id tag, which is great for getting your dog back if they are lost or stolen. While all dogs in the UK must be chipped by law, this needs the person who finds them to take them to a vet to be scanned. Having ID on a collar allows the person to call you on your mobile immediately and get your beloved pet back to you asap.

Cons of traditional collars

Injuries

Damage that can be caused to a pup’s neck by collars includes pain, injury, and tissue death. This is especially important for delicate toy breeds, who may suffer from tracheal collapse, a condition where it folds, causing trouble breathing, brachycephalic breeds and long-bodied breeds.

Eyes

They create eye pressure, worsening any existing eye problems like glaucoma, especially in breeds like Pugs and Boston Terriers.

Little control

A dog collar gives you very little control over your dog’s movements. You can pull on it or give it a rough tug, but with strong dogs like German Shepherds, you cannot guide your large dog in the direction that you want to go. A harness is a much better training tool.

Choking hazard

Most pet owners leave their pet’s collars on all day, even when they’re not around; this can be dangerous; many dogs like getting into mischief. A collar can easily get caught on things and even strangle your pet if you are not there to save them.

Why Protecting your Dog’s Neck is Important

To understand how dogs are affected by collars and other devices that go around their necks, it is first important to know how the muscles of your four-legged friend’s neck work.

The muscles that move and control a dogs’ head and neck attach directly to the bones of the skull. When these muscles contract, they move the skull and push against the spinal cord, which runs through it.

When a dog pulls against a collar attached to a leash, the collar can cause damage to its spinal cord. Long backed dogs like Dachshunds are prone to intervertebral disc disease, a condition where the discs in the spine slip; this can be avoided when using a good harness.

When a dog pulls against the leash while wearing a collar, they put an unnatural amount of strain on their neck muscles because these muscles were not designed to take this pressure. Repeated pulling can cause injuries to the neck’s various tissues, which can be avoided with a well-fitting harness.

What about Working Dogs?

The Jury is out on this one, a collar doesn’t restrict movement in any way and most working dogs are well-trained not to be pulling you off your feet. However, a harness has options to carry extra supplies and often has loops etc., for essentials like a torch or poop bags. They also often have a handle on the back which can be ideal for helping your pup over obstacles or rough terrain.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why dog owners may opt for a harness instead of a traditional dog collar. Harnesses offer certain benefits that collars cannot provide, so it is crucial to understand the pros and cons when deciding between the two for your pets.

Take into account your dog’s breed and temperament and if they have any medical issues, you may decide on a no-pull harness, MOLLE style for a working dog or a vest style body harness for walking dogs.

Why not use both a collar and harness? This way, you can protect your dog’s neck whilst also having a stylish accessory that has your dog’s ID.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful and would love to see your canine companions out walking either with a collar or a leash on our social media channels!

John Devlin

Blogger and owner of George and Henry. Two gorgeous goldens that couldn’t be more different. One is a dream loving and caring, and his sibling is as naughty as can be. When I am not blogging about dogs, I love watching sport and travelling with the family.
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