There are many different types of harnesses and collars. Therefore, it is essential to distinguish between different harnesses. Many dog owners are often not sure which harness is best for their four-legged friend. You can find out what specific advantages and disadvantages they have here.

All Types of Dog Harness Explained

Lead Harness

The lead harness (also known under the name “H” harness) is one of the most popular models. It consists of a back bar to which two loops are attached (one around the neck, one around the chest) and a strap that connects the two loops between the front legs.

The most significant advantage of the harness is that it can be adjusted in size. So it can accompany dogs that are still growing in the long term. Its good fit is another advantage that allows the harness to be used for sports activities: jogging, cycling, or trailing with the harness.

Unfortunately, the harness must be ideally adjusted so that it fits well. This usually works well due to the many adjustment options, but it doesn’t help if the back bar is too short. Make sure the webbing is wide enough. Otherwise, it can press painfully on the larynx or sternum when exerted and lead to injuries.

Y-Harness

This type of dog harness is a modification of the lead harness, except that the chest area is shaped into a (mostly thickly padded) Y and not connected by a ring or similar construction. Due to this construction, it usually rests more or less directly on the shoulder blades and is also close to the dog’s armpit.

The Y-harness is a little “tighter” than the lead harness means that it is virtually impossible to slip out. Nevertheless, it is easy to put on without the dog having to lift its paws.

You can put the head loop over, pass the lower part between the front legs, and close the chest’s fasteners. However, this only works if there are fasteners on both sides.

Unfortunately, if you wear harnesses all the time to your dog and the straps are tight, dogs can quickly feel restricted in their front limbs’ movement. It can also chafe heavily even with the wrong material, even if it theoretically fits well. The result is bald patches of skin or, in the worst case, even eczema.

Norwegian Harness

The Norwegian harness is now one of the most popular types. In principle, it has a very simple design. It consists of a horizontal chest strap attached to the torso strap on both sides and goes around the chest behind the front legs. There is a loop on the dog’s back to hold the four-legged friend most of the time.

The biggest advantage of this harness design is that all pressure is directed onto the dog’s chest. Sensitive areas like the larynx are not stressed at all.

Another positive thing is that it can be put on and taken off so easily and quickly. You pull it over your head and fasten the chest strap – that’s it.

Since it does not have a belt between the front legs, it is also well suited for sensitive dogs who quickly feel constricted. Finally, it is an excellent alternative to a standard harness if the dog cannot wear it due to health problems, such as fresh operation scars.

Unfortunately, due to the “simple” shape, there are only a few setting options. Therefore, it is not suitable for every dog figure shape.

For example, the wearing comfort suffers if the chest strap sits directly on the shoulder blades or the waist strap is too far forward. Also, it slips quickly due to the low body contact if it does not fit perfectly.

It is also less suitable for frightened or fidgety dogs, as they could wriggle out of the harness relatively easily.

Step-in Dog Harness

This dog harness is less common, as it is only suitable for daily use in a few dog types. It consists of two loops that are pulled up over the dog’s front legs like “trousers” and connected over the shoulders.

The most significant advantage here is that it doesn’t have to be pulled over the head: So it’s perfect for head-shy dogs. It does not pressure the sensitive areas in the chest and neck area, which is particularly important for still growing, impetuous puppies and young dogs.

In general, it is more suitable for small, light dogs. Large and heavy animals or breeds with deep breasts would be able to withdraw from the harness in no time at all.

It can also quickly restrict freedom of movement, even if it theoretically sits well. This often results in chafing behind the armpits.

Saddle Harness

This harness is probably familiar to most of Julius K9s, who made this type of dog harness famous. The structure is similar to the Norwegian harness, except that they have a wider backplate on the shoulders. Therefore, they also have similar advantages and disadvantages.

Like the Norwegian, the advantages here are the pressure relief, little movement restriction, and easy putting on. They are often very strong, as they were also designed for hiking, lifting the dog, or sports activities.

Unfortunately, because this type of harness has more weight, they often look too bulky for small dogs. Depending on the weather, heat or moisture can uncomfortably accumulate under the saddle.

Dog harness for special needs

These harnesses are rarely found. We can classify this harness into a few types, such as:

  • Customized Harness
  • Safety Harness
  • Mentrailing Harness
  • Pulling Harness
  • Trekking Harness
  • Soft Harness
  • Chest Harness

a. Customized Harness

You will find dog harnesses that are specially adapted to the needs of individual breeds. For example, Pug harnesses have a particularly short back. Chow Chow harnesses are specially designed for this dog’s broad chest, and greyhound harnesses are adapted to these dogs’ narrow waist.

b. Safety Harnesses

The safety harness has been developed for dogs that panic quickly and are therefore unpredictable and can put themselves and others in danger. It usually consists of a chest strap, a torso strap, and an additional waist strap.

