A dog with a harness on.

Are Harnesses Better Than Collars?

4 mins |

From diamonte collars to fur-lined harnesses, there are many stylish and comfortable solutions for all our pets’ needs. However, the debate over whether harnesses are better than collars depends on a few factors.

The suitability of a harness versus a collar for your furry friend usually depends on their age, size, and breed. The above factors, combined with the main purpose of a collar or harness, help pet parents decide which one is better. In the end, it just depends.

Are Harnesses Safer Than Collars?

A dog getting a harness put on.
Getting ready.

Keeping our furry friends safe and under control when out walking minimizes risks and helps the relationship between a pet and its owner.

When we talk about safety and harnesses vs collars, we’re thinking about the following:

  • Effect on your pet’s health and well-being
  • Possibility of your pet freeing itself

In terms of safety, there are a few factors that affect whether a harness or collar is more suitable for your pet. This section will briefly explain some of these factors to help you make the best choice.

Comfort Vs Style

If a harness is the correct size and worn appropriately, harnesses should be comfortable for your pet. Harnesses are available in a range of sizes, colors, and materials, so you can choose the one that suits your pet’s needs the best. 

In the same way, a correctly fitting collar usually won’t cause any harm to your pet, and again, are available in a huge range of styles, colors, and materials.

Pet parents must be aware, though, that if their dog likes to pull on walks, both collars and harnesses can become uncomfortable, especially over a prolonged period of time. Aside from its character, your pet’s age and breed can also affect whether a harness or a collar is more suitable.

Age-Specific Considerations

Older dogs, especially those who have problems with their back, might find wearing a harness to be more supportive and comfortable. However, collars can also be comfortable for older dogs, especially those who do not pull and walk slowly.

Younger dogs, especially those who like to pull, may be more suited to a dog harness. Excitable young dogs on a walk could damage their neck (including their windpipe) if they wear a collar and pull.

Pet parents should be aware that dogs can become free from a harness or a collar, too, especially if they are not the correct size. Always make sure your pet’s accessories fit well to enable them to have the desired effect.

Size-Specific Considerations

For bigger dogs or dogs that pull, harnesses can be more comfortable and safer because they allow forces to be distributed over a bigger area than just the neck. This can also give pet parents more control.

For smaller dogs, especially those who don’t pull, this extra control might not be necessary.

Breed-Specific Considerations

Breeds with longer fur, such as Afghan Hounds and Long-haired Retrievers, could look a little different if wearing a harness compared to a collar compared to shorter-haired breeds.

Breeds who are predisposed to back conditions, such as Dachshunds, might find wearing a harness more comfortable than a collar too.

Pros And Cons Of Harnesses

Let’s start with the pros.

The Pros

Here’s the list:

  • Available in a range of styles, colors, and sizes
  • Can provide more control
  • Good for dogs with health conditions, such as back pain
  • Pressure is distributed

The Cons

Here’s the list:

  • Can be harder to put on
  • Harder to clean
  • Can rub if not fitting well
  • Dogs can become free

Pros And Cons Of Collars

Let’s start with the pros.

The Pros

Here’s the list:

  • Available in a range of styles, colors, and sizes
  • Easy to put on
  • You can attach an ID tag

The Cons

Here’s the list:

  • Can become tight on the neck if a dog pulls
  • Dogs can become free

Conclusion: Are Harnesses Better Than Collars?

The suitability of a harness compared to a collar for your pet depends on a few factors, such as their age, breed, size, and character. Luckily, there are a lot of different choices available so you can find the best option for you and your pet.

You can always contact your veterinarian if you’re not sure which would be better for your pet, especially if they have a health condition.

So, what do you plan to go with? A harness or a collar? Let us know which one and why in the comments below!

Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte is a final-year veterinary medicine student at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She has been a volunteer at her university's clinic for 4 years, and completed internships in Spain, Belgium, and Austria. She is also an editor of her university's scientific journal, and dog mum to 13-year-old Chiki, who she rescued from a shelter.