Which Types of Collars and Harnesses are Safe for Your Dog

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Collars are worn by dogs for training, walking, identification or even fashion. Use the following descriptions to find the right collar for your dog, then check out some leash varieties.

  • 01 of 08

    Everyday Collars

    Dog collar with license
    Dog Collar With License

    You can express your personal style with a variety of dog collars for everyday use. Collars with metal buckles or quick release clasps are available in a variety of materials, colors, and styles. Many pet owners prefer buckle collars for stronger dogs, as quick release clasps tend to be less sturdy. Rolled leather collars are durable and less likely to cause hair loss or parting. Always be sure your dog's collar has a name tag with your current contact information in case he gets lost.

  • 02 of 08

    Chain Slip Collars

    Black Schnauzer
    Black Schnauzer

    Often called choke chains, these collars are intended for training purposes only. When training a dog to walk on a leash and heel, corrections are made with a quick tug on the leash, causing it to close somewhat on the dog’s neck. Over time, many dog trainers have moved away from the choke chain method.

    Generally, these collars are not recommended because they could damage your dog's neck. If you do choose to get a choke chain for your dog, learn how to use it properly. Chain slip collars should be used with caution and never be left on your dog when unattended, as they pose a strangulation hazard.

  • 03 of 08

    Metal Prong Collars

    Dog wearing prong collar
    Dog Wearing Prong Collar

    Despite their harsh appearance, many trainers find these collars effective for strong, stubborn dogs with a tendency to pull on the leash. Also known as pinch collars, they are used for correction during training, similar to chain slip collars. Like the chain slip collars, metal prong collars should be used with caution and never be left on your dog when unattended.

  • 04 of 08

    Smart Collars

    smart collar on dog
    Smart Collar On Dog

    Smart collars are much more high tech than your traditional buckle collar. Different types of smart collars include various attributes, such as GPS to track your dog's location, the ability to monitor changes in their behavior, and assistance in training your dog. Most are compatible with smartphone apps, and some are even waterproof and have wifi coverage. The Link AKC Smart Collar even allows you to track your pup's activity and health!

  • 05 of 08

    Martingale Collars

    Close-Up Of Brown On Grass Against Houses
    Close-Up Of Brown On Grass Against Houses

    Also known as limited slip collars or Greyhound collars, Martingale collars are used to prevent dogs from slipping out of collars while walking on a leash. Though the collars tighten with a tug of the leash, there is a stopping mechanism to prevent complete closure on the neck. Often made out of nylon or similar material, Martingale collars are available in a variety of colors and designs. These collars are especially suited for sighthounds but can be used on most dog breeds.

  • 06 of 08

    Head Collars

    head collar for dogs gentle leader
    Head Collar For Dogs Gentle Leader

    Head collars or halters slightly resemble muzzles, but they have a very different purpose. These halters act more like harnesses for the head and are intended to help train a dog to walk on a leash and heel. When a dog pulls on the leash, the halter will cause the head to turn. This feels unnatural and will deter the behavior.

    When used properly, head collars can successfully discourage pulling and support other training. Head halters should not be left on unattended dog or dogs on a very long lead, as they may be able to back out of some types of head collars. The Gentle Leader is just one of many brands of head collars available for your dog.

  • 07 of 08


    Pit Bull Sitting
    Pit Bull Sitting

    Harnesses are designed for placement around a dog’s chest and abdomen, crossing over the back. A leash can be attached to the top of the harness. Some dog owners prefer harnesses over collars, especially for dogs with a tendency to pull, because they put no pressure on the neck.

    Some trainers feel that harnesses only encourage pulling and that leash-and-collar training should be enforced. Harnesses are ideal for dogs with medical problems in the neck and airway.

  • 08 of 08

    Dog Show Collars

    2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
    2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    Show Collars are slip collars typically made out of a braided material such as leather, nylon or metal. These collars should not be confused with chain slip collars.

    Martingale Leads are all-in-one collars and leads. They operate in a similar way as the Martingale collars. Commonly used for toy breeds in the show ring, the collar portion slips over the head and tightens when the lead is pulled. A plastic tube slides down the lead to keep the collar in place.