Dog Collar or Harness: Navigating the Canine Conundrum

dog wearing a harness

Ah, the age-old question that dog parents have pondered over kibble and cuddles: Is a dog collar or harness better for our furry best friends? It's like choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream at a childhood birthday party—both have their merits, but one might just tickle your fancy (or your pup's) a tad more.

In the spirit of all things whimsical and with a dash of nostalgia, let's embark on a tail-wagging journey through the pros and cons, the ins and outs, and maybe even the ups and downs of dog collars and harnesses. By the end of this, you’ll be armed with enough info to make the paw-fect choice for your four-legged companion.

Key Takeaways

  • A Collars are simple and convenient. They are great for a short and/or leisurely stroll around the park or block. 
  • Safety is always first, and last, ladies and gents. It does not matter if you are choosing a sleek, modern harness or a traditional collar, making sure what you go with checks the safety boxes is and should be the most important factor in your decision making. 
  • Tailoring to Your Dog’s: Just as every love story is unique, so is your relationship with your dog. Consider your dog's size, breed, and temperament when making your choice, ensuring it complements their individuality and spirit.
  • Fashion Meets Function: Remember, selecting a collar or harness doesn’t have to be purely practical. It can be an expression of your dog's personality and style, much like choosing the perfect outfit for a first date.

Wrap these takeaways around your heart as you deliberate on the best way to show your love and care for your canine companion, leading you both down the path of many delightful adventures together.

The Tale of the Collar

Collars are the classic accessory for dogs—they're like the jeans of the canine wardrobe. Easy to slip on, familiar, and the go-to for daily wear. But are they the bee's knees for every doggo?


  • ID Tag and Leash Attachment: Like the secret pockets of your favorite jacket, collars offer a nifty spot to hang ID tags and city licenses, making them uber practical.
  • Simplicity: Collars are straightforward and no-nonsense. Pop one around your pup’s neck, and voilà, you’re ready to strut down the street.
  • Style: With an array of designs, from floral patterns that scream "summer fling" to neon colors that hark back to the '80s aerobics craze, collars allow your dog’s personality to shine through.


  • Neck Strain: For the pullers, the lungers, and the overly enthusiastic greeters, collars can be a bit of a party pooper, putting unwanted pressure on the neck. Ouch.
  • Not Ideal for Training: Like trying to type with mittens on, using a collar for training can be awkward and less effective, especially if Fido likes to lead the dance.

The Saga of the Harness

Harnesses, on the other hand, are like the adventure gear of the dog world. Ready for action, they offer support and control, whether you're scaling a mountain or navigating the urban jungle.


  • Better Control: Harnesses are like having a joystick for your dog. They offer superior control, making walks more enjoyable for those who tend to pull.
  • Reduced Neck Strain: They distribute pressure more evenly across the body, which is a big thumbs up for the health of your dog’s neck and back.
  • Ideal for Training: Using a harness is like switching from mittens to gloves—it gives you finesse and control, making training sessions more effective and enjoyable.


  • Can Be More Complicated: With straps and clips, harnesses can sometimes feel like solving a Rubik's Cube. Patience is key.
  • Heat: During those dog days of summer, a harness can be a bit warm. It’s like wearing a sweater on a sunny day—not always what you want.

The Deciding Factors

Choosing between a collar and a harness is like deciding whether to watch a movie or read a book. It depends on the mood, the setting, and what you’re hoping to get out of the experience. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Your Dog's Breed and Size: Smaller breeds with delicate necks benefit from the gentle support of a harness, while larger, trained dogs might do just fine with a collar.
  • Health Conditions: Dogs with respiratory issues or neck problems should steer clear of collars. It's like avoiding stairs when you have a sprained ankle.
  • Activity Level: If your dog is a regular Indiana Jones, a harness might be better suited for your adventures. For the more laid-back pup, a collar could be all you need.
  • Training: In the throes of training? A harness can give you more control and reduce distractions, helping your pup focus on learning the ropes (or rather, the walks).

The Verdict

In the grand scheme of things, whether you choose a dog collar or harness is less about winning the canine fashion Olympics and more about what’s best for your pup’s health, safety, and happiness. It’s okay to have a preference (we all have our ice cream flavor biases, after all), but keep your dog’s best interests at heart.

You might even find that, like choosing between chocolate and vanilla, the best answer is not one or the other but a bit of both, depending on the day's adventure. And hey, isn’t variety the spice of life?

Before you dash off into the sunset with your furry friend, remember that the most important thing is the love and care that you shower on your four-legged companion. Collar or harness, what truly matters is the bond you share and the joyous moments you collect on your journeys together.

And speaking of journeys, why not share your own collar vs. harness stories or pics in the comments? Whether it’s a tale of a daring escape or a heartwarming moment of companionship, we’re all ears (and tails).

Frequently Asked Questions in the Enchanted Forest of Dog Care

Do vets recommend collars or harnesses?

So most vets do lean towards recommending harnesses vs. collars. This does not mean, however, that it is necessarily the right choice for every dog. But, like choosing the path less traveled for a quieter, more serene stroll, harnesses seem to be favored by vets for their ability to distribute pressure more evenly across the body, reducing the risk of any untoward strain on your dog's delicate throat and vertebrae.

Is it better to run with a dog in a harness or collar?

Lacing up those sneaks and going for a jog with the dog (that is a nice lil' rhyme, isn't it?) can be an exciting daily adventure for you and them. For heroic and adventuresome escapades like running or hiking, a harness is often the go-to. It can be a bit more comfortable for you to grip, which will ensure your running partner is secure by your side. 


1) Shih HY, Phillips CJC, Mills DS, Yang Y, Georgiou F, Paterson MBA. Dog Pulling on the Leash: Effects of Restraint by a Neck Collar vs. a Chest Harness. Front Vet Sci. 2021 Sep 6;8:735680. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.735680. PMID: 34552977; PMCID: PMC8450523.

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