This structure makes it almost impossible for the dog to free himself from the harness. Some safety harnesses have 2 D rings, which means they are more expensive but serves a good purpose

c. Mantrailing Harness

This harness is anatomically and ergonomically well adapted to the dog’s body. It offers the working dog optimal wearing comfort. With this harness, the tension is even more distributed over the body.

As a result, the dog does not get any pressure on the windpipe. This harness is made because the dog must not be prevented from breathing when doing its smelling work.

d. Pulling harness

This harness was developed to allow dogs to pull heavy loads such as sleds or scooters. The harness was designed so that the leash leads away from the dog at the height of the dog’s back.

As a result, It can develop as much force as possible when pulling and distribute the forces as much as possible over the entire dog’s body.

e. Trekking harness

There are also special dog harnesses for dog trekking. So-called dog backpacks are particularly interesting for this activity. There are also additional trekking belts to which the dog can be attached with a pull cord.

f. Soft harness

Soft harnesses are made of nylon straps that are practical and light. The standard form has a closed body and neck strap, connected by a chest and back bar.

X-shaped straps give races with a strong stature more space in the shoulder area. The wide, padded straps made of soft fleece material are also X-shaped.

This harness is particularly pleasant for dogs to wear, as there are no pressure or chafing points. Harnesses with Y-shaped straps are particularly easy to put on by placing them on the floor in front of the dog, putting your front legs in, and closing the clip on the dog’s back. This is because front clip harnesses is bad for dogs.

Harnesses in the shape of a vest are made of mesh fabric and are comfortable to wear and warm in the cold.

g. Chest harnesses

Chest harnesses distribute the pressure on the chest. They are particularly suitable for dogs that pull hard, damaging the windpipe and larynx with a collar. Chest harnesses is bad for dogs if you use it for medium non-aggressive breeds.

This harness was initially used for service dogs, be it in the military, rescue teams, or sled dog teams. Two types have also established themselves in the private sector. The best known is probably the K9 brand with its saddle-like backrest.

All Types of Dog Collars Explained

Nylon Dog Collars

This quick-drying variant is ideal for dogs who feel comfortable in the water or the mud. When buying, you should choose the one with a plastic plug fastener.

This is because metal fasteners’ inner workings tend to rust, and stuck sand blocks the mechanism. The lock jams can become completely unusable.

Inexpensive nylon collars are made from single-ply processed webbing in plain colors, woven-in patterns, or doubly processed with decorative borders. Comfortable soft collars made of finely woven nylon tape are padded with a foam insert. Nylon collars come in many different widths.

Leather Dog Collars

Leather dog collars are made of real leather. When properly cared for, leather collars are indestructible.

This is especially true for the soft elk leather collars, the surface of which does not tear with regular use of leather grease. Cowhide Nappa is probably the most popular material because it absorbs the dog’s skin fat and becomes nice and supple over time.

Dog collars made from Latigo leather are also of high quality and robust. Since the non-slip cowhide is oiled after tanning, the color of the dog’s fur can rub off during use, which mainly happens on light-colored fur. Vegetable-tanned eco-leather does not require chemical treatment and is therefore even compostable. Leather collars expand after prolonged use. Leather collars are usually relatively wide dog collars, but of course, they can also be worn by small dogs. They don’t wear out as quickly as the nylon collars and look nicer!

Felt Dog Collars

In all imaginable colors and styles, felt collars conquer the hearts of dog owners. One reason for the growing popularity is the high level of comfort and the possibility of having the desired name and telephone number embroidered.

Address tags or clattering dog tags are no longer necessary. No matter how wide or narrow the dog collar should be, dog collars made of felt are usually only made to a specific order and, therefore, take on individual dimensions. The collar is either made of thick felt tape, or it is lined with fabric-sewn webbing, neoprene, or leather.

Artificial Leather Dog collars

In addition to the low price, the fashionable design, the variety of colors, the suitability for water, the soft material are the great plus. It is easy to clean material. There are differences in quality that you can see in more or less good durability.

However, make sure you do not buy the so-called “leather pinch collar” or “prong collars”. Prong collars cause damage and aggression.

Puppy Collars

They are the smallest collars made of nylon material for newborns. These products are exceptionally light and soft.

With a pin buckle, you can, so to speak, continuously adjust the size of the fast-growing puppy. Dog collars for puppies are available individually and in color-assorted sets to distinguish the individuals in a litter.

The latter lacks the eyelet to attach a line. A few weeks later, larger puppies can choose from the entry-level side of the dog collections.

So you can soon set individual accents with the collar for the puppy.

Round Sewn Dog Collars

The straps do not lie flat but are sewn together on one side. The cavity sometimes contains a filling to keep the round shape at the stressed areas.

Usually, they use soft Nappa leather. Round sewn collars are particularly suitable for small dogs. In long-haired breeds, hair fall is reduced, and individual hairs do not become twisted when moving, as can happen with nylon fabric.

Round sewn collars are also the right solution for less hairy, sensitive dog skin, as pressure and chafing points do not arise in the first place.

Safety Collars

In the dark season, other road users can see collars with a light function from afar. The cheapest item is a textile ribbon printed with a silver reflector color.

Collars with reflective surfaces are more durable and eye-catching, similar to the uniforms used in road construction, police, or paramedics. You can set fast and slow flashing, as well as permanent light. Harnesses and collars with integrated lights are available in all sizes and widths like standard collars.

The power is supplied via a replaceable battery cell. With around 100 hours of operation, one battery lasts through the winter season.

Its neck rings made of sturdy plastic tubing work according to a completely different system, which lights up when moved and turns off automatically after a while without moving. You can choose from different colors or with color change (Discolight).

Vehicle Seatbelt Collars

Securing dogs in your car is required by law. There will be collar sets consisting of a padded and extra thickly sewn harness, and a short guide are available from specialist retailers.

When buying, pay attention to the clasp’s shape inserted into the car seat belt buckle. There are suitable anchor-shaped or square-closed shapes for different car types.

Conventional harnesses are not designed for the extreme stress of emergency braking or a collision. So, the dog is possibly thrown forward with a multiple of its weight. It also has a system to prevent your dog from wandering on foot while driving.

Electric collars

You can get this fully automated or activate it via the hand transmitter. The receiver part is placed on a training collar to electrocute the dog.

This impulse can take place in different strengths and can be triggered over a long distance. Since these electrical pulse devices cause considerable pain and psychological damage to the animals, they are generally prohibited in the USA and other European countries according to the Animal Welfare Act.

Chain collars

Collars made of metal are available in single or double rows with fine armored links. It is available with oval or long links in different variants and strengths.

The usual material is stainless steel. It can cause allergic reactions and produce discoloration in light coat colors. You can avoid this by using chain collars made of curogan.

It is rust- and nickel-free, light gold-colored copper-tin alloy. When the temperature is below zero, many dogs find a chain collar very uncomfortable as it gets freezing. Also, choke chain is bad for a dog.

The simple chain strangler is a piece of chain with a larger round ring at each end. If you let the chain slide through a ring with an eyelet, the pulling collar is formed. It lies loosely around the neck, but it becomes tight when the dog wants to move forward faster.

The combination of chain strangler and Flexi leash is not recommended. Retractable leashes like these are bad because the fast-running dog can strangle itself with the sudden tightening of the necklace at the abrupt stop at the end of the leash.

Martingale Collars

These are wide textile or leather collars with sewn-on decorative borders, rhinestones, and tassels. They are common for greyhounds and whippets in Great Britain and the USA.

The width of the straight collars can be adjusted using sliders. The original Martingale closure is also an adjustable fabric loop with an integrated D-ring for the leash.

Are Martingale collars cruel? If you use it in normally behavior dogs, it is cruel. However, for easy-to-panic dogs, it is a life saver.

Training Collars

There are various training aids available in stores to prevent the dog from pulling too hard on the leash. It helps to get a grip on inattentiveness or to follow walking while walking.

The head halter (not to be confused with a muzzle) is often worn in addition to the ordinary collar. Training collars must also be used carefully!

The crockery, known colloquially as “Halti”, has a band over the bridge of the nose. One end of the guideline is hooked under the chin, the other end is attached to the collar. The owner guides the dog with his right hand at the end of the collar and the left hand gently pulls the dog’s head to the side in critical moments.

A training collar for dogs should only be used in emergencies and by experienced dog trainers! Inexperienced dog lovers should start with a good one if they have behavior problems. Using training collars can do more harm than good.

Easy Walk Collars

It is always better to walk a dog with a harness or collar. The Easy Walk System here consists of a collar with tension straps that the dog wears according to its size. On the front of the collar, two narrow belt straps are attached, threaded under the armpits through the rings on the back of the collar.

Both ends of the strap are hooked into the leash’s carabiner. If the dog pulls excessively, the armpit ligaments tighten uncomfortably. The training aid is clamped between the leash and the collar.

The “E-Walk” measures the pulling force with an adjustable electronic sensor. When this value is reached, the device emits an ultrasonic sound that increases proportionally with a stronger pull.

The remote function enables the device to be triggered manually to be used as an electronic dog-whistle for free-running dogs.

Final Thoughts

Harnesses is not necessarily better than collars. You should focus on using both, and rather train your dog to walk with a slack. And mix on when you use a harness and the collar depending on your needs.