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Harness vs. Collar: Which Should You Choose?

Decisions, decisions!

There are many decisions you have to make when you bring a dog home and throughout the time it lives with you. Which breed should you choose? Should you adopt or buy? What training methods should you use?

One question you might not have considered – but definitely should – is: Harness vs. collar? Which should I choose?

What’s the difference?

First, let’s discuss the thing a harness and a collar have in common: Both are used to strap on a leash. And that’s where the similarities end.

A collar wraps only around a dog’s neck, while a harness typically wraps around a dog’s neck or shoulders and torso.

harness vs. collarWhich should I choose?

At first, choosing between a collar or a harness for your dog may seem like an aesthetic decision, but there are important factors that you should consider that go beyond how your dog looks wearing one or the other.

A collar can carry a few risks, depending on your dog’s breed or behavior. Since a collar goes around an animal’s most delicate spot, its neck, a risk of injury exists should your dog lunge or move ahead quickly while you’re walking it. Bigger dogs are better able to tolerate collars, but if your dog is small, choking as a result of a collar could cause serious injury! For toy pups, especially, harnesses minimize risk.

Collars also have more of a tendency to slip off than harnesses do. If your dog is prone to running away or slipping out of restraints, a harness is a good option.

However, if your dog is medium to large, doesn’t lunge when you walk it, and is in the prime of its life, a collar is likely a fine option.

What are the cons of harnesses?

It may seem like collars have disadvantages, and a harness is the perfect option! However, there are a few cons to harnesses as well. For example, a harness could be uncomfortable for your pup at first, especially if it’s used to a wearing a collar. It might also be an adjustment for you, as a harness may require a little bit more time to put on your dog, and more attention may need to be paid to fit at first.

harness vs. collarAlso, some harnesses don’t have the option to attach identification. The standard collar can hold ID tags, which is important for any dog, regardless of whether they’ve been micro-chipped or not. If you do choose to walk your dog with a harness, be sure to purchase one with the option to attach ID tags. They could be the difference between a lost dog and a found one.

What’s the verdict?

There’s no one right choice for all dog owners. The decision you make depends on your dog’s breed, its age, and its behavior. Next time you take your dog for a walk, observe whether it’s prone to getting distracted, jumping, running forward, and lunging suddenly. If so, you should probably walk your pup in a harness to avoid injury.

For toy-dog owners, collars aren’t the best option. They can push against a toy’s delicate neck, causing it to choke. A harness is a better option if your pooch is tiny.

If your dog is an adult, is fully trained, and is a larger size, consider a collar.

While the equipment you use to walk your dog may take a backseat to things like playing with it, petting it, and generally having fun, take some time to consider which option – a collar or a harness – will keep your dog safest and happiest.

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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