Martingale Collar vs Harness: Differences Explained

martingale collar vs harness

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There’s a lot of debate in the dog-training world about whether it’s better to use a martingale collar or a harness when walking your dog. In this blog post, we’ll explain the key differences between the martingale collar vs harness so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you and your pup.

Martingale Collars

A martingale collar is specifically designed to prevent your dog from slipping out of its collar. They are usually made with two loops; a large loop that goes around your dog’s neck and a smaller loop that attaches to your dog’s leash. When your dog tries to back out of its collar, the small loop tightens, preventing them from escaping. 

Martingale collars are also known as greyhound collars, whippet collars, or limited-slip collars. They are typically made from nylon or another durable synthetic material, which makes them both comfortable and robust. While these collars can be used for walking, they are most often used in training or competition settings where it is important to prevent your dog from escaping its collar.

Martingale collars are designed to prevent dogs from slipping out of their collars. They work by cinching tight when your dog tries to pull away from you, but they’re loose and comfortable when your dog isn’t pulling. This makes them a popular choice for dogs who tend to pull on the leash or who have slim heads and necks that make it easy for them to slip out of standard collars. 

martingale collar vs harness


Harnesses, on the other hand, distribute the force of your dog’s pull evenly across the dog’s chest and shoulders, making it more difficult for them to pull away from you. 

This makes harnesses a good choice for dogs with strong pullers or respiratory problems that could be exacerbated by a collar squeezing their neck. They are also good for toy breeds and small dogs who might get lost in a standard collar. 

Harnesses are also great for dogs who are escape artists because they make it difficult for your dog to wriggle out of their harness. Harnesses come in various styles, including vest-style harnesses and no-pull harnesses. They can be made from nylon, canvas, or leather, and many are adjustable so that you can get a perfect fit for your dog. 

Read More:  Head Collar Vs Harness: Which One Will Suit Your Dog?

When a Dog Harness Is Better Than a Collar

In the following scenarios, dog harnesses are the way to go. 

Pulling And Hopping

If your dog likes to pull or hop while walking, a harness can help keep them under control. A harness evenly distributes the force of the pulling across their chest, which makes it more comfortable for them and also prevents them from choking themselves. Additionally, many harnesses have a handle on the back, which can help keep your dog close by if they try to bolt suddenly.

Breeds With Brachycephaly Or Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic dogs are breeds with short noses, like bulldogs and pugs. These dogs often have respiratory problems because of their anatomy, and they can quickly overheat since they don’t Pant as effectively as other dogs. Because of this, it’s important not to put too much pressure on their necks with a collar since it could restrict their breathing even further. A harness around their chest is a much better option for these breeds. 

Tracheal Collapse History

Dogs with a history of tracheal collapse should always wear a harness instead of a collar. Tracheal collapse is when the cartilage surrounding the trachea (windpipe) deteriorates, making it easier for the trachea to collapse. This can happen when there’s excessive pressure on the neck from collars, so it’s best to avoid putting your dog in that situation if they’re prone to tracheal collapse.

Thick Neck Or Narrow Skull   

Dogs with thick necks or narrow skulls are also better off harnesses because collars can put too much pressure on their throats. Breeds like greyhounds and whippets fall into this category, as do certain kinds of mixed breeds. If you’re unsure whether your dog falls into this category, ask your vet at your next appointment. They’ll be able to tell you for sure and help you find the right size harness if needed.   

Read More: 5 Types Of Dog Harnesses And How They Differ


Dogs with glaucoma should always wear harnesses instead of collars because the added pressure from a collar could damage their eyesight even further. If your dog has glaucoma, talk to your vet about what kind of leash setup would be best for them to stay safe and comfortable while going for walks.    

Mobility Difficulties Or Arthritis 

Dogs with mobility difficulties or arthritis may also benefit from wearing a harness instead of a collar. That’s because leaning down to pick up a leash attached to a collar can be difficult or painful for them. A waist-level leash clipped onto a well-fitting harness is often much easier for these dogs since they don’t have to stoop down as far to reach it.    

If Your Dog Spends A Lot Of Time In The Car

Whether that means going on long road trips or running errands around town—they may be more comfortable in a harness than a collar. That’s because collars can rub against the seatbelt webbing and cause irritation, especially if your dog moves around a lot while riding in the car. A harness eliminates that risk and lets your dog ride comfortably without having to worry about getting irritated skin from their collar rubbing against the seatbelt webbing constantly.

Read More: What Is The Difference Between Cat And Puppy Harness?

Martingale Dog Collars: Benefits

  • One of the main benefits of using a Martingale dog’s collar is that they are very effective in training dogs not to pull on their leash. When the dog tries to pull, the collar will tighten around its neck, which will cause them to stop and pay attention to you. The tightening of the collar will also serve as a reminder for the dog that they should not be pulling on their leash. 
  • Another advantage of using a martingale collar over a harness is that it provides greater control over your dog without causing any discomfort. If your dog pulls on his leash while wearing a harness, he can easily slip out of it and run off. With a martingale, however, the cinching mechanism will tighten the collar around his neck, preventing him from getting loose. 
  • Another benefit of martingales is that they are more comfortable for dogs to wear than harnesses. Harnesses can often rub and chafe against your dog’s skin, especially if not fitted properly. On the other hand, Martingales distribute the pressure evenly around your dog’s neck and are less likely to cause any irritation. 
  • Finally, the Martingale dog collar is also adjustable, which means that it can be made to fit any size neck. This is important because an ill-fitting collar can be dangerous for a dog. A collar that is too loose can quickly come off, and a collar that is too tight can constrict a dog’s breathing or cause other injuries. 

Read More: Which Is The Best Harness For An Old Cat? Top 5 Options To Consider


martingale collar vs harness

Are Martingale Collars Good?

Some people feel that Martingale collars are an effective way to train a dog not to pull on the leash attaches, while others believe that they can be dangerous and cause neck injuries. The consensus seems to be that, when used correctly, Martingale collars are safe and can be an effective training tool. 

Is it cruel to wear a Martingale collar?

Martingale collars are not cruel. This type of collar is recommended for dogs prone to slipping out of their collars or dogs with large heads and smaller necks.

What Dog Breeds Need Martingale Collars?

The Martingale collar was initially designed for Whippets, Greyhounds, and other sighthounds, who have a very slim neck and deep chest and can otherwise easily slip out of a regular dog collar.


Both martingale collars and harnesses have pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the one that’s right for your dog based on their needs. If you’re still unsure which is suitable for your pup, we recommend consulting with a professional trainer or behaviorist. They’ll be able to observe your dog’s natural tendencies and help you choose the collar or harness that will work best for them.

Read More: Cat Harness For Kittens?

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James Ruby

James Ruby

Most cats are either indoor or outdoor, but if you want your indoor cat to be able to enjoy the outside world - the best way I discovered is to use a body cat harness, that feels like a tucked hug for your pet.

About Me

Most cats are either indoor or outdoor, but if you want your indoor cat to be able to enjoy the outside world – the best way I discovered is to use a body cat harness, that feels like a tucked hug for your pet.

